Franciscan University in Steubenville has a social work degree. Unfortunately for Franciscan, it also has (if "has" is quite the right word) the curse of an organized rabble of proudly homosexual alumni. "How did that happen to such an allegedly conservative school?" you may wonder. Answer: I don't know, but it can probably happen to the best of schools. Maybe Steubenville needs to bring in a few more witch-hunters, because obviously they aren't doing a very thorough job.
The combination of this course of study and this curse has brought about a different kind of witch hunt--the hunt for anything in Steubenville's course catalog that might bring it into the dock for crimes against the homosexual agenda.
Turns out that the only social work program accrediting body in the U.S., the Council on Social Work Education, is full of utterly committed missionaries for the full homosexualist and gender-bending agenda, and somehow Steubenville (which we'll assume is not on-board with that agenda) has previously flown under its radar. The CSWE has a "diversity" requirement that should make any Catholic or Christian college blanch:
The council’s 2008 accreditation standards say an accredited program must have a “commitment to diversity” including sexual orientation and “gender identity and expression” that is “reflected in its learning environment.” This includes “the demographic make-up of its faculty, staff and student body.”
The council’s Commission for Diversity and Social and Economic Justice includes a council on sexual orientation and gender identity. This commission council says on its website that it works for “the full participation of individuals who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or two-spirit in social work education.” It identifies and advocates changes in “any policies, procedures, or activities” that impede these persons’ “full and affirming participation.”
Steubenville's sin, which the alumni group has now brought to the attention of the CSWE, is apparently copying from a secular textbook the term "deviant" to describe a hodge-podge of behaviors for purposes of a course description. And, you guessed it, that list includes homosexual behavior.
I admit to being a little surprised that a secular textbook chooses to list homosexual acts under a descriptive category of "deviant behaviors," but given that the terminology came from the secular textbook, I fully believe Steubenville's claim that the origin of the term is purely descriptive and not normative. Unless the textbook was printed in 1955 or something and has not been altered since, which is surely not the case.
But let's face it: Given the overt homosexualist agenda of the CSWE, it should be a big problem for any Christian school, and all the more a Christian school with the reputation for orthodoxy that Steubenville has, to be accountable to such an entity.
Does Steubenville foster a "learning environment" that reflects the values the CSWE demands concerning homosexuality and "gender identity"? Will it change any policies that impede the "full and affirming participation" of open homosexuals and transgenders? (I do not want to know what "two-spirit" means in this context.) We'll certainly hope not. Nor should any Christian school do so.
So what's to be done? If the hawk-eyed deviant alumni group doesn't get them in trouble with the CSWE over this particular course, no doubt they can find something else. In fact, given what the CSWE stands for, one would almost think something is wrong if the homosexual group can't find something else to complain about in the "learning environment" at Steubenville.
As it has been explained to me, if your Social Work course of study isn't accredited by the CSWE, students who graduate from it cannot be licensed and hence cannot charge for their services (as counselors, presumably, or other social workers) in any state in the country. In other words, the credential becomes useless for the purpose for which it was designed.
This problem intersects closely with the case of Julea Ward, which I wrote about at length here. Julea was trying to get a degree in counseling from Eastern Michigan University when she encountered so-called "professional standards" that required her to offer affirming counseling to homosexuals in maintaining their relationships. One suggestion that liberals made at that time was that Julea could have gotten her degree instead from a Christian school. But how much of a difference would that have made, if the accrediting standards for such a school required (as does the CSWE) a complete commitment to sexual "diversity"? It was precisely the accrediting standards to which EMU appealed to defend its scandalous treatment of Julea.
It appears that there are some credentials one can get in the area of Christian counseling (see here and here, for example), but it looks to my untutored eye as though these may not at all replace the need, in order to be reimbursed for your services as a licensed counselor, to have a secular credential as well.
Besides, we shouldn't entirely conflate counseling credentials and Social Work credentials. The jobs for which they prepare one are only partially overlapping. And to date, we know for a fact that to get an employment-worthy credential specifically in the field of Social Work, one must get one's degree from a CSWE accredited school.
This should be a challenge to Christians. Someone should get on the stick and find out what it would take to get a parallel accrediting agency going, one that would be recognized by state licensure boards, that would recognize and incorporate Christian values in the programs it accredited, rather than being hostile to them. Sound impossible? Maybe it is, but it definitely should be investigated.
Since Steubenville is taking its stand on the contents of the secular textbook that is the source for its course description, I don't want to be too hard on them as far as the meaning of the word "deviance." But I can't resist inserting a digression here about the idea of a purely descriptive rather than normative concept of deviance. It's obvious that all the behaviors listed in the "deviance" course are things that are generally viewed as negative, except for homosexuality, which used to be viewed as negative. The others are murder, rape, robbery, prostitution, mental illness, and drug use. This, of course, is what has the homosexual lobby all up in arms, but Steubenville may be correct that this is something they are calmly borrowing from a secular textbook. But let's face it: If this is purely descriptive, then pretty much anything could end up in that category, if it were "different from the norm" where "norm" doesn't mean "normative." (Are you confused yet?) If more people in the world presently engage in homosexual acts than, say, use Natural Family Planning, wouldn't that mean that, in a purely descriptive sense, NFP is more deviant than homosexual acts?
A Social Work degree is going to have to be heavily freighted with judgments about the common good, the individual good, the family, about human health and flourishing. I do not see how it is even possible to offer such a degree while relying on purely descriptive concepts of things like normalcy and deviancy in human behavior. Secular programs in Social Work will certainly not be, of all things, value neutral! Of all places, a Christian college should offer the opportunity for young people to get a degree in such an ideologically and even theologically freighted field from a Christian worldview.
It is therefore imperative that Christians and conservatives start rethinking our heavy entanglements with credentialing and accrediting agencies that are overtly hostile to Christian norms concerning the nature and good of the human person.
If at all possible, new avenues of credentialing must be opened. Is anyone with any influence, money, and/or lawyers listening? If so, please get on it, for the sake of faithful Christians of all denominations.