6th Circuit Court of Appeals Sides with Christian Grad Student

This is where it gets interesting, according to the evidence, the textbooks the EMU used said that councilors cannot be value neutral and that values are essential to the healing process:

Defendant Ametrano, Chair of the formal review committee that dismissed Ms. Ward from the program, assigned a book as required reading in a required course Ms. Ward took from Defendant Ametrano, which states that “[i]t is now generally recognized that the therapeutic endeavor is a value-laden process and that all counselors, to some degree, communicate their values to clients,” and that “the assumption that counseling is value-neutral is no longer tenable.”

(Ex. 8 at 73.) A true and accurate copy of excerpts from this book, Becoming a Helper by Marianne Schneider Corey and Gerald Corey and published in 2007, is attached as Exhibit 8.

This book also explains that “because the values [counselors] hold cannot be kept out of their work, they should not refuse to discuss their core values.” (Id.)

Regarding values, the book further states: “In our view it is neither possible nor desirable for helpers to remain neutral or to keep their values separate from their professional relationships. Because values have a significant impact on the helping process, it is important to express them openly when doing so is appropriate.” (Id. at 73.)

As taught by the EMU counseling department in required courses, the counseling profession understands that personal values impact a counselor’s practice, and that exposing a client to your values can be an appropriate course of action in a counseling relationship.

The other textbooks used in EMU’s own courses said that referring a client is the appropriate action when a values conflict may become an issue in the client/therapist relationship.  EMU could demonstrate no rule or reason to ban or prevent Ms. Ward from asking for the referral. To be clear, in multiple instances EMU violated standard counselling practices and procedures in order to persecute Julea Ward for holding Christian beliefs.


The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a Christian graduate student expelled from Eastern Michigan University’s counseling program after refusing to provide services to a gay client.

In 2009, EMU student Julea Ward was assigned a client seeking help with a homosexual relationship.

Believing that taking on such a case would violate her Christian convictions, Ward asked the clinic to reassign the client to another counselor — a move in keeping with the school’s counseling code of ethics.

“I explained that I was a Christian and that I could not [endorse] homosexual behavior,” Ward said.

Following a formal review hearing, EMU sent Ward a letter dismissing her from the school’s graduate program.

“Rather than allow Julea to refer a potential client to another qualified counselor — a common, professional practice to best serve clients — EMU attacked and questioned Julea’s religious beliefs and ultimately expelled her from the program because of them,” said Alliance Defense Fund Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco, who argued Ward’s case last October.

Click here to read Ward’s complaint against EMU.

The 6th Circuit sided with Ward in a sternly-worded decision being hailed by Christian groups as a victory for free speech and religious freedom.

“A reasonable jury could conclude that Ward’s professors ejected her from the counseling program because of hostility toward her speech and faith,” the appellate court wrote in its opinion Friday.

“A university cannot compel a student to alter or violate her belief systems… as the price for obtaining a degree,” the 6th Circuit wrote. “Tolerance is a two-way street.”

The court did not mince words in the ruling:

Here too, what did Ward do wrong? 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 faithbased issues. Tolerance is a two-way street. Otherwise, the rule mandates orthodoxy, not anti-discrimination.

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