Where Do Your Rights End And Mine Begin?

An important court case was handed down today by a Federal Court of Appeals in Texas.

About three years ago, a graduate student in counseling doing supervised work  was assigned a gay client.  She declined to counsel the client because her religion viewed homosexuality a moral issue.

There was a protocal counseling students were taught to follow which did not include refusing a client for moral reasons.   The student was dismissed from the program.  A lower court unheld the University.  The Court of Appeals reversed that and admonished the University to make accomdations for moral aversions such as that of the student.

This is a new form of protest by religious conservatives who want to make life as miserable as possible for some.  What one has to wonder what the future holds.

New religions are born everyday, someone estimated three a day around the world.  All manner of moral standards are included.  As readers know, they involve food taboos, daily prayer rituals and who knows what else.

If employees in restaurants will not serve certain foods, hospital employees certain patients and landlords will not rent to certain people because of some moral hang up, we’re right back to the pre civil rights era.  It just does not seem right for there to be a priveledged class that can make up its own rules.

Justice Scalia wondered about all of this himself, “Are we to become a country where every man is a law unto himself?”

80 Responses

  1. Henry

    Yes, I know a little about this. Try the NDSU gradualte counseling program, for example, which is actually better than most. Some instructors would spend the majority of the class time running George Bush into the ground. Great productive time.

    And it is true. The counseling profession expects you to leave your morals behind, and to validate whatever twisted morals the client has. Clearly no place for an atheist counselor to be if morals can’t be brought to the counseling session.

      1. Stan

        At Saint Cloud State it is almost every class as political science. After asking if I should drop the class most throttled back. You CANNOT push around a 48 year old like an 18 year old.

  2. Bob

    If the university recieves any kind of tax payer money, they have serve EVERYONE. End of story. The university did the right thing on behalf of tax payers.
    If that student doesn’t want to counsel gay people, why isn’t she at a privately funded christian college?
    Was she too stupid to realize she’d have to serve everyone in a tax payer funded college?

    1. Stan

      Really…….. would you like to have a Christian counsel you if you were gay? Would you demand that they counsel you if you found out they are Christian? For how many patients do you think being a Christian would be a problem? Are you just interested in causing difficulties because they are Christian.

      1. Bob

        Stan 3:35 Gay people pay taxes too, and are funding publicly funded universities, so they should get the services same as every other tax payer out there. The university absolutely did the right thing. What? You think its okay for that girl to rob those gay people? Because that’s what’s she’s doing when she refuses to counsel them on the tax payer funded university dime. I can’t believe you don’t get that Stan.
        At a privately funded Christian college, she wouldn’t have to worry about counseling gays would she Stan.
        Did she purposefully enroll in a tax payer funded college just to cause trouble in the long run and make a statement of it?

  3. Wanna B Sure

    Jon; “…religious conservatives who want to make life as miserable as possible for some”. In this case is that really what happened? Based on what you report, I don’t see that as the motivation for the counselor’s action. I do however wonder who would fit her high moral standard worthy of her time. Those needing counseling don’t need judgementalism. I would guess this aspiring counselor should consider a different field.

    1. Wanna 4:33 Probably I was attributing to her what I know to be true of some others–I don’t actually know her motivation and should not have attributed it to her. The thing is, if you go into the field of counseling, odds are pretty good you are going to encounter gays and everything else that make up the human thing. It makes one suspious the entire event was planned before she ever started her classwork. I hoe that’s not the case.

      1. Stan

        Planned by who Jon? The school or the student?

        I hope you don’t mind but if/when I need counseling again I plan on asking for a Christian counselor if I have a choice. Then I could expect advise that would not be outside my faith.

        1. Stan 5:04 “..I plan on asking for a Christian counselor..”

          I think you would make a good choice there. I only hope that if one is not available, the secular counselor does not turn you away because you happen to have some trait you have no control over and the secular person regards it as a moral failure.

