4thought.tv – Bishop Nick Baines: I do not believe that Christians are a persecuted group of people in this country today.

Bishop Nick Baines is so encouraging and he’s appeared on the channel 4 programme 4thought.tv.

It is such a relief for me personally to hear Nick bucking the trend and arguing against the persecution narrative gripping the Christian fraternity here in the UK.

I encourage you to hop over and watch this, it only takes a couple of minutes and is so worthwhile:

Bishop Nick Baines – 4thought.tv – Are Christians the new persecuted?

A few quotes:

If you define yourself by your victimhood you’ve got a massive problem.

I don’t like it when people moan about being discriminated against.

I do not believe that Christians are a persecuted group of people in this country today.

We live in a society which I sometimes call a hierarchy of victimhood.

If people feel that the job they’re doing requires them to go against their Christian conscience, it could be in areas of sexuality or the wearing of a cross or whatever it is, then they have a choice to make, and if you feel that what you’re being asked to do is incompatible with your faith then you shouldn’t do it, but that isn’t persecution, you have a choice and you can go and do something else

I hardly think we’re a beleaguered minority, we’re everywhere and I think Christians need to be more confident about who they are.

You don’t have to look at the mosque and say “How intimidating”, what about looking at the churches and saying “How encouraging, let’s get out and do more”.

Spot on good Bishop. Doesn’t this sit in stark contrast to the moaning and whinging of Lord Carey today over at the Telegraph? Or this from Nicky Rawlins on 4thought.tv.

Christian Concern launch their We are Not Ashamed campaign today and are endeavouring to have a Christmas number one song and further inculcate the persecution narrative.

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102 Responses to “4thought.tv – Bishop Nick Baines: I do not believe that Christians are a persecuted group of people in this country today.”

  1. Gordon Says:

    I just don’t see persecution in my daily life and I work in “professional Christian” circles. Only once in the past year have I heard anyone say a bad word about Christians in my daily life, and that was frankly a valid theological argument and not any form of persecution.

    If fundamentalist Christians were behaving more like Jesus and less like Pharisees they would have fewer problems.

  2. Daniel Mann Says:

    Perhaps there are good reasons to resist the Christian “persecution narrative,” but denial isn’t one of them. If you had instead published a study that demonstrated that Christians weren’t being silenced or discriminated against any more than anyone else, we might not agree with it, but we’d at least have to rationally deal with it.

    If instead you had pointed out that our Lord promised that we would have to go through persecution and that He has a good purpose for it, and so we must face it with joy and confidence, I’d have to say “amen!” But rather, you seem to be preaching that we should either deny or ignore it. Here’s why we shouldn’t:

    1. We shouldn’t ignore anyone’s persecution. If Christians are loosing their jobs because of it, don’t we have a responsibility to speak up? Aren’t we being callous when we don’t?

    2. If it is becoming illegal to raise our children in accordance with our faith, aren’t we required to speak out against such immoral laws? Yes, we do have the choice of going to jail, but then who will raise our children?

    3. We need to be able to speak the entire counsel of God (Acts 20:27-32). If it has become illegal, we can go to jail, but who will instruct the church? If we don’t oppose such discrimination now, are we truly walking in faithfulness to our Lord?

    Although we must be as gentle as doves, we also need to be as wise as serpents. Statements like, “If you define yourself by your victimhood you’ve got a massive problem” or “I don’t like it when people moan about being discriminated against” serve no Christian purpose.
    http://www.MannsWord.blogspot.com

  3. Gordon Says:

    Some people require persecution to validate their faith. Of course its not real persecution. if they want that they will have to go and live somewhere like Iraq.

  4. webmaster Says:

    @Daniell Mann,

    All of the studies I have ever seen on this subject are an investigation into the subjective perception of Christians rather than the objective reality:

    A survey conducted on behalf of Theos by ComRes found that 32 per cent of people believed religious freedoms have been eroded over the past ten years.

    I have pointed out many times that we are to expect and endure persecution without recourse to the law courts, which has no Biblical precedent:

    Christian Today: Barnabas Fund says Christians in the West need to be ready for persecution.

    If you are going to mention “loosing your job” in the same breath as persecution, then you will have to develop a new phrase for the suffering of our brothers and sisters in hostile lands, as to use the same term is grossly insulting to them.

    Please also be aware that all employment legal cases have been lost. They could have all been solved through mediation and compromise, however, certain legal groups push for conflict to continue the persecution narrative.

    It is not illegal to raise our children according to the Christian faith, please cite examples of parents going to prison, or being threatened with the same. Please cite explicit and specific laws you are referring to.

    If we don’t oppose such discrimination now, are we truly walking in faithfulness to our Lord?

    Please cite Biblical precedence for opposing discrimination and running to the law courts, perhaps from the life of Jesus or from his followers.

    It is notable that you will condemn a narrative that challenges the preponderance of the persecution story and claim it “serves no Christian purpose” and yet you will quite happily accept the persecution narrative, presumably as “serving a Christian purpose”.

  5. Roger Pearse Says:

    I’m with Daniel Mann.

  6. Daniel Mann Says:

    Webmaster,

    First, we have to deal with the facts of discrimination/persecution. Is it occurring? Once we determine this – and this is an important question – then we can decide what to do about it.

    I think you’re mistaken about the Bible not addressing these issues. The Hebrew Prophets were largely engaged with speaking out against victimization – something that Jesus and the NT did in many different ways.

    Going to the courts is a gray area and admittedly, there isn’t much Biblical counsel on the issue, but there are some precedents:

    1. Paul demanded a legal escort out of Philippi and a hearing before Caesar.

    2. Although Paul taught against bringing other Christians to court, since they had the church to do it, he did seem to acknowledge our rights to take others to court (1 Cor. 6:1-8).

    3. Jesus also challenged the legal proceedings of His own trial, even though His intention was to be convicted

    Perhaps more apropos, if we fail to do what we know is right, it is sin (James 4:17). It is not brotherly to turn our backs on Christians who are being persecuted for righteousness sake, even if it’s not their lives that are at stake, but just their vocations.

    I have read many articles about the discrimination occurring in your country – Christians loosing the right to adopt; Judges forced to take stances against their conscience; Christian schools forbidden to teach on certain subjects… If having the documentation for these is important to you, I’d be glad to do the research, but I suspect you are already aware of such and many more.
    http://www.MannsWord.blogspot.com

  7. webmaster Says:

    I think you’re mistaken about the Bible not addressing these issues. The Hebrew Prophets were largely engaged with speaking out against victimization – something that Jesus and the NT did in many different ways.

    I think you’ll find that it is referring to the victimisation of others.

    1) Paul was arrested and taken to court, not the other way around.

    2) Cor. 6:1-8 is Paul is urging NOT to take matters to the secular courts.

    3) Jesus did not attempt to challenge the legal proceedings in order that he might win the case against his own persecution. Jesus was the the lamb taken silently for slaughter….that’s the point, including the injustice of it all.

    I more than any other blog I know, highlight the brutal persecution of our brothers and sisters in oppressive regimes.

    For many of our truly persecuted brethren, it’s about the right to stay alive, to earn a livable wage, feed their families and live in a climate free from gut crunching terror and routine physical intimidation. I will NOT equate this to someone beligerently refusing to negotiate and/or comprimise in an employment environment.

    I have read many articles about the discrimination occurring in your country – Christians loosing the right to adopt; Judges forced to take stances against their conscience; Christian schools forbidden to teach on certain subjects…

    And this is the heart of the problem, namely, folks uncritically reading too many articles pumped out by those who have a specific agenda and which under scrutiny are easily identified as propaganda.

    I’d be glad to do the research

    Perhaps you should, as I have done.

  8. Jill Says:

    I too am with Daniel Mann. Playground bullying is low-level persecution, and nobody would say that bullying did not need addressing. If it is allowed to continue, it will get worse. The degree of the persecution is not the issue; persecution is wrong full stop.

    I think the bishop entirely misses the point. This kind of collusion hands the advantage to the bullies. There are all too many people who would like Christianity stamped out in this land. They must be laughing out loud when senior upholders of the Christian faith come out with guff like this.

  9. Andy Says:

    Just because society will not let a handful of narrow-minded bigots hide behind ‘faith’ as an excuse for sexism, racism and homophobia does not mean that they are being persecuted.

    It seems to me that many Christians have an awful lot to be ashamed of !

  10. Daniel Mann Says:

    Webmaster,

    Here are only two articles out of many about discrimination in the UK:

    • “LONDON, April 30, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The clash between Christians and the state has intensified, with a UK court now having upheld the dismissal of a Christian psychologist who refused to give advice on sexual intimacy to homosexual couples – a decision the former Canterbury Archbishop Lord Carey has denounced as a prelude to “civil unrest” between Christians and the secular government.”

    Do you not think that Christians have a responsibility to speak up? Should we remain unconcerned about this psychologist? Should his career mean nothing to us?

    • “LONDON, March 8, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Two amendments to the UK government’s proposed Equalities Bill that would have protected the conscience rights of Catholic adoption agencies and of marriage commissioners, were withdrawn from consideration in the House of Lords on Tuesday last week after accusations of ‘homophobia.’”

    Do you feel that we shouldn’t be concerned about the discrimination against Christian adoption agencies? Are we serving the public if we allow them to be pushed out of business? Do you think that the Bible requires us to be silent in these types of cases?

  11. webmaster Says:

    @Daniel Mann

    Firstly, I have been the first to step up and to blog in support of Catholic adoption agencies. Here’s one example, where I examine the legalities and timeline of the legal case in order to keep Christians up to date on this important issue:

    Catholic Care Adoption are to appeal against the Charity Commission again

    The other legal case you cite involving a “Christian psychologist”, was in fact a Christian marriage counselor called Gary McFarlane. He is not trained in psychology and he refused to counsel gay couples.

    The first problem is that he was employed by the state, therefore, is bound by their rules who were his paymasters and if he didn’t like it, then he should get employment elsewhere, as Nick Baines says in his TV appearance.

    Secondly, it was never discolsed if he discriminated in the same way against divorcees or those living as cohabiting, unmarried couples. The evidence suggests he did not excersise the same Christian “Discernment” and discrimination in such cases. Why was that?

    Here are links to my extensive research on this particular case, which you may read at your leisure to see for yourself the mess the legal team and Lord Carey made of this unnessary and unwinnable legal case.

    ‘Christian Victims’ of English Judicial System to Challenge Master of the Rolls – today in Court

    Lord Carey and other church leaders will urge senior judges to stand down from Court of Appeal hearings involving religious discrimination

    Gary McFarlane sacked by Relate Avon for refusing to give sex therapy to homosexuals has had his appeal turned down by the High Court.

    Gary McFarlane’s barrister Paul Diamond at the employment tribunal today: “There will be a collision between the established faith of this land and judicial decisions which will lead to civil unrest.”

    Anything else, or perhaps we should leave it there eh!

  12. Jill Says:

    Daniel, I fear that if you refuse to bend the knee to the new Great God Gay, there will be more of the same.

    Baal, we cry to thee, hear and answer us.

  13. Phoebs Says:

    @Jill, no one is asking any Christian to genuflect to anyone, but Christ.

    If in secular employment however, one does not agree with their employer’s policies, it is time to search for new employment. Perhaps work for a church or christian charity.

