Despicable Hypocrites

I grow tired quite often of listening to my community spew intolerance so freely. Today, I read that Augusta State University graduate student Jennifer Keeton has been told by the head of the graduate program she attends – counseling – that she must change her views on homosexuality or be expelled.

Well…that’s the dumbed-down version. The exact wording was, “[Augusta State University] faculty have promised to expel Miss Keeton from the graduate Counselor Education Program not because of poor academic showing or demonstrated deficiencies in clinical performance, but simply because she has communicated both inside and outside the classroom that she holds to Christian ethical convictions on matters of human sexuality and gender identity.” At least that’s what the Alliance Defense Fund’s lawsuit reads. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if it is true, particularly considering some of the stories that have been even worse.

Here’s my first beef with this story: most recently, the GLBT vs. Christian debate in publicly-funded schools across the country (to include high schools) has largely been about membership in school-sponsored organizations. GLBT students have lambasted Christian organizations for kicking out openly gay members because the Christian faith of other members says that you cannot be gay and a Christian. They have gone so far as to take the fight to court, and have even won. Their argument is that any publicly-funded school that sponsors student organizations in any way, shape or form, even by merely allowing them to gather on campus (which requires a member of faculty to be present in all cases), cannot allow such discrimination to continue against GLBT students who wish to be part of any group they wish to join. They say it is a violation of basic rights to tell a person that because they are gay, they cannot join this group or that group.

Personally I don’t see the point in wishing to belong to a group that doesn’t agree with such a large facet of your personality, but that’s just me. I’d also point out that if discrimination is going to be banned among student groups then we need to start suing ivy-league institutions who are so picky about who gets into their student body. What, you say if a person isn’t smart enough they can’t be part of your snooty little club? I say that’s discrimination.

Any time any gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered person feels slighted by the rules of a group, they immediately cry foul. We as a community (there’s that “we” again!) seem to think that tolerance means we’ll never be shut out of anything. On the contrary. Tolerance means that they live in peace with us while they disagree with our lifestyle, which the vast majority of them are actually doing, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. I won’t even acknowledge the marriage debate in that statement because I don’t see that as being a part of the quest for tolerance.

Then we have moments like these, when we are the ones being intolerant. “She believes being gay is a sin! She can’t be allowed to finish her education, lest she spread her wicked intolerance like a disease! Expel her! Cast her OUT!!!” In these moments, we become exactly that which we point out in Christians: despicable hypocrites.

Estate lawyer and political blogger Michael Hamar has weighed in, and has done so predictably:

“Frankly, if those are Keeton’s views, she needs to be expelled from a program that would giver her a graduate degree and unloose her on an unsuspecting public. EVERY legitimate medical and mental health association holds that homosexuality is NOT a choice, is not changeable and the APA has condemned ex-gay therapy as unethical. If Ms. Keeton wants to be a licensed professional in this field, she needs to embrace scientific knowledge or find a different area of endeavor where she will not be likely harming patients. Personally, I am way over supposed professionals wrapping themselves in ignorant religious based bigotry and then playing the martyr.”

This particular comment was sandwiched between crass jokes about Carrie Prejean, fake boobs, sex tapes and so-called manufactured martyrdom. Classy, isn’t it?

It is not up to anybody to tell Jennifer Keeton or anybody else what they should or shouldn’t believe. It isn’t up to anybody to tell her that she can or cannot remain in a particular educational program because her beliefs differ from the accepted norm. What I have been able to gather from the reports I’ve read is that she hasn’t made this an issue; it has come up in private conversation and in one or two classroom discussions, but Keeton apparently hasn’t made it an issue in her writing assignments. If the school really is basing their ultimatum on private conversations then they are entirely out of line. Her religious beliefs should bear no weight on the decision to allow her to finish her courses and graduate.

What many in our community have continually failed to grasp is that any rules or laws we attempt to put in place – particularly those governing discrimination – don’t just apply to them. They apply to us, too. If we are going to scream bloody murder about publicly-funded educational institutions allowing student groups to discriminate, then we have no business trying to discriminate against Christians who happen to disagree with us. It’s a two-way street.

Tolerance and acceptance are not the same thing. Christians who disagree with the homsexual lifestyle will always exist. I am still a Christian, and I know that my Christian friends are disheartened by my lifestyle but they still love me. If I needed them they’d still be there. I refuse to sit by and allow my fellow gays and lesbians to turn the very monster they claim to loathe on others.

Let Jennifer Keeton finish her studies. Let her graduate. Do so without requirement that she change her beliefs. What she does with her education is up to her. If it weren’t, then I would say colleges across the country should kick out any student who does not intend to apply their degree to some standard pre-set by the institution. With every case like this, we hover dangerously closer to being the Nazis we accuse others of being. It would be an irony of the strangest kind if Keeton were to win her case based on the precedent set by the GLBT students’ fight to force all student groups to obey open-membership, anti-discrimination rules.

