Censoring SermonsSep 27, 2017
For more than 60 years, the IRS has used the “Johnson Amendment” to censor what churches and pastors preach from the pulpit. Under the Johnson Amendment, pastors' First Amendment rights have become bargaining chips to be exchanged for a tax status. Pastors who share truth on biblical issues – like the sanctity of life and marriage – could risk intrusive IRS audits, incur steep fines, and even jeopardize their church’s tax-exempt status.
It’s time to fix the Johnson Amendment. Right now, we have the opportunity to restore free speech to all nonprofits, including churches and their leaders, through the Free Speech Fairness Act sponsored by Oklahoma Senator, and former youth pastor, James Lankford.
The FSFA is the culmination of nearly 10 years of advocacy to fix the Johnson Amendment and put an end to IRS intimidation and censorship of America’s pulpits. Unfortunately, a small, but vocal, group of religious organizations is petitioning Congress to keep the Johnson Amendment. We need to ensure that Congress hears from the rest of our religious leaders, who overwhelmingly believe that pastors and churches should be free to apply Scripture to every aspect of life—including candidates and elections—as their conscience requires.
If you are a pastor, please read the letter and consider signing your name in support of this important bill. If you're not a pastor, please encourage your pastor to sign today.
By signing your name to the letter, your voice will join a nationwide movement of pastors calling on Congress to pass the Free Speech Fairness Act and restore freedom of speech to America’s pulpits. Visit www.pulpitfreedom.org to learn more.
How is this possible?
How is this possible?
This week, Virginia politicians from both sides of the aisle and many in the media are trumpeting CNBC’s announcement that the Old Dominion is once again the “Best State for Business.”
CNBC’s survey was based on criteria like, economy, infrastructure, quality of life, education, technology business friendliness, etc.
But, according to many politicians – from former Governor Terry McAuliffe and current Governor Ralph Northam – to state Senators and Delegates of both political parties, and a host of special interests, quite frankly it should be impossible for Virginia to be the best state for business.
Well, according to these so-called “progressive” leaders, Virginia isn’t very “open and welcoming.” You see, for the better part of the past decade, the media and political class have claimed that businesses and education leaders and technology gurus and everyone else it seems wouldn’t come to Virginia because the General Assembly hasn’t elevated “sexual orientation and gender identity” to protected classes.
Oh, and those anti-women “anti-abortion” laws are terrible for business, too.
Of course, none of the rhetoric spouted by those claiming that Virginia’s economy suffers because the Commonwealth has chosen to minimally protect unborn children and religious liberty is true. For the most part, low tax and regulation states are at or near the top of the “Best States for Business” list, while those with the most extreme pro-abortion and pro-LGBT laws tend to linger at or near the bottom. Why? Because smart business leaders don’t base economic decisions on anything other than economic facts, not emotional hysteria (even Amazon decided to come to Virginia).
This won’t stop the rhetoric, however, or the bills. There’s little doubt that we’ll see Delegate Kathy Tran’s infamous abortion-at-any-point-through-birth bill again in 2020. We’ll see the dozen or so bills elevating sexual behavior to special status in our laws, threatening religious liberty and making many religious small business owners left feeling rather, well, unwelcome.
But the line will stay the same – if we don’t pass these bills the economy will suffer.
Except it won’t. Virginia’s economy will do just fine as long as taxes are relatively low and the regulatory environment is somewhat less crushing than neighboring states. Businesses go where they can make money – which for most business owners is sort of the point.
By the way, CNBC ranked New York state, which adopted its own version of Delegate Tran’s “welcome to everyone except babies” 27th.
The State’s New Policy on "Preferred Pronouns"
The State’s New Policy on "Preferred Pronouns"
The Family Foundation has consistently opposed and successfully defeated bills each year aimed at adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to state employment matters, and with good reason. Yesterday, Governor Northam once again illustrated the dilemma with laws that sound tolerant but ignore objective realities.
Formally unveiling his “Employment Equity Initiative for State Agencies,” its stated purpose is to ensure that the “state employment application and compensation policies will promote fair and equitable pay.” Sounds reasonable enough, although one should always be wary of a government that “fixes” a problem of which no actual examples are ever shared. This often points to a favorite expression in the halls of the General Assembly—a solution in search of a problem.
Upon closer review, one might legitimately question whether the problem to be “fixed” is not one of inequitable compensation among state employees, but the desire to advance an insidious policy shift to align with the LGBTTQQIAAP+++ agenda. The Governor’s Press Release goes on: “The streamlined application will eliminate salary history, school name, age indicator, and other fields with potential for unconscious bias; offer a preferred pronoun to highlight the state’s diversity and inclusion efforts;” (Emphasis mine.)
Preferred pronouns, of course, reflect the implicit – and now apparently, official – recognition of the erroneous notion that a person’s sex as either male or female may not actually have any correlation to what the rest of us must now be compelled to refer to them as. Under such conditions, one can NEVER safely assume that a person who looks like a man, talks like a man, identifies as a man, or even has male chromosomes (XY) should be referenced using male pronouns. If “gender” is now something entirely separate and unrelated to “sex”, then the ONLY way to avoid such the grave “error” of “misgendering” is to specifically ask each and every person right up front which pronouns he/she/it/they/etc. wish to be called (and then to keep them all straight and never forget). The Governor’s change to the state application process effectively formalizes this practice – and expectation – in all interpersonal interactions within state government.
