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Posted on Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 11:31 a.m.

Student booted from EMU wins appeal in lawsuit

By Cindy Heflin


Julea Ward at Eastern Michigan University.

Photo courtesy of ADF

Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional details from the ruling and comments from Eastern Michigan University and the Alliance Defense Fund, representing Ward.

A federal appeals court has revived the lawsuit filed by Julea Ward, who said she was kicked out of a master's degree program at Eastern Michigan University because of her views against homosexual behavior.

The decision Friday means Ward's awsuit against school officials is returning to Detroit federal court. She was in a counseling program at EMU when she asked her superiors to refer a gay client to someone else.

The university expelled Ward from the program, although she was just a few classes short of a degree and had a high grade-point average. She says she told professors that her Christian faith prohibited her from affirming homosexual behavior.

Ward sued EMU in 2009, but lost in the lower courts. Ward and her attorneys, the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal organization that works to uphold the rights of religious college students and faculty, appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth District.

A three-judge panel of the court said a jury could conclude the university used a code of ethics it adheres to "as a pretext for punishing Ward’s religious views and speech." EMU denies any bias.

The Alliance Defense Fund hailed the ruling. “Public universities shouldn’t force students to violate their religious beliefs to get a degree, said ADF lawyer Jeremy Tedesco. "The court rightly understood this and ruled appropriately.”

EMU noted the ruling was not a finding that the university had discriminated against Ward.

"The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals made no legal findings against the University," EMU spokesman Walter Kraft said in a statement. "Rather, the Sixth Circuit Court ruled that there needs to be additional legal proceedings before a decision can be reached. The Court also found that the Regents and the President of Eastern Michigan University were properly dismissed from the lawsuit and refused to reinstate them despite Ward's request."

In its ruling, the court said the school does not have a no-referral policy for practicum students like Ward and adheres to an ethics code, that of the American Counseling Association, that permits values-based referrals in general.

Kraft, however, said the case is not about religion or religious discrimination or about sexual orientation for that matter. "This case is about what is in the best interest of a person who is in need of counseling, and following the curricular requirements of our highly respected and nationally accredited counseling program, which adheres to the Code of Ethics of the American Counseling Association and the Ethical Standards of the American School Counselor Association. Those Ethical Standards require that counselors are not to allow their personal values to intrude into their professional work. ...

"Eastern Michigan University takes seriously our Constitutional mission to ensure that every student who graduates from our academic programs meets applicable curricular and regulatory requirements. We will continue to pursue and defend this mission at every opportunity."

The court said Ward's referral request didn't have a “negative impact” on the client. "Quite the opposite, as the client never knew about the referral and perhaps received better counseling than Ward could have provided."

The court also said Ward tried to "respect the school’s affirmation directives in working with clients. "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 ... the ban on discrimination against clients based on their religion ... does not require a Muslim counselor to tell a Jewish client that his religious beliefs are correct if the conversation takes a turn in that direction ... . Tolerance is a two-way street. Otherwise, the rule mandates orthodoxy, not anti-discrimination."

The American Civil Liberties Union, which supported EMU in the case, said the judges failed to acknowledge that referring a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender client to another counselor could damage the client's mental health.

"While no public university can discipline any student because of her beliefs, universities have a right to insist that their graduate students adhere to accepted standards of professionalism and place the needs of their clients first," said Jay Kaplan, an ACLU attorney.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 7:32 p.m.

The Sweetness of Victory : I read this story and could taste its 'sweetness'. This student was a victim of a 'trick' and I am glad to read that the Judges could make a distinction between tricks and fair play, a game of rules.

Dr. I. Emsayin

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

My understanding is that counselors are trained in such a way so as not to give advice, but to help the client come to his/her own conclusions through self examination. I think it would be important not to have personal biases get in the way. If a client were having an affair and considering divorce, would a counselor turn that client over to someone else mid-stream if it violated her/his own ethics? If a Christian with strong conservative values found him/herself attracted to someone of the same sex after months of counseling for a different issue, would the counselor stop the active listening process taught in the program and begin asserting her/his own values? Perhaps EMU teaches a method that did not agree with the student's idea of how she wanted to work, which would suggest that perhaps she picked the wrong program. Why blame the program?


