CNN has an interesting roundtable on the case of Jennifer Keeton, who has sued Augusta State University to keep from getting expelled for not repudiating her statements about homosexuality. Keeton expressed her biblical perspective on the subject in and out of class while working toward a degree in counseling, and the school mandated a “remediation plan” that appears to have required her to renounce her Christian doctrine in order to gain a diploma from the school. The school has responded that a bias against homosexuality would disqualify Keeton from certification, a position that would put most Christians in Keeton’s position.
Does this amount to a “thought police”? A religious test for education? Or does Keeton’s lack of diversity appreciation really make her unqualified for a degree and career in counseling?
It sounds to me like the ACA wants a “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule for religion. That runs square into the First Amendment, especially for a state-run school. The ACA’s idea of who comes first doesn’t get to trump the restriction on freedom of religious exercise. If clients get off-put by Keeton’s approach to counseling, they can look for another counselor. Now, the ACA can decide not to certify her; as a private organization, they have that prerogative. If they do that explicitly based on her religious belief, however, they may have a problem with that in court, especially as it will block Keeton’s ability to make a living.
The state-run school has no such leeway. They cannot impose a religious test for graduation, no matter how they dress it up.