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Court Hears Case on Religious Freedom, Sexual Orientation Nondiscrimination Policies
Posted By Thomas Messner On October 12, 2011 @ 11:09 am In Family and Religion | 6 Comments
Last week a federal appeals court heard arguments in an important religious freedom case  known as Ward v. Wilbanks. The case illustrates how sexual orientation nondiscrimination policies can impose government burdens  on religious and moral conscience and create serious civil society conflicts.
Julea Ward was a student in the graduate counseling program at Eastern Michigan University. She claims  that she was expelled from the program after she conscientiously objected to counseling a potential client seeking assistance regarding a homosexual relationship.
Rather than allow Julea to refer a potential client to another qualified counselor—a common, professional practice to best serve clients—EMU attacked and questioned Julea’s religious beliefs and ultimately expelled her from the program because of them.
Ward also refused  to undergo a “remediation” program that, she states, was designed to “change her ‘belief system’ as it relates to counseling about homosexual relationships.”
Her attorney says  that Ward “would have gladly counseled the client herself had the topic focused on any other matter.” However, Ward realized  that she “could not affirm the client’s homosexual relationship without violating her religious beliefs regarding extra-marital sexual relationships.”
Cases like Ward’s illustrate how nondiscrimination laws and other state-imposed burdens can transform “culture wars” into “conscience wars.”  To ease such conflicts, public officials should protect religious freedom and respect moral conscience on highly controversial issues such as sexuality.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2011/10/12/court-considers-case-of-student-expelled-from-counseling-program-for-unwillingness-to-affirm-homosexual-relationships/
URLs in this post:
 religious freedom case: http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/News/PRDetail/141
 can impose government burdens: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/04/from-culture-wars-to-conscience-wars-emerging-threats-to-conscience
 realized: http://www.adfmedia.org/files/WardFactSheet.pdf
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