My Religion Trumps Your Health – Michigan Seeks To Legalize Discrimination Against Patients For Religious Reasons

In 2009, a student at Eastern Michigan University named Julea Ward was expelled from her graduate studies program. She was removed from the program because she refused to counsel a suicidal gay student. The reason, if you haven’t already guessed, is because she is a ‘Christian.’ To be clear:

Julea Ward, while seeking certification from a state university, refused to apply her training to a fellow student (a requirement for certification), even though his life was at stake.

Or:

Julea Ward turned away a person crying out for help, because she is an adherent to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Either way you look at it, it seems like a huge failing. And we would all agree that something needed to be done to prevent this kind of potential tragedy from ever happening again. The Michigan House of Representatives have addressed the problem…By passing a bill making it illegal to:

“discipline or discriminate against a student in a counseling, social work, or psychology program because the student refuses to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief.”


Yes, that’s right. They went pro-intolerance. It’s called the “Julea Ward freedom of conscience act‘,” and if it passes, it sets some very interesting precedences:

  • It would create an anti-discrimination law that permits discrimination. More troubling is that it awards priority to the protection an ‘idea’ over the protection of the needs of an ‘individual.’
  • It would prevent learning institutions from disqualifying students from certification when the student holds beliefs that make them unwilling or unable to satisfactorily complete their training. Obviously it also allows them to ply a trade they are unwilling or unable to hold. A critical trade, where lives hang in the balance.

Both of these are unacceptable, and both translate to real damage to American citizens, if allowed. This is the face of theocracy. How can you tell? Apply the ‘rules’ that this bill sets in place to anything other than religion. For instance:

  • If it is my sincerely held belief that I do not need glasses, should the Department of Motor Vehicles be required to give me a license, even if I refuse an eye exam?
  • What if I sincerely believe that unrefrigerated seafood is safe to eat months after being cooked. Do Health Inspectors have any right to keep me from selling my wares to the public?
  • It is my belief that most of the buttons, controls and safety equipment  on commercial aircraft are just for show. You got a problem with that, FAA?

Of course all of these scenarios are ludicrous. But to an awful lot of us, so are religious beliefs. It’s not discrimination to refuse to allow someone to be surgeon if they can’t stand the sight of blood. In the United States you have the right to become anything you are able to become, you don’t necessarily have the right to just decide you are that thing.

If your ‘sincerely held beliefs’ make it impossible for you to dispense birth control, that means your beliefs prevent you from being a pharmacist – because that is part of the job. If your job training requires you to show empathy for people in crisis, but your beliefs prevent you from being empathetic, you are not qualified to hold the job you seek. You may not work in that field.

You may not be told you may not hold your beliefs, you may not be told you may not hold a particular job. You certainly can be told that your beliefs prevent you from effectively doing a job. That’s not discrimination. That’s logic.

Believe it or not.