ASU posts suit response on Facebook

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 11:32 AM
Last updated Tuesday, Aug 10, 2010 5:59 PM
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Augusta State University posted a note on its official page on Facebook, a social media site, to respond to a lawsuit filed earlier this month.



ASU and state Board of Regents officials said last week they couldn't talk about the lawsuit, which claims ASU professors demanded Jennifer Keeton suppress her views on homosexuals to remain in a college counseling program.ASU's statement, posted on Facebook this morning and provided to a Chronicle reporter on Tuesday, says this: 

There has been much media attention focused on an allegation of discrimination by a student in our counseling program. Augusta State University, a unit of the University System of Georgia, does not discriminate against any individuals on the basis of their personal, social, political, or religious beliefs or views. No student is asked to change their religious beliefs or views in order to participate in any program.

I will refer you to the Board of Regents Policy Manual: 4.1.2 Non-Discrimination: The Board of Regents stipulates that no USG student, on the ground of race, color, sex, religion, creed, national origin, age or handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity conducted by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia or any of its several institutions now in existence or hereafter established (BOR Minutes, October, 1969, p. 154; 1979-80, p. 15).

ASU adheres to the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics. Standard A.1.a of the code of ethics states that the “primary responsibility of counselors is to respect the dignity and to promote the welfare of clients.”

The ASU Counselor Education program is committed to ensuring that graduates both understand and can fulfill their obligations to set personal values aside and empower clients to solve their own problems. As counselor educators in a CACREP accredited program, faculty have a duty to ensure that those completing our program will affirm and abide by these ethical codes in all counseling situations.

The counseling profession requires its practitioners to recognize that people set and adhere to their own moral compass. The professional counselor’s job is to help clients clarify their current feelings and behaviors and to help them reach the goals that they have determined for themselves, not to dictate what those goals should be, what morals they should possess, or what values they should adopt.

ASU will not comment on pending litigation or the individual status of any student.

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scoopdedoop64
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scoopdedoop64 07/28/10 - 10:42 am
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"No student is asked to

"No student is asked to change their religious beliefs or views in order to participate in any program"

Yet this is exactly what Jennifer is stating that they did. If she can prove it then she will win her case if she cannot then so be it. It is that simple and people should refrain from making negative comments about her or the school until all the facts are revealed.

Pastor Dan White
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Pastor Dan White 07/28/10 - 10:46 am
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ASU says, "The ASU Counselor

ASU says, "The ASU Counselor Education program is committed to ensuring that graduates both understand and can fulfill their obligations to set personal values aside."

It's one thing to require that personal values be set aside. It's quite another to require religion and religious convictions be set aside. They are not one in the same.

ASU says, "The counseling profession requires its practitioners to recognize that people set and adhere to their own moral compass." But no where does the profession require a person to set aside religion and religious convictions. A heterosexual Christian can without bias counsel a homosexual without imposing his/her views on him/her. And again, we are not talking about about a person out there practicing the counseling profession. The issue is requiring a person in a State University with religious beliefs and convictions that are contrary to the State University's psychology department to undergo additional training because of her religion and religious convictions which is a violation of the First Amendment.

How does the University know how Jennifer will counsel once she is out there on the field? They are assuming too much that her religious convictions will hinder her counseling ability and skills.

Pastor Dan White
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Pastor Dan White 07/28/10 - 10:51 am
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American Counseling

American Counseling Association Code of Ethics. Standard A.1.a of the code of ethics states that the “primary responsibility of counselors is to respect the dignity and to promote the welfare of clients.”

As a heterosexual Christian who has religious convictions that homosexuality is wrong, she can still respect the dignity and promote the welfare of her clients - all of her clients including those who might be homosexual.

I have seen nothing in the reports in the paper or the national media which is now covering the story that says she denigrates or holds homosexuals in contempt and will somehow not respect their dignity and promote their welfare if a homosexual seeks her counsel.

ASU is grasping at straws in this case trying to justify their violation of Jennifer's First Amendment rights.

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 07/28/10 - 10:50 am
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I also stated that the big

I also stated that the big red squirrel in my backyard is God, but just like Ms. Keeton, I can't prove it either.

Pastor Dan White
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Pastor Dan White 07/28/10 - 11:04 am
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Yes, baron, you are correct.

