SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A university in Missouri has reached a settlement with a student that had been expelled from the school’s counseling program for advising that he could not counsel those involved in homosexuality on relationship matters.
Missouri State University (MSU) has agreed to pay $25,000 to Andrew Cash, “the estimated tuition cost for Cash to obtain a master’s degree in counseling from Evangel University or another similar institution.” Cash agreed in the settlement not to seek admission again at Missouri State, nor to be employed at the university.
The university did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement.
As previously reported, Cash began his master’s in counseling at MSU in 2007. To obtain a degree, students must have 600 hours of internship work and 240 counseling hours.
In 2011, Cash became involved as an intern with the Springfield Marriage and Family Institute. That year, he was asked to provide a class presentation, and so he invited a representative from the institute to talk to his class about Christian relationship counseling.
During the presentation, a student asked if the institute counsels homosexuals who are having relational problems, and the representative said that the organization would certainly counsel homosexuals individually, but not as a “couple.” He advised that the Christian convictions of the organization would not align with helping others stay in homosexual relationships.
The following week, MSU internship coordinator Kristi Perryman asked to meet with Cash, in which she asked him about his beliefs regarding counseling homosexuals.
While some reports state that Cash said he wouldn’t counsel homosexuals at all, his attorneys refute the notion and advise that Cash would only have issue with providing relationship counseling those involved in same-sex romantic relationships.
“He never said he wouldn’t counsel a gay person,” Jason Craddock, an attorney with the Thomas More Society, told reporters.
Cash stated that for relationship advice, he would rather provide a referral to another counselor.
Perryman advised that Cash would not be permitted to continue his internship at the Springfield Marriage and Family Institute and that his internship hours would not count toward the requirement. He was also asked to write a paper about working with homosexuals and demonstrate that he had “learned from the experience.”
Cash applied for a new internship, but also asserted that there was nothing wrong with working with the institute. Perryman met with others about the matter, who agreed that Cash must either leave the program or go through remediation. Part of the remediation included retaking classes he had already passed with an A grade.
Cash appealed the decision to his superiors, but was unsuccessful and was expelled from the university counseling program not long before graduation.
He filed suit in April 2016, asserting that he was “targeted and punished for expressing his Christian worldview.”
“We are honored to have represented Andrew Cash in his quest to serve others with professional counseling while maintaining his religious convictions,” attorney Thomas Olp with the Thomas More Society told World. “His religious convictions are protected by the U.S. Constitution and should have been respected in an academic environment.”