  14. webmaster Says:

    No Jill, it’s not about that, it’s about our faith always being constantly defined in terms of sexuality.

    You must get tired of it surely, there’s so much more to our message than this…..

    We have to move away from this negative portrayal of the Gospel…..

  15. Sophie Says:

    @ Daniel Mann: I’m with the webmaster on this. Your first post claimed that it was “becoming illegal to raise our children in accordance with our faith” and talked about people losing their jobs. Then when the webmaster challenged you to produce real examples, you changed tack. All bluster, no substance.

    Very like the several recent cases in which people claimed to have been persecuted for their faith, all backed by the ghastly Christian Legal Centre. None of them have been shown to have any foundation. Indeed the weakness of these cases have been criticised by the courts. Only people obsessed with “victimhood” could have perceived these cases as persecution, as Bishop Nick Baines so rightly said.

    As he also rightly says, there are jobs you might not take because of your faith. I won’t take certain selling jobs. I’m perfectly clear that they are unethical. Legal, but I would feel dishonest. I just do something else. No one is persecuting me.

    There’s another film in this sequence of a woman called Nicky Rawlins. She and her husband were persecuted by a gang of local yobs. I have no idea why she got the idea that this was about religion. We probably all remember other stories of horrible bullying of families on sink estates, some of which had far worse outcomes.

    The families that are victimised become targets because they are “different” – and in this context religion was the difference. It had no other importance. They were being bullied for perceived “oddness” rather than their faith. In other cases the difference has been disability or appearance. The police are typically very little help. The misery caused is great but the actual offences committed are minor, so it’s hard to resolve.

    The bullies were kids, not adults. I noticed that she makes no mention of attempts she or her husband made to relate to the kids or their families. She needed to reach out, and to be the adult among badly behaved kids. This is how I’d have tackled it. Instead she seems to see them as “other” – not as young people she might be able to affect – which isn’t very Christian.

  16. Sophie Says:

    @ webmaster: I too am tired of hearing our faith defined by extremist views on sexuality. I cannot see having to comply with equality legislation as any sort of persecution. Not unless you define the racist American South as being persecuted by black civil rights.

    I can’t help noticing that whenever we get a case of supposed persecution it’s almost always about sex. During my working life I’ve often come across situations where a job was lawful but dishonest. However I have never been asked to do something at work that was related to sexual morality. I’m sure dilemmas in the workplace about honesty and justice are far more common than these “sexy” cases.

    What about all the people in the City of London? Do they not confront situations daily that are incompatible with personal integrity? What about truthfulness at work, honesty about the environmental impacts of our business, considerations of justice for sweatshop workers? These just a few “for instances.”

    There are huge areas of work or business life which pose challenges to our sense of justice. What is it about these prurient self-proclaimed victims that it must always be about sex?

  17. Andy Says:

    Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey is to launch a campaign that will encourage Christians to “wear their faith with pride” after many Christians expressed concerns that they are being treated with the same sort of contempt they normally reserve for homosexuals.

    The campaign, called “Not Ashamed Day” is being organised by Christian Concern, who are worried that they are unable to do and say whatever they want, whenever they want, without question.

    Full article: http://newsthump.com/2010/12/01/why-do-people-treat-us-with-the-same-contempt-we-show-homosexuals-ask-christians/

  18. Sophie Says:

    @ Andy: Thanks for that. Just noticed that “Not Ashamed Day” is on the same day as “World AIDS Day.” Considering the background of many of these phony persecution claims, this is very poor timing by Lord Carey. Perhaps he did not realise, perhaps it’s just a coincidence. Either way, it’s distasteful and, for moderates, a real own goal.

    Christianity does not provide a cloak for homophobia and those who think it can will be disappointed. We are obliged to treat people equally, regardless of their gender, race or sexuality.

  19. webmaster Says:

    @Sophie, yep Ekklesia picked up on exactly that point a couple of days ago.

  20. Sophie Says:

    Thanks, webmaster. Seems they feel very much the same as I do.

  21. Daniel Mann Says:

    Webmaster (and Sophie),

    I’m glad that you do champion the discriminatory policies against Catholic adoption agencies. But aren’t you then admitting that this is a case of discrimination?

    About McPharlane—you might be blaming the victim. Generally, in counseling environment, there is usually a lot of tolerance regarding the counselor’s objections to taking certain cases. A counselor who has recently been raped will not be given a rapist to counsel. Here are a couple of others:

    • “GLASGOW, April 1, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An American street preacher has been arrested and fined £1000 in Glasgow for telling passersby, in answer to a direct question, that homosexual activity is a sin. “

    Don’t you think that depriving us of the right to speak out against sin should be a concern for all of us and any free society that recognizes the importance of free speech?

    • “READING, UK, May 26, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Backed by the vociferously anti-Christian British Humanist Association (BHA), an Employment Tribunal has ruled that a Christian learning disabled charity may not maintain its policy of hiring exclusively practising Christians. The employment tribunal judged that the charity, Prospects, may not implement a policy of hiring only believing Christians on its staff on the grounds that it receives public funding and has hired non-Christians in the past. Further, the Tribunal ruled that a religious organisation was not qualified to judge what constitutes a “religious ethos” for purposes of hiring policies.”

    If the church can’t discriminate in hiring its staff it can no longer be the church. Shouldn’t this be a concern for Christians?

  22. Sophie Says:

    @ Daniel Mann: Did you not notice the line in your report that this charity: “may not implement a policy of hiring only believing Christians on its staff on the grounds that it receives public funding…”?

    You say “If the church can’t discriminate in hiring its staff it can no longer be the church” to which I would reply that this organisation isn’t a church, it’s a public charity, and it’s taking public money.

    Churches are entitled refuse to celebrate civil partnerships – this lies entirely in the religious sphere, in the same way as the RCC is allowed to have an all-male priesthood. But they cannot discriminate in any other area of operation – employment being the most obvious.

    The Catholic adoption agencies are simply being required to comply with the law. This is not discrimination; quite the reverse. It is they who are being prevented from discriminating.

  23. Daniel Mann Says:

    Sophie,

    Take up your complaint with the webmaster who fought for the Catholic adoption agencies.

    We have the same problem in the USA now. The State claims that it wants to maintain neutrality and therefore doesn’t fund religious groups. However, it is imposing its own civil religion under the guise of neutrality.

    In fact, there is no such thing as neutrality. Here’s a better principle — equal access!

    http://www.MannsWord.blogspot.com

  24. Sophie Says:

    @ Daniel Mann: I don’t have any complaint with the webmaster. He knows my views.

    I do get a bit fed up when Americans bring their issues here, assuming we share them. We have very different cultures and systems of government. Don’t be misled by the common language. We are a lot more tolerant and moderate and our underlying assumptions about society are different.

    We recently had an interesting post demonstrating that root of your Religious Right lies not in opposition to abortion or feminism but in racism, with the Moral Majority campaigning against integration in schools and colleges.

    It strikes me as particularly bizarre when it’s black people or women complaining that they can’t legally discriminate against gay people. I’d love to see how Gary McFarlane would react if people refused to deal with him on the basis of his colour as so many Christians did in the American South of fifty years ago.

  25. Andy Says:

    Well said Sophie

  26. Daniel Mann Says:

    Sophie,

    While you claim the mantle of tolerance, you are very intolerant of me. But I won’t blame the Brits for being hypocritical.

  27. Phoebs Says:

    @Daniel,

    Resulting to Ad hom and insults, rather than address Sophie’s argument…hmmm.

  28. Sophie Says:

    @ Phoebs: Daniel didn’t produce the goods when our webmaster challenged him at the start of this thread and he hasn’t dealt with my points either. I would have been pleasantly surprised had he come back with a nice meaty argument. All bluster, no substance.

    American ideas about society, religion and politics are very different from ours – look at the overt religiosity of their politicians, which simply would not play here. We’re very suspicious of anyone who brings God into politics. And their Religious Right’s agenda looks totally bonkers to British eyes – way out on the far, far side. Birthers? Dominionism? It’s weird, weird stuff. Or at least it seems weird to British eyes because of the major differences in our view of the role of government and of the individual. We’re very different nations.

    I was fascinated to see the reactions to Obama’s healthcare bill, which spectacularly illustrated this gulf. Like all the other wealthy nations (apart from the US) we have socialised medicine, and our beloved NHS enjoys massive support, even on the right. Opponents of the Bill talked as if Obama was a Communist. Bizarre.

  29. Jill Says:

    You are right, webmaster, one does get fed up with trying to explain things to people who don’t seem able to grasp the difference between inherent traits such as race and skin colour and behavioural problems such as homosexual addictions. But those with ears to hear, let them hear, and those with eyes to see, let them see. The deniers will find out soon enough that this new god they have developed, which by nature is insatiable, will lead them to a different place, and there will come a point where the light will dawn.

    Anyhow, the Church Mouse has nailed this good and proper.

    http://churchmousepublishing.blogspot.com/2010/12/not-ashamed-of-misrepresenting-people.html

    So has Ed West in his Telegraph article, which the squeaky one has linked to.

  30. George Carey Launches I am Not Ashamed Leaflet « Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion Says:

    [...] complaints have provoked some critical commentary, most notably perhaps from Bishop Nicholas Baines: I do not believe that Christians are a persecuted group of people in this country [...]

  31. Daniel Mann Says:

    Sophie and Webmaster,

    Here are more examples of discrimination against Christians:

    1. “LEICESTER, November 17, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An Employment Tribunal judge has found that there was no discrimination in the case of a Christian pediatrician removed from an adoption panel after she had asked to be allowed to abstain from voting on cases involving applications to adopt from homosexuals.

    2. “LONDON, November 1, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A UK Christian couple is fighting their local government in the High Court over a decision to bar them from becoming foster parents because of their faith and their opposition to the homosexualist ideology. The case was heard by the High Court, sitting in Nottingham, today.

    3. “OAKWOOD, Derby, UK, February 27, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In November 2007, LifeSiteNews.com reported that a Christian couple in Somerset, UK, was being forced to retire from fostering needy children on conscientious grounds after the local council imposed rules requiring them to discuss homosexuality with the children. Now a similar case is reported in Derby, in which the local council is being sued after rejecting an application from a Christian couple to assist foster children under ten years old. The Telegraph reports that Eunice and Owen Johns refused to talk to children about homosexuality as though it were an acceptable “lifestyle”.

    Again, what is the Christian response? Denial? Silence? Is society aided by such discrimination? Where will such decisions take the UK and the rest of the West?

  32. webmaster Says:

    @Daniel, I have in times past addressed every one of these instances of “discrimination” and I have answered your previous comments fully, and as far as I am concerned you are bringing nothing new to the table for me to seriously address.

    Simply copying and pasting LifeSiteNews.com is not impressive. They are an ultra conservative, right wing, media machine, who simply pick up on tabloid stories and run with them.

    I take you back to my original observation:

    And this is the heart of the problem, namely, folks uncritically reading too many articles pumped out by those who have a specific agenda and which under scrutiny are easily identified as propaganda.

    I’m not going to take further time addressing each one of these cases, as you’ve already made my point, over and again.