But as unwieldy and cumbersome (not to mention outrageous) as this may sound, it’s not nearly that simple. In today’s ever-evolving sexual paradigm, we’ve seen that pronouns will no longer be limited to the “traditional” binary and static male-female terms of he/him/his and she/her/hers. No, we will most certainly have to account for those who identify as NEITHER male NOR female, and those who identify as BOTH male AND female, as well as those who identify as one or the other interchangeably and perhaps sporadically throughout the day. And of course, we can’t forget about those who identify as having no gender at all. (What pronouns must we use for… such persons??)
And that’s just getting started. What of all of the other claimed “genders” besides male and female? What about the genderqueer, the genderfluid, the pansexual, the non-binary, the “others”, and the as-of-yet unknowns of infinite variety? Already, in common usage in some places, the following “non-binary” pronoun sets have been created:
- they/their/them/themself (for an individual)
- "ey," "em," "eir," "eirs," and "eirself"
- "zie," "zim," "zir," "zirs," and "zirself"
In theory and in principle, the list of made-up “pronoun” words could be endless. Consider this very real headline from 2016: University of Michigan student changes name to 'His Majesty' following new 'inclusive' pronoun policy May this student, or in our case, any person applying for and working in Virginia state government insist on the right to be referred to as “His Majesty” – even when speaking of that person outside of [His Majesty’s] presence – simply because such person declares such a desire?
Some may charge me here with embellishing or claim I’m unfairly employing a “slippery slope” argument. In fact, I am only recognizing and applying the simple logic at the heart of this issue: If the only limitation on adopting an individual’s “preferred gender pronouns” (and then expecting everyone else to acquiesce in both their speech and conduct) is that each individual must merely declare them, then anyone can claim any pronouns at any time and impose their usage upon everyone. The law, by its very essence, sets up parameters for behavior. By contrast, this policy sets up a paradigm within which there are no parameters, and is therefore the very definition of lawlessness.
We must next ask a question of even greater consequence: Can a Virginia state employee now be punished for conscientiously refusing to – or even accidentally failing to – use pronouns incongruent with their colleagues’ known biological sex? And if so, how? While it does not appear that these questions have yet been answered, we already watched a beloved West Point High School French teacher, Peter Vlaming, be fired simply for conscientiously declining to use male pronouns for a female student – even despite his efforts to avoid all conflict by not using any pronouns at all!
This termination was only possible after the School Board had passed a sexual orientation/gender identity policy. Can there be any doubt that the current and future administrations would absolutely purge anyone who would not buy into the new sexual orthodoxy to the point of speaking things they disbelieve and may even violate their conscience?
There are numerous other potentialities with this policy. For instance, will the person who identifies with different pronouns on his application but isn’t chosen for the position or even given an interview now have an easy claim of employment discrimination based upon “gender identity”? The state should expect to have to defend plenty of new lawsuits, to be sure. Moreover, which bathrooms will employees use who don’t identify as either male or female, or even any gender at all? Will new categories of bathrooms have to be installed to accommodate everyone’s use of the facilities?
Allow me to summarily diagnose what is really going on here: Whenever the truth is abandoned, even as a result of gender dysphoria, it leads to uncertainty and chaos in real people’s lives. And when, as here, that same abandonment actually becomes incorporated into the policies which implicate everyone – not just those who’ve chosen to abandon the truth – we will experience that uncertainty and chaos on a much larger and more palpable scale. These consequences are simply unavoidable. So get your popcorn, folks, and get ready to watch some very interesting and inevitable drama.
Religious Liberty On the Line!
Religious Liberty On the Line!
The federal “Equality Act” (H.R. 5) is moving through the House of Representatives at warp speed, and is scheduled to be voted on this week!
Last week I told you that this bill is one of the most dangerous pieces of federal legislation that I have seen in my lifetime, a comment that I do not make flippantly. And the more we learn about the potential impact of this legislation, the more my concerns grow.
The bill’s threats to religious liberty, free speech, churches and faith-based hospitals are well-established, but we are learning more about how this bill will actually cause greater harm to people. According to Dr. Michelle Cretella, a pediatrician and executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, H.R. 5 would force physicians to prescribe toxic hormones and drugs for adults and even children that can produce severe side effects, or even to perform serious medical procedures, all to “change” a person’s physical features to conform to their self-prescribed gender identity.
The so-called Equality Act would eliminate all parental authority related to the training and well-being of their children by prohibiting parents from ever interfering with a child’s access to transgender medical procedures. Sadly, this is no longer a hypothetical. Recently, parents in Ohio, which has a similar state law, had their parental rights terminated for failing to approve puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for their adolescent child.
We’ve learned that the so-called Equality Act would also provide that “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition” cannot be treated any differently than other physical conditions. This means all restrictions to abortion would be torn down, and anybody or any group who doesn’t want to fund or commit an abortion at any stage will be subject to punishment.
The reality is that this type of radical legislation has already permeated many state legislatures, and now the House is applying a full-court press to pass the so-called Equality Act at the federal level.
We cannot allow the government to push people with strong religious convictions into compromising their beliefs, or to usurp the prerogatives – and constitutional rights – of parents to guide the education and health of their children.
CLICK HERE to contact your Members of Congress today, and urge them to OPPOSE H.R. 5, the Equality Act. You can also reach your Congressman and Senators at (202) 224-3121. Don’t wait, the House plans to vote on this bill this week!