Yes, baron, you are correct. The faith life is just what it is - faith, but for me, it is not a leap into the darkness but a leap into the arms of God. You may deny God but you cannot deny the experiences I've had with the Lord or rationalize them away. You can try to rationalize them away, laugh at them, and say I'm delusional, but they are still my experiences as a result of trust and faith.

God is not a calculus problem that can be reasoned out and proved. He is not a scientific theorem or hypothesis that can be proved or disproved.

Yet, once a person enters the unseen world of faith, it is the most logical and real world of all. For me, how else can the little hummingbirds in my backyard know when and where to return each year after their migratory journey to Central America? How else can the little turtle hatchling make its way to the sea and return to the exact same spot thirty years later to lay her eggs? I guess logically, you can explain all of this. But for me, I see God as putting His GPS device in these creatures directing them, guiding them, and leading them. Faith is a real world for me and all believers.

Maybe one day, you will see with faith's eyes and behold the beauty and majesty of God instead of the mess that religion and mankind has made.

bone1
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bone1 07/28/10 - 10:56 am
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Do we know if the student in

Do we know if the student in question made comments which gave instructors reason to believe she would not be able to fulfill her role as defined in the code of ethics? It seems to me that the student is not a good fit for this program and she needs to find a school whose program more closely matches her personal & professional beliefs.

Pastor Dan White
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Pastor Dan White 07/28/10 - 11:09 am
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bone1 - Is the State

bone1 - Is the State University then to deny admission to every student who is religious and hold religious convictions. Suppose a Muslim who may and most likely also hold religious convictions about homosexuality be denied admission to the counseling program?

Are admissions into the counseling program and the right to finish that program going to be denied because of a person's religion or relgious convictions.

The program may not be a good fit for Jennifer, but as an American citizen with First Amendment religious rights, she has a right to attend and complete the program.

fishpondruthie
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fishpondruthie 07/28/10 - 11:13 am
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Please if we could all

Please if we could all refrain from speculation, the truth will be told, and those of us who are christians do not have to throw the first stone. Lets give each side the benefit of the doubt. I am sure we do not know all the facts on either side.

Dixieman
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Dixieman 07/28/10 - 11:13 am
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C'mon, AC, need another photo

C'mon, AC, need another photo of the lovely Ms. Keeton! Articles about her are boring without photos...

jb1234
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jb1234 07/28/10 - 11:20 am
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While I think that the

While I think that the college should respect the girl's religious and social views, etc, the girl should realize that the college faculty has a point. She wants to be a counselor, she's going to have to interact and help people from all sorts of backgrounds, even backgrounds that she doesn't believe in. She's going to have to sometimes put her views and opinions aside in order to appropriately help someone. I think what the faculty was trying to do was simply show the girl that she's going to have to interact with all sorts of people, and that she'll have to be mentally prepared for anything. I really don't think that they were just saying that since she's Christian, she's either got to revoke those beliefs or get kicked out of the program. I really think that the faculty had her best interests at heart, she just seems to have gotten offended and blown the whole situation way out of proportion. Just my 2 cents.

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 07/28/10 - 11:22 am
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Ms. Keeton, like all

Ms. Keeton, like all students, only has the right to work, study, and perform in order to adequately meet or surpass the pre-defined requirements and standards of the counseling program.

ohhsweetconcord
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ohhsweetconcord 07/28/10 - 11:21 am
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What a dumb lawsuit. They

What a dumb lawsuit. They never required her to change her beliefs. They just felt like she shared them waaaay to much. Everyone has had somebody like this in their class. If ASU felt like she couldn't keep her mouth shut about homosexuality when counseling, then they shouldn't give her accreditation.

What if this issue about been about sex education? The only reason people are up in arms about it is because they think her values are "religious" and not personal. All values are personal.

bone1
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bone1 07/28/10 - 11:24 am
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If the student is admitted to

If the student is admitted to a program which requires a particular objectivity and the student's behavior indicates a lack of ethical concepts, then I do believe a degree or license conferring agency is obligated to deny or reject the student. If, however, the student is making folks uncomfortable with her outspokenness, I don't believe asu is acting appropriately.

Pastor Dan White
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Pastor Dan White 07/28/10 - 11:26 am
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Well, I am sad to say, but it

Well, I am sad to say, but it looks like ASU is going to win this case. FoxNews just posted this story that a similar case brought by a Christian student against Eastern Michigan University and represented by the lawyers who are representing Jennifer Keeton ruled in favor of Eastern Michigan University that removed a Christian student from its graduate program in school counseling over her belief that homosexuality is morally wrong.