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17 thoughts on “Despicable Hypocrites

  1. There is no diversity in the gay world. Oh we claim we are diverse. We might be as far as ethnicity goes. But when it comes to point of view there is no diversity. It is an amazing and putrid manifestation.

    As a gay man I have battled much of my life to be who I am. Right or wrong I have my views. But the greater gay community wants to me to ignore my views and adopt the Group Think views.

    Why would any openly gay or lesbian person do that? We battle to be who we are, come out of the closet and then send it all down the sewer to be a part of a Group Think model? Become yourself only to surrender yourself? It’s fascinating and putrid at the same time.

    I used to tell people in my 20’s I was too straight to be gay and to gay to be straight. But now in my mid 40’s it’s changed. I’m too human to be gay. When you let others dictate your views then you lose some of your humantity. When you lose all of it you become a Nazi or a Stalin type.

  2. In all fairness gays aren’t the only ones doing this. When I was in bible college people who held certain beliefs on the Trinity or rather their belief of “Oneness” theology were ordered not to talk about it or be expelled; others were expelled for certain beliefs.
    a question for you. Would you be so tolerant if she was antisemitic or espousing anti black views based on her views of the bible?

  3. David, if she were Megan Phelps I would still believe she has a right to her beliefs.

    I went to bible school, so I know about the theological differences; this is very, very different. Bible schools are private. You pay a lot more to go to private schools. A LOT. In this case, we’re talking about a public university.

    Now, if she were openly trying to discriminate and were violating the student code of conduct during a protest, they might have a leg to stand on. She has not, however. What if she chooses to use her education to be a Christian counselor working out of a church? Should she still fall in lock-step with the board of this college?

    I think not.

  4. “Would you be so tolerant if she was antisemitic or espousing anti black views based on her views of the bible?”

    I think it was Voltaire who said, “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

    Another quote from someone I can’t recall:

    “Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.”

    I would not condone anti-semtic or anti-black views. But I would not demand someone espousing such views change their views. I certainly would not make a condition of attending a public university that is supported by their tax dollars.

    If you read the Constitution then you’ll learn there is no right to never be offended. Offending someone with words is not swinging your fist.

    If someone says something you do not agree with, then the remedy is to politely engage that person in a discussion about why you think they are wrong. If you change that person’s mind then good for you.

  5. Here is a case when we should raise the question, “Higher Than What?” when we hear the term “American Higher Education”. Whatever side of the argument one comes down on in these cases, our diploma’ed class fails in simple perception.

  6. I received an email once asking “Which is worse: racism or rape?”

    My response was: racism is a belief, and rape is an action. Beliefs don’t hurt people. Actions hurt people. Someone can believe homosexuality is a sin all he or she wants, but that belief is not the same as targetting them for hate crimes.

    It seems as though whenever the liberals decide to target conservatives, this guy decides to support those conservatives:

    http://azstarnet.com/article_f13019c4-9692-11df-a25d-001cc4c002e0.html

  7. I am gay and Christian. People can believe whatever they want about that, but I have come to a place of peace with it.

    Recently a friend who is being chased by the Hound of Heaven, told me she mentioned to a Christian relative, that I had helped her after the death of her husband, then mentioned I was gay. The young man told her I was going to hell. She didn’t believe that for a minute. So he told her that God would turn me around…been there, done that, went crazy fighting myself then came to accept myself as I am and believe that the Lord had also from day One of my conversion.

    Fast-forward to this article. This young woman is in her early 20’s, and I know where she is coming from, but I doubt she will maintain that position for the rest of her life.

    The school is right in one area: she will not be a good counselor when faced with people who are just realizing that they are gay or having issues within the context of being gay. She should not be working with those students.

    Eventually, she will realize, I hope, that she has a set of rigid beliefs that will not stand up over time, including her beliefs about gay people.

    I’ve recently found evidence of a secret that was about as secret as the fact that Rock Hudson was gay.

    Christian writer, Eugenia Price and Joyce Blackburn were a gay couple for over nearly 40 years. This was not advertised, nor was it a real secret. Genie was as honest as she could be without going into details about their sex life.

    Mel, we just need to keep getting out our message, while being aware that others may not understand today, but they might understand tomorrow.

    In the meantime…do unto others

  8. Letscheck, that young man is definitely a bigot.

    From what I understand, all Christians believe that humanity is full of sinners. Some Christians believe homosexuality is a sin. I don’t believe that, but I am talking about others. The bigots single out homosexuals to automatically go to hell. However, the tolerant and accepting Christians believe that _anyone_ can go to heaven through faith, love, and compassion; there is no singling out whatsoever of other Christians. “The one who has not sinned shall cast the first stone.”

    Unfortunately, liberals cannot distinguish between the two groups. Liberals assume all Christians are bigots.

    I don’t believe it is a sin. I am just stating what I understand of Christianity, but Mel is more of a Christian than I am.

  9. I am a gay Christian. I’ve been one all of my life. I am very deeply involved in my parish. My parish is very gay friendly.

