Last week FIRE asked the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to “take action against political litmus tests in America’s schools of social work.” HHS requires its social workers to have degrees from schools accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, which requires its schools to “integrate social and economic justice content grounded in an understanding of distributive justice, human and civil rights, and the global interconnections of oppression.”
At Phi Beta Cons, David French, former FIRE president and current Director of the Alliance Defense Fund’s Center for Academic Freedom, gives an outstanding example of the threat posed to freedom of conscience by such ideological litmus tests. Emily Brooker, a Christian student at Missouri State University (MSU), was required by her professor to send a signed letter to the Missouri state legislature supporting homosexual foster parenting and adoption. As French writes,
No public official — not even the President of the United States — can require an American to publicly advocate for policies they find objectionable. The right not to speak is one of our most basic and morally vital civil rights.
According to French, Emily refused to complete the assignment and the professor relented. However, shortly thereafter she was accused of violating MSU’s “Standards of Essential Functioning” and subjected to a lengthy interrogation where she was verbally attacked by faculty members. The Alliance Defense Fund is currently filing suit against MSU.