  33. Daniel Mann Says:

    There are many instances of these types of things, not only in UK but in the West in general. An appropriate response is not to ask whether or not there is a political agenda behind these instances, but whether or not they are TRUE! Justice requires that these testimonies be examined for the veracity, rather than shooting the testifiers: “They are an ultra conservative, right wing, media machine…”

    http://www.MannsWord.blogspot.com

  34. Simian Says:

    Daniel
    You see to view ‘Truth’ as that side of an argument which most closely upholds your view.

    You appear to believe that UK employment tribunals cannot be trusted. Does it not strike you as odd that in a country where legal process is not noted for corruption, and freedom of speech is jealously guarded, that no mainstream Christian organisations have objected to the findings?

    On the other hand, almost all the recent cases quoted by you and others of a similar persuasion appear to have involved the ‘Christian Legal Centre’ (CLC) encouraging the plaintiff to bring each case. It seems to matter not that they frequently launch unwinnable cases, because that feeds their persecution narrative incredibly effectively, as proved by your reaction.

    Where is the truth in all this? Most of us do not think the end justifies the means. These are hardly examples of truth in action!

  35. Daniel Mann Says:

    Simian,

    You too are shifting the issue. You are not dealing with the cases and their claims, but with allegations of shady motivations. It’s like blaming a rape victim because she wore a low-cut dress, or like blaming the holocaust on the Jews because they were just too successful or clannish.

    If you want to deal with unholy motivations, I’m sure we could come up with a wagon-load of them by which to indict the other side.
    http://www.MannsWord.blogspot.com

  36. Simian Says:

    Daniel,

    I don’t think I stated that you were shifting the issue. You imagined it.

    Actually I was thinking of the specific cases that you raised. The proof is not hidden. It is in the transcripts and the reporting in the reputable mainstream press at the time, all of which is feely available in the public domain.

    Your comparisons are outrageous, and not in the least applicable. If you are going to make claims like this you should produce evidence.

    There is no ‘other side’. Criticism of the CLC and their actions in these cases has come from across the spectrum of believers and non-believers.

    But if you can give us an example of ‘unholy motivations… by the other side’ we will have some substance against which to judge your accusations.

  37. Sophie Says:

    @ Daniel Mann: It might have been a good idea to search on this blog for these “new” stories from LifeSiteNews.com. If you had, you’d have seen that they were all discussed here at the time they arose. It’s never a good idea to come on too strong in a new group, without checking out what’s already been said.

    Might I suggest you have a look at previous coverage of these stories here and of the court rulings, As Simian says.”no mainstream Christian organisations have objected to the findings.”

    The CLC is not a well-loved or respected body, and there’s little sympathy for its shenanigans. It definitely isn’t representative of Christian opinion.

  38. Jill Says:

    What utter rot, Sophie. CLC are tremendously well-respected outside of the shallow bounds of Ekklesia and their cohort. I have been to many of their events and have tremendous admiration for the work they do. Many Christians will not simply roll over and dump their beliefs without putting up a fight. The ones with b***s, that is. It is very noticeable that many of those standing up for Christianity are black. We obviously need more black bishops in the C of E.

  39. Simian Says:

    Jill
    I’m not sure what your evidence is for your view that the CLC is tremendously well respected, by inference, by the majority. But let’s assume for the sake of argument that they are.

    And let’s also assume for the sake of argument, that in all cases the tribunals, the Crown Prosecution Service and the High Court were wrong in their judegements:

    Does this really amount to religious persecution? Or would it be more accurately a case of religious discrimination? There is a difference.

    Religious persecution may be triggered by religious bigotry (i.e. the denigration of practitioners’ religions other than those of the oppressors) or by the State when it views a particular religious group as a threat to its interests or security. At a societal level, this dehumanization of a particular religious group may readily turn into violence or other forms of persecution.

    I don’t think that’s what is happening here. The the judicial system in the UK is not known for being corrupt, and the outcomes are all in acordance with the Law as currently constituted in England.

    If the CLC wants to have the law changed why not engage with Christians to vote within the democratic system to make it so, rather than starting all these lawsuits that they can’t win?

  40. Gordon Says:

    @Simian I think the reason they don’t engage politically is that they believe in a theocracy which would impose their views on the majority. Its quite frightening some of the stuff you hear people come out with these days. Not long ago I heard a Christian criticising opponents of the stoning to death of a woman for adultery in Iran. His view was that it was according to God’s law and that such laws would be reintroduced after the second coming of Christ (under the millennial reign). This thinking is quite novel and I know someone (a Christian) who is trying to track the spread of it.

    In general there is a move towards a very harsh interpretation of the concepts of love and compassion. I often find myself on the opposite side from Christians. This should not be the case. My views on love and compassion have not changed but over the past 20 years I seem to have been left behind by others who have moved away from it.

  41. webmaster Says:

    This thinking is quite novel and I know someone (a Christian) who is trying to track the spread of it.

    That sounds very interesting Gordon…

  42. Gordon Says:

    Well he keeps asking people where they heard it in the hope he can find the source, but so far he is not getting very far. Presumably its American, but might not be. My guess is that its spread through some of the old “tape” ministries who are barely online, based on the type of people who are saying these things.

  43. Jill Says:

    The problem with atheists, Simian, is that they cannot seem to grasp the concept that Christianity is not ‘all about me’. They think that Christians are demanding better treatment for themselves on the basis that they are ‘good people’, i.e. Christians. This is so far from the truth that it is difficult to know where to start.

    The basis of the Christian model of behaviour is that it gives the best chance for the survival and well-being of the human race. The era of peace and stability that we have enjoyed is based on the work of the great Christian reformers. So people attacking Christians are undermining this precept. The culture of death, into which we are now embedding ourselves more and more deeply (euthanasia, abortion, homosexual practice) is clear evidence of this – all these things are anti-Christian in that they are not life-affirming. If taken to their logical extreme, the human race will die out. As it is, we are becoming less peaceful and less stable, and people are unhappier.

    The law is not particularly corrupt in the West, but there are signs of it becoming so, with judges making laws and the police acting outside of their authority. Christian teaching is not always in line with the popular ethos, as is the current case with homosexuality, and laws have been passed which clash significantly with this doctrine. This does not make the law right and Christians wrong. It just means that we are losing our Christian ethos – not enough people understand how disastrous this will prove to be.

    I was angered to read in this weeks CEN that Terry’rent-a-gob’ Sanderson, while pontificating his usual rubbish, says that the CLC are well-funded. Well, I’d like to know where he got that from. It is a complete lie, which blinkered people will just accept because it’s what they want to believe. As I said, I have been to many of their events; they are constantly in need of funds, and these events are often attended by key personnel of many, many Christian organisations – so do not be thinking that they are a tiny fringe minority.

  44. Sophie Says:

    @ Jill: The CLC are lunatic fringe. As Simian has already pointed out, no mainstream Christian organisation has supported its actions or objected to the court decisions on any of the cases the CLC has brought.

    The CLC keeps bringing unwinnable cases which waste the courts’ time as well as the resources of those forced to contest them. The baselessness of these cases has been referred to by more than one judge. The paediatrician who lost her case was ordered to pay the other side’s costs, an indication of the judge’s annoyance. He said “these proceedings… were doomed to fail. There is simply no factual basis for the claims.”

    In each of these cases, before the hearing, the CLC makes a lot of noise about religious persecution. But when it gets to court it’s soon clear there’s no case to answer. I don’t know whether an organisation can be classed as a “vexatious litigant”, but if it can, I imagine the CLC is well on its way to being so classed.

    These guys are cranks. That you attend CLC events comes as no surprise. You seem to believe that if you declare confidently enough that your opinion is universally agreed, the absence of any supporting evidence will quietly be forgotten.

    I have this vision of you as the classic Britisher abroad, talking English louder and louder, sure that if you enunciate clearly enough the stupid foreigners will understand you. Or perhaps a trapeze artist, leaping from wild claim to wild claim, ignoring the absent safety net.

    As the CLC’s clients have discovered, you can make all the wild claims you like but it’s not a sustainable position. When they’re obliged to produce factual evidence their claims collapse. Here, in debate, people who can support what they say are generally taken more seriously than those who make outrageous statements with no visible means of support.

    To quote Rowan Williams: “…it is part of our Christian and Anglican discipleship to condemn homophobic prejudice and violence, to defend the human rights and civil liberties of homosexual people and to offer them the same pastoral care and loving service that we owe to all in Christ’s name.”

  45. Simian Says:

    Jill,
    That’s a very sweeping statement about Atheists! I could equally say that the problem with Christians is that they cannot seem to grasp the concept that Atheism is not ‘all about me’. I don’t happen to believe that all Christians are unable to grasp this, but some seem determined not to.

    I’ll deal with your points in turn:

    I think you’ll find that most conscientious Atheists (as opposed to people who just can’t be bothered to think about religion), have a very good grasp of at least one World religion. Many have made a difficult journey from belef to non-belief. So to accuse them (me included) of not grasping one of the core Christian concepts is completely misguided.

    Indeed, those of us who consider themselve Humanists have just about everything in common with Christians, with one crucial exeption: We beleve that it is we humans who are ultimately responsible for our behaviour, our morality and our survival, and not a God.

    Your comment about Judges and the Police conflates corruption and what you see as ‘bad’ laws. There is no evidence of increased corruption, and like them or not, the laws are what makes us a civilised society, where truth is valued higher than influence.

    Terry Sanderson’s comment about the CLC is a red herring, and not relevant to this discussion, except perhaps that if it truly tapped into the majority point of view, one might expect it to manage to attract greater funding.
    I would say however that I am not a great fan of Sanderson. I do wish that sometimes he would resist the temptation to put the boot in at every opportunity.

    Bear in mind that the NSS, for which Sanderson speaks, has a specific agenda around secularisation. For a more rounded view of the Humansist agenda we are better served by the British Humanist Associaton (BHA).

  46. Jill Says:

    Simian, that was not intended to be a pop at you. I apologise – yes, it was a sweeping statement. I have been reading too many comments in the Guardian and the Independent! It is perfectly plain from most of them that these people don’t have a clue, and will not understand no matter how hard you try to enlighten them. (I have been banned from posting on both these erudite rags for pointing out Christian doctrine, so perhaps have a jaundiced view of atheists.)

    As for humanism, this has a shelf-life. We are all inheritors of a fundamentally Christian society, which is why humanism seems attractive at present, but as Christianity is driven from the public sphere humanism will have nothing on which to base its precepts. A tribe of cannibals can claim to be humanists!

    Judges are servants of the law; they are not supposed to invent it. That is the job of Parliament. Look at what happened in the US over gay marriage – the people of California voted that marriage should remain between a man and a woman, but a judge ruled there to be no rational basis for this. Something similar happened in Iowa. This is legalising gay ‘marriage’ by the back door. The judge in the Terry Schiavo case overstepped his authority. The police overstep their remit over and over again in the UK, arresting people for what they have been trained to regard as hate crime, but which is merely people stating what they believe, as in the case of the street preacher, or the guy arrested for calling a policeman’s horse ‘gay’. Or the couple who complained about a gay pride march. One could go on and on. Police are supposed to catch criminals, not arrest people for what they think or say. If it wasn’t for The Christian Institute and Christian Concern, these incidents would go unnoticed and Christians would wake up one morning and find that they had no liberty at all.

