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Christian student sues ASU

School says master's candidate must change beliefs, suit states

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An Augusta State University graduate student is facing dismissal from the university's counseling program unless she silences her convictions on homosexuality and gender identity, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Jennifer Keeton is suing ASU for trying to silence her religious views.   Special
Special
Jennifer Keeton is suing ASU for trying to silence her religious views.


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, according to the complaint filed by the Alliance Defense Fund. The complaint names ASU President William Bloodworth and professors Mary Jane Anderson-Wiley, Paulette Schenck and Richard Deaner as defendants, according to the documents filed in United States District Court in Augusta.

"Jennifer Keeton has not been accused of mistreating a client," said David French, senior counsel for ADF, a legal alliance that supports religious freedom. "She's being told, 'You must change your beliefs or we'll deny you a degree.' "

Keeton claims that she has voiced her Christian beliefs inside and outside the classroom on homosexuality and other biblical teachings. ASU faculty has ordered her to undergo a remediation plan, which would include diversity sensitivity workshops, she says.

Professors also suggested that she attend Augusta's Gay Pride Parade last month, Keeton told her attorneys. As a part of the plan, she would report back once a month to faculty to determine whether the activities have an impact on her convictions.

Keeton, who is from the Atlanta area, plans to become a school counselor, and says she refuses to change her religious beliefs. She enrolled in the program last fall, but was not asked to begin the remediation plan until this summer.

"While I want to stay in the school counseling program, I know that I can't honestly complete the remediation plan knowing that I would have to alter my beliefs," Keeton said in a video produced by the defense fund. "I'm not willing to, and I know I can't change my biblical views."

Her lawyers declined a request for an interview with Keeton.

The defense fund has handled similar cases the past few years. A Missouri State University social work student filed suit against the university when she was asked to change her views on same-sex adoption, French said. The university later settled. An Eastern Michigan University counseling student filed suit when the university threatened to dismiss her for her religious views. The case is still pending.

"This is an emerging trend in education, social work and counseling," French said. "Schools are trying to ensure that their children graduate with a particular world view."

Edward Delgado-Romero, a University of Georgia associate professor of counseling psychology, said he is not familiar with the case, but is aware that every university counseling program has national guidelines on training and practice. Every student entering the counseling field should be aware of what is considered acceptable, he said.

"All programs that are training professional counselors have guidelines, not in terms of belief but in terms of behavior during training and treatment," Delgado-Romero said. "A student saying 'I personally have religious beliefs against this group, and I will convince my clients to believe this' would be a conflict."

Delgado-Romero said that UGA's faculty would not force a student to change their beliefs, but there would be discussions on how personal beliefs should not affect treatment of clients.

Messages left for an Augusta State University spokeswoman were not returned Thursday evening.

Though Keeton has refused the remediation plan, the university has not taken steps to dismiss her, French said.

Keeton is suing the university for actual and nominal damages to vindicate her "constitutional injuries," according to court documents. She is also requesting that the university pay for her attorney fees.

"I really want to serve others," Keeton said. "I want to strengthen and prepare young people for the challenges they will face."


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johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 07/22/10 - 04:12 pm
0
0
Amazing! So ASU is an

Amazing! So ASU is an anti-Christian school? If you're not pro-homosexual then you can't counsel? Will the university have to change its name to ASLU? (Augusta State Liberal University)
Maybe all Ms. Keeton needs to do is promise not to be argumentative.
Well, I'm sure the university will have some comment.

curly123053
4969
Points
curly123053 07/22/10 - 04:14 pm
0
0
Way to stand up for your

Way to stand up for your beliefs Jennifer. You have my support and prayers in this matter. It is about time somebody is standing up to the muzzling of the Christian population in this country.

baronvonreich
0
Points
baronvonreich 07/22/10 - 04:24 pm
0
0
I guess she doesn't believe

I guess she doesn't believe in the parts of the Bible that tell her to be subservient to men and to respect her elders. How convenient and oh so.......can you smell it........smell it yet........OH THE HYPOCRISY!