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

The long and the short of it is that EMU is pro-sodomy and intolerant of anyone who has a differing position. And why does EMU and virtually every left-wing institution in America support sodomy? I suppose its because these lefties precieve some unjust discrimination against homosexuals and this is their way to "balance the books", so to speak. True or not true, that does not take away from the fact that sodomy destroys souls. If you love someone you will encourage them away from destructive behavior. Counseling that affirms destructive behavior is bad counsel.

Middle America

Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 9:24 a.m.

"the fact that sodomy destroys souls" hoo dang!


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

^^ That's what bigotry looks like.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:15 p.m.

Specific careers require ethical obligations beyond that of religious beliefs. If your religious beliefs do not allow you to abide by those ethical standards you should not pursue them. She could choose to be a counselor through her church which does not require the degree. Careers that involve serving others, especially counseling and psychological services, are dependent on this principle to ensure that people are not harmed. Those comments that cite 'christianity' and 'conservative/liberalism' biases are refusing to acknowledge the purpose of this chosen career. Dotdash's comment also addressed this. If you practice a religion that encourages prejudice as in this case, ask yourself WWJD? He never refused his services to those in need regardless of their orientation or belief. "Here is fish and bread for those of you who believe as I do. The rest of you shall starve!"- Don't think so. Perhaps she should consider a career in law where bias and oppression are vehicles for success and not disguise it under a 'helping' profession.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

I also took counseling courses at EMU, during the 1980's as an adult. One professor told me that he felt it was his duty to challenge the belief systems of students who came to the university, that they had been sheltered in their family upbringing and now needed some challenges to the beliefs in which they had been raised. Another professor, when I submitted a paper in which my religious views caused me to take a certain position in one facet of the assignment, wrote in the margin of my paper, "You actually believe this!!" I'm sure it is not just at EMU but at colleges all over America, but is it really the job of university professors to hammer away at the religious beliefs of students? Their job is one of imparting information- and developing critical thinking- not indoctrination, whether it is religious, "political correctness", etc. Is there not room for trained counselors who are Christians, Jews, Buddhists?


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 3:51 p.m.

Apparently EMU does not think so.

Jim Clarkson

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 6:13 a.m.

Whats next? A doctor refusing to treat a patient? A public defender refusing to represent a client?What would happen if she could only get a job at a small school where she was the only counselor? I am sure there are several instances in the counselor buisness where counselors do not get along with someone and refer them to someone else, but in my view basing that referal on sexual orientation, religious views, skin color is just wrong. Sorry, but if you want to help people you should be prepared to help all people. How do you think Ms. Ward would have felt about EMU if her counselor referred her to someone else because of Her skin color. She should seriously look in a mirror on this one and take a deep down look to see if this is actually what she wants to do with her life.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 3:54 p.m.

If I was black and went to a white counselor who had obvious racist beliefs, yes, I would want to be referred to someone else.

Joe Kidd

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 6:21 a.m.

Myself, I prefer to get care from a person who has no issue with my beliefs than one who does. I do not want to risk substandard assistance.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 6:03 a.m.

I wholeheartedly support Julea Ward on her successful appeal. I share the same Christian beliefs and feel she was within her right to ask the homosexual student be handled by someone else as she was uncomfortable dealing with that student due to her beliefs. The fact the student was passed on to someone else meant no harm so why was Ward fired. This is persecution, nothing less.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:42 a.m.

Let us reverse the scenerio. If a gay counselor refused to treat a cliet who had strong Christian beliefs because said beliefs conflicted with the gay counselor's lifestyle, the gay counselor would be hailed as a national hero by the MSM.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 3:58 a.m.