    The Sanderson bit was merely an aside. I cannot bear the smug little creep. The very mention of his name sets me off on a rant.

  47. Sophie Says:

    The blogger over on The Ministry of Truth has a nice line in invective. Here’s his take on this so-called persecution:

    “‘Not Ashamed‘ is a newly launched campaign for unreconstructed Christian bigots and other disciples of the Overprivileged Church of Unmerited Victimhood and, as far I can tell, what they appear to be campaigning for is the unfettered right to continue hating on the gays and foisting their beliefs on everyone else, whether they want them to or not, dragging the moral character of modern Christianity into the gutter as they go.”

    “Overprivileged Church of Unmerited Victimhood” – lovely turn of phrase.

  48. Daniel Mann Says:

    It seems that England had done pretty well under sway of the “Overprivileged Church of Unmerited Victimhood.” We’ll see what the next couple hundred years bring.

  49. Sophie Says:

    @ Daniel Mann: Can you not see that claiming British Christians are persecuted doesn’t actually match up all that well with what you’ve just posted?

    “It seems that England had done pretty well under sway of the “Overprivileged Church of Unmerited Victimhood.” We’ll see what the next couple hundred years bring.”

    Under the sway? Persecuted? Hmm…

  50. Andy Says:

    The Christian media-whores have been at it again. This time it’s Stephen Green of so-called ‘Christian Voice’ who is determined to make Christians look ridiculous by trying to get Tesco to remove Twilight movie calendars from their stores as they are “deeply offensive to Christians” apparently.

  51. Daniel Mann Says:

    Sophie,

    I’m confused about your remark. In all the cases I cited, I don’t think that you or anyone else was able to show that this wasn’t an instance of discrimination, although you’ve amply demonstrated that bringing such a case to court is widely unpopular.

    Why the crassness when it comes to discrimination against Christians? Have you bought into the anti-Christian narrative of the secular society, or am I wrong to even point a finger? Perhaps it’s politically correct to point the finger at the church, but when it’s pointed at anyone else, then it’s bigotry?

  52. Simian Says:

    I appreciate your apology Jill, but are you serious in your subsequent remarks about Humanism? Surely not. Either you are just teasing, or you genuinely do not understand Humanism.

  53. Jill Says:

    Well, I was teasing a bit, Simian, but I genuinely don’t understand humanism. I cannot see what they base their principles on, if not Christianity. Is it Islam? Do humanists believe in enslaving women? My little crack about cannibals has some foundation – they obviously think it’s okay to eat people, but then they’re not Christians – or Muslims for that matter. You have to have some sort of foundation – it can’t be plucked from thin air. We don’t start off in neutral. Everyone is influenced by something or someone, even people who call themselves true freethinkers.

    A good book for you to read would be C S Lewis’s ‘Mere Christianity’ in which he charts his journey from atheism to Christianity. This is a man with a very large brain – far larger than mine – and a very clear logic. I hope I have the right title here, as I have read many of his books, but a long time ago. I hope someone will correct me if I am wrong.

  54. Sophie Says:

    @ Daniel Mann: In response to your questions, a careful examination of the court hearings and findings convinced me and others here that there was no discrimination. The cases brought by the CLC so far have had no substance to them and dissolved in the clear light of the courtroom. As Simina has said, our courts – though not perfect – are pretty reliable.

    What gets me, our webmaster and others here annoyed is that these phoney cases are not only giving non-Christians a poor idea of our faith, but more importantly, they distract from the very real persecution being faced by Christians in other parts of the world. There’s nothing bogus about the persecution of Christians in Iraq, for example, where they face terror, violence, even death. Our webmaster frequently highlights harrowing stories. I personally think the wealthy nations should be offering asylum to victims of religious persecution

    As for the idea that British Christians are being persecuted’ and why I reject it so hotly. Well, I’m an Anglican. You may not be aware that 26 Bishops of the Church of England are automatically given seats in our Upper House – roughly equivalent to your Senate. Can you imagine an America in which 26 Senators were unelected and church-appointed? State-funded faith schools, 99% of which are Christian, have special privileges too. Does the US government fund religious schools? I don’t know, but I’d guess not.

    As you can see, Christian rights are woven into our government. Does this make it clear why few British Christians are prepared to see themselves as victims of persecution?

    Many of the CLC cases involve gay civil rights, with the “victims” claiming that their religious beliefs should give them the right to discriminate against gay people. Many Muslims would like the right to opt out of sex equality laws for religious reasons. They’re not allowed to do this either.

    The Church of England is very clear on the matter. The Leader of the C of E, Rowan Williams, said

    “”…it is part of our Christian and Anglican discipleship to condemn homophobic prejudice and violence, to defend the human rights and civil liberties of homosexual people and to offer them the same pastoral care and loving service that we owe to all in Christ’s name.”

    “It is possible – indeed, it is imperative – to give the strongest support to the defence of homosexual people against violence, bigotry and legal disadvantage, to appreciate the role played in the life of the church by people of homosexual orientation…”

    Jonathan Bartley, co-director of the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, said: “Christians should not be ashamed of our faith but nor should they be afraid to listen to others and learn from them. What they should be ashamed of, however, is the reputation that they are developing for exaggeration, misleading people and discriminating against others.”

    “Since 2005, when we first predicted the growth in claims of ‘persecution’, we have been closely examining individual cases and what lies behind them. We have found no evidence to back up the claim of the ‘Not Ashamed’ campaign that Christians as a group are being systematically marginalised in Britain. We have found consistent evidence, however, of some Christians misleading people and exaggerating what is really going on, as well as treating other Christians, those of other faith and those of no faith, in discriminatory ways.”

  55. Jill Says:

    Let us just examine our ‘rights’ for one moment.

    Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights on freedom of thought, conscience and religion states,

    1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, and to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

    But as I pointed out in a previous post, the rights they give us with one hand they can remove with the other:

    2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

    So, when the rights and freedoms of homosexuals are considered paramount, this Article is rendered worthless.

    There is no freedom of thought, conscience and religion where the sexual preferences of others are concerned. It is simply a mirage.

    (I am quoting here from Stewart Cowan’s blog, Realstreet.)

    http://www.realstreet.co.uk/2010/12/the-eu-hates-christianity-for-a-reason/

  56. Daniel Mann Says:

    Jill and Sophie,

    Thank you both for detailing the Christian/church experience under both the EU and in the UK. In some ways, it’s certainly different than what we experience here in the States, where we have a strong tradition of separation-Church-and-State and the freedoms of religion and of speech.

    While different, it’s also much the same here. These rights are suffering erosion, as Fox news wrote:

    • “A graduate student [Jennifer Keeton] in Georgia is suing her university after she was told she must undergo a remediation program due to her beliefs on homosexuality and transgendered persons…Keeton’s lawsuit alleges that the university’s remediation plan noted Keeton’s ‘disagreement in several [counseling] class discussions and in written assignments with the gay and lesbian lifestyle,’ as well as Keeton’s belief that those ‘lifestyles’ are cases of identity confusion…Her lawyer informed Fox News that, ‘The university has told Jennifer Keeton that if she doesn’t change her beliefs, she can’t stay in the [counseling] program.’”

    Submitting to “a remediation program” is not enough for the university. Keeton must actually change her beliefs! Why insist upon a uniformity of belief? Doesn’t even the term “university” connote that diversity of viewpoints is a strength and not a problem? If sexual diversity is to be enthroned without challenge, shouldn’t it include all sexual lifestyles? Shouldn’t adultery, incest, and polygamy also require the protections of forbidden speech? Why not? Don’t these matters need to be discussed? Or should the politically correct view and the threats of being labeled “homophobe” silence all other views?

    Meanwhile, the university justifies its policy by means of this code: “Counselors do not discriminate against clients, students, employees, supervisees, or research participants in a manner that has a negative impact on these persons…”

    However, this policy is hypocritical. Claiming opposition to discrimination, the university is discriminating against Keeton’s speech and beliefs. (I suspect that it’s much the same in the rest of the West.) In Gulag style, Keeton is required to not only alter her speech but also her beliefs.

    Ironically, perhaps it is the university that exercises a “negative impact on these persons!” Everyone agrees that many physical and psychological costs accrue to the gay lifestyle. Forbidding discussion of these costs can be damaging.

    Biblical teachings require us to warn. How ironic it is that fulfilling this responsibility is now condemningly termed “homophobia,” even by those who self-identify as “Christian.” Wouldn’t it also follow that even our Bible is homophobic, as many charge, and therefore should be modified?

  57. Sophie Says:

    If Jennifer Keeton wants to qualify as a counsellor at this university, she will have to follow the course. Funny how academic life works like that.

    Counselling is not what I’d call “hard science” but what’s taught is based on the evidence available. Her claim that her rights are being infringed because she refuses to accept what’s taught, and what’s know, about LGBT people is just silly. She doesn’t have to go on the remediation course – she can just leave. Of course she wouldn’t qualify – but this is what happens if you don’t complete your course.

    It would be the same if she insisted that mental illness is caused by demonic possession. There’s no evidence that either of these beliefs are true, and a great deal that they aren’t. Either way she isn’t going to graduate.

    She claims her beliefs are being infringed. Most of us would see it rather differently. One of the key reasons for counsellors being qualified and following a structured, evidence-based course is to protect their future patients. Imagine the mess if they all just made it up as they went along, on the excuse of religious freedom. She wants to become a school counsellor. What school would want her and the legal bills that would follow?

    If she doesn’t agree with the course, she should find one that’s more compatible. Maybe there are fundamentalist Christian colleges where she could get some sort of counselling qualification. Of course such a qualification probably wouldn’t get her a job outside a very narrow pool of employers but, considering her views, this would seem entirely suitable. She’s said she wants to avoid gay people anyway.

    Following up this story, I see that Ms Keeton is being supported by the Ku Klux Klan and the Supreme White Alliance. Clearly her plight is stirring up those who care passionately about human rights…

    You write “How ironic it is that fulfilling this responsibility is now condemningly termed “homophobia,” even by those who self-identify as “Christian.”

    I would draw your attention to the quotes I’ve already given from the Head of the Church of England, roundly condemning homophobia and supporting gay rights. By no means all Christians share your views.

  58. Daniel Mann Says:

    Sophie,

    You erroneously claim that “what’s taught is based on the evidence available. Her claim that her rights are being infringed because she refuses to accept what’s taught.”

    Clearly, this case isn’t in the slightest a matter of “evidence,” but rather of values. Also, higher education has never before insisted on thought-control. Students had been graded based upon how well they defended their position, and not on their politics or values. To allow for this is also to condone public universities’ discrimination against other viewpoints – pro-life, euthanasia, the belief in God or even liberals. This is nothing short of a prescription for unjustified discrimination, fear, the closing of minds, repression, and the rejection of those principles that had once made the West great.

    You use the example of “demonic possession” to prove that universities should exercise viewpoint discrimination. However, there was a time that the universities were pushing Darwinian Eugenics that had justified forced sterilizations. Should this and other practices have been shielded from other views and critiques because universities have the right – according to you – to be intolerant of other points of view?

    You dismiss Keeton because you allege that the Klu Klux Klan has given her its support. Your logic is flawed. By this logic you should also dismiss vegetarianism and the concept of full employment because Hitler had been in favor of these.