  4. entech

    The question must be about how much a personal position affects the work. If a gay needed help coping with issues then it should not make any difference if the counsellor were Christian, Muslim, Atheist or Hindu the issues and the advice should be the same. If the job entails putting to one side your religious viewpoint and treating the case objectively then you are clearly in the wrong line of work if you can’t do that; no one can or should attempt to control what you say, do or think in your private life but if it affects your work then you are in the wrong line of work.
    Bart D. Ehrman is still Professor of Religious Studies although his work and study over many years has lead him to disbelief. He works in North Carolina which I believe is one of the more Conservative Christian states.

  5. Helen Dean

    This reminds me of the pharmacists who wouldn’t fill birth control prescriptions because of conscience. Birth control pills have been around for 50 years so they knew when they entered college that dispensing birth control pills would be part of their job.

    1. Helen Dean 1:09 “This reminds me of the pharmacists who wouldn’t fill birth control prescritions because of consience. Birth control pills have been around for 50 years so they knew when they entered collete that dispensing birth control pills would be part of their job.”

      Great point, Helen. Thank for posting. (I apologize for not putting your post up sooner. I have to approve new posters, saw yours but forgot to hit the approval key for a while.)

  6. Wanna B Sure

    Jon; I found the article. It would be helpfull if you name your sources. If the counceling session was for financial, class subject, drugs, etc, no councilor should have a problem. But in this case evidently it was a gay person seeking validation. The councilor tried to be removed due to her not wanting to approve something she didn’t approve of. Her supervisors should have honored that, provided someone who would, and moved on, but they didn’t. This girl was screwed from the start. Evidently she was derided by her superiors before her dismissal. Almost looks like a set up.

    1. Wanna B Sure

      If, and I say if this client was looking for approval/validation, he didn’t need a councilor. An evening at a gay bar would have done the job just as well.

      1. Bob

        Wanna 2:03 Got that’s low Wanna, even for you.

        How do you know what this gay person might be dealing with. The death of a parent, child, cancer?

    2. Henry

      Yup, and not much different from other graduate school counseling settings.

      How about a graduate school class that requires one to go into an “adult” bookstore and cinema and do a report on the experience?

      1. entech

        Perhaps they would be trainee censors, it would be appropriate to get some objective knowledge; I have heard of people who say they have had to watch a movie up to twelve times to decide if it was pornographic, obscene or simply in bad taste.

    3. Wanna 1:39 “…evidendtly it was a gay person seeking validation.”

      It is only reasonable that a person would go to a counselor to seek validation of their station, whether gay or straight. That’s what the counseling profession is there for. The problem was not with the client, but with the counseling student.

      1. Wanna B Sure

        Right; Client to councilor–“I think I’m an alcololic”. Councilor to client –“Good ! Let’s go have a drink.” I think I understand how it works now. Thanks.

  7. Henry

    Here is the pertinent ACA code of ethics section that the university ignores while expelling the Christian:

    A.11.b. Inability to Assist Clients
    If counselors determine an inability to be of professional assistance to clients, they avoid entering or continuing counseling relationships. Counselors are knowledgeable about culturally and clinically appropriate referral resources and suggest these alternatives. If clients decline the suggested referrals, counselors should discontinue the relationship.

    From what I read, the ACA expects this section to be ignored as well when it comes to a Christian student counselor.

    1. Henry 3:34 “Inability to Assist Clients”
      What you are reading into this policy, or, what I might read into it, compared to those in the profession itself, might be much different. For example, what if a counseling student said, “My faith tells me depression is caused by a lack of adequate time reading the Bible. The profession has a different way of dealing with depression. Therefore, I cannot serve patients with depression–they must be referred to others.”

      Depression must surely be one of the stardard ailments counselors deal with. A person who cannot take depression clients is of little use in the profession and should not be issued a license. I suspect dealing with gay clients, or, their parents and siblings, is a significant part of the profession. Someone whose religion gets in the way might not be seen as someone competant to be in the profession. I don’t know this, I’m just saying the “Inability” clause uses the word, “culture”, which may be used differently than you are using it.

      1. Henry

        If the counselor declines the client, no harm done except for less money for the counselor, which is the way it should be. Why deny licensure? If the counselor behaves in this manner, they are extremely ethical, placing the profession first before their own monetary compensation.