The FoxNews story is here:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/07/28/court-university-expel-student-oppo...

Since a federal judge ruled in favor of Eastern Michigan, a precedent has been set.

Now, I wonder if the case against ASU will be dropped since the cases are so similar.

For me, it's a sad day for religious students who hold religious convictions that can be kicked out of any program of a State University.

puppydog
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puppydog 07/28/10 - 11:27 am
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From the sounds of it thus

From the sounds of it thus far, it appears as though Ms. Keeton is so set in her ways and beliefs that she could not objectively deal with a patient in her care whose sexual orientation and beliefs are contrary to hers. Does not sound like she is a good candidate to be a counselor. A counselor has to be objective, compassionate & not have an agenda & not make their patient/client feel inferior and that who they are is un-Christian or wrong if they happen to hold a different sexual pursuasion or religious views from Ms. Keeton. I am on ASU's side on this one. And I am straight, BTW, but it is not up to me or a psychologist to preach morals or sexual pursuasion. Don't cave in, ASU. Sounds like just someone with an agenda looking for a big payout.

Pastor Dan White
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Pastor Dan White 07/28/10 - 11:31 am
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ohhsweetconcord - from what I

ohhsweetconcord - from what I read and understand, ASU is requiring her to change her religious beliefs and convictions. The Chonicle story reported, "Jennifer Keeton, 24, plans to press forward with her lawsuit against the university if she is NOT ALLOWED TO RETAIN her biblical viewpoints and remain a graduate student at ASU."

The Chronicle's story on this is at this link:

http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/crime-courts/2010-07-22/christian-stud...

But, I think the case is mute after the federal judge's ruling in the Eastern Michigan case. Read it here:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/07/28/court-university-expel-student-oppo...

bone1
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bone1 07/28/10 - 11:32 am
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Good post, puppydog. Pastor

Good post, puppydog. Pastor Dan, I hope she finds a good counseling program that better supports her strong convictions.

Pastor Dan White
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Pastor Dan White 07/28/10 - 11:34 am
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puppydog - that is an

puppydog - that is an assumption you are making and not based on fact. You are assuming that her religious beliefs and convictions will keep her from being objective with counselees who are homosexual. No where have I found in these stories that she has an agenda to counsel homosexuals to become heterosexuals.

bone1
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bone1 07/28/10 - 11:42 am
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Pastor Dan, is it possible

Pastor Dan, is it possible that asu made an appropriate determination that the student's religious beliefs are going to prevent her from following the ethical code adopted by the school? Wouldn't we want the school to offer an opportunity to the student to deepen her study of the basic tenets of ethics in her field with remedial classes? It seems to me the school is trying to help her.

Pastor Dan White
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Pastor Dan White 07/28/10 - 11:46 am
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bone1 - based on today's

bone1 - based on today's ruling in favor of Eastern Michigan, it looks like she will have to or follow through with the psychology's department requirement that she change her religious convictions and attend diversity training and events.

I guess all future Christian students who hold her convictions will be denied entry to a State University's counseling programs. Wheww - it's a strange day we live in when religious practices and convictions are used by State Universities to prohibit the admission and completion of a counseling program.

Personally, I think the First Amendment religious rights of students have just gone down the drain. It's kind of scary to me.

I have several homosexual friends who I respect, have lunch with, and converse with. I respect them. They respect me. I don't preach to them and accept them as they are. I disagree with their lifestyle but that doesn't stop me from accepting and fellowshiping with them and them with me.

I have a couple who attend my church who live together without marriage. I disagree with that lifestyle too but love and accept them even as Christ accepted the Samaritan woman who was living with a man not her husband. I never read where Jesus condemned the woman or told her to leave the man. Instead Jesus offered her the Living Water of Himself. She then went into the village and the whole town came and heard Christ and invited Him to stay with them.

Clearly acceptance of someone in grace and love does not mean agreement with a lifestyle. It seems to me that I am to do the accepting and let God do the changing, and I would hope that the same grace and love would be given to me because I am still a work in progress.

Pastor Dan White
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Pastor Dan White 07/28/10 - 11:51 am
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bone1 - I agree. ASU was

bone1 - I agree. ASU was trying to help her, but I think requiring her to take more training soley based on her religion and religious convictions is a violation of First Amendment rights.

If she was not religious and made such an anti-homosexual statement, then there would be no violation of her First Amendment rights, and the University would be within their rights to require diversity training. The issue is a constitutional issue of religious rights.

