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Posted on Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 9:20 a.m.

Julea Ward case: Bill would block religious discrimination against students

By Cindy Heflin

Michigan lawmakers Wednesday heard testimony on a bill that would protect students from discrimination because of their religious beliefs, Michigan Radio reported.

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Julea Ward at Eastern Michigan University.

The bill stems from the case of Julea Ward, an Eastern Michigan University graduate student who was kicked out of a counseling program because she refused to counsel a gay student about a relationship. She said doing so conflicted with her Christian religious beliefs. She instead referred the student to another counselor.

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" and sent the case back to a lower court. EMU denies any bias.

Representatives of psychological and social work organization warned lawmakers the bill could jeopardize accreditation for universities’ counseling programs.

The legislation is before the House education committee.



Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

I see no issue with Julea Ward. If you are a counselor, you can pass situations you do not think you can help to another counselor. If you were a counselor given a suicide call and did not think you could help, would you be forced to deal with it. What if that person did something terrible. Is that what we are teaching, you must be the one to resolve the problem if not sure of yourself in handling it? I do not go to a cardiac doctor and expect him to treat a skin problem. They are both doctors aren't they??


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.

It seems to me that Julea is using her religious beliefs to discriminate against those who might need her help.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

I was waiting for a comment about conflicts of interest and how conflicts arise in all areas and protocols are set up to deal with them my understanding remains that she FOLLOWED protocols set in place by EMU (or the program) and was still punished. for that reason, my belief is she will win her case against EMU too much emotion because its religion and it crowds people objectvity


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 4:47 a.m.

She's not going to be a very good counselor is she just keeps referring people away for her "religious" reasons. But I guess people will like that if she just advertises herself that way. "I will not see people that are gay, left wing, democrats, hippies, pro choice, people that have colored socks..."

John of Saline

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.

Yeah, I don't get it. She referred the client, as per training. The client got counseling. So what's the issue, again?

Henry Ruger

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 5:51 p.m.

I thought that her problem was that her beliefs prevented her from actively encouraging someone leaning gay to become gay. She said she would counsel gays, that she would even counsel gays about their sexuality if she was allowed to present alternatives. That's what I recall from the original briefs. EMU was insisting that she encourage someone who was thinking about being gay to become gay. It was required that counseling students "affirm" homosexuality. She asked her prof what to do about a client who had sexuality concerns and was told to refer. The ACA code of ethics and even Ward's textbook recommend referral if there are moral or ethical concerns on the part of the counselor.

Henry Ruger

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

&quot;How, exactly, does one &quot;become&quot; gay? It is like becoming a Methodist? Joining the Rotary Club?&quot; We won't be able to settle that question in the comments section of, Ivor, but it's far from closed: "Overall, genetics accounted for around 35 per cent of the differences between men in homosexual behavior and other individual-specific environmental factors (that is, not societal attitudes, family or parenting which are shared by twins) accounted for around 64 per cent. In other words, men become gay or straight because of different developmental pathways, not just one pathway." <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Not the point, though, when we're talking about religious beliefs --- unless we're going to outlaw some well-establushed ones.

Ivor Ivorsen

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.

How, exactly, does one &quot;become&quot; gay? It is like becoming a Methodist? Joining the Rotary Club?


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

In the 70's I was accepted into a Veterinary Technology Program at a junior college. In one of the courses a perfectly healthy dog was euthanized just so we could see its insides. I protested by not showing up for class after the dog was dead as I was totally opposed to euthanizing animals for any reason. I ended up failing the class for that reason alone. In the last semester of the two year program another situation came up where we had to kill and dissect a mouse. I refused. After the class the head of the program had a long talk with me and told me I needed to consider a different profession as euthanasia is just part of the business. I graduated from the program. I worked at a pet store and for a vet clinic eventually - but not as a technician. I never had to euthanize an animal myself, but eventually grew to understand that, yes, euthanasia can and is done for humane reasons (too bad it doesn't work that way for humans!). My point is, you do what is required of you while in an educational institution. I should have realized that to get the degree I sought would require the killing of animals for me to learn. (I still don't agree with that aspect). Ms. Ward must have known that she would be asked to work with individuals whose lifestyles she would be opposed to. She can't pick and choose what part of a curriculum she can follow. It's everything or go somewhere else or do something else. Let's hope our government can continue to separate religious beliefs from reality. Allowing religions to control our education will just open a huge can of snakes - I mean worms. Another thought is that the individual whom she was going to counsel should have been advised of her discriminatory beliefs so s/he could request to be counseled by a non-homophopic as seeing her would likely have been of a demeaning nature and a waste of time; and perhaps kept this individual from seeking counseling from someone more qualified because of this one bad experience.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

This is a labor case that could have a profound outcome for employees of every profession. No matter how much specificity is used in crafting this law, its fallout could be far different from its original intention. Stick to the plans, and if you don't want to get your nails dirty don't dig ditches. Please think twice Legislators!


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

So what? Separation of church and state! Her religious ideals have no place in a school setting. It's so hypocritical of her to say I'm Being Discriminated Against because I'm Christian!! When she was the one discriminating against the student. She should got to Ava Maria or Calvin College.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 10:17 p.m.

Separation of church and state does not mean the the state (in this case, a public university) can separate a person from his or her religion. Sorry. There are places that work that way, if you'd like to live there.

