The Tennessee State House and Senate have overwhelmingly approved a measure that protects licensed counselors and therapists from being forced to violate their closely-held beliefs.
The bill, which requires counselors or therapists to make a referral if they do not feel that their convictions will allow them to provide advice, has been attacked by the LGBT community as pro-discrimination. David Fowler, President of the Family Action Council of Tennessee refuted that concern entirely. “[The bill] only protects a counselor from treating a client ‘as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict’,” he said, adding that, “the bill only applies if a counselor coordinates a referral to another counselor who will provide the counseling or therapy. If a referral cannot be made, the bill does not apply.”
Supporters of the bill say that it would protect a wide spectrum of beliefs in a number of different situations. If signed by Governor Haslam, it could protect a Jewish counselor from treating a Muslim client desiring jihad, an atheist counselor from being required to affirm a client’s faith, or a number of other non-religiously motivated scenarios.
So long as a referral can be made to a counselor or therapist that will affirm the client in their desires, the bill would protect the counselor or therapist from being at risk for loss of license.
This battle is yet another important battle for the protection of religious liberty, the right of conscience, and the individual freedom to live as one sees fit. If this bill is vetoed, licensed counselors and therapists will face the reality of the government and courts compelling them to speak in ways that violate their convictions.
Governor Bill Haslam has ten days to decide to sign or veto the measure. Take a moment and give Governor Haslam’s office a call to urge him to sign the bill protecting counselors and therapists from violating their conscience: (615) 741-2001.