This case is embarrassing for EMU, who appears to be more interested in making a political statement than in dealing with the situation as it would be dealt with in the real world. I am a psychologist. This sort of thing happens often. The best practice is to refer, just as the student did. Psychotherapy is intimate and relational; most in the profession recognize that this lip service of "checking your values at the door" is crazy talk. Of course my values enter into the session; even if I try for them not to be, I am a real person, not a machine. Moreover, this student did not violate ACA ethical guidelines at all; she did not impose her values on anyway. There would be no penalty for her in the real world to routinely refer LGBT clients; this is done all the time, and if the LGBT community is honest with itself, they would recognize that this is what they want rather than having therapy from someone who will be prejudiced against their lifestyle! Now here's a reality check: there are many other student therapists with beliefs just like this student but who are not so bold. Thus, they go ahead and counsel LGBT clients while harboring subtle prejudices against them. Is this a better situation? Is this what EMU and other universities want? Or do they want to simply outlaw therapy for anyone who can't in good faith affirm LGBT practices? This would have disastrous consequences in many respects, by the way, considering the profession's desperate need for more African American, Latino, and Middle Eastern counselors who are more likely to have religious beliefs at odds with LGBT lifestyles. Finally, this business that the client may have been harmed from the referral (that she apparently did not even know about)? Give me a break! The ACLU, for all the good it does in other areas, is simply trying to score political points here.

Joe Kidd

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 6:23 a.m.

Thank you. That just about clears it up.

Deb Anderson

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 2:15 a.m.

She's in a field where passing judgement is not acceptable. Perhaps she should have reflected upon this before taking the plunge.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:39 a.m.

Your statment is barefacedly false. Therapists and counselors make judgments all the time. When a psychologist sees a patient with something even as mild as a very light case of OCD, is it judgmental of him to prescribe an anti-anxiety drug so that his patient might let her eyelashes grow back? If a high school counselor sees a kid who aced pre-Calc avoiding Calc because he wants to take a Pop Culture as a senior, he shouldn't challenge the kid for fear of being judgmental? Here, she didn't even go there. She knew that her views were inconsistent with the person she was being asked to counsel, so she asked that the person be referred to someone who did not have that conflict. Yet still, you say she is "passing judgement," and beyond that, go so far as to insinuate that she chose the wrong career. That's not judgmental, oh nooo....


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:21 a.m.

She could easily find a position where she can routinely refer LGBT clients. And this is done all the time. It's flat-out discrimination, not to mention incredibly ignorant, to make a statement like this.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 1:08 a.m.

Justice prevailed, congratulations Julea, nail EMU big time ! Good Day


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 12:08 a.m.

@tim--It is "abstain from", not "obtain". I think Ms. Ward should seek employment in a religious school. She will run into a lot of problems again if she expects to be a counselor in the public schools. Right or wrong, the public schools and their counselors don't have the time, flexibility in counseling assignments, or the money to fight in court. The diversity of students, their belief systems and the complexities of growing up in our society today are bound to raise issues with her religious beliefs in this type of situation.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:45 a.m.

Yeah, don't bother applying to the public schools (where your tax dollars go whether you want them to or not), Christian counselors. We don't want your type around here. *sarc*


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:09 a.m.

She could easily find a position where she can routinely refer LGBT clients. It's flat-out discrimination to say she has to be sequestered to religious education.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 9:30 p.m.

I have two degrees from EMU ( as a Huron ). It is a fine school but has made several bad decisions in the past. This is another. EMU can't trample on the Constitution.

Another Michael

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

What should Miss Ward have done differently? Should she have told the client to pray the gay away? Hidden her feelings, thus violating the trust between patient and caregiver? She didn't think herself capable of providing adequate care. She didn't leave the student out in the cold--she directed him to someone who was better equipped to help him with his difficulties. Seems to me that's the professional way to handle it. I think her attitude toward gay people is backward and stupid, and it certainly limits the scope of where she can be an effective counselor. I don't see how that disqualifies her from applying her skills to other clinical situations. Frankly, it's hard to see why this is controversial.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:12 a.m.