3g
0
Points
3g 07/22/10 - 04:32 pm
0
0
Ms. Keeton , If you wish to

Ms. Keeton , If you wish to use your OPINION of how our race EVOLVED , then get a job working in the church of your choice , ASU faculty is DEFINITELY within their rights to dictate the terms of this counselor position - you don't like it , find another one .

Labatt
0
Points
Labatt 07/22/10 - 04:33 pm
0
0
When did ASU become a

When did ASU become a christain school? I hope ASU counter sues for their legal fee's. You bible thumpers don't run the world. Get over yourselves.

Labatt
0
Points
Labatt 07/22/10 - 04:37 pm
0
0
"While I want to stay in the

"While I want to stay in the school counseling program, I know that I can’t honestly complete the remediation plan knowing that I would have to alter my beliefs,” .... well, then go to a brainwash (christian) school. Or you could always change your major.

howcanweknow
2306
Points
howcanweknow 07/22/10 - 04:37 pm
0
0
Where's academic freedom and

Where's academic freedom and freedom of speech here? Sounds like ASU is now censoring opinions, and will only allow what it considers "permissible", as defined by the resident thought police. I thought universities were open to all ideas without fear of retribution? This is a sad commentary on the state of public education. ASU should know better. I thought they were better than that.

howcanweknow
2306
Points
howcanweknow 07/22/10 - 04:39 pm
0
0
Labatt, get a life. It's not

Labatt, get a life. It's not about Bible thumping. It's about tolerance and freedom to express your ideas, both of which you seem to deny unless someone agrees with you. Hey, are you an ASU official?

confederate american
0
Points
confederate american 07/22/10 - 04:39 pm
0
0
Labatt- no we don't but GOD

Labatt- no we don't but GOD does,you get over yourself,i'll pray for you and all like you.

3g
0
Points
3g 07/22/10 - 04:41 pm
0
0
Howcan - It's called being

Howcan - It's called being unbiased , a requirement for the position on offer - religion has no place in schools other than courses being specifically taught .
Here Here Labatt !!!!!!!

larrym
0
Points
larrym 07/22/10 - 04:49 pm
0
0
Being a professional

Being a professional counselor is a rewarding and demanding job. Been doing it since 1987 and I do believe in Christ. In counseling, transference related issues can arise within a therapist. The therapist's personal belief system and personal views can spill over into their clients life and has great potential to do emotional damage. I cannot speak for the staff at ASU for their reasoning. People seek therapist, and counselors for guidance and to vent their problems. Yes, prayer and conversion to Christianity are powerful tools but in the secular counseling field are not the tools of trade. I do have a question, would Ms. Keeton allow homosexuals in her church to particiapte in prayer and other church related activities? Would she be willing to counsel homosexuals without mentioning her own beliefs?
I do know for a fact many therapists counselors etc have strong believes in God. But they address the problems of their clients without preaching or quoting Bibical verses. Many of the "Counseling Ethics Boards" in the U.S. have strong ethical agreements with their professionals and the professional have agreed to not to share their own personal or religious views. It is not illegal but unethical.

Asked any LMSW, LCSW, LMFT, or LPC how much Bibical verses they use in the "secular counseling world."

In counseling, it is not about me and my beliefs it is about my client and what they came to see me for, pretty simple.

JackBootedThug
0
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JackBootedThug 07/22/10 - 04:50 pm
0
0
Good for you Jennifer

Good for you Jennifer Keaton!!! I will pray for you and your quest!

3g
0
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3g 07/22/10 - 04:53 pm
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Thank you LarryM for the

Thank you LarryM for the professional insight , I really appreciate it , just hope the " thumpers " on here can begin to see it like you do .