    Your callousness towards Keeton is troubling. You support it based on the fact of “the Head of the Church of England, roundly condemning homophobia and supporting gay rights.” Instead, when Peter and that other Apostles were forbidden by “the Head of the Church” of Jerusalem, they replied that “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

  59. Sophie Says:

    @ Daniel Mann: None of us can expect to graduate from a course if we deviate from the syllabus. No one is denying Jennifer Keeton her beliefs on homosexuality. All they are doing is refusing to let her redesign a nationally-acknowledged qualification to suit these beliefs. It appears she wants the perks and prestige of an advanced degree from an accredited school, but does not want to do the things required to get it. If she were to obtain a degree from ASU and purposely not adhere the the guidelines, both she and the university would be committing fraud.

    If school counselling in the US is anything like it is here, Ms Keeton would have to be prepared to offer guidance on where teenagers could get advice on abortion and contraception, treatment for STIs and help with drug issues. It’s interesting that she’s prepared to make a big stand on the single issue of homosexuality.

    It reminds me of the case of Gary McFarlane, the Relate counsellor who claimed unfair dismissal. He had no problem with counselling adulterous, serially married or unmarried couples, just gay ones. When people claim they’re acting through conscience yet are applying just one aspect of their professed beliefs, the rest of us are entitled to suspect their motives.

    “Keeton has stated that she believes sexual behavior is the “result of accountable personal choice rather than an inevitability deriving from deterministic forces,” according to the suit, says Fox News.

    “She also has affirmed binary male-female gender, with one or the other being fixed in each person at their creation, and not a social construct or individual choice subject to alteration by the person so created,” the lawsuit reads. “Further, she has expressed her view that homosexuality is a ‘lifestyle,’ not a ‘state of being.’”

    Ms Keeting also endorses conversion therapy, a practice so dangerous and unethical that the British Medical Association is taking steps to formally outlaw it. The conflict here is not about values, it’s about evidence. The evidence does not support Ms Keeton’s views, indeed they are diametrically opposed to those of all national health and educational professional bodies. If she is determined to apply very conservative Christian values to her work as a counsellor, the big question must be why she wanted to do this particular course in the first place. I cannot escape the conclusion that she wants the prestigious qualification without actually taking the steps which would qualify her.

    Your freedom of speech argument is red herring. The universities are by no means immune to other views and critiques. However to make a critique you need evidence to support your position. Religious conviction doesn’t qualify. You write “higher education has never before insisted on thought-control” but it has always insisted that people follow the syllabus.

    Jennifer Keeton’s position is not one of academic dissent. It would be more usefully compared to that of a YEC who claims discrimination against the biology department. No one is saying she can’t believe any old rubbish she likes, just that she can’t practice as a ASCA-accredited counsellor if she thinks she’s entitled to preach this rubbish to vulnerable kids.

    My observation that Ms Keeton is supported by white supremacists was just an observation. There’s no evidence that she’s a racist. However if I took legal action which was then taken up as a cause by the KKK it would make me question whether I was doing the right thing. Their interest alone would suggest that I was making a big mistake.

    ‘Twas an evening in October, I’ll confess I wasn’t sober,
    I was carting home a load with manly pride,
    When my feet began to stutter and I fell into the gutter,
    And a pig came up and lay down by my side.
    Then I lay there in the gutter and my heart was all a-flutter,
    Till a lady, passing by, did chance to say:
    “You can tell a man that boozes by the company he chooses,”
    Then the pig got up and slowly walked away.

  60. Daniel Mann Says:

    Sophie,

    You condemn Keeton because “Keeton has stated that she believes sexual behavior is the ‘result of accountable personal choice rather than an inevitability deriving from deterministic forces.’”

    Whether she’s right or wrong is one thing, but her condemnation by both you and Augusta State U. is another thing! Should a student be threatened with dismissal and required to undergo an indoctrination program to change her views merely because she disagreed with the prevailing orthodoxy?

    I am amazed that you can so glibly indict her:

    • “It appears she wants the perks and prestige of an advanced degree from an accredited school, but does not want to do the things required to get it. If she were to obtain a degree from ASU and purposely not adhere the guidelines, both she and the university would be committing fraud.”

    You misrepresent the issue. She has “adhered to the guidelines,” but perhaps not their insistence that she conform to her school’s coercive dogmas regarding homosexuality. You’ve also failed to address my challenge in this regard. Is it hypocritical for a state university to promote itself as a bastion of higher learning, while, at the same time, it refuses to allow its students to use their minds? Is the university’s job one of social indoctrination and enforcing conformity or to demonstrate how the fruits of reason and the use of evidences can be marshaled against lies and narrow-mindedness? If universities have the power to enforce such repressive measures, shouldn’t the UK also have the right to restrict voting to those who conform to certain politically correct dogmas?

    You have been arguing in favor of coercion and indoctrination in your defense of the homosexual lifestyle. The issue isn’t even whether or not it’s right. The issue is merely whether it can even be discussed! Sadly, homosexualists use threat and intimidation to silence teachers, psychologists and other professionals who speak against their agenda. In this regard, you happily approve the prospect that the UK may soon ban Reparation Therapy. In “Destructive Trends in Mental Health,” co-edited by insiders Rogers Wright and Nicolas Cummings, Wright asserts:

    • “Gay groups within the APA [American Psychological Association] have repeatedly tried to persuade the association to adopt ethical standards that prohibit therapists from offering psychotherapeutic services designed to ameliorate ‘gayness,’ on the basis that such efforts are unsuccessful and harmful to the consumer. Psychologists who do not agree with this premise are termed homophobic.”

    • “Such efforts are especially troubling because they abrogate the patient’s right to choose the therapist and determine the therapeutic goals. They also deny the reality of data demonstrating that psychotherapy can be effective in changing sexual preferences in patients who have a desire to do so” (pp. xxx).

    It had been because of intimidation, not empirical evidence, that the APA had been pressured to remove SSA as a pathology from its DSM. It is the same intimidation today that is forcing sexuality upon young children in the name of “diversity training.”

  61. Simian Says:

    Danial Mann,
    To be a counsellor, at least in the UK, one of the first things you are taught is that it is not your place to be judgemental. You cannot bring your personal views and opinions into the counselling room. You are there to facilitate the client’s working through their ssues and enabling them to resolve their conflicts within their own ideology.
    Is it any different in the US? I think not.
    Ms Keeting can hold whatever view she likes, and practice it outside the professional environment into whch she seeks admission, but she cannot and should not be allowed to make a stand for a particular view, if that view brings ger into direct conflict with some of her clients. It is unsound and potentially damaging. Why would any reputable university want to have her do this course if she refuses to accept this?
    It is not even as if Ms Keetin could not have know this when she signed up for the course.
    As Sophie says, if she holds this partisan view there are courses at other universities where she could study. To suggest that she is being persecuted for her faith is just plain wrong, and does her cause no good.

  62. Daniel Mann Says:

    Simian,

    Keeting’s professional conduct is not the issue, but her freedom to express herself in the classroom situation.

    You are right about MH counseling in the US. However, in most settings, the director wouldn’t assign cases to those who wouldn’t be able to deal with them according to the standards of the clinic, and that’s OK! You wouldn’t assign a rapist to a woman therapist who has been raped on numerous occasions. No one could expect her to deliver unconditional positive regard.

    Likewise, it would be imprudent to assign a gay couple to Keeting.

  63. Simian Says:

    Daniel,
    Er, Yes – Keeting’s professional conduct IS the issue. The rest is just noise. And your rapist comparison is not relevant.

    Have you read the legal submission by the Allied Defence Fund (a legal entity motivated by conservative religious belief, and comparable to the Christian Legal Centre in the UK) to the district court on behalf of Jennifer Keeton as the plaintiff, and the ensuing case? Clearly from the outset the case was not winnable by the plaintiff, and one has to wonder about the motivation for bringing it.

    Miss Keeton provides ample evidence that she should not practice as a schools counsellor. Take the following extract of her reported words to the board discussing her position, which she does not deny:

    “… However, Miss Keeton did state that she would not in a counseling session agree with the propriety of homosexual relations, nor affirm the propriety of a client pursuing a life of, and a self-definition based on, homosexual relations.
    …”
    In other words, Miss Keeting would not be able to remain impartial in a counselling situation. There are other references which equally render her unfit to be a counsellor, relating to abortion and other moral issues.

    Elsewhere it is recorded that, with specific reference to her role as a counsellor:
    “…Miss Keeton believes that other people should act in accordance with her moral values…”
    A point which she also does not deny.

    So, what do we have? An unwinnable complaint, which having been lost has feed grist to the mill of perceived religious persecution, when in fact it is no such thing.

  64. Daniel Mann Says:

    Simian,

    The question is not whether Keeting should be able to counsel a gay couple. I’ve already granted that she shouldn’t nor would she even want to. Instead, the question is whether the system is going to show the same intolerance to her that they claim she is showing to gays.

    Evidently, you think that there is nothing wrong with this intolerance and also believe that she should be thrown away as some piece of garbage that the system wants to discard because her ideas are different.

  65. Simian Says:

    No Daniel. You appear to completely misunderstand my point. Please read my post again.

    And think about this. How is the councillor to know beforehand that the client is Gay? The client may not even know it themselves.

  66. Sophie Says:

    @ Daniel Mann: You said “Whether she’s right or wrong is one thing, but her condemnation by both you and Augusta State U. is another thing! Should a student be threatened with dismissal and required to undergo an indoctrination program to change her views merely because she disagreed with the prevailing orthodoxy?”

    Well, yes. Whether she’s right or wrong matters a great deal. And yes, if she’s flatly refusing to comply with the ethical guidelines that underpin the whole course – which she was – then I can’t see the University had any choice in the matter.

    Following what Simian posted, I looked up (and read) the legal submission by the Allied Defence Fund to the district court on behalf of Jennifer Keeton as the plaintiff.

    Bearing in mind that the legal submission is supposed to promote and support the Plaintiff’s point of view, I’m amazed anyone thought it was worth bringing this case. Jennifer Keeton condemned herself roundly before the case was ever heard.

    She simply has not the faintest idea what is expected of her in terms of ethics. As Simian wrote, “from the outset the case was not winnable;… one has to wonder about the motivation for bringing it.”

    One of the first rules contained in the American School Counselor Association Code of Ethics is the following:

    “Respect students’ values, beliefs and cultural background and do not impose the school counselor’s personal values on students or their families.”

    Staff at the University wrote to Ms Keeton “The counseling profession requires its practitioners to recognize that people set and adhere to their own moral compass. The professional counselor’s job is to help clients clarify their current feelings and behaviors and to help them reach the goals that they have determined for themselves, not to dictate what those goals should be, what morals they should possess, or what values they should adopt.”

    “Do not impose the school counselor’s personal values” – how simple is that as a concept? But Jennifer Keaton was not only sure that she should impose her beliefs on gay clients. It went way beyond that. She saw it plainly as her responsibility as a school counselor to transmit Biblical values to all her clients. She wrote:

    “My Christian moral views are not just about me. I think the Bible’s teaching is true for all people, and it shows the right way to live. I don’t think these views get in the way of ethical counseling. My biblical views won’t change.”

