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Morals are relative, agree or be expelled.


by Jason Smathers on July 26, 2010

Jen Keeton has asked a federal court to prevent Augusta State University in Augusta Georgia for expelling her or forcing her to complete a remediation program which requires her to affirm an unbiblical viewpoint on human sexuality.

Jen is a Christian and affirms that the Bible contains absolute truth. However, according to ASU, there is no absolute truth. In an addendum to the remediation plan, ASU faculty Mary Jane Anderson-Wiley, writes “The counseling profession requires its practitioners to recognize that people set and adhere to their own moral compass.” According to Jen’s lawsuit, in a meeting, Dr. Anderson-Wiley confirmed that Jen will not be able to complete the ASU counseling program unless she commits to affirming the propriety of gay and lesbian relationships.
Dr. Schenck, assistant professor, told Miss Keeton in an email “This is the unethical part—applying your own personal beliefs and values on other people and not truly accepting that others can have different beliefs and values that are equally valid as your own.” However, this is what the Bible says. There is only one absolute truth. You cannot be a Christian and agree with Dr. Schenck.
The remediation plan included recommendations to improve Jen’s writing, but the focus was on her worldview. The first part was on her writing, the second part is quoted below.
To address issues of multicultural competence and develop understanding and empathy:
7. Jen will attend at least three workshops prior to the end of the fall 2010 semester which emphasize improving cross-cultural communication, developing multicultural competence or diversity sensitivity training toward working with GLBTQ populations. She will provide to her advisor evidence in the form of attendance certificates.
8. Jen will continue to develop her knowledge base on GLBTQ issues by outside reading on the topic. She will read at least ten articles in peer-reviewed counseling or psychological journals that pertain to improving counseling effectiveness with GLBTQ populations. There is much research available on the ALGBTIC webpage under Resources.
9. Jen will work to increase exposure and interaction with gay populations. One such activity could be attending the Gay Pride Parade in Augusta. She will report on these interactions In her reflections (below).
10. Jen will familiarize herself with the ALOBTIC Competencies for Counseling Gays and Tranagender Clients.
11. Each month Jen will submit a two-page reflection to her advisor that summarizes what she learned from her research, how her study has influenced her beliefs, and how future clients may benefit from what she has learned.
12. Based on these written reflections and two scheduled meetings with Jen prior to December 2010, faculty will decide the appropriateness other continuation in the counseling program.
Please note that failure to complete all elements of the remediation plan will result in dismissal from the Counselor Education Program.

These points themselves do not indicate Jen needs to change her worldview. If taken alone, it would seem the school only wants to be sure Jen can be sensitive when working with people who disagree with her worldview. However, when reviewing the email exchanges and meeting notes, it is clear that faculty will not be satisfied and would not allow her to complete the program while she affirms the Bible contains absolute truth.

Jen has petitioned the court for a preliminary injunction, prohibiting the school from expelling her or enforcing the remediation plan elements which contradict with her worldview, accompanied by a 25 page memo in support. The court has required responses to this motion be submitted by August 8th.
July 27th update: Motion Hearing set for 8/11/2010 09:00 AM in Augusta – 2nd Floor before Judge J. Randal Hall.
Picture copyright Stacie Wells.

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