"I don't dispute that he's helped a lot of people but if he is seeing a client and this client reveals he or she is gay and the counselor refers the client to another counselor because of that then the counselor is breaking the ACA code of ethics and is causing harm. " This is incorrect. As stated int he article, the ACA permits values-based referrals. This is done all the time.

Another Michael

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 3:32 a.m.

He's a member of the AACC. I'm not sure if he is, or ever has been, a member of the ACA. I don't talk shop with him, and I'm not up on the relevant codes of ethics. That it would be a breach of any ethics code to refer a client to another caregiver in a case that the counselor was ill-equipped to handle strikes me as bizarre. It seems almost written to put the image of the organization ahead of the best interests of those who seek the services of its members.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 2:43 a.m.

"My father is a counselor, by the way. He's also a devoutly religious man. In fact, he runs a private practice that he bills as a "Christian counseling" service. He would do the exact same thing in this situation--refer the student to a more compatible caregiver. I don't share his religion, and I wouldn't go to a "Christian counselor" if I needed that kind of care. Our personal disagreements don't negate that fact that he has helped a lot of people, however." I don't dispute that he's helped a lot of people but if he is seeing a client and this client reveals he or she is gay and the counselor refers the client to another counselor because of that then the counselor is breaking the ACA code of ethics and is causing harm. Maybe your father is not a member of the ACA and maybe he makes it clear that homosexuals are not welcomed in his practice from the outset. You can't say that just because your father does the same thing this woman did, and I hope that's not true, it makes it right.

Another Michael

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

"Would you allow a counselor who thought her religion allows pedophilia to counsel people that it is ok to have a father come to her and then tell him it is ok to have sex with his daughter?" Huh? She didn't counsel the student to do anything illegal or immoral. She recognized an incompatibility and decided against acting as a caregiver under false pretense. Your other examples don't work, either, because she did in fact refer him to someone who could help him. If this had been an emergency, ie a suicide situation, then I would say your argument has merit. There's no indication that was the case here. My father is a counselor, by the way. He's also a devoutly religious man. In fact, he runs a private practice that he bills as a "Christian counseling" service. He would do the exact same thing in this situation--refer the student to a more compatible caregiver. I don't share his religion, and I wouldn't go to a "Christian counselor" if I needed that kind of care. Our personal disagreements don't negate that fact that he has helped a lot of people, however.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 10:43 p.m.

"her attitude toward gay people is backward and stupid, and it certainly limits the scope of where she can be an effective counselor." It actually disqualifies her from being a counselor. Would you allow a counselor who thought her religion allows pedophilia to counsel people that it is ok to have a father come to her and then tell him it is ok to have sex with his daughter? Her OPINION does not matter. If my religion tells me to kill all Jews, does that make it ok to do it? Or better yet, if a Jewish resident doctor had Julea come in as a patient, is he within his rights to say, I will not treat you because you are incorrect in your religious beliefs. Or if he were a Muslim doctor and said, sorry, you are a woman, and my religion tells me men are more important than women so you do not get care, but men do. Or lets make it even more close to this case. A Muslim counselor says his religion does not believe in the consumption of alcohol. Does that mean he can decide that he will not treat an alcoholic? Give me a break. If that is the society you want, then I am going to use my religion too. This case is simple and non-negotiable.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

I have an acquaintance who is a professional counselor and I put this situation to him. He replied that this type of issue, a personal opinion problem comes up often and to avoid problems with providing the best counseling, they switch counselors. So what EMU thinks is different than the real world.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:14 a.m.

As a clinical psychologist, let me second what Mick52 is saying. It's standard practice, Shadin.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 2:44 a.m.

No, it's different from your acquaintance. It doesn't mean it's wrong. Your reasoning is off.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

If a person is in the business of offering advice ( counseling ) and they don't feel that can give the client what they want, then they should obtain from giving them advice. It's like asking a vegan for shopping advice on the best butcher shop in town.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 10:46 p.m.

No, it would be like a vegan saying, he won't treat a person wearing leather, or can not perform his DUTIES as a counselor because the patient eats eggs and you as a counselor can not accept its morality. If you can not accept it, get out of the field, or go get your education from idiots like Marcus Bachmann


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 7:25 p.m.