    One of her teachers replied: “Jennifer, you misinterpreted what I was saying. I do not expect you to change your personal beliefs and values. What is the issue is if you believe your personal beliefs and values should be the same beliefs and values for all people. 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.”

    During the meetings between Ms Keeton and her teachers, one of them suggested that if she were to depart from the ASU
    counseling program, she had other educational options. Another suggested to Miss Keeton that she might consider stepping away from the ASU program to pursue a degree through a Christian counseling program.

    It is a shame she didn’t take this advice. She lost in court for the simple reason that she didn’t have a case: another example of self-styled martyrdom when the true cause is sheer pig-headed stupidity.

    N.B. Please do read Simian’s post again – you seem to have misunderstood his point.

  67. Sophie Says:

    The ADF recently lost a very similar case in Michigan – another poor showing by ADF. Both rested on a total misunderstanding, whether wilful or obstinate, of the ethics required of ACA-qualified counselors. The case was Ward v. Wilbanks, and you can read the judgement here, if you’re interested.

    To qualify as a counselor in accordance with the ethical standards of the American Counseling Association, requires that students “demonstrate the ability to consistently set aside their personal values or beliefs systems and work with the value system of the client.”

    I’m not a counselor but I was well aware of this rule. It seems unlikely that any student would sincerely believe that applying their personal religious beliefs to clients was going to be acceptable, particularly as the ACA Code of Ethics underpins all counselor training, both explicitly and in how students are taught.

    The headline on the ADF news story reads “ADF to appeal ruling that allows Eastern Michigan U. to expel Christian students for holding to beliefs”

    Which I guess reads better than the truth:

    “ADF to appeal ruling that allows Eastern Michigan U. to expel Christian students for deliberately flouting the ACA’s code of ethics”

    No counselor, whatever their beliefs, is allowed to impose these beliefs on clients. It’s a very simple principle. Any person who repeatedly declares that they intend to breach the code is not going to graduate. Being expected to comply with professional ethics is neither censorship or persecution.

    In relation to my previous post, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) Code of Ethics can be found here.

  68. Daniel Mann Says:

    Simian and Sophie,

    This discussion is fruitless. You do not deal with my arguments nor even with the issues – the free expression of ideas in the university context. Instead, you cite:

    • “To qualify as a counselor in accordance with the ethical standards of the American Counseling Association, requires that students ‘demonstrate the ability to consistently set aside their personal values or beliefs systems and work with the value system of the client.’”

    The vast majority of Christians and also other counselors would opt out of a counseling situation where their values militated against the goals of the counselee. For example, if a married counselee came to counseling to become more successful in a variety of adulterous relationships, the ethical counselor would either have to opt out (if they had been wrongly assigned the case) or confront his immoral and ultimately self-destructive behavior and goals. This is the professionally responsible thing to do!

    This also calls into question the “ethical standards” of the ACA and the universities that set such restrictive standards. I have tried to argue that there is a place to confront the counselee about their goals, as it would to confront a Hitler regarding his destructive, genocidal goals. Dealing with conflicting ideas and goals is a matter of maturity; it’s also a matter of life.

    However, you both castigate the Christian for taking moral stances. You think these stances are inappropriate. Why? We have been talking past one another, and I think it’s based upon our differing faith commitments. While the Christian is bound by his/her commitment to follow the Lord in all circumstances (Matthew 6:33), it is clear that you have adopted standards that are more authoritative for you than Scripture. You believe that the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality are “homophobic.”

    No wonder you don’t feel that Christians are being discriminated against! You define the Christian faith differently, more along the lines that Rowan Williams might. Therefore, you don’t feel persecuted. Your faith is a culturally acceptable faith, comfortably accommodated to the surrounding secularism. Therefore, you disdain those who haven’t made your accommodations. It is therefore no wonder that we find ourselves talking apples and oranges.

  69. Sophie Says:

    @ Daniel Mann: You do not appear to have read either mine or Simian’s posts. This isn’t about intellectual dissent. It’s about failing to recognise professional boundaries.

    Jennifer Keeton was working towards a Master’s Degree accredited by the ASCA. There are other qualifications she could have chosen. But she didn’t choose a Christian counseling course to better accommodate her attitudes. No, she chose the ASCA qualification in the knowledge that the ASCA Code of Ethics clearly state that counselors must:

    “Respect students’ values, beliefs and cultural background and do not impose the school counselor’s personal values on students or their families.”

    She then repeatedly asserted her right and intention to impose her personal values on potential clients. Her expectation was to be allowed to entirely re-define the ethical basis of the ASA and ASCA.

    Imagine the case of a Muslim trainee counselor who believes all women must live under the supervision of male relatives, that they must be covered from head to toe at all times and not travel either by car or public transport alone. Spending time alone with any man not a blood relative merits death.

    In your view he – like Ms Keeton – should qualify. His beliefs are sincere, his dissent a matter of faith. Forget any expectation that a student going to a counselor may have about the counselor’s ethics. This man will make sure every client he sees knows just what they’re doing wrong, and how violent the response to their sins or – if the client is male – how their laxness with their female relatives will bring damnation. Some clients might not even get out in one piece…

    OK, it’s an exaggeration, but it makes my point. Can you not see that adherence to national professional standards is in the best interests of all parties?

    As for your rude remarks about the C of E, I’m not madly upset to find an American thinks the Archbishop of Canterbury isn’t a Christian. He’s a very much better Christian than you appear to be.

  70. Simian Says:

    Daniel. As a counsellor you can’t opt out of a counselling session half way through the session because the client expresses a view with which you don’t agree. Surely even you can see the absurdity of this. How is the counsellor supposed to know before the session what sexual or other prefernces the clent might have. In a properly ordered organisation individuals are not obliged to publish these minds of things outside the counselling room. Nor should they.

  71. Daniel Mann Says:

    Sophie and Simian,

    Here is an interesting study regarding discrimination against “conservatives.” Here is an interesting study reported in “Destructive Trends in Mental Health: The Well-Intentioned Path to Harm,”(Edited by Rogers H. Wright and Nicolas A. Cummings, 2005.
    New York: Routledge), reviewed by A. Dean Byrd, Ph.D., MBA, MPH:

    • “Redding references the famous Gartner study, which empirically demonstrated the discrimination against those with conservative views in graduate school admissions. Professors in APA-approved clinical psychology departments were provided with graduate school applications including grade-point-averages, GRE scores and personal statements that differed only in whether the applicant volunteered that he was a conservative Christian. “Professors rated the nonconservative applicants significantly higher in all areas, had fewer doubts about their abilities, felt more positively about their abilities to be good psychologists and rated them more likely to be admitted to their graduate program. The findings suggest an admission bias against religious conservatives, which violates the APA’s ethical principles and antidiscrimination laws” (p. 312).”

    Do you believe that this isn’t a valid case of discrimination?

  72. Daniel Mann Says:

    Sophie,

    I’m sorry if I’ve been offensive. I’m aware that my comments embody a certain cutting-edge. I thought the tone appropriate, but perhaps it isn’t??

  73. Simian Says:

    Daniel, You describe yourself on your blog as a ‘skpetic’ but you seem to be anything but. You appear to accept uncritically anything that supports your core belief and to reject or to ignore anything that does not support it. That is your prerogative, but it makes it nigh on impossible to have a meaningful discussion. You ignore or dismiss anything written by Sophie or me that does not fit your view of how things are, and instead go off on tangents.
    Could I ask you once more to read carefully what Sophie and I have written and respond specifically to the points we have made?

  74. Daniel Mann Says:

    Simian,

    I have reread. If there is something in particular you want me to respond to, please indicate.

  75. Simian Says:

    Ok. Amongst ther things: 1) Do you think that Ms Keeton should have won her court case? 2) Regardless of your answer, do you think that she should be a counsellor of the kind specified.

  76. Simian Says:

    Daniel. If you have to ask I’m not sure that you have understood, but, for a start:
    1) Do you think that Ms Keeton should have won her court case?
    2) Regardless of your answer, do you think that she could be an effective counsellor of the kind specified.

  77. Daniel Mann Says:

    Simian,

    “Yes,” in both regards! Can atheists, agnostics, communists, or pagans be effective counselors? If so, why not a committed Christian.

    Of course, I’m not asserting that Keaton can be effective in all counseling relationships, but who can?

  78. Daniel Mann Says:

    Simian,

    Evidently, you read the “statement of purpose” on my blog: “Defending the Christian faith and promoting its wisdom against the secular and religious challenges of our day.” (www.MannsWord.blogspot.com)

    Perhaps you feel that this is marrow-minded, but is it any more so than a person who is committed to the ideal of love or justice? This is my overriding vision until someone can prove to me that the Christian faith isn’t truth.

    Have you read 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God?” This is my consuming joy! Do you think it naïve?

  79. Simian Says:

    Daniel
    I don’t doubt the sincerity of your defence of your religion, but the crux of this is that counsellors should not bring their personal beliefs/views/prejudices into the counselling room.
    Of course committed Christians can make excellent counsellors,but only if they do not insist on asserting their personal beliefs.
    How would you react to an atheist who felt compelled to promote his/her point of view during a counselling session? Or any other religion for that matter. There is a time and place for everything. A counselling session is nether the time nor the place for a counsellor to promote their own beliefs.

  80. Jill Says:

    Simian, everyone has beliefs! I would not particularly like an atheist counselling me. Why should Christians be singled out as unsuitable?

  81. Simian Says:

    Jill. Read my comment again.

  82. Jill Says:

    Simian, I have read your comment. People have a worldview. You imagine that atheists are open minded, but they are not necessarily. You hint that Christians have closed minds but this is not necessarily so.

    You have your own mindset; you simply can’t acknowledge it because you imagine you are free-thinking, but you are not necessarily.

  83. Daniel Mann Says:

    Simian,

    This has little to do with the Keaton case: “A counselling session is nether the time nor the place for a counsellor to promote their own beliefs.”

    Although your position might be the majority opinion, other MH professionals feel that the more responsible position is to be transparent about ones views. Why? There has been many psychological surveys that have unequivocally determined that the unspoken values of the counselor intimately affect the counselee. If this is the case, it is argued that the most responsible course is for the counselor to be candid with the counselee about the influences to which he/she will be subjected to in the counseling process.

    In fact, it is inevitable that the psychotherapy package comes stocked with all sorts of philosophical baggage:

    • “As the Protestant ethic has weakened in Western society, the confused citizen has turned to the only alternative he knows, the psychological expert who claims there is a new scientific standard of behavior to replace fading tradition…In the Psychological Society (a worldview that has captured Western society), human problems are no longer seen as normal variations or unseemly twists of fate. We now view them as the products of internal psychological maladjustments. We are even encouraged to believe that there would be no failure, no crime, no malevolence, no unhappiness if man could only understand his psyche, then set it for [ submit to] a metaphysical condition called adjustment [psychotherapy]…It is now obvious that most tenets of the Psychological Society, including psychotherapy, are Western man’s disguise for a new spirituality. It is the educated person’s opportunity to practice religion under the cloak of science. It enables us to call on occult powers of healing while appeasing our Western need for a rational underpinning. It makes little difference that each of the psychotherapies has a different faith. It is the faith itself, not the doctrine, that is the healing agent.” (Gross, “The Psychological Society,” 4, 7, 35)

    Value neutrality is a myth!