        1. Stan

          Agreed, refund the first session if after graduation….in this case recommend someone you know is comfortable with the GLBTQ community.

          I was recommended by several of my Psych professors to become a counselor. I would NOT have trouble counseling gays. I told them I would have trouble with people who are gaming the system for personal gain and I would not hesitate to call them out. I wouldn’t be employed long.

          1. Stan 6:34 I’m sure there are people who game the system for one reason or another. There are people who don’t want to work and overstate their disabilities so they can get worker’s comp or time off. Gaming the system goes all throughout our, and every, society.

            One that is on my radar screen at the moment is a little one involving food at a food pantry my wife and I volunteer at. Some merchants hold onto food inventory so long after its “use by” date, it is not safe to even give to someone. They bring it to the food pantry, demand a receipt to reduce their taxes. Later, when checking, we volunteers find it has to be thrown in the trash.

          2. Henry

            “They bring it to the food pantry, demand a receipt to reduce their taxes.”

            Now that is a clever way to empower one’s economics. Sounds like Clinton with his used underwear. Of course, he was saving the ozone hole and reducing waste.

  8. Bob

    The religious reaction to this question/topic, so disgusts me; the evil of religion’s true colors are flying high here.

    1. Henry

      I do find it interesting that Bob, otherwise known as “Mr. Freedom Libertarian Zealot”, furvently advocates for a counseling student to be forced to perform a service against her will and the ACA code of ethics.

      1. Henry 4:24 “..be forced to perform a service against her will and the ACA code of ethics.”

        Against her will, yes. Against the ACA code of ethics, I believe the ACA would beg to differ.

        1. Henry

          Yes. They do give gays special trump power and special status to breech other provisions of the code of ethics. I agree.

        2. entech

          So sad in a fine Christian Country that Christians can’t get special exemptions, a similar situation pertains in Australia there are laws against discrimination on grounds of religion, race , sexuality etc. A local religious organisation has a camp area available for group retreats as a religious organisation they are exempt from tax even though this is a commercial venture, used by a wide variety of people and commercial rental is charged. Recently the site manager, on his own volition cancelled a booking because he found out that the organisation was a gay men’s organisation, the purpose of the meeting was a genuine conference and included participants from church groups, women’s groups and social workers, it was in no way any kind of physical activity event purely discussion. The decision was defended on religious grounds even though they somehow managed to defend the claim of tax exemptions while running a commercial operation.

  9. Bob

    Henry, what don’t you get about that gay people pay taxes too? If its as tax funded university, of course they have to service ALL tax payers. What the heck don’t you understand about that? Why is that so hard to get?
    If its a privately funded university, then they don’t have to service anyone they don’t want to. Fuck.

    1. Henry

      “If its as tax funded university, of course they have to service ALL tax payers.”

      Not really. The campus doctor can ethically refuse a patient based on a specific treatment being incompatible with his religious beliefs. AMA code of professional conduct.

  10. Bob

    Repeat: All tax payers who fund the tax payer funded university, should get those sevices, students who are gay or otherwise. Its so simple Henry.

    You just don’t get this do you.

    1. Henry

      I agree, Bob. This is simple. Somehow I don’t find it surprising you would think it is a good idea to breech a code of ethics. Are you going to throw another tantrum now and start swearing?

    1. Henry

      No. There were others. They specifically wanted this student to practice on homosexuals for her own supposed benefit. It was a setup and a clever way to rub out a Christian. I am sure they took her money up until that point.

      1. Wanna B Sure

        So then the student client wasn’t denied counceling services. Just not from that specific student counselor doing graduate work?

        1. Wanna 11:20 Yes, this gay student could have received services elsewhere, perhaps there were dozens of others who could have done so.

          That is not the point. The point is people given licenses for any form of health care should be certified to standards set by professionals in the field. The point is to care for patients. The assumption of several commenters here is that the standards are there to protect the providers.

          To repeat the quote for Justice Scalia, a very conservative member of the Sumpreme Court, this will become a country where ever man (woman) is a law unto themselves.

