Michael F. Haverluck reports for OneNewsNow, April 24, 2016, that Andrew Cash is suing Missouri State University (MSU) for dismissing him from its graduate degree program because he expressed reservations about counseling same-sex couples because doing so would compromise his Christian religious convictions.
Cash had begun MSU’s graduate program in counseling in September 2007, and has a consistently excellent academic standing.
In 2011, Cash was nearing completion of his Master’s of Science degree. He was asked by his academic advisor Kristi Perryman, Ph.D., if he would counsel a “gay” couple. Cash replied that he would counsel the couple individually on issues related to depression, anxiety, etc., but not as a couple because doing so would violate his sincerely-held Christian religious beliefs — about which the university knew full well — but that he would refer the couple elsewhere. Cash stated that his approach to counseling is centered on his core beliefs, values and Christian worldview and these would not be congruent with the likely values and needs of a gay couple, who, for these reasons, would be best served by a counselor sharing their core value system and core beliefs.
Perryman called Cash “unethical” and “discriminatory toward gay persons.” She told the student not to return to his internship, which she had approved just three months before. MSU terminated Cash from the counseling internship program that was a necessary prerequisite for his degree. (600 hours of clinical internship are required for the M.S. degree.) In November 2014, the university removed Cash from the graduate program entirely.
Cash is represented in his complaint against the Governors of Missouri State University by the Catholic non-profit legal aid group, Thomas More Society, which filed a civil rights claim with the Western District of Missouri Court this week, stating that the university had violated Cash’s civil rights under the U.S. Constitution’s First and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1871.
The lawsuit claims that MSU cut off Cash’s ability to complete the program and become a counselor, “causing him daily emotional suffering”. The lawsuit asks that the university “reinstate him in his counseling program with safeguards put in place so that he can successfully earn his degree.”
Thomas More Society Executive Director Thomas Olp finds MSU’s treatment of Cash to be hypocritical because the university — like most others across the country — market themselves as “marketplaces of ideas.” Olp says:
“Traditionally, universities have been places for free exchange of ideas and values — both religious and secular. Unfortunately, Missouri State University departed from its mission by denying educational opportunity to Mr. Cash simply because he expressed — in an academic setting — sincerely held religious beliefs which his advisor [Dr. Kristi Perryman] deemed hostile to her own and therefore unacceptable. An educator should not permit her own ideology and agenda to ruin the educational opportunities of her students. We feel the responsibility, on Mr. Cash’s behalf, to try to correct this.”
Furthermore, Missouri State University knew full well about Cash’s religious beliefs when his desire to serve as an intern with a Christian organization was brought before them.
The defendants named in the lawsuit are the 10 members of the Board of Governors, President, and 3 faculty members of Missouri State University:
Peter Hofherr, President of Board of Governors (BoG)
- Carrie Tergin, member, BoG
- Joe Carmichael, member, BoG
- Gregory Spears, member, BoG
- Kendall Seal, member, BoG
- Gabriel Gore, member, BoG
- Virginia Fry, member, BoG
- Beverly Miller, member, BoG
- Stephen Hoven, member, BoG
- Tyree Lewis, member, BoG
- Dr. Clifton Smart III, President of MSU
- Dr. Kristi Perryman, Internship Coordinator of MSU’s Counseling Dept. and Andrew Cash’s academic advisor
- Dr. Tamara Arthaud, Head of Department of Counseling
- Dr. Angela Anderson, faculty member
On the healthgrades website, Kristi Perryman received a rating of only 2.3 by her counseling patients (a maximum excellent rating would be 5). In August 2014, Perryman left Missouri State University to join the University of Arkansas as assistant professor of counselor education and a “registered play therapist supervisor”.
Missouri State University is a public, taxpayer-supported university. Here’s the contact info. for MSU’s Board of Governors:
Mailing address: Missouri State University
Board of Governors
901 S. National Ave.
Springfield, MO 65897
H/t FOTM‘s MomOfIV