  84. Sophie Says:

    @ Daniel Mann: Everything that you post suggests to me that you’re seeing this as an intellectual conflict between Jennifer Keeton and her university, whereas I (and the university) see it in terms of protecting her future clients. The first rule in counseling, as in most caring professions, is “do no harm”. The determination to express her personal beliefs in a counseling setting that Jennifer Keeton professes makes it certain that she would breach ethical guidelines whenever she thought it appropriate. I agree with the judge. She disqualified herself.

    How many religions are there in the US? And within these religions, how many divisions? For these run deep, Daniel – I’m a Christian who supports gay marriage, you think homosexuality is a sin and yet both our positions exist respectably within the same broad faith. And, once you’ve counted the religions, how many cultures and subcultures are there? Mexican, Asian, Native American, and on and on.

    A nationally recognised counseling qualification must aim to produce counselors who can be relied on to be of help to students from a myriad of social, religious, ethnic and political backgrounds; students in any school. Their work must be relevant and appropriate in a national way. An ASCA-qualified counselor should be able to work in any state, with students of any background.

    Add to that the fact that in the USA, because of the separation of church and state, no publicly-funded school could use taxpayers’ money to pay for a counselor who promotes a specific faith.

    Add also the fact that were counselors able to issue a sort of menu that told potential employers their views (pro-choice, anti-gay, complementarian, whatever) then most schools would play safe and only hire counselors who were unlikely to embroil them in lawsuits. They would, essentially, hire people who had very much the profile of what the ASCA currently expects. The ASCA code of ethics makes it very plain that counselors are supposed to respect difference, and to work with any view that lies within the law.

    Can you imagine the lawsuits that would ensue if a student from a non-religious background went to an ASCA-accredited counselor only to be ambushed by a religious fundamentalist who told them their homosexuality was a sin?

    I was interested to see, when I Googled, just how many religious counsellors and counseling organisations there are in America, particularly for children and young adults. There’s no shortage of opportunity for someone of Ms Keeton’s background, or of colleges offering qualifications. If a parent or student accesses an openly religious counselor, there should be no unpleasant surprises. But Jennifer Keeton wasn’t training to be a religious counselor.

    Put yourself in the position of a whole range of different parents, Jews, atheists, even Wiccans. All of them expect their kids to be able to get support from a school counselor. The purpose of training school counselors is therefore to provide a nationally-recognised standard on which parents, kids and schools can rely.

    Does this help? I feel I haven’t perhaps explained myself very clearly. I also pick up that you don’t know a great deal about how the counselor/client relationship works. You seem to see a counselor as being an adviser or moral arbiter, which is quite mistaken.

  85. Sophie Says:

    @ Daniel Mann: I’ve taken the time to reply carefully to one of your previous posts. You wrote “You do not deal with my arguments nor even with the issues – the free expression of ideas in the university context.”

    Jennifer Keeton wasn’t expelled because of her ideas, but because she refused to accept that her personal beliefs had no place in counseling sessions. She repeatedly and deliberately ignored the ethical expectations of the profession she hoped to join. It’s not about religion. It’s about maintaining professional boundaries.

    You write: “The vast majority of Christians and also other counselors would opt out of a counseling situation where their values militated against the goals of the counselee. For example, if a married counselee came to counseling to become more successful in a variety of adulterous relationships, the ethical counselor would either have to opt out (if they had been wrongly assigned the case) or confront his immoral and ultimately self-destructive behavior and goals. This is the professionally responsible thing to do!”

    I don’t know where you got the idea that your first sentence is true. The fact that you think this is valid indicates a basic misunderstanding of the role of the counselor. A counselor isn’t there to direct the client’s values. A counselor doesn’t tell their client what to do. A counselor doesn’t share their personal experience, their religious views or try to convert clients. Clients who want a counselor who shares their specific religious views can readily find one.

    What rings so false about the ADF cases is that both these women could easily have signed up to train as Christian counselors. In a multicultural world, the national ASA/ASCA qualification specifically commits to provide counseling that is not linked to any particular faith or worldview.

    All of us have our own ideas of what is right, our own ethical compass. It would be extraordinary for a client and counselor to agree on every issue. This difference is expected, and poses no problem so long as the counselor keeps her own views out of the relationship. Problems are looked at in terms of the client’s values, and (as long as the client’s approach is not seriously illegal) the counselor must refrain from introducing her own values. It’s a hard thing to do, but counseling is a very demanding job.

    A counselor’s role is to help their client use the client’s own values to resolve issues, and while a counselor may excuse themselves over the short-term from working with particular issues – an example might be doing bereavement counseling just after a partner’s death – counselors are not (and cannot expect to be) permanently excused from working with an entire patient group, which is what Jennifer Keeton wanted. There’s a good discussion of it here.

    The example you give, an adulterer signing up with a counselor to get tips, is implausible. Let’s try the common example of a student who is seeing an ASCA-qualified counselor and, during the course of therapy, discovers she’s unexpectedly pregnant. The counselor’s role is to help the young woman decide what she wants to do, in terms of the young woman’s own ethics and priorities. Abortion is legal and, if this is what the young woman is contemplating, the personal views of the counselor are irrelevant, however powerful they may be.

    Personal views are for personal time, and cannot be part of the counselor’s therapeutic role. If a therapist is unable to refrain from expressing personal views then that person isn’t suitable to be a ASA/ASCA counselor. Simple as that. There is no way a counselor could excuse themselves or refer to another counselor in such circumstances without causing significant harm. Such a referral would be explicitly unethical and lay the counselor open to disciplinary action.

    As for Jennifer Keeton’s proposal that she just not work with gay clients, a comparison might be a Jehovah’s Witness who wants to become a surgeon but insists on exemption from procedures in which blood transfusion might be required. An emergency requiring blood transfusion is, of its nature, unpredictable and a surgeon prepared to walk out mid-procedure whatever the reason would be failing his patient so profoundly that the surgeon would be struck off. No medical school would have him. But this wouldn’t be about his views, it would be to protect his patients.

    In terms of a gay teenager, if a counselor and a client have been building a relationship over the course of months or even years, and then the client comes out to the counselor, and then the counselor breaks off the counseling relationship, that rejection is a betrayal of the client. If the client is in a fragile emotional state, it could be profound betrayal. Suicide is the 3rd most common cause of death among teenagers, one of the reasons why the training of ASCA counselors is stringent.

    The counseling relationship is a relationship of trust, and trust is built up gradually. A client may not come out to his or her counselor in the first session — he or she may not see it as relevant, or may be closeted in his or her daily life. A client may be bisexual, or consider himself straight, at the time that the counseling process begins, and only enter into a same-sex relationship subsequently.

    Becoming a counselor is not for everyone. It’s extremely demanding, and one of the hardest demands is this professional boundary – keeping yourself out of the session. It can be very hard, particularly when you think your client is doing the wrong thing.

    People with very strong views are seldom suitable to be counselors, and anyone who can’t keep these views to themselves is downright harmful. For example, someone who believes abortion is murder would probably not make a good ASA/ASCA counsellor, though they might do well in an explicitly anti-abortion setting.

    Counselors should never allow their professional relationships with clients to be prejudiced by their personal views about lifestyle, gender, age, disability, race, sexual orientation, beliefs or culture. Clients need to know they’re in a safe place, where they can explore issues without condemnation.

    You add: “This also calls into question the “ethical standards” of the ACA and the universities that set such restrictive standards. I have tried to argue that there is a place to confront the counselee about their goals, as it would to confront a Hitler regarding his destructive, genocidal goals.”

    The only circumstance in which confidentiality may breached is when there is present grave danger to the client or to others. This definitely covers Hitler, though I wonder if it’s occurred to you that someone with anti-social ideation is unlikely to sit there and listen to a counselor’s reprimand. People don’t seek out a counselor to be scolded, and will certainly not turn up for the next appointment.

    You say “However, you both castigate the Christian for taking moral stances. You think these stances are inappropriate. Why?”

    Because they are not in a counselor’s remit. Daniel, you seem to think that our objection to Jennifer Keeton’s case revolve around her religious views. This is quite wrong, and you seem to misunderstand just as she did.

    Therapy is about the client, not the counselor. This is why all trainee counselors are expected to expand their knowledge of cultures and lifestyles. You are of limited use as a counselor if you only know the world of your own upbringing. Counselors are encouraged to explore the human world about them, something Jennifer Keeton flatly refused to do.

    A counselor isn’t a moral arbiter, and anyone using the role for this will get sued or sacked. During counseling the client is helped to examine their problems in the context of the client’s own beliefs and ethics. It is never appropriate for the counselor to introduce her own personal beliefs unless the client specifically asks about them, and even then it would very much depend on the context.

    Comments on this case on other sites have resonated with me. Have you seen the video footage of Jennifer Keeton? She seems very vulnerable, with her flat affect, emaciation and heavy make-up. It may be partly her accent, but she doesn’t seem bright enough to get a Masters in anything. Definitely more in need of counseling than to provide it. One kindly woman on another site spoke of the pity the poster felt for a naive and not very smart girl who was being used as a political tool by interests who would drop once she’d met their need for headlines. I think she’s spot on, and it’s sad.

  86. Simian Says:

    I thought my comment was very clear Jill but clearly you were misled. In which case I apologise.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with Christians being closed minded or atheists being open minded. Or with me thinking that I am open minded. I strive to be but that is not the point. It matters not one jot what the counsellor’s personal views are provided that these are not brought into the counselling session. That is all there is to it.

  87. Simian Says:

    Daniel,
    I don’t think we have a shared understanding of what therapeutic counselling is, and is not. Sophie has explained counselling in the same way as I understand it. A counsellor has NO place as a moral arbiter. I am sure there is a place for counselling which is based on religious teaching, but that is not what Ms Keeton signed up for, and if she had the intellectual capacity to complete the training then she should have known that. To still pretend otherwise, even after the situation had been very clearly explained to her, is simply mischievous.

  88. Sophie Says:

    Oops, I’ve spotted a typo. I meant to say that Jennifer Keeton was “a naive and not very smart girl who was being used as a political tool by interests who would drop her once she’d met their need for headlines.”

  89. Daniel Mann Says:

    Sophie (and Simian),

    I think that you need to document your contention: “Jennifer Keeton wasn’t expelled because of her ideas, but because she refused to accept that her personal beliefs had no place in counseling sessions. She repeatedly and deliberately ignored the ethical expectations of the profession she hoped to join. It’s not about religion. It’s about maintaining professional boundaries.”

    This wasn’t my understanding of the problem. Besides, I think again we are still talking oranges and apples. You don’t think that Christians are experiencing discrimination because you seem to have a different definition of Christianity. Consequently, only those fundamentalists are facing discrimination because of the problems they are needlessly creating.

    However, by Christ’s definition: “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). This includes speaking as He spoke, teaching as He taught:

    • “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and TEACHING THEM TO OBEY EVERYTHING I HAVE COMMANDED YOU. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

    If we are His servants, we do not have the liberty to do otherwise:

    • “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.” John 12:47-49

    .