Please fix paragraph six that starts with, "A three judge panel..."

Aaron Bookvich

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 7:17 p.m.

The bible has more to say about rich folks than gay folks but Christians never seem to mind the rich and their behavior. I am a Christian by the way, but I do feel the church has been taken over by folks with a lot of hate and judgement.


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 7:22 a.m.

Yes, the Bible does have a lot to say about the love of money, but I don't remember it saying that being wealthy is an "abomination" or that rich people should be taken out and stoned, like those who commit zoophilia (that's people who have sex with animals). Not that I'm for anyone being stoned, as in crushed with rocks, for heaven's sake. Not even zoophiles. Just remembering the scriptures, some of the pre-new-dispensation ones, anyway. Not that the New Testament is silent on this, since Paul calls women being with women and men with men "shameful lust" (Romans 1:26-27). Hard to see how that can be diminished as "taken out of context," by the way. Point being: wealth is not inherently bad according to scripture. It's being stingy, uncaring, and uncharitable, and especially being more into your money than God. That's the problem. The other thing seems to have more inherent difficulty, to the point where, well, stoning and the phrase "shameful lust" come into play and never get ameliorated. It's a case of lack of examples of acceptability, too. Lydia, the dyer of purple in the New Testament, is wealthy, but is nevertheless considered righteous. Joseph of Arimathea, too. Pretty well-thought-of guy. Yet we seem to be lacking a similar righteous, unrepentant homosexual of either gender. As far as the church being taken over by haters and those who judge, wouldn't it be great if the modern church could be more like the various governments and other human institutions around the world that arrest people in the middle of the night and send them to prison camps, or wage wars, or take a third of your income away by force, or decide, through eminent domain, that your land isn't your land? That would be awesome! (It's a church, but it's still made up of--shh..., don't tell anybody--imperfect people. Our secret.)


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 6:30 p.m.

What if she refused to counsel anyone over a certain income threshold? What if she were a racist who refused to counsel a member of another race? What if those refusals were couched in religious belief--religious belief not agreed upon by even everyone in your own religion? After all, it's not like all Christians are homophobic bigots; mainly it's just the Christians who are homophobic bigots in the first place and see a lazy justification for it.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 2:47 a.m.

That is a good point. If the American Counseling Association allowed counselors to refer clients because of their own religious beliefs, is homosexuality really against the counselor's religious belief? and if there was such a law, how could we prove what's a valid religious belief that's worth the risk of harming the client.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 10:50 p.m.

"The bible specifically admonishes homosexuality a total of 6 times, and people today use those verses, mostly from Leviticus, out of context in order to suit their own political agendas. The Bible admonishes heterosexual couples a total of 362 times... I could use that fact in order to state that therefore God Hates Straights, now couldn't I? And that would be just as moronic as those who continue to use the Bible, and Gods name, as a way to justify and spread their own hatred based on their own fears and prejudices." Quote from Janies World blog I think says it all


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 7:24 p.m.

Thank you for saying that. I've always admired Jehovah's Witnesses for that exact reason. Jesus said to give what you have to the poor -- so they do.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 6:55 p.m.

This is great news! Congratulations to Jolea Ward and Attorney General Bill Schuette for pushing this issue to the extent they did. This case implicates First Amendment grounds involving the free exercise of religion. The government used an "ethics policy" to run roughshod over her religious beliefs which they should have reasonably accommodated. I am proud the judges of the Sixth Circuit Cout of Appeals have shown due respect for the First Amendment. It is what makes America great.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.

I thought college was a time to learn your strengths and weaknesses? When to tackle a problem and when to ask for help, because in the real world that's exactly how it works! EMU seems to have forgotten this apparently. They have severely failed this student!

Jeff Gaynor

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 10:49 p.m.

She asked for help. They gave it. She refused it. Now what?


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.

Any comment from Ward's lawyers yet?


