La. State Counselor Can’t Preach On Job, Says Court

A government agency in Louisiana did not violate a counselor’s rights when it told her to stop preaching to clients, a federal court has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance of the Eastern District of Louisiana rejected a lawsuit by Beulah Moore, who sued the Metropolitan Human Services District asserting that the agency had violated her religious liberty rights by ordering her to discontinue sectarian counseling.

The agency offers help to people who are grappling with addiction problems and mental-health concerns. Among the options offered is a “12-step” program that relies on a “higher power.” Moore wanted to take this further and offered specifically Christian counseling, but the court ruled in Moore v. Metropolitan Human Services District that state officials could require her to stick to secular services. 

“Metropolitan did not generally restrict Moore’s religious speech and activities in the workplace,” observed Vance. “By imposing restrictions only on Moore’s faith-based treatment of clients, Metropolitan avoided the undue hardship of a potential [church-state] violation. Moore has provided no evidence that Metropolitan limited her religious speech or activities in any other context.”