          1. Wanna B Sure

            Law unto themselves except when it comes to concience. My point is that some here imply that the client student didn’t receive counciling, which evidently wasn’t the case. As I said before, maby the graduate student counciler should have considered a different occupation. It also may be that she didn’t know the restrictions before starting her education. It could also be that those restrictions didn’t apply until after she started. It could also be that she was not made aware by her instructors the rules if applied . It could also be that upon graduation, her employment wouldn’t put her in that position. Too many unknowns to judge her or the university from what is available, until after the fact.

          2. Wanna 1:28 I would agree we don’t know all the details here. I know some about this field, having had faculty friends in it and a family member now in a related program.

            My impression is that one of the “core principles” in the field is being nonjudgemental of moral values. Henry must have taken introduction courses in the field and seemed to have encountered that from day one. So, it seems unlikely she did not know about this particular requirement. I don’t know if there are places and certification in “Christian Counseling” or not, but that is where someone like her should be going. The sign on her office should so designate.

            If every employee in every conceivable job can refuse to perform tasks that conflict with their “conscience”, I’m not sure we will like the outcome. A “Religious Liberty Ammendment” is on the June ballot here in ND. It requires no documentation of one’s beliefs except a “sincerely felt” aversion to avoid doing objectionable tasks. There is no requirement to show church doctrine–just how you feel. It is the most open ended measure yet introduced in any state. I wish it would have been in effect the 40 years I was a professor. I would have had a “sincerely felt’ religious aversion to grading finals and turning in grades.

          3. Henry

            “As I said before, maby the graduate student counciler should have considered a different occupation.”

            And another possibility is she wanted speifically to be a Christian counselor. If you want to be a counselor of any kind, you need to submit to the board rules, gaining the M.Ed. education, the experience, the testing, and licensure.

            For those out there who want to beome a counselor, get educated as a “social worker” and get your licensure in social work. It pays better, easier to get your education, is more insurance reimbursable, and you can still do counseling.


          4. Wanna B Sure

            If you are a social worker in a county social services department, you are probably the most restricted in any area re, race, creed, color, sexual proclivity, or any other isms that show up. Those social workers have to be everything- neutral when counciling. I think it would be difficult to pick and choose taboo subjects almost anywhere. Some of those subjects may be revealed in the middle of counciling. Then what do you do? Send them to someone else when you feel uncomfortable?

          5. Henry

            You can function as a counselor with a LSW. You don’t have to necessarily do the “social work.” You can work in a therapist role in your own private office with the LSW.

            I would agree if you are working in a small county social service office, you are the only game in town. They do refer out when they can’t handle the case (or at least they did in the eighties). Therefore, if religious objection to counseling a gay man on how to properly court his gay buddy or how to reconcile their differences, the LSW could refer this very special case out.

  11. entech

    Thank you for the reference Henry, the whole thing has a little more context now:
    As a graduate student, Jennifer Keeton openly stated her views to ASU professors and students that she would not be able to counsel GLTBQ clients because of her religious beliefs and that she supported reparative/conversion therapy. In order to address Keeton’s deficits in becoming a multiculturally competent counselor, the ASU counseling program faculty created a remediation plan to help Ms. Keeton become comfortable counseling the GLBTQ population. Rather than comply with the remediation plan, Keeton opted to file a complaint against ASU in federal court, as well as a motion to preliminarily enjoin ASU from enforcing her expulsion.

    The setup that some are complaining about seems to me to be by the student against the University. There are elements in all groups that spend time and effort creating controversy to either further their own agenda to get publicity for their cause, or, very often, both. Ms. Keeton obviously announced her position, possibly (I think probably) as a lead up to her subsequent complaint. Her open support of reparative therapy would be enough to disqualify her.
    I say elements in all groups because I have seen obvious cases on both sides, when discrimination on gender lines was being questioned there were women who invaded what were supposedly male bastions, I think many found that a lot of old men in the smoking room of a establishment club men’s half asleep over port and cigars club turned out to be totally boring and a waste of time. I have seen gay men acting provocatively in an unsuitable venue and then complain of being discriminated against, not surprisingly with some form of publicity close by.

