Tennessee is under attack for religious freedom exception: critics are calling it a ‘hate law’

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A Tennessee statute designed to protect the religious convictions of therapists is drawing some heavy flak from the left.

The bill, signed in to law last month by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, provides that therapists need not offer advice or counsel in a manner that violates their strongly-held religious convictions.

In such an instance, the therapist could refer a client to another counselor for assistance, according to CBN News.

In reaction to the law, the American Counseling Association cancelled a conference in Nashville slated for next year, calling the law a “hate bill,” as being discriminatory against the LGBT community.

“Of all the state legislation impacting counseling during my 30 years with ACA, the new Tennessee law based on Senate Bill 1556/House Bill 1840 is the worst,” the group’s CEO Richard Yep said in a video on the ACA website.

“Tennessee became the latest state to introduce a discriminatory religious freedom law, which targets gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans — and then went further by expanding the allowed discriminatory practice to even more American citizens,” he continued.

The law’s supporters counter that the law has nothing to do with discrimination — it’s about protecting the religious conscience of professionals.

“The governor believes that, at the end of the day, counselors should be like any other professionals, such as doctors or lawyers, and have the availability to decide whether they can appropriately serve a client,” explained Jennifer Donnals, a spokeswoman for Haslam, in an email.

“This law provides that a therapist cannot turn away someone in a life-threatening situation and has to refer the client to another appropriate therapist, providing protection for the client as well as respecting the therapist as a professional,” she said.

Also last month, Haslam vetoed a bill that would have made the Bible the the official state book. An attempt to override the governor’s veto failed in the House.

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