By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
In a case in which a Christian student is challenging her dismissal from a counseling program because she refused to compromise her beliefs about homosexuality, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed an amicus brief saying that compelling someone to act against their beliefs doesn’t violate their freedoms of religion or speech because people should be expected to put aside their beliefs in their professional lives.
In an op-ed appearing in the Washington Times, Robert Knight, senior fellow of the American Civil Rights Union, challenged the dangerous reasoning in the brief which was filed in support of Eastern Michigan University who allowed Julea Ward, a graduate student in a counseling program, to be dismissed because she would not affirm the homosexual lifestyle. Ward filed a lawsuit charging unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination, religious discrimination, and compelled speech. A U.S. District Court denied her claim in July, 2010, and she is now appealing to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The ACLU‘s brief to the appeals court contends that compelling someone to act against her beliefs does not violate her freedoms of religion or speech,” Knight writes. “The ACLU quotes the university’s response to Miss Ward saying she had a ‘conflict between your values that motivate your behavior and those behaviors expected of your profession.’ In other words, you’re a conscientious Christian, so get lost.”
The underlying problem in the Michigan counseling case is twofold, Knight says. First, there is no credible scientific evidence that homosexuality is inborn and unchangeable. Second, the Constitution explicitly protects religious freedom but is silent on “sexual orientation,” which he claims is “a term concocted in the 20th century as a bludgeon against Judeo-Christian morality.”
Unfortunately, Ward’s case is just one of several cases in which Christians have been told to conform to “diversity” requirements or leave counseling programs, Knight points out. Jennifer Keeton, a student a Augusta State University in Georgia sued last year after being told she had to take “re-education courses” to counter her Christian morality or be expelled from a master’s program. Her case is currently on appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit.
In Ward’s case, the ACLU brief cites last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, which upheld the decision by Hastings College of the Law at the University of California at Berkeley to eject a Christian legal group for not allowing open homosexuals in leadership positions.
Writing for the majority in that case, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said: “Condemnation of same-sex intimacy is, in fact, a condemnation of gay people,” and “our decisions have declined to distinguish between status and conduct in this context.”
“By this reasoning, if you don’t support gluttony, you ‘condemn’ overweight people,” Knight writes. “Let’s further take this apart. If, as former ACLU attorney Justice Ginsburg says, conduct defines status, and the ACA‘s [American Counseling Association] code says counselors must conform to what amounts to a positive or neutral view of sex outside marriage, then Christians must conduct themselves in a way that violates their beliefs. Their status becomes that of either outlaws or liars.
“This is not rocket science. We are witnessing radical ideologues bent on replacing natural law with a wholly different set of values,” he says.
The bad news is that too many professional associations have climbed aboard this runaway train, and if this trend is not halted soon, the result will be a world full of signs that say, “Christians need not apply.”
“The ACLU says the university is making an important ethical distinction. It sure is,” Knight writes. “Whereas Miss Ward draws from the Western moral tradition that inspired the U.S. Constitution, the university‘s ethics are based on the cause de jour in liberal faculty lounges.
“The bottom line is that forcing Miss Ward or Miss Keeton to pretend to buy into the left’s pansexual dystopia is supposed to be a reasonable action. If so, then anyone with traditional religious beliefs can be barred from a state institution if he or she fails to betray personal beliefs. This is no longer remotely about tolerance or civil rights. It’s about turning the nation’s moral values upside down so that wrong is right and right is hate.”
The agents of radical change have hijacked the God-given, unalienable rights that were codified precisely to protect people like Julea Ward from unjust discrimination, Knight says.
“As the public sector expands, it is bankrupting the nation and moving us closer to the criminalization of Christianity.”
The solution? “In the short run, this must be met with superior legal and political forces. Long term, we must radically reduce the public sector to where it can no longer threaten American liberty.”
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