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

Whatever the outcome of this case, I hope Julea Ward has spent some time wondering if she is in the right profession. She can't "affirm" the lifestyles of about 10% of the population? Does she think the other 90% haven't sinned by whatever other rules her religion has? Once you are in the business of judging (whether your religion pushes you there or for any other reason), you probably shouldn't be in a helping profession like counseling.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:57 a.m.

@dotdash: I guess "you probably shouldn't be in any kind of helping profession" either, since you seem to be pretty good at judging, too.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:17 a.m.

dotdash, There are many counselors who do a lot of good but who choose not to counsel LGBT clients (either due to expertise or values). To say they have to choose another profession is like telling a physician who doesn't want to perform abortions to choose another profession. This attitude is the heights of intolerance.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 7:48 p.m.

EMU would be stupid to take this forward. They may win, but if they lose, it will be a standard that could be applied nationwide. Better to settle with her and let her go on her way. Then they can adjust their policies in the future to do whatever they want. EMU's error here was telling students to do just what she did, tell her adviser she had an issue with a particular client. Unfortunately EMU left out the part that if you do that you could get expelled. Also, in the counseling world, there are lots of places one can work including areas where you don't get clients like the one that concerned her.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 6:45 p.m.

@ERMG: Only if logic and common sense were a requirement of the current judiciary.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

And that, dotdash, is exactly the case EMU will make and why it will win. GN&GL


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 5:31 p.m.

The rabidness of governmental institutions to persecute Christians has become astounding. I'm very glad Julea Ward has won her appeal and I hope she and her lawyers proceed to clean EMU's clock!


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:17 a.m.

Well, at this point, almost 60 people think I'm right that Christians are indeed persecuted regularly, so appartently, your incredulity is off the mark a little. @Enso: so purposefully avoiding a situation where one would have to disagree with someone is bigotry, is it? But attacking someone and calling her a bigot simply because she is living out her faith isn't bigotry? Okay... @fjord @brb11: I didn't say that Christians are the only people being persecuted. Jews are persecuted all the time, especially by people on the left, like Jesse Jackson and the Occupy Wall Street crowd. Remember what Jesse said about New York Jews? Christian kids are being threatened and thrown out of schools across America simply for stating that their religion does not approve of the homosexual lifestyle. There is a high profile case happening in Shawano Wisconsin right now of just this kind of discrimination against a Christian high school student. This despite the fact that this violates the students' 1st Amendment rights to freedom of religious expression. When was the last time you heard of a Muslim or Atheist student being threatened by the administration or thrown out of school because of their religious or value-based expression? Can you name a recent case?


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

@fjord - Slartibartfarst


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 7:36 p.m.

I had a good laugh at the idea of 'persecuted Christians' in America.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 6:17 p.m.

Oh, that's right. It's the *Christians* who are persecuted in this country. Not the Jews or Muslims or Atheists or anyone else ... nope, the Christians, who despite being the predominant religious group in the country since before its founding, despite being members of the religion of choice of the overwhelming (nearly unanimous) majority of government and business leaders, despite having their beliefs and rituals inextricably woven into the everyday lives of all Americans regardless of their personal credos -- no, it's the Christians are persecuted in this country. What a laughable fallacy that is.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

She wasn't persecuted because she was Christian. She is (and should) be persecuted because she is a bigot. In case you forgot, it was Julea Ward who made this about Christianity, not the government.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.

First, I want to say that I support gay rights and I disagree with Julea Ward's views. However, I believe that she was well within her rights and was wronged by the University. I graduated cum laude from EMU. Great school with many great professors. Unfortunately, there are some professors and administrators in positions of power with intense bias against anyone that doesn't follow extreme left-wing views. I once had a professor brag that conservatives tried to indoctrinate students in the 1960's, and now it was their "turn." According to him, liberal indoctrination wasn't only real, but something that his department took seriously and systematically. Well, I'm glad someone fought back. Look's like it's Julea's turn now.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 11:35 p.m.