    “However, so-called reparative therapy techniques – premised on the assumption that homosexuality is a form of psychopathology – appear to do much more harm than good. And even if conversion therapies were shown to be successful in more than a relative handful of cases, they would remain ethically questionable.”

    Suppose, purely hypothetical because it would never get off the ground, that an atheist was studying to be a counsellor, shouldn’t be a problem because counselling should not be influenced by the personal views of the counsellor. Now, further suppose that he announced his atheism in strong terms, should still be no problem as long as he kept it to arguing with his fellow students and lecturers; but, if he said that his lack of belief made it impossible to talk to Christians, a lot of doubt would start to creep into his suitability for the work. Take this to the extreme, if he also announced that he supported a de-conversion program to help people away from a pathological belief in an invisible friend that should have faded with the end of childhood. How many here would support his position?
    How many would say the university was wrong to expel him as being unsuitable to be part of a course with a “multicultural component”?

    1. Henry

      “de-conversion program”

      I believe those are already out there with not much resistance. No issue.

      “Ms. Keeton obviously announced her position, possibly (I think probably) as a lead up to her subsequent complaint. “

      I agree with your criticism here. Wisdom would dictate to stay below the radar. You aren’t going to change the minds of a bunch of pothead anti-christian counseling professors. To think such places yourself in a higher position than you ought be. I would also speculate that Ms. Keeton erroneously thought she could save the world in class prior to being assigned counseling the homosexual on his sexual issues with his homosexual partner, all in reaction to her known views. In a way, she brought this on herself.

      But, a section of the ACA ethics code was still breeched by the University. I would speculate the recent higher court ruling agrees with me on this as well and disagrees with the ACA.

  12. entech

    Sorry Henry I can’t see any problem.
    Thank you for the further information on the Keeton case, she is clearly intent on imposing her views at any cost and should quite rightly be prohibited from doing so with legal certification and sanction. Her cause would be better served if she joined Ray Comfort in the market place and gave her thoughts to all passersby.

    Ward on the other hand seems to have an ethical position and merely wants the right to pass on aspects she cannot condone (same sex activity being the main example here)

    In the opinion cited there are two relevant comments, the whole is long and legalistic and I confess I skimmed large parts of it.

    Keeton insisted on a constitutional right to engage in conversion therapy—that is, if a “client discloses that he is gay, it was her intention to tell the client that his behavior is morally wrong and then try to change the client’s behavior.” Id. at *2. That approach, all agree, violates the ACA code of ethics by imposing a counselor’s values on a client, a form of conduct the university is free to prohibit as part of its curriculum.

    Instead of insisting on changing her clients, Ward asked only that the university not change her—that it permit her to refer some clients in some settings, an approach the code of ethics appears to permit and that no written school policy prohibits.

    So the court finds Keeton was wrong because she was insistent that her counselling would involve telling a client he was morally wrong and would attempt to change that behaviour. And that due to this the University was even handed.
    In the case of Ward it is clear that the University was wrong, they did not have a policy against referral which was all she wanted.

    Nothing in Keeton indicates that Augusta State applied the prohibition on imposing a counselor’s values on Nos. 10-2100/2145 Ward v. Polite et al. Page 21the client in anything but an even-handed manner. Not so here, as the code of ethics, counseling norms, even the university’s own practices, seem to permit the one thing Ward sought: a referral.

    The opinion is that both cases with their different outcomes were supported by the ACA, imposition is not sanctioned, referral is.
    The courts seem to have different view on the ACA code than you, but they are supposed to be even handed and not view everything through the sieve of scripture.

    “You aren’t going to change the minds of a bunch of pothead anti-christian counseling professors.”, do you have a source for this information? or is it just the view of a fundamentalist Christian who can’t stand the idea that not everyone agrees?

  13. entech

    Possibly, even likely, organizations with an assumed power do not like to be questioned, whether spiritual or temporal they all like it their way. It could be that I read the Ward case incorrectly but certainly Keeton should not be given a license or be sanctioned to practice. IMHO.

