Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Freedom of Speech Upheld

Sometimes our courts stand firmly for our Constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and of speech:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled Friday in favor of Julea Ward, an Eastern Michigan University [EMU] graduate student represented by Alliance Defense Fund attorneys who was expelled from a counseling program for her beliefs...EMU initiated its disciplinary process against Ward shortly after she enrolled in a counseling practicum course in January 2009, when she was assigned a potential client seeking assistance regarding a sexual relationship that was contrary to her religious convictions. Ward recognized the potential conscience issue with the client, and asked her supervisor how to handle the matter. Ward was advised to reassign the potential client to a different counselor. EMU then informed Ward that she could only stay in the counseling program if she agreed to undergo a “remediation” program. Its purpose was to help her “see the error of her ways” and change her “belief system” as it relates to counseling about homosexual relationships.

In its ruling in Ward's favor, the 6th Circuit wrote:

• “Ward was willing to work with all clients and to respect the school’s affirmation directives in doing so. 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, for example, the ban on discrimination against clients based on their religion (1) 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 and (2) does not require an atheist counselor to tell a person of faith that there is a God if the client is wrestling with faith-based issues. Tolerance is a two-way street. Otherwise, the rule mandates orthodoxy, not anti-discrimination...A university cannot compel a student to alter or violate her belief systems based on a phantom policy as the price for obtaining a degree…. Why treat Ward differently? That her conflict arose from religious convictions is not a good answer; that her conflict arose from religious convictions for which the department at times showed little tolerance is a worse answer.”

In contrast to this decision, there have been many recent rulings against the freedom of speech and of religion and in favor of one dominant, monopolistic secular religion which seeks conformity in speech and even in thought. They have refused to allow the free expression of viewpoints, arguing that these expressions are offensive. However, just about everything is going to offend somebody. I am offended by much I see on TV. I am offended by the biases of the mainstream media. However, if offense becomes the test of what can be said, we will all be rendered mute.

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