Wow. Do you work for the O'Reilly "No Spin Zone"? Because that is ONE amazing case of spin. GN&GL


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 9:30 p.m.

@ Mr. Murrow I was actually not attempting to place a value (good or bad) of liberalism with my "wasteland" statement but I recognize now, it could be taken that way. In my mind, a wasteland is a vast expanse of reality where there is only one truth and belief system. Think Mad Max in The Road Warrior ... Using that context, universities are generally a liberal wasteland, not a conservative one and certainly not an objective one. Good Night and Good Luck.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 7:43 p.m.

I had an EMU prof that leans right. Rare though. And while I have no real proof of bias I suspected it with one Prof. I think Lumberg is correct.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 6:10 p.m.

"Or let you know they leaned right (cause just admitting so makes them outcasts in their liberal wasteland)?" Liberal wasteland? Really? So much for your claim of "balance" above. GN&GL


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

All you rabid conservatives that complain about the liberal professors in colleges seem to forget something: the economics departments of ALL universities in this country are overwhelmingly conservative. If you want conservative professors in the liberal arts because you think it's stacked against them, then I believe we should start hiring communist and socialist professors for the economics departments. Enough with these rabid capitalists already!


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 5:51 p.m.

Liberal professors with a cause are nothing new at EMU, or other universities in the land. In fact, can you name any professors who leaned right? Or let you know they leaned right (cause just admitting so makes them outcasts in their liberal wasteland)? But I am not sure this case is about liberal professors - more like liberal policy makers and program administartors who will bend over backwards to support gay rights but only give lip service to all others who might conflict with their cause.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

here is my two cents from a straight male who supports gay rights - and all rights of americans w/o exception Standing back and looking at it from a wider picture, it seems she felt she could not do a proper job in her position because her beliefs created a conflict. As stated, there are protocols in place for conflicts of interest; they were designed because conflicts arise. My understanding is she followed these protocols (established by the program) and she was still terminated. Reverse the positions of the students and the same conflict could happen. Those who sought counseling were (presumably) counseled by others; so they have no claim to have been harmed. People are just to close to this issue to be objective and want to jump on anyone who disagrees with what they see is the "correct" position and want to make this about gay vs. religion. As a libertarian, i could care less if you are a lesbian or whatever, its your right. Get married. Have kids, get benefits - I am all for it. I just dont think one persons rights (real or perceived) justifies violating another persons rights in the name of a "cause" especially when you are not hurt by my position (because, as stated, you can still get counseling, just not from me.) Rights do go both ways. She will win this case ... EMU will lose another big profile case. Any other comments bashing her beliefs are just noise.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 3:13 a.m.

@johnnya2 One correction about your post. In the state of Michigan, pharmacists do have the legal right to refuse to dispense contraceptives, morning after pill, etc...based upon personal beliefs. However, if a pharmacist chooses to act in such fashion, the pharmacist and employer must come to terms as to how to handle such a situation (such as having another staff member available to dispense these items or at least having the pharmacist refer the patient to another pharmacist who would). If the employer shows that it reasonably tried to accommodate that pharmacist's beliefs yet business could not be sustained, at that time the employer could choose to terminate employment. So, going by that explanation, it doesn't appear that EMU made a reasonable effort to accommodate the beliefs of Ms. Ward (granted through an educational program and not employment) before making a decision to expel her from the program without simply referring the client and then discussing the situation with Ms. Ward.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 3:01 a.m.