Labatt
0
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Labatt 07/22/10 - 04:56 pm
0
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Thanks 3G. Confederate,

Thanks 3G. Confederate, please DO NOT pray for me. Find something more constructive to waist you time with.

burninater
9684
Points
burninater 07/22/10 - 04:59 pm
0
0
It will be interesting to see

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Graduate programs are fundamentally different than undergraduate programs, in that ultimately you have to receive departmental approval for your graduate degree to be granted -- it isn't like undergrad, where you just follow a list of requirements, get the necessary grades, and that's it. If the graduate department felt like her current manner of belief expression created a fundamental conflict with the established professional requirements of her field, they may be in the right. It would be similar to a biology department denying a graduate degree to a student that refused to use evolutionary theory in their work, as evolutionary theory is the primary organizing principle in the biological field today.

edit: larrym's post addresses this better than me -- if the department can establish that her conduct is indeed in conflict with ethical requirements of the licensing boards, she is going to have a difficult case.

Silverking58
0
Points
Silverking58 07/22/10 - 05:06 pm
0
0
How could someone be so

How could someone be so ignorant. ASU is not an "anti-christian" school but people now adays like Jennifer Keeton and all the people above who are so called "christians" (HYPOCRITS) need to be realistic about things and find better stuff to do. What good is it to sue over your beliefs when you are wanting to be a counselor? maybe Jennifer needs some counseling. There has already been many budget cuts in the state of GA and proposals to cut programs such as nursing..and this girl is wanting MONEY for her attorneys and suing over it? I don't need prayers neither..so don't pray for me. It's all a big joke anyways. Get some counseling people. Actually..the counseling program will probably be cut since a lawsuit has been filed.

BuenaVistaLife
0
Points
BuenaVistaLife 07/22/10 - 05:09 pm
0
0
3G she is not applying for a

3G she is not applying for a job, she is a student trying to finish her degree. These people are asking her to change her belief system in order to graduate from school. I thought college was a place for the free flow of thought and ideas. I guess that is not the case at ASU, at least in this department.

follower
59
Points
follower 07/22/10 - 05:10 pm
0
0
When you go to a university,

When you go to a university, what do you think it's for...to find unity in diversity [check the Greek, it's correct]. Telling someone they have to change their belief system is fundamentally wrong. Labatt and 3g can believe what they like.
I am a devout believer and local businessman, but someone's disbelief doesn't mean they won't get hired, any more than belief would get them hired.
To make their belief system a pre-requisite for participation in a public university is absurd.

grouse
1635
Points
grouse 07/22/10 - 05:11 pm
0
0
We've only heard one side of
Unpublished

We've only heard one side of the story. I would be interested in hearing the other side.

larrym
0
Points
larrym 07/22/10 - 05:13 pm
0
0
Burninator: You are on

Burninator: You are on target, bullseye! I have Masters degree In Social Work from a seminary which at that time was the only accredited seminary in the USA by the National Social Assoc. of Social Workers. We did 92 hours of class work on the semester system to walk the stage. 30 of those hours were in Theology. The personal counseling we went thru was tough and rigorous at times. For one reason only: To make sure you were emotionally fit to be a counselor or therapist. This was required by the school of social work. Many students did not make the cut due to their own emotional issues or one sided view points. We did video taping of counseling sessions and reviewed it with all types of professionals in the field. They needed to know if we were sound and fit. Basically it is like someone who wants to become a surgeon but has an aversion to blood.......

bkavelko
0
Points
bkavelko 07/23/10 - 04:10 pm
0
0
I am also in the counseling

I am also in the counseling program with Ms. Keeton. We have been taught to expose, but not to impose our own values when working with clients. We do not have to agree with our clients' lifestyles in order to counsel them effectively. I have every confidence that my faculty has not asked her to change her beliefs but to attempt to have her understand that counselors need to have the ability to neutralize their personal beliefs for the benefit of the diverse society that we live in.

