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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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WillG
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WillG 07/22/10 - 06:53 pm
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RIGHT ON

RIGHT ON DaveMustaineRules!!
I would rather have a GAY counselor for my child that cared about thier welfare then some "Drink the koolaide" counselor that would make my kid hate people

larrym
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larrym 07/22/10 - 06:56 pm
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FLIPA: Please send all of us

FLIPA: Please send all of us in the secular counseling world your data and where it came from.........I am serious please, forward the links etc. Also, are you a therapist or counselor? Data like yours is needs to be addressed.

Lonewuf
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Lonewuf 07/22/10 - 06:56 pm
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Right on WillG.... I know of

Right on WillG.... I know of a few Catholic churches he /she might be welcome in......

chasboy
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chasboy 07/22/10 - 07:01 pm
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If Jesus changed the old

If Jesus changed the old testament like Sargebaby says then why does everyone keep reciting that tired old verse from Leviticus?

larrym
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larrym 07/22/10 - 07:02 pm
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DAVE MUSTAINE: You the

DAVE MUSTAINE: You the man!!!!

Lonewuf
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Lonewuf 07/22/10 - 07:02 pm
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and what verse is that you

and what verse is that you speak of chasboy?

burninater
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burninater 07/22/10 - 07:11 pm
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Chas, read my 6:23 -- there's

Chas, read my 6:23 -- there's a specific, sensible reason why they quoted Leviticus.

Lonewuf
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Lonewuf 07/22/10 - 07:09 pm
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I must leave you all at this

I must leave you all at this time..... My 14 year old son requires nutrition..... Please try and have a much better day tomorrow....

cleanup
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cleanup 07/22/10 - 07:13 pm
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Public University. If you

Public University. If you want to adhere to insane cultish religious views, feel free to educate your fellow cave members, but you have no business in society.

burninater
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burninater 07/22/10 - 07:21 pm
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Grrr, iPhones with no flash

Grrr, iPhones with no flash player, this video sounds AWESOME!

gaspringwater
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gaspringwater 07/22/10 - 07:27 pm
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I respect Ms. Keeton

I respect Ms. Keeton religious views but she's attending a program paid for by the taxpayer and there's no room for her private religious views. She should be dropped from the program if she's vocal and claims she'll refuse to counsel people who don't share her views. A public university has no obligation to her and the school shouldn't be wasting the taxpayer's money on her. The lady should seek her education at one of the state's very fine religious schools such as Mercer or Emery and both are highly rated.

A similar situation has been in the courts and in Congress. Pharmacists opposed to birth control have refused to fill birth control prescriptions. I think Pharmacists have lost the their case. Either they fill all prescriptions or their employers can terminate them. I think they can lose their licenses in some states

speeding
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speeding 07/22/10 - 07:42 pm
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ASU is wrong!

ASU is wrong!

veggie-d
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veggie-d 07/22/10 - 07:58 pm
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speeding - how is asu wrong

speeding - how is asu wrong for HER failure to chose a major that she is capable of understanding? wrong for her failure to recognize that she's not cut out to be a PROFESSIONAL therapist as long as she preaches the gospel to her clients?

wrong for not recognizing she can attend a faith based college...and receive a faith based degree...to counsel faith based clients?

seems like that's what she'd wanna do anyway, because if she begins preaching to someone who doesn't want to hear her sermon, she's just gonna preaching/counseling/witnessing to the "chirping crickets" anyway!

burninater
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burninater 07/22/10 - 07:51 pm
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Given all the victim

Given all the victim mentality I've been seeing over the past few months, I'm surprised NBC hasn't jumped on the opportunity with a special "SVU: Christians!" season ... I'll get the popcorn ready ...

veggie-d
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veggie-d 07/22/10 - 07:55 pm
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"so, what's going on in your

"so, what's going on in your life that we need to talk about? Absolutely nothing? Great! Billing will be in contact. Next?"

LOL burninater...that's good material!

SeeYa
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SeeYa 07/22/10 - 08:00 pm
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Veggie-d, Can you please

Veggie-d,

Can you please document your remark about Mayor Deke and his faith? By the way, is your caps key busted?

veggie-d
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veggie-d 07/22/10 - 08:18 pm
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you should just ask deke for

you should just ask deke for yourself...

so many people in this town grew up here...went to school here...partied here...then went to UGA...partied harder and continued to party as adults...

i'd figure those who ran in his circles would have a good idea about who he REALLY is...and there are plenty of'em out here.

of course he's likely to tell you he "found christ" after that hit and run crash in westlake in '93...or more likely just BEFORE he slammed into that tree and did all that damage to his mercedes and the homeowners lawn, before running to his sisters house in crystal creek!

all this is public record in columbia county...but for some reason the AC will not allow discussion of that event here.

