City stands to lose $2.5M if Haslam approves controversial counseling bill

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Nashville Convention and Visitor’s Corp (NCVC) says it will lose millions if a controversial bill isn’t vetoed.

House Bill 1840/Senate Bill 1556 passed Monday night after heated debate. It allows therapists to turn away patients based on religious beliefs.

The American Counseling Association (ACA) says the bill is in direct violation of its Code of Ethics.

The code says a therapist must treat a patient regardless of religious affiliation unless a therapist feels like he/she doesn’t have the skill to treat the patient.

Lisa Henderson (Photo: WKRN)
Lisa Henderson (Photo: WKRN)

Without the necessary skill, the therapist can refer the patient elsewhere.

Lisa Henderson with the Tennessee Counselor’s Association told News 2 the code protects emotionally fragile people.

She’s afraid the bill will discourage people from getting help they need.

“If they think that they person might say ‘I don’t agree with something about you and I’m not going to be able to help you,’ they’re unlikely to call,” Henderson explained.

The ACA put on its website that the convention it’s supposed to hold in Nashville next year may not be unless Governor Bill Haslam vetoes the bill.

In an email to News 2, the NCVC said the city could stand to lose $2.5 million in visitor spending if the convention is cancelled.

But David Fowler with the Family Action Council of Tennessee told News 2 over the phone that you can’t put a price tag on religious freedom.

“We value the First Amendment. We value religious liberty,” said Fowler. “The ACA apparently doesn’t and they’re free to take their business somewhere else.”

It’s unclear when Haslam will make a decision on the bill.

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