University Settles Out of Court After Expelling Christian Student

Julea Ward is a student was enrolled in the counseling program at Eastern Michigan University. As part of their training they conducted actual counseling sessions with real clients. When approached by patients who are homosexuals, Ward reassigned them to other counselors.

Ward is also a Christian who values her faith and biblical values and morals. When approached by homosexual patients who sought counseling for their sexuality, she knew that her Christian faith would prevent her from yielding impartial advice. To avoid compromising her faith and to ensure that the patient received the best possible counseling she assigned them to another counselor.

In professional counseling, counselors often find themselves in a situation where, for the benefit of the patient, they reassigned or referred a patient to another counselor. This is a common practice found nationwide.

However when Ward reassigned homosexuals seeking counseling concerning their sexuality, she was expelled from the counseling program as well as from the University. The University claimed that her actions violated the school’s policy on diversity and tolerance.

The Alliance Defending Freedom organization stepped in on Ward’s behalf and filed a lawsuit against the University. However before a verdict could be rendered, the University opted to settle the case out of court for a sum of money in what they said was done in the interest of saving the University the expense of a lengthy trial. In addition to the sum of money, unofficially reported to be $75,000, the school expunged her record and remove any reference of her being expelled.

After the settlement was announced Walter Kraft, vice president of Eastern Michigan University said that the settlement that was reached out-of-court left the school’s policies, programs and curricular requirements intact, saying:

“The faculty retains its right to establish, in its learned judgment, the curriculum and program requirements for the counseling program at Eastern Michigan University.”

Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals found those very policies to be questionable when he stated:

“What exactly did Ward do wrong in make the referral request? If one thing is clear after three years of classes, it is that Ward is acutely aware of her own values. The point of the referral request was to avoid imposing her values on gay and lesbian clients. And the referral request not only respected the diversity of practicum clients, but it also conveyed her willingness to counsel gay and lesbian clients about other issues – all but relationship issues – an attitude confirmed by her equivalent concern about counseling heterosexual clients about extra-marital sex and adultery in a values-affirming way.”

Judge Sutton also pointed out that Ward was willing to work with all clients and to respect the school’s affirmation directives in doing so, explaining:

“That is why she asked to refer gay and lesbian clients (and some heterosexual clients) if the conversation required her to affirm their sexual practices. What more could the rule require?”

“Surely, for example, the ban on discrimination against clients based on their religion (1) does not require a Muslim counselor tell a Jewish client that his religious beliefs are correct if the conversation takes a turn in that direction and (2) does not require an atheist counselor to tell a person of faith that there is a God if the client is wrestling with faith-based issues.”

“Tolerance is a two-way street. Otherwise, the rule mandates orthodoxy, not anti-discrimination.”

Jeremy Tedesco, Senior Legal Counsel for Ward, had argued her case in front of Judge Sutton saying public universities should not force students to violate their religious beliefs in order to obtain a college degree. He added:

“The 6th Circuit rightly understood this and ruled appropriately, so the university has done the right thing in settling this case.”

“When Julea sought to refer a potential client to another qualified counselor – a common, professional practice that is endorsed by her profession’s code of ethics – EMU denied the referral. Then it attacked and questioned her religious beliefs, ultimately expelling her from the program. We are pleased that Julea and her constitutionally protected rights have been vindicated.”

However universities require students to violate their religious beliefs all the time in order to obtain a college degree. I know of numerous cases where students expressed their religious beliefs in one fashion or another were forced out of their degree program and even out of the University. This especially holds true for Christians who believe in a young earth biblical creation or in science fields. I know of one young man who on his first day in a geology class at a major state university heard the professor say that if anyone in the class believed in creation they needed to go find another major because they would not graduate his class.

I know of another individual who obtained a PhD in geology from a major university, who after he graduated and received his degree made his religious beliefs known. The University then tried to retract his doctorate degree and strip him of what he had earned because they did not agree with his religious belief.

I had professors in College who told me that they wanted me to stop challenging evolution in their classrooms or I would not pass the class.  In one of those classes, I received an A on every test and paper, but received a B as a final grade.  The professor told me it was because of my Christian faith and belief in creationism.  I took the matter to the college and my grade was changed to the A I had deserved.

Don’t think the case of Julea Ward is an isolated one.  Many of today’s colleges and universities will go out of their way to punish or make life difficult for students who make their Christianity known.  So parents beware when sending your kids off to college because there is a good chance they won’t return with the same Christian values they had at the beginning, or if they do keep their faith, they may not be allowed to graduate in their desired field.

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