In 2007, Andrew Cash was accepted at Missouri State University (MSU) to take a masters in counseling.
Aside from completing the academic requirements, Cash, 46, also needed to perform an internship of 600 hours and counseling of 240 hours.
With a grade point average of 3.81, Cash was easily meeting the academic standards, however, he is now suing MSU alleging the university kicked him out of the program due to his religious beliefs.
The Thomas More Society is representing Cash in the lawsuit. The Chicago-based non-profit law firm provide pro bono legal services in cases involving religious liberty.
Cash alleges his problems started in 2011 when he was doing an internship at a Christian organization called the Springfield Marriage and Family Institute (SMFI), which had been approved by the university.
However, that all changed after Springfield’s director W.K. Boyce was part of a presentation Cash made to his class at MSU. During the address, one of the students asked Boyce if the institute would counsel a homosexual couple.
The director stated they would certainly counsel them individually but not as a couple. If they needed relationship advice, the institute would refer them to other counselors.
Shortly after this presentation, it is alleged Dr. Kristi Perryman, the person in charge of MSU’s internship program, asked Cash about his willingness to counsel a homosexual couple.
According to his lawyers, Cash told Perryman he would counsel them individually, but would not feel comfortable providing relationship advice to them as a couple. In such a hypothetical situation, he would refer them to other counselors better able to help on these issues.
Believing such a position violated the code of ethics of the American Counseling Association, Perryman told Cash that he would no longer be able to continue interning at Springfield and further any hours already worked would not count towards his internship requirement.
Though Cash applied for a different internship program, he did not agree with MSU’s position that the Springfield internship was invalid.
After he expressed this opinion, it is alleged Perryman met with other faculty and they decided Cash needed to retake several classes including some he had previously passed with an A grade or to quit the program.
When Cash unsuccessfully appealed this decision, he was kicked out of the program shortly before he was scheduled to graduate in 2014.
In an interview with Foxnews, Thomas More Society attorney Tom Olp said, “It made me angry, she took offense at his religious beliefs and then essentially kept dwelling on those until he was drummed out of the program.”
Cash is seeking financial compensation and asking to be readmitted into the program to complete the few courses necessary for graduation.
In an interview with News-Leader, MSU spokesperson Suzanne Shaw said, “the university strictly prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion or any other protected class.”
Cash alleges in the lawsuit that he was “targeted and punished for expressing his Christian worldview regarding a hypothetical situation concerning whether he would provide counseling to a gay/homosexual couple.”
- Missouri State booted student from counseling program over Christian beliefs, says lawsuit: Foxnews
- Missouri State University Sued for Denying Student Degree on Religious Grounds: Thomas More Society
- Student files suit after being expelled from counseling program over views on homosexuality: Christian News