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Missouri Family E-News

January 31, 2012

Federal Court Supports Christian Graduate Student



A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of a Christian graduate student who was expelled from a university counseling program because of her religious beliefs.


The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of Julea Ward, a student at Eastern Michigan University.   Ward was dismissed from the school's graduate counseling program because she would not affirm the homosexual lifestyle.


When Ward was approached by a client who sought counseling concerning her same-sex attractions, Ward asked that the client be referred to another counselor.  Ward explained that she could not affirm a sexual relationship that was contrary to her religious convictions.


The University responded by  requiring Ward to undergo a "remediation program."  Ward was told by program administrators that she must "see the error of her ways" and alter her "belief system" if she intended to complete her graduate studies.  When she refused to submit to the university's efforts to bully her into abandoning her Christian beliefs, she was kicked out of the counseling program despite her excellent academic performance.      


Judge Jeffrey Sutton, writing for the three-judge 6th Circuit panel, said that Ward's free speech claims deserve a trial on the merits in U.S. District Court.  "A reasonable jury could find that the university dismissed Ward from its counseling program because of hostility toward her speech and faith...not because of any legitimate pedagogical objective."


"A university cannot compel a student to alter or violate her belief systems based on a phantom policy as the price for obtaining a degree. Tolerance is a two-way street," Sutton wrote.


David French, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, cheered the 6th Circuit ruling.  "Had the university prevailed, it would have essentially allowed EMU to erect a 'no Christians allowed' sign outside its graduate counseling program...Students would have been at the mercy of ideological demands reformulated as curricular requirements."     


TeenPact Returns to State Capitol



The TeenPact youth leadership program returns to the Missouri State Capitol in early March.   TeenPact introduces students aged 13-19 to the mechanics of state government.


Students learn how the legislative process works with what amounts to a front-row seat.  They meet legislators and lobbyists, research bills, and conduct their own mock debates.


Laurel Morton, a longtime leader in the TeenPact program from Lee's Summit, says the organization's mission statement best describes the TeenPact experience.


"Our goal is to provide a hands-on leadership school for Christian students.  We seek to train youth to understand the political process, value their liberty, defend their Christian faith, and engage the culture in which we live."


Michelle Boxx of Lee's Summit, a TeenPact graduate, says that the program paved the way for her future success.  "I learned valuable servant leadership and organizational skills, and honed my presentation and people skills.  My TeenPact ambassadorship helped me launch my public speaking career and my weekly radio segments on statewide radio in Georgia."


This year's Missouri TeenPact program will be held from March 5th to 9th in Jefferson City.  You can learn more about the Missouri TeenPact program by visiting the TeenPact website at this link:


or by contacting Missouri State Coordinator Beth Blunk at   


Christian Ministry Censured for Failing to Host Same-Sex Ritual

An administrative law judge in New Jersey has found a Christian ministry guilty of discrimination for refusing to host a same-sex ceremony on its own property.  Judge Solomon Metzger ruled that the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association violated a New Jersey law prohibiting discrimination based on "sexual orientation."

The Ocean Grove group operates a Christian retreat house regularly used for summer camp meetings.  The Ocean Grove site was founded in 1869, and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.  The property includes a seaside boardwalk pavilion off the Atlantic Ocean Jersey Shore,  which is often rented out for wedding ceremonies and other group celebrations.

In March of 2007 a female same-sex "couple" asked to rent the pavilion for a "civil union" ceremony, which is legal under New Jersey law.  The Ocean Grove Association declined the request, stating that such a ceremony would violate its religious beliefs.  The women then filed suit against the church group, claiming they were victims of "sexual orientation" discrimination.

In his ruling,  Judge Metzger ruled that the boardwalk pavilion is a "public accomodation," despite the fact that it is the private property of the Camp Meeting Association.  Metzger stated that because he deemed the church group's pavilion to be a public accomodation, it must be open on an equal basis to all citizens.

Judge Metzger decided that the New Jersey anti-discrimination law was not hostile to religion, but was "a neutral law of general application designed to uncover and eradicate discrimination."  Metzger ruled that the law required "some intrusion into religious freedom to balance other important societal goals."  Metzger's decision will now be forwarded to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, which will decide whether to adopt it, modify it, or reject it.

Jim Campbell, staff counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, deplored the judge's attack on religious freedom.  "The government should not be able to force a private Christian organization to use its property in a way that would violate its own religious beliefs.  Religious groups have the right to use their private property in ways that are consistent with their religious convictions."

The doctrines of the United Methodist Church state that "The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching," and that "Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches."

Campbell expressed grave concern over the precedent that Judge Metzger's ruling could establish.  "Does this now mean that churches could be forced to conduct same-sex unions in their own houses of worship?  That's the danger of this ruling."

A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey suggests that may be exactly what they are after.  "When you open your doors to the public, you can't treat same-sex couples differently," says Jeanne LoCicero, deputy legal director for ACLU-NJ.

Campbell says that showdowns between the homosexual agenda and the religious integrity of Bible-believing churches are inevitable.  "We've seen a clash over the past five to ten years that's building where the homosexual legal agenda comes in conflict with religious liberty.  There's always been the concern that courts would incorrectly interpret constitutional freedoms, and that's what we are seeing in this case."

As a result of the controversy, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association has suspended the use of the Boardwalk Pavilion for any weddings, and removed information from its website promoting the use of that space for matrimonial ceremonies.

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