Church is not an option

Christopher Lund Lund at
Sun Aug 19 10:00:26 PDT 2007

I have a feeling something weird is going on here.  The letter
suspending him refers to how this was "the second such incident where
personal boundaries have intruded into professional conduct."  But we
never learn what the first incident was.  It's just that the second
incident seems so minor -- even if you think it's wrong, do you really
fail out a grad student for listing church on a list of counseling
options to someone who has already volunteered that they're religious? 
I can't help but thinking that maybe the real reason for the termination
is something else (maybe that first incident).

Christopher C. Lund
Assistant Professor of Law
Mississippi College School of Law
151 E. Griffith St.
Jackson, MS  39201
(601) 925-7141 (office)
(601) 925-7113 (fax)

>>> Mark.Scarberry at 8/19/2007 11:25 AM >>>
The analyses in the various opinions puzzle me. Assuming the policy of
prohibiting mention of religious bereavement counseling options was set
up by a state actor, why doesn't that policy violate the Establishment
Clause? It's principal effect seems to be to inhibit religion. Here the
client had indicated a religious commitment; to require the
employee/student to ignore that information and to not even mention the
possibility of religious bereavement counseling is actively hostile to
religion. In effect it sets up a secular orthodoxy in dealing with a
matter that for thousands of years has been an important part of
religious practice.
If the policy is impermissible under the Establishment Clause, then
Pickering test would not be applicable with respect to disciplining the
employee/student for violation of the policy; perhaps it would be better
to say that there would be no need to discuss the employee/student's
Free Speech rights, and thus Pickering would be irrelevant. In addition,
all the discussion about whether the employee/student had a religious
belief requiring that he mention the religious bereavement option would
be unnecessary, because there would be no need to engage in a Free
Exercise analysis.
Mark Scarberry


From: religionlaw-bounces at on behalf of Joel Sogol
Sent: Fri 8/17/2007 12:07 PM
To: religionlaw at 
Subject: Church is not an option

Student dismissed from practicum for recommending church as an option
for bereavement counseling?



Joel L. Sogol

811 21st Ave.

Tuscaloosa, ALabama  35401

ph (205) 345-0966

fx (205) 345-0971

email:  jlsatty at 


Ben Franklin observed that truth wins a fair fight - which is why we
have evidence rules in U.S. courts.



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