David Briegel

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 4:54 p.m.

I believe it is time for the professionals to more clearly define the line between faith and delusion. I previously noted that I had a desire for America to become the Theocracy desired by so many. Then we would truly see the nature or the &quot;religions of peace&quot; as they all would be at war to determine whose version of the &quot;good book&quot; and the mythology surrounding the same, would be used to decide what's right for America!

David Briegel

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

...of the religions of peace. sorry

David Briegel

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

Does this mean we can now teach that Jesus walked with the dinosaurs?

Usual Suspect

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.

If you want to, yes, you have that right.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

what if she were muslim and not christian? would the same people who are critical of her stay the course? its interesting to think about - how it would be different if she were a muslim. universities have bent over backwards to accommodate muslims recently. my take is many who are against her position would be on her side and many who are with her now would be critical of her if that is the case then both sides are fueled by emotion and bias and not law or policy honestly folks, it would be a different situation and we all know it to be the case


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 4:43 p.m.

@johnnya2 you missed my point -- YOU would feel the same every time but my position is, many would change their tune. I could be right or wrong but that is how I see things. I did not place a position on the arguement for or against in my comment so I cannot &quot;lose&quot; at all - I made a statement that I think things would be different


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

I would feel exactly the same way,. In fact, if a Muslim had the belief that interest on loan is evil, could they stop paying the interest on their student loans? Some Muslims believe ANY consumption of alcohol is wrong. If a student came to a counselor because something happened while they were drunk, would you be so quick to side with them? Your religious freedom is limited. I can not smoke marijuana as a Rastafarian. I can not sacrifice virgins because I &quot;believe&quot; in it. Would you accept a lawyer who said it is not murder of that virgin based on his religious freedoms? So go ahead, let's play your what ifs. You will lose every time.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

In Wallace v. Jaffree (1985), Justice William Rehnquist called the "wall of separation" a "metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging" and "should be frankly and explicitly abandoned." Justice Potter Stewart frequently complained that decisions based on a doctrine of strict separation display a hostility to religion and threaten to establish a "religion of secularism." Stewart was fond of citing Justice William O. Douglas's pronouncement in Zorach v. Clauson (1952) that "We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a supreme being."


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

Just imagine: two Supreme Court Justices being wrong!


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

all religion is based in discrimination. &quot;my beliefs are right and everyone else is eternally doomed.&quot; seems to be the epitome of discrimination. This is why it should have no place in our schools/government.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

@Forever27: Jesus' prime directive was to love thy neighbor as much as one loves oneself. Over 2,000 years later billions of people try to follow his servant leadership model. Is it fair to attack the pure religious philosophy based on the flawed manner in which flawed individuals try to implement that philosophy in their daily lives?

Dog Guy

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

&quot;But representatives of national psychological and social work associations say the religious exemption could jeopardize their ability to train students as professionals. &quot; &quot;Representatives of psychological and social work organization warned lawmakers the bill could jeopardize accreditation for universities' counseling programs.&quot; These association representatives talk like union bosses. Is this another story about right-to-work legislation?


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

Once again, I don't think its the place of our legislature to meddle in University affairs given the clear intent of our state constitution. Making a school put their stamp of approval on a student that cannot meet the liscensing criteria of a profession that requires such certification is not in the best interests of this state, its college students or its religious institutions. Ms. Ward should have gone to a religious institutuion - at least then people seeking her help will know what they are getting into.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 10:14 p.m.

I don't think its the place of our legislature to meddle in PRIVATE University affairs given the clear intent of our state constitution.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

who do you think pays for these universities?


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 3:48 p.m.

exactly! she claims to be persecuted for her beliefs, but her beliefs were discriminatory towards the students she refused to help. If she wants to be able to have those views impact her work, she needs to step out of the public (and SECULAR) arena.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

God bless Julea Ward; a true heroine. I am proud that Michigan lawmakers are considering this groundbreaking bill.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

If you want to live and work in a theocracy, move to Iran or the Vatican City.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 3:48 p.m.

or midwestern America

Ron Granger

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

Leave your religion and personal biases at the door, or don't take the job. As part of working an living, I have had to do a lot of things in my life that I have not agreed with. People who claim a religion based exception are asking for special treatment. They should not get special exceptions as a result of claiming some religion. My chosen &quot;religion&quot; is against war. Yet I still must pay taxes to support many wars. Get over it. I can remember an early job where I had to clean the bathrooms at the end of the night. Anyone know of a religion I could have claimed that would have allowed me to skip that? I would have converted! OMG - you use condoms? I can't work with you! OMG - you had relations outside of marriage? I can't work with you! OMG - you eat meat? I can't work with you! OMG - you work on the sabbath? I can't work with you! Where does it end?

Michigan Reader

Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 11:13 p.m.

Some people take jobs BECAUSE of their religion, i.e., to help people. For example, social services agencies. But, that's not absolute, they won't violate sacred beliefs. If using condoms, having relations outside of marriage, eating meat, and working on the sabbath aren't ENABLED by a Christian, there's nothing wrong with working with them.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

..and what about protecting others from the religious bigotry of students , or anybody else? ( since such bigotry is the worst kind, there being no reason to feel guilt if god is behind you).