10...9...8...7...6...5...4...

raymondwestcott
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raymondwestcott 07/22/10 - 08:10 pm
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jennifer, go with your

jennifer, go with your beliefs and forget the naysayers, for they do not know what they are saying..................

burninater
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burninater 07/22/10 - 08:12 pm
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Thanks veggie, they let me

Thanks veggie, they let me out of my serious scientist cage every once in a while and I get to make a funny ... No match for your chainsaw madman string though, you were on a tear that
morning :)

veggie-d
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veggie-d 07/22/10 - 08:16 pm
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thx...i enjoyed that one

thx...i enjoyed that one too...i just can't pass up good material...when you toss a slow moving beach ball to a guy wielding a big ole bat...

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 07/22/10 - 08:23 pm
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bkavelkoThursday, Jul. 22

bkavelkoThursday, Jul. 22 5:13 PM 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. Ms. Keeton has been very vocal in class about her unwillingness to work with homosexual clients. She has voiced that she would have to "refer them out" because homosexuality conflicts with her religious views. This attitude has not only offended her classmates but has the possibility of damaging children who seek her guidance in the school system in the future. I have every confidence that my faculty has not asked her to change her beliefs but 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. I have always had reservations about Ms. Keeton's pursuit of a career in counseling, especially in a school setting.
-------------------------
Thanks for the insight and perspective from a fellow student of hers and thanks to larrym for his professional insight as well.

If her Christian beliefs are going to prevent her from helping homosexuals then just how exactly is she going to help alcohol/drug users who don't treat their body as a temple, or people who are liars, adulterers, or all the legions of gluttonous here in the south? Doesn't sound like she is going to be much of a counselor. Just sounds like more hypocritical bigotry and hatred coming out of Christians who just about have that market cornered.

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 07/22/10 - 08:24 pm
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veggie d - if Sean hasn't

veggie d - if Sean hasn't banned you by tomorrow then I fully expect Morris Enterprises to have the black helicopters circling your home.

dominionfs
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dominionfs 07/22/10 - 08:32 pm
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Let me see, Miss Keaton

Let me see, Miss Keaton cannot counsel homosexuals because of her religious beliefs and the church folks agree with her reasoning.
Would you be as accepting if a muslim cashier refused to check you out at Bi-lo because you were buying pork? If a Wahabbi taxi driver told your wife she was revealing too much flesh and had to wear a burka to ride in his cab? Just wondering.

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 07/22/10 - 08:36 pm
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I am also guessing this

I am also guessing this woman's supporters would also support medical school doctors who refused to use the cadaver of a black man or who professed that they wouldn't treat black people once they received their medical degree. Would that also be acceptable grounds to sue a medical school for not allowing a student to complete their degree?

veggie-d
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veggie-d 07/22/10 - 08:48 pm
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i'm fully expecting it

i'm fully expecting it baron...but all this was circulated on spam calls when deke was running for mayor...it's not really news to the community...i just figure people need a refresher now and then. i have not "accused him" of any crime he did not commit...as for his religious beliefs...unless something DRASTIC has changed in his life...(like getting elected mayor in a city where christainity is prequisite for the job maybe?!)...

been nice hearing your opinions baron...and omnomom...and emerydan...and even those who i did not always agree with...and who did not always agree w/me!...ADIOS!

sassygirl8
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sassygirl8 07/22/10 - 08:46 pm
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I am sorry but I think the

I am sorry but I think the professor knew better than that. I do not believe this story for a minute. Especially the way people sue today. Over anything they can to get a dollar in their pockets.

dominionfs
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dominionfs 07/22/10 - 08:47 pm
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Or how about if a

Or how about if a Christian-scientist pharmacist refused to fill your prescription because he believes prayer is all you need?
The trouble here is, if Christians are so adamant about Miss Keatons convictions, then the door is open to the convictions of others. Common sense should point the way.

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 07/22/10 - 08:47 pm
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Ol' Deke has even started

Ol' Deke has even started defriending anybody who doesn't post cheerleader material on his FB page. I think paranoia is finally setting in on the ol' Deekster.

veggie-d
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veggie-d 07/22/10 - 08:51 pm
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plenty of people on his FB

plenty of people on his FB page know him well...for the record...i am NOT on his FB page...i have "REAL friends"! gotta luv his latest profile pic on FB though...the word "profile" fits it perfectly...only if sammy davis junior was in the pic...could he make it anymore obvious?

shamrock
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shamrock 07/22/10 - 08:58 pm
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WAY TO GO!! Anyone who stands

WAY TO GO!! Anyone who stands up for their beliefs is a hero in this day and age.

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