    Christianity and those who call themselves Christians have very wide and divergant views on the issue of being gay.

    My church does not regard it as sinful. But parishes within my denomination do. This is part and parcel across the Christian world. There are Roman Catholics who have a dim view on being gay and Roman Catholics who do not in spite of what their denomination teaches them.

    When the left accuses Christians of bigotry then indirectly accuse Christians like me and many others of the same thing. Gay and gay friendly Christians can’t fight this battle if we are undermined by those who paint us all with the same brush.

    When it comes to how organized religion treats gays I wish those outside of the flock would stay out of it or join the flock and learn how we deal with this.

  10. I am a gay Christian believer and a Counselor. I went to a private school to earn my degree and despite the fact that I openly held my view of not working with pedophilles was not asked to leave the school because I refuse to provide counseling to that population. A diservice? yes perhaps to myself… However I know there are other counselors far better trained and more understanding than myself in this area and a referral is always apropriate this is also part of a Counselor’s training. Will there be other cousnelors who can assist GLBT individuals? Yes far better, even Christian Counselors…
    I do believe as letscheck points out this young woman will come to a point in her life when she will gain a wider perspective of humaness and all of its possibilities… Christian and not, gay or not. And I also agree with Mel in saying the last thing the GLBT community needs is to become that which it has preached against (some form of segregation). I believe as Gay Christians we have a different understanding and perspective of God’s Mercy, The extent of His wisdom and the Power of our Creation to His image.

  11. The real issue here is not gay or Christian or whatever, it is the effort of a public institution to be ‘thought police.’ Quite obviously her beliefs will affect the way she goes about her profession; for all I know she was motivated by her faith to go into counseling. That however doesn’t mean she should be barred from the profession because of that. It is very close to the right thinking demanded in authoritarian communist states where people joined the Communist Party in order to have a job and everyone genuflected before the state ideology. This is very dangerous and a threat to all of our liberty.

  12. Again, as we celebrate our franchise in the civic realm, we find, amongst our own, those who would regiment and classify basic rights and freedoms.
    If one thinks about, what could be more oppressive than to have to self-identify as an official or corporate accomodation, when we struggle to say it shouldn’t matter.

  13. “If one thinks about, what could be more oppressive than to have to self-identify as an official or corporate accomodation, when we struggle to say it shouldn’t matter.”

    You lost me. But I am having a rough day.

    I don’t see gay folk as saying self identity doesn’t matter. What I do see is tolerance of sexual orientation to the point where that is not an issue. Such tolerance doens’t extend to other parts of self identity.

    If am a rotten person (part of my self identity) and I am gay, then despise me because I am a rotten person. Being gay doesn’t give me a free pass to be rotten.

  14. “I believe as Gay Christians we have a different understanding and perspective of God’s Mercy, The extent of His wisdom and the Power of our Creation to His image.”

    I totally agree there. Coming out has taught me how loving God is over everything else. I am impressed God is all knowing and stuff like that. But the love part impresses me the most.

  15. John, the love impresses me also.

    I just wish I had focused on that more when I was first birthed as a Christian.

    But my life has not been wasted because if we don’t follow plan A…it seems like there is always another plan down to ZZZZZZZZZZ.

    Our path is made by the Lord. I get great comfort in knowing that no matter how much I try to right my way and take a wrong turn…I will always be led back to the path.

    I think this student believes that she is setting her path in the “right” direction, then will eventually find herself being re-directed.

    Thank you for your responses to my comments. It is all good.

  16. Case, you bring up a very good point. My own counselor had talked to me about the need to find a counselor/therapist/psychologist you can work well with. If you’re going to a counselor that you don’t agree with or who doesn’t specialize in your specific need, it’s not going to work well. I was lucky to find a counselor on the first shot who specialized not only in GLBT issues but also trauma therapy. She has been invaluable through two of my friends committing suicide.

    During one session we discussed the hate I’ve gotten for being a politically conservative lesbian. I asked her what she thought about my political views and why she continued to keep me as a client. She told me, “if I didn’t like you, I would have given you a referral to another counselor long ago. In my profession we are allowed to do that and even encouraged if we feel that the client would benefit from another therapist’s care.”

    Another question I’d ask – and this would go more to Case than anyone else – once you complete your master’s program in counseling, you’re not automatically an ACA-accredited counselor. You still have to take the test. So where do the SCHOOLS get off telling you what you can and cannot believe or who you may or may not serve as a counselor?

    The school’s job is not to make sure you get your license. When I finished EMT, and when I finish paramedic, I still had to take the test. I had to schedule it and pay for it myself completely separate from my course of classes (neither is a tech school, my paramedic courses are part of a BS program in advanced paramedicine). The school’s job is to educate you. It’s not up to them to determine whether you’d make a good counselor or not.

  17. John. Thanks for bringing my lack of clarification to light. I guess you cleared it up for me. It’s just that I’ve witnessed occasions of false merit when the only factor was someone’s gayness, homosexuality, gender, race or more recently religious identity.

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