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Tennessee Lawmakers Pass Bill to Protect Christian Counselors

The U.S. Supreme Court declared homosexual “marriage” a constitutional right, but that doesn’t mean Christians must be forced to choose between keeping their jobs and violating their faith.

A graduate counseling student named Julea Ward, a Christian, had to fight for her religious freedom. She referred a potential client, a homosexual who sought sexual relationship advice, to another colleague.

Ward objected to providing advice to anyone about a sinful relationship. The Eastern Michigan University review board expelled her, although the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics at the time allowed these kinds of referrals. Ward’s expulsion was upheld on appeal, and she filed a lawsuit. The court ruled in her favor.

“Ward was willing to work with all clients and to respect the school’s affirmation directives in doing so,” the court wrote. “That is why she asked to refer gay and lesbian clients (and some heterosexual clients) if the conversation required her to affirm their sexual practices. What more could the [non-discrimination] rule require?”

That was a few years ago, before the high court redefined marriage. Lawmakers realize that they must protect the religious freedom of individuals who believe what God says about the sin of homosexuality. North Carolina passed a law that protects magistrates and clerks who have religious objections to homosexual “marriage.”

Lawmakers in Tennessee are trying to protect counselors like Ward. An excerpt from Christian Headlines:

The Tennessee Senate has passed a bill that would allow counselors to refuse to treat patients and instead refer them to another professional due to religious beliefs.

ABC News reports that the bill, which passed 27-5 and was sponsored by Republican Sen. Jack Johnson, would allow medical professionals to defer care based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

The medical professional could then refer the patient whose issues or requests were at odds with the doctor’s religious beliefs, to another medical professional who did not object to treating the patient.

The bill came about as a response to the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision, and is one of a number of new proposals that aim to provide for the religious freedom of clergy, businesses, state officials, and medical professionals.

A subcommittee in the state’s House will take up a version of the bill next week.

Lawmakers across the country should follow suit with religious exemption laws. As homosexuals continue to gain special rights, ours weaken, just as we feared.

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