    Still not sure how you know the profs are potheads.

          1. entech

            A throw away line in response to the “I read somewhere 42 signs” nonsense doesn’t need to be explained. Your attempt to make something out of nothing does not fly.

          2. entech

            Three lollipops if you like. Does not fly. Mountains out of molehills. Attempt to alleviate your own boredom.

            AGAIN, Henry said something foolish about “having read somewhere” I answered in kind. It was not intended to be serious.

          3. Wanna B Sure

            Well, if you don’t know the subject matter, it would be best to stick to lollipops, mole hills, or mountains. And stay on topic.

          4. entech

            Your efforts to make something serious out of a silly joke are becoming an increasingly silly joke in itself.

            I know you take the subject of the Trinity seriously, I take the slanderous accusations against professors seriously, but it over and past let it slide.

  14. To me I see this as an assertion that I have a fundamental right to deprive others of their rights. You are correct to title your article the way that you did. This is a very live constitutional issue right now. If we aren’t careful, we could see some of our rights taken away under the smoke and mirrors of protecting rights. At its heart, this appears to be a clash between the Establishment Clause: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion” and the Free Exercize Clause: “or prohibiting the free exercize thereof.” But the important distinction is that the free-exercize thereof needs not to be publicly funded. In private people can establish religion all they want and exercize religion all they want. Congress can’t establish religion, and it can’t prohibit religion either. But when you get a job working for the state, or that is funded by the state, you cannot force your religion on others and you can’t restrict their liberties.

      1. Henry

        Not quite accurate, Jon. Good ol’ Bob, an admirer of really, really smart white men, and a revered member of the Grand Forks Freethinkers, the sister organization of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, has been beating this drum multiple times.

    1. Bob

      Lilie, 4:08
      That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to say, Lilie.
      Its a Libertarian point of view.
      A constitutional view. If tax payers fund it, and gay tax payers help fund tax funded universities, then gays cannot be denied services.
      If Christian couselors want to deny gays, who also pay taxes, then they need to work in privately funded places that are okay with them not giving services to gays. Its so easy to understand, yet there are a lot of dummies who just don’t get it. Damn.

    2. Henry

      Lillie: “But when you get a job working for the state, or that is funded by the state, you cannot force your religion on others and you can’t restrict their liberties.”

      Ward did not force her religion onto her potential client. She referred before meeting the client all happening outside of the client’s knowledge. All per ACA code of ethics. No harm, no foul.

      1. entech

        Your attempts to divert attention from Keeton to Ward, is a bit suspect. I don’t think anyone would disagree with Wards position that there are some things she cannot honestly do as a counsellor and wanted such clients to be referred to someone else is perfectly justified. Keeton on the other hand appears to be determined to impose her views on her clients, unacceptable, you only argue her case because her views are the same as yours.

        1. Bob

          I have a hard time digesting that anyone who goes into the counseling business, would ever consider not helping anyone, regardless of their sexual stance. That fills me with disgust.
          There’s plenty of Christian married men who like to dress up like babies, have their wives bring them bottles and change their diapers. But it doesn’t say not to do that in the bible, so I guess they are still good little Christians.
          I guess because these baby dressers are good Christians and husbands, that counselor would help them.

        2. Henry

          Divert attention? Ward’s case was the recent one of which Jon’s original post referred to. I originally had erroneously thought it was Keeton. Let’s talk about the case which correlates to the original post, that is Ward’s.

          1. entech

            I apologise, you were actually trying to restore the attention to the original: reading through all those legal opinions would distract anyone.

            You misled and I followed, you redirected back to what you really meant and I accept that and agree I was wrong.

            On a previous occasion I seem to recall writing something in haste and phrasing it all very badly, you stubbornly refused to accept my correction and persisted in attempting to annoy for the sake of annoying (and succeeded).
            A little reciprocal courtesy would help your image.

          2. Henry

            As I get older I really am becoming less concerned about my image. I am glad you are concerned. Images can be tricky things. Sometimes I do not want to live up to certain expectations. Just ask my neighbor who mows twice a week.

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