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Confronting diaphobia

"Confronting diaphobia" Continued...

Issue: "Judicial filibuster deal," June 4, 2005

Fortunately, these efforts have not succeeded due to their illegality. However, the willingness of some social workers to violate the separation of church and state to use the power of the state to exclude traditional theists from obtaining an education suggests that many evangelical Christians may encounter discrimination in some social work forums.

WORLD: How were those efforts-for example, the interview process to screen out theistic students-exposed and stopped?

HODGE: In the case of the interview, some very courageous students worked with a broad coalition of civil-rights organizations, including the American Jewish Congress, the Christian Legal Society, and the state chapter of the ACLU, to get the state university to revise the screening interview.

WORLD: So what should social work students or clients do when they encounter discrimination?

HODGE: A student or client should contact those responsible, gently explain his understanding of the situation, and offer an alternative way of addressing the issue. In many cases, social workers inadvertently engage in discrimination and are willing to remedy the situation, particularly if other options are brought to their attention.

If one-on-one communication fails to address the problem, then the appropriate authorities can be contacted and, finally, legal challenges can be brought to bear. Organizations such as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) exist to protect students' rights in educational and other settings.

WORLD: How can social workers be equipped to address spiritual issues?

HODGE: Perhaps the most important factor is developing a more diverse academic environment. Although social work has done a good job fostering diversity in areas such as race and gender, in other areas, such as religion, very little diversity exists, and that hurts the ability of social workers to address spiritual issues competently.

WORLD: Are any positive developments occurring in social work?

HODGE: Yes, a number. Many mental health professionals are realizing that spirituality and religion are fundamental dimensions of existence for many people and they see that training is needed to work with such individuals in a professional manner. In addition, many social workers support the concept of developing a more inclusive, representative profession.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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