Cadence
219
Points
Cadence 07/22/10 - 05:15 pm
0
0
This is utterly ridiculous

This is utterly ridiculous and everyone knows it. If she was of another belief system, no one would dare tell her to change it in order to suit the faculty ideology. If she was being told to reject homosexuality there would be hell to pay. This is about academic freedom and the total lack of tolerance exhibited towards Christians. This represents an attempt by a government institution to force a religious ideology on a citizen and that is illegal. If this is allowed, then don't complain when the Muslim students are forced to remove their head scarves or the Jewish students are forced to violate dietary restrictions. After all, one wouldn't want to offend anyone, would one?

navytrader
0
Points
navytrader 07/22/10 - 05:29 pm
0
0
good for ASU. I am so tired

good for ASU. I am so tired of self righteous Christians acting like they are better than any one else. If she wants to go to a Christian school, there are certainly lots of them that would love to have her hateful, bigotted self.

noway
201
Points
noway 07/22/10 - 05:37 pm
0
0
ASU never told her to change

ASU never told her to change her religious beliefs. Reparative therapy is not supported by the APA and that is her only way of "counseling". ASU did nothing wrong in requiring her to seek alternative ways to counsel someone. I sure hope she doesn't get a job in the PUBLIC schools, pushing her crazy religious thoughts on young children.

larrym
0
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larrym 07/22/10 - 05:45 pm
0
0
Cadene: Relax.......Muslims,

Cadene: Relax.......Muslims, the Jewish or homosexuals would be under the same line of fire if they were doing what Ms. Keeton was doing. If her personal belief system gets in the way of her becoming a professional counselor in the secular school system and the professors feel this may be an issue, they may make requirements and recommendations for her. Professors teach and guide. This is their job. This issue is deeper than acedemic freedom or Bibical teachings. This issue is about being a fit and professional counselor. I know many strong Christians who received their Masters degree in counseling/ psychology from ASU..........no problems, they understood the deal.

Fiat_Lux
15913
Points
Fiat_Lux 07/22/10 - 05:41 pm
0
0
NavyTrader, get a grip.

NavyTrader, get a grip. Christians aren't automatically self-righteous simply because you don't like what they believe. As for acting like we're being better than anyone else, you're just deluded. It's the standard reaction of people who just can't stand to hear that some behaviors just might be a bad idea, even morally wrong. You're logic is flawed and based on blind bias.

Yawn.

Lonewuf
5
Points
Lonewuf 07/22/10 - 05:47 pm
0
0
Navytrader..... just WHO said

Navytrader..... just WHO said she or any Christian is acting like they're better than anyone else? You use the term "self righteous" .... Have you had your head buried in the sand lately? It's the Christians in this nation who are under assault. No matter..... if Muslims get their way.... soon you will be under Sharia law..... and we will then see who is self righteous.....

Teachone
0
Points
Teachone 07/22/10 - 05:52 pm
0
0
Once again, the opportunity

Once again, the opportunity arises for Christians to demonstrate our faith and we fail. "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Does all scripture truly apply to our lives? As a Christian who is also an educator, I cannot judge Ms. Keeton's beliefs; however, if she is that biased against homosexuals, then she should not be a counselor in public schools. Whether right or wrong, she will face homosexual students at some point in her career. Not once did I read in the article that ASU asked her to change her beliefs. Those are HER words. Amazing how many of my fellow Christians have missed the facts and focus on her opinion (whether true or not). "Everyone who says Lord, Lord will not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven."

Lonewuf
5
Points
Lonewuf 07/22/10 - 05:54 pm
0
0
Teachone... we are in

Teachone... we are in agreement here.......

Teachone
0
Points
Teachone 07/22/10 - 05:58 pm
0
0
One more thing for Ms Keeton

One more thing for Ms Keeton and my fellow Christians to consider: Jesus ministered to those who needed the Word, not those who already knew the Word. He dined with tax collectors, healed the sick (physically, mentally and spiritually), and ultimately died with two criminals (admitting one into the Kingdom). When did Christianity become such a divisive medium? We should ALL pray for patience, discernment and direction.

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