  90. Sophie Says:

    @ Daniel Mann: Do you seriously intend to say that all Christians should preach to others in all circumstances – i.e. physicians to patients, police to the general public, lawyers or hairdressers to clients, shoppers to shop staff – or, in all these examples, vice versa – and in all workplaces, restaurants or any other public place? Do you genuinely think that preaching must be the main task of all Christians and that it overrides all other ethical, legal or human obligations?

    It would make life impossible – we had a discussion about it some months ago, in which I wrote:

    “Can you imagine a workplace in which everyone felt under this obligation? In which you personally had to deal with the Methodists on the train, 30 minutes on Islam over coffee, and another 30 minutes on Calvinism at lunch? How many rows would there be? How much business would get done? There are very good reasons people don’t talk about religion in secular settings. Most adults already have a belief system and uninvited proselytising is likely to cause conflict and annoyance.”

    I hope I’ve misunderstood you. You have previously seemed perfectly rational, but what I understand you to suggest seems absurd. From a Christian perspective I would see it as nearly heretical, and definitely entirely mistaken.

  91. Daniel Mann Says:

    Sophie,

    What did I say that has led you to this conclusion?

  92. Sophie Says:

    @ Daniel: I went back to your post, planning to copy the areas that had given me this impression, but found that I couldn’t single out any particular paragraph.

    You wrote: “I think that you need to document your contention: “Jennifer Keeton wasn’t expelled because of her ideas, but because she refused to accept that her personal beliefs had no place in counseling sessions. She repeatedly and deliberately ignored the ethical expectations of the profession she hoped to join. It’s not about religion. It’s about maintaining professional boundaries.”

    I think I have documented my contention. I posted earlier giving details of how the University had explained repeatedly to Ms Keeton that her personal beliefs were her own affair but that it was unethical under the ASCA code to introduce these beliefs uninvited into her work as a counselor, and that this was exactly the same for everyone. There’s a lot in the court documents that makes it clear Ms Keeton planned to tell clients what to do with reference to her religious beliefs.

    “Staff at the University wrote to Ms Keeton “The professional counselor’s job is to help clients clarify their current feelings and behaviors and to help them reach the goals that they have determined for themselves, not to dictate what those goals should be, what morals they should possess, or what values they should adopt.”

    Then you wrote:

    “This wasn’t my understanding of the problem. Besides, I think again we are still talking oranges and apples. You don’t think that Christians are experiencing discrimination because you seem to have a different definition of Christianity.”

    And further:

    “However, by Christ’s definition: “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). This includes speaking as He spoke, teaching as He taught:

    • “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and TEACHING THEM TO OBEY EVERYTHING I HAVE COMMANDED YOU. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

    My reading of what you’ve written is that Ms Keeton was obliged to speak under the command of Jesus, and that this must over-ride any legal, ethical or clinical obligation.

    Is this reading right? I am still not sure what you mean to convey.

  93. Simian Says:

    You ask us to document the contentions that both Sopie and I make. It’s all very clearly documented in the trial submisssion by Ms Keeeton’s lawyers in her defence., which is in the public domain One can’t get much better proof than that.

    I think you put your finger precisely on the issue when you write “…This wasn’t my understanding of the problem.”
    It’s as if you simply cannot accept that this is about someone seeking to impose their own religious views in an inappropriate context. Instead you appear to want it to be about persecution of a Christian for her beliefs.
    Sophie elaborates on this by reference to other examples. No one is trying to stifle Ms Keeton’s right to declare her faith, so long as she does not let it get in the way of her behaving professionally in a counselling context. It really is as simple as that.

  94. Daniel Mann Says:

    Sophie (and Simian),

    Thanks for your clarifications. I think I now better understand what you are getting at. You cite:

    “Staff at the University wrote to Ms Keeton ‘The professional counselor’s job is to help clients clarify their current feelings and behaviors and to help them reach the goals that they have determined for themselves, not to dictate what those goals should be, what morals they should possess, or what values they should adopt.’”

    However, I didn’t respond to this because it didn’t seem to be the real issue, but rather the lame justification by the school for curtailing Keeton’s right to express herself honestly within the classroom setting. I don’t see any allegations that Keeton had forced her religion down anyone’s throat in a counseling setting, but rather had been debating this issue within a classroom setting – entirely different! Had this carried over into the clinical setting, I’m sure they would have cited her in this regard. They would have been able to produce a complaint from the counselee to this effect.

    I can also understand your concern with the verses I had cited. I’m certainly not saying that we have a wooden imperative to ALWAYS talk-up our faith. However, these verses demonstrate that serving the truth of the Gospel must be foremost in our thinking and acting (Matthew 6:33). Nor should this ever become a justification for not acting out of love – the best interests of others.

    But of course, we will disagree about what constitutes their best interests. I’ve argued that the homosexual lifestyle is highly self-destructive, something that the Bible makes very clear:

    • 1 Cor. 6:9-10 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

    http://www.MannsWord.blogspot.com

  95. Sophie Says:

    @ Daniel Mann: You’re going to have to read the documents. I’ve produced various quotes but I can’t read them for you, and you don’t accept my or Simian’s understanding of them.

    If you take the read them you will understand that the issue was that Jennifer Keeton believed her religious faith could and most overwrite the code of ethics in a counselling setting. Her complaint can be read here.

    The main function of a professional qualifications is to provide potential clients/patients/whatever with quality assurance. Most people want a lawyer or doctor who has met the quality standards to become fully qualified, and the ASCA qualification is no different.

    Jennifer Keeton cannot refuse to abide by her professional association’s code of ethics and expect to become qualified. It’s as simple as that.

    You write “I’ve argued that the homosexual lifestyle is highly self-destructive, something that the Bible makes very clear”

    You do not seem to understand that, while Ms Keeton is perfectly entitled to base her own morality on what she believes the Bible says, she cannot pass these views on to clients uninvited in a secular professional setting where her association’s ethical code demands that she:

    “Respect students’ values, beliefs and cultural background and do not impose the school counselor’s personal values on students or their families.”

    Because she insisted that she would impose her own personal values on students or their families, she disqualified herself. This isn’t unreasonable or prejudicial discrimination, any more than an Orthodox Jew refusing to work in a pork butcher is being oppressed. It’s her free choice.

    She’s entitled to her beliefs (no one says being gay is compulsory) but she cannot expect to work in a profession where her beliefs prevent her from following the code of ethics.

  96. Sophie Says:

    What a mess of a second para! Should read:

    If you read them you will understand that the issue was that Jennifer Keeton believed her religious faith could and must overwrite the code of ethics in a counselling setting.

  97. Jill Says:

    Daniel, if people want to think that the scripture means the exact opposite of what it actually says, there is nothing you, nor I, nor anyone else can say that will make them change their minds.

  98. Daniel Mann Says:

    Sophie,

    Thanks for the link to the Brief. Hear is the second paragraph that you find particularly egregious:

    • 2. Moreover, ASU, acting through its authorized administrators and policymakers, maintains and enforces vague and overbroad speech regulations that chill and penalize constitutionally protected student speech. These policies are inherently manipulable and subjective in application, and facilitate penalizing the communication of ideas that are disfavored by the policy enforcers.

    Even if you are right that Keeton violated ASU’s policy, as I think that this brief acknowledges, ASU’s policy contains “overbroad speech regulations that chill and penalize constitutionally protected student speech.” Why should not this policy also be enforced regarding speech against Christianity or adultery or communism or even Tories? Shouldn’t people who have strong views in these areas also be subject to remediation lest their views undermine a counseling relationship?

    However, the problem wasn’t with Keeton’s behavior in the counseling setting but her exercise of free speech:

    • “25. Dr. Anderson-Wiley then reported to Miss Keeton that the faculty is concerned with certain of Miss Keeton’s beliefs and views that she has shared in class and with other students pertaining to GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender) issues. The faculty identifies Miss Keeton’s views as indicative of her improper professional disposition to persons of such populations.”

    According to ASU:

    • “Another equally important question that has arisen over the last two semesters is Jen’s ability to be a multiculturally competent counselor, particularly with regard to working with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (GLBTQ) populations. Jen has voiced disagreement in several class discussions and in written assignments with the gay and lesbian “lifestyle.” She stated in one paper that she believes GLBTQ “lifestyles” to be identity confusion. This was during her enrollment in the Diversity Sensitivity course and after the presentation
    on GLBTQ populations.”

    This is a far cry from her acting in an inappropriate, unprofessional way within a counseling setting. The real issue here is the radical and militant homosexual agenda which refuses to allow any opinions at variance to their own. If ASU is really going to enforce their policy is an even-handed manner, then they should also raise it regarding atheists or agnostics – and most of the counseling professionals fall into these two categories — who might end up counseling Christians.

  99. Simian Says:

    Daniel
    Sophie can of course answer for herself, but could I point out that the fact there are quotes within her defence brief that paint her side of the story is not exceptional. Indeed it would be absurd if there were not.

    What is really extarordinary is that she damns herself by her own admissions within her own defence brief. Those are the quotes that are significant. The passages you quote are interesting but not critical to the case.

    What you still appear to fail to grasp is that it matters not one jot whether a counsellor is Christian, Agnostic, Atheist, or Jedi Knight – just so long as they leave their own beliefs and prejudices outside the counselling room, and do not make the sorts of statments that Ms Keeton made, which cause her teachers to assess that she is unable to make this commitment.

  100. Daniel Mann Says:

    Simian,

    You keep overlooking the same issues:

    1. You lack evidence that Keeton would try to impose her beliefs.

    2. Counseling centers usually don’t assign cases to those who will react adversely to the stated goals of the counselee.

    3. Everyone imposes their own beliefs, even when they try not to do so.

    I think that the reason we keep going over the same ground is your underlying commitment to the gay agenda. Instead, if you are a Christian, you must seek first the things of God (Matthew 6:33).

  101. Simian Says:

    Daniel,
    What better evidence is there than the words of Ms Keeton herself, which both Sophie and I have quoted. If you will not accept that this is evidence then we are all wasting our time.

    As I have said before, there is no way that anyone can guarantee that a particular counsellor will not get a certain type of client. If counsellors could pick and choose which clients they would see it would make a mockery of the whole process.

    Everyone is guided by their beliefs, but counsellors try damned hard not to let that intrude into their professional relationship with their client. At least that is how it works in this country (UK) and I speak from 1st hand experience.

    I have absolutely no specific commitment to a Gay agenda. I am committed to fairness, tolerance and compassion.

  102. Sophie Says:

    @ Simian: You’re right. There is no point in continuing this debate. I’ve lost confidence in Daniel’s sincerity. The facts are all very straightforward, and I’m starting to feel like a remedial teacher, providing the evidence step by careful step.

    @ Daniel: It’s nothing to do with a gay agenda. Jennifer Keeton’s problems stem from her arrogance and from listening to very poor advice. She could be a Hindu, a Wiccan, a Scientologist, even a Branch Davidian and the same basic principles would apply.

    I think you might do well to talk this case over with someone who has qualified in one of the caring professions, either as an ASA counselor or a physician, or a nurse. Not a specifically Christian qualification, just an ordinary mainstream qualification. Ask them how they would express Christian teaching directly to their patients. Listen to the answers. I can’t help but feel most of your problems with this case stem from lack of awareness of the demands and responsibilities of such a position.

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