"Why can she not be a counselor just because it won't be at a secular organization? That decision is up to her future employer." Because she was getting training and a credential to counsel from a secular organization. She can still get training to be a religious counselor from a religious institution. While this issue came up she was counseling clients at the College of Education Counseling Clinic which is not a religious clinic and she was not abiding by the ethics of that clinic or by the ethics of the organization that governs counselors. The facts of this case are very clear. She can believe what she wants but a profession has a right to govern itself and a school has a right to establish its own policies in line with that professions. Counselors must abide by the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics which prohibits discrimination and abandonment of clients, and requires counselors to make clear their values to clients before they enter into counseling with them. Ward refused to see this client after several sessions which is a betrayal of trust and it's been scientifically proven that doing this is extremely harmful to clients, and that the homosexual population is a vulnerable one. "Those who sought counseling were (presumably) counseled by others; so they have no claim to have been harmed."--This statement makes no sense. Why would you assume they were counseled by others and if they were why would that prove they haven't been harmed. She can have personal beliefs but they cannot get in the way of professional beliefs and duties. We must respect and treat our clients even if we disagree with what they do. This case is based on a school's right to uphold those ethics of the profession they are training in. If she graduated and behaved this way in work she'd be fired and the government has already upheld that right in Bruff vs. North Missippi Health Services. Look it up


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

This case was never about competency. It has alway been about conformity. The supreme court just ruled unanimously that religious organizations may violate anti-discrimination laws for those who have a religious role. Julia could function perfectly well in a religious organization that shares her views. Why can she not be a counselor just because it won't be at a secular organization? That decision is up to her future employer.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 7:04 p.m.

Ok, lets put this in perspective. You are in pharmacy school. You are doing practical training at a pharmacy and a person who is not married wants birth control pills. Do you have the RIGHT to not provide them to the client? The courts have repeatedly said they do not have that right. Let's take it to the next level. You are training to be a doctor. Your religion forbids you from prescribing medicine. Are you allowed to ignore that part off the training because of your "beliefs". How about this case, your religion believes that polygamy is ok and that a man may marry a woman at the age of 14. You find out that your 14 year old patient is having sex with a 40 year old man. YOUR religion says this is ok. Do you have a "right" to not report it? What if you religion allows for the sacrifice of virgins and you are a police officer. Do you not arrest a person who you watched sacrifice a virgin? OR, if my religious belief is that of a Rasta. I am a judge. Can I toss all marijuana cases based on my belief that MY religion allows the use of marijuana? This is a clear cut case of a person deciding SHE knows more than the people training her. She should not be allowed to be treating anybody if she has views that are scientifically wrong. It would be like her teaching a science class and saying she doesnt believe in gravity.

Jeff Gaynor

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

This has been a tough case for me to decide which side I'm on. lumberg48108's comment seems entirely reasonable, but how about this perspective: 1) In the public sector - including dining, hotels, etc., you don't have the option to discriminate. Do you as a counselor? May depend on where you work, and with whom. 2) When you are in school to get a degree or to learn to do a job, do you have the option to not learn what is being taught? Does the school have the right to not give you a degree if you haven't demonstrated competency, or if you refuse to do assignments? I would like to hear if this view is on target or faulty.

Ace Ventura

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

@lorie. Facts from this rag? You have to be kidding! Try a real newspaper that hires real reporters. Here's the details. You probably won't see this deleted message. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

david st. crystal

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:44 a.m.

@Tex Are you aware of any other newspaper in Ann Arbor? If the Pioneer Optimist was published daily, I'd happily read that instead. As it stands, we're stuck with this.

Tex Treeder

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 1:44 a.m.

And yet here you all are, reading this very rag you apparently despise. Ironic, ain't it?


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 9:32 p.m.

When this &quot;newspaper&quot; gets too many comments it doesn't agree with it closes off the comments.

Jeff Gaynor

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 5:46 p.m.

@ACE - thanks for the link. (the rest of your comment is a bit nasty). @Steve and @lumberg48108: you both have valid points.


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

I am sure they will do a proper follow-up. Let's assume they are busy with the Obama coverage but wanted to get the story in for us to be informed. In this case, in a era of small staffs, I say let's cut them a break and wait for a real story to follow.

Steve in MI

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

Anyone want to bet that the AA News just reprinted a press release from the plaintiff's attorney / PR shop? We're past the days when journalism was much more than a copy-and-paste from


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

I think your readers are going to need some more facts on this story before the commenting and speculation gets entirely out of hand. Care to add some specifics?


Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

This has been in the news at least 3 or 4 times over the past 6 months. I think a lot of people are already familiar. I am.