Jennifer Keeton says that she was was enrolled in Augusta State University’s Counselor Education Program in 2010, when she was reprimanded by officials for reportedly making statements against homosexuality both in and out of the classroom. She was then told that unless she underwent a remediation plan, which entailed sensitivity training activities such as attending diversity workshops, attending homosexual pride events, writing papers about tolerance and counseling homosexual students, she could not continue in her studies.
She states that at first, she agreed to work things out with the university, but later decided that she could not go through with the requirement.
“I really want to stay in the program,” Keeton wrote to faculty in an email, “But I don’t want to have to attend all the events about what I think is not moral behavior, and then write reflections on them that don’t meet your standards because I haven’t changed my views or beliefs… My biblical views won’t change.”
That same year, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) filed a lawsuit on Keeton’s behalf.
Late last month, U.S. District Judge Randal Hall dismissed the suit, stating:
“Keeton’s conflation of personal and professional values, or at least her difficulty in discerning the difference, appears to have been rooted in her opinion that the immorality of homosexual relations is a matter of objective and absolute moral truth. … One conspicuous and abiding theme of the American story is that individuals like Jennifer Keeton are free to choose their own spiritual path, and need brook no government trespass thereon. The Constitution guarantees that the heart may pulse to meters of its own design, deaf to public cadence. But when affairs of the conscience ripen into action – either speech or conduct –- government is granted leave to regulate in behalf of certain public interests, including education and professional fitness.”
“A public university student shouldn’t be threatened with expulsion for being a Christian and refusing to publicly renounce her faith, but that’s exactly what’s happening here. Simply put, the university is imposing thought reform,” said ADF Senior Counsel David French after the lawsuit was filed. “Abandoning one’s own religious beliefs should not be a precondition at a public university for obtaining a degree. This type of leftist zero-tolerance policy is in place at far too many universities, and it must stop. Jennifer’s only crime was to have the beliefs that she does.”