And again, I obviously am wrong on this because of the Eastern Michigan ruling today. Or could it be the federal judge is wrong?

I wonder if the ADF will appeal or even if they can appeal. Not familiar with the legal process.

Anyway, that's about it for me today.

Blessings to all.

ripjones
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ripjones 07/28/10 - 12:03 pm
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Pastor Dan - first and

Pastor Dan - first and foremost, I'm agreeing with you, for the most part. The UM woman apparently stated that she would not counsel a homosexual person. If that is actually true, then I think I see the problem. If you feel called to be a counselor, or a minister, you can't pick your clients or your parishoners, per se. We have homosexuals attending my church. You can still love the person, just not the sin. If Ms. Keeton can still counsel the homosexual client, then I have no problem. Unlike the UM student, who states she won't, then I have to agree with UM.

gaspringwater
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gaspringwater 07/28/10 - 12:08 pm
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You could guess the student

You could guess the student is grandstanding. Being a defender of the faith and making a scene to get notoriety. That'll put more bucks in her pocket than the average counseling job. And the faithful will be willing to pay for her lawyer too. Churches will be taking up love offerings.

Something like the Alabama judge Roy Moore who got attention by moving the statue of the Ten Commandments into the courthouse. He was defending the faith and laying the ground work to run for political office.

ohhsweetconcord
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ohhsweetconcord 07/28/10 - 12:14 pm
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Pastor - I think you have a

Pastor - I think you have a misunderstanding of the situation. Just because the girl says they were trying to change her religious convictions does mean ASU went about doing it. If you think homosexuality is wrong, you should still be able to become a counselor. But she said homosexuals have "identity confusion." That's...um...a secular, psychological position. Atheists could very well feel the same way.

Talkatoast
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Talkatoast 07/28/10 - 12:24 pm
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We only have one side of the

We only have one side of the story: hers. The facts could be skewed in her favor, and she could be skewing the facts in her favor. We don't really know if they're trying to get her to change her beliefs.

ASSUMING they're not, she SHOULD take more courses. I am willing to bet she is not the only student to express her religious beliefs, so she must have been adamant about them to attract the concern of the school. And this is a concern, because counseling is supposed to be an objective profession, and if she cannot tone down her beliefs at school, then there's a real possibility she won't do the same at her job. The school wants to make certain she can do her job without her values or beliefs getting in the way, because counseling isn't about telling someone what to do, but to help them sort out their own values and beliefs to obtain a higher value of mental health. And they have every right to refuse her graduation if she cannot comply with their standards. This isn't to say she would be expressive about her beliefs in her job, but the school wants to make certain she can be objective, and, again, they have every right.

Now if they are forcing her to change her beliefs, then they are in the wrong.

Laguria
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Laguria 07/28/10 - 12:24 pm
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Keeton said if she got a

Keeton said if she got a homosexual client she would refer it to someone else. This lady does not need to be a counselor if she is incapable of dealing with a certain part of the population. Good thing she is not anti-black, anti-hispanic or anti-muslim.

Talkatoast
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Talkatoast 07/28/10 - 12:29 pm
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Laguria, can you post a link

Laguria, can you post a link to that quote, please?

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 07/28/10 - 12:29 pm
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"For me, it's a sad day for

"For me, it's a sad day for religious students who hold religious convictions that can be kicked out of any program of a State University."
----------------------------------
Pastor Dan completely misses the facts of the matter. The woman was not kicked out of this program based on her religious convictions. She did not meet the previously stated standards and criteria of the program. Professors intervened and suggested alternative courses and methods for Ms. Keeton in order to bring her proficiency up to those standards and she refused to partake in those suggested courses and methods. Thems the facts.

dominionfs
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dominionfs 07/28/10 - 12:34 pm
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Pastor Dan says :- Clearly

Pastor Dan says :- Clearly acceptance of someone in grace and love does not mean agreement with a lifestyle. It seems to me that I am to do the accepting and let God do the changing, and I would hope that the same grace and love would be given to me because I am still a work in progress.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Your comment Pastor Dan is indicative of a Christian response to the situation whereas Ms Keeton is all about religion.
Ms Keeton was never told to change her Christian faith, simply to rein in her religious ideology.
Many consider the terms Christianity and religion as synonymous and interchangable. Obviously, the difference between your response and Ms Keeton's would imply that is not neccesarily always true.

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