See You at the Pole!Sep 21, 2017
The annual “See You at the Pole” event for schools is just one week away on Wednesday, September 27th starting at 7:00 a.m. All around the globe, in every time zone, students will be gathering at their school’s flagpoles, praying for their school, friends, families, churches, and communities. Young people are encouraged to line up prayer support and help from their youth pastors and parents for this student-led event. You can find out more details at syatp.com.
We encourage you to have your students participate. If there’s anything our state and nation need right now, it’s more prayer. And next on that list would have to be unity. This is a great opportunity for your family to take part in fostering both.
Additionally, we want to encourage your students to participate in the annual “Bring Your Bible To School Day” on Thursday, October 5th. On that day, thousands of students across the country will share God’s hope and celebrate religious freedom by doing something simple, yet powerful: They’ll bring their Bibles to school and talk about it with friends! You can learn more about it atwww.bringyourbible.org.
Even if in some school classrooms the Bible and prayer are no longer incorporated into educational curricula, nothing is prohibiting individual students from praying and bringing their Bibles into their classrooms or from incorporating them into discussions with their classmates.
We hope you and your family will consider taking part in these two simple yet incredible opportunities.
State Bureaucrats: 'You Can't Change'
State Bureaucrats: 'You Can't Change'
“Quackery,” “fraudulent,” “dangerous,” “harmful,” “ineffective,” “no legitimate purpose,” “abuse in every way, shape, and form,” "torture."
These are some of the words used today by members of the Conversion Therapy Work Group and of the public to describe the process of licensed professionals helping children to cope with and even overcome their unwanted same-sex desires or the confusion they’re experiencing about their true gender as either male or female.
With such explosive feelings against this method of treatment – which they have termed “Conversion Therapy” – you might think they could point to some pretty shocking evidence.
As it turns out, one by one the representatives of the various medical boards openly admitted that they were not aware of ANY complaints having been received by their respective agencies about this practice. Meanwhile, they simply refuse to acknowledge the real-life examples of those who have found help and healing through these therapeutic methods – pretending, it seems, as though these people don’t exist.
Our team was there to address the work group’s proposal from a policy, a constitutional, and even a personal perspective. We also rallied counselors, pastors, and concerned citizens to show up to express their opposition.
In listening to all of the workgroup's discussion today, there were two key themes that ran throughout their remarks:
1) A licensed professional must choose between their profession or their faith, but they cannot possibly practice both at the same time. (A view that is totally misinformed and patently unconstitutional) And,
2) Parents cannot be trusted with acting in the best interest of their children. (Delegate Patrick Hope, who has patroned the “conversion therapy ban” bill in the House for several years, actually stated: “The reason I brought this bill is because I do think the government’s role is to take care of kids.”)
And then there was the unspoken but obvious implication by nearly all the members, that any religiously-motivated convictions that lead parents to seek counseling for their struggling child in this way are simply wrong, dangerous, and illegitimate.
Think about what they’re really saying through this policy to children with very real sexual struggles: You cannot change. You are what you feel, and you are destined to remain that way, unless of course you wish to modify your body or your behavior in an unhealthy and unnatural way. There is no help or hope for you, even if you desire it.
Now consider how that message flies in the face of what the Christian faith teaches:
I Corinthians 6: 9-11 – 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
By this policy, these bureaucrats directly attack the very ESSENSE of the Gospel message – the basis of the Christian faith, which declares that through the power of God, every person can actually be transformed through the renewing of their heart, mind, and soul.
Clearly, this battle is about so much more than what appears on the surface.
Today’s meeting did not take any actions, but they will recommend that several regulatory boards in Virginia do take action to ban “conversion therapy.” We anticipate that many boards will propose regulations that are a direct threat to religious liberty and parental authority. As we continue to meet this threat head on, we will keep you up to speed as things unfold. Thank you to everyone who spoke up at today’s meeting with passion and clarity. We will let you know when the next opportunity to speak comes up.
Huge Win For Christian Counselors!
Huge Win For Christian Counselors!
Sometimes, victory is sweeter than we even realize. The recent major victory in the NIFLA v. Becerra case (read our blog about it here) wasn’t just great for the free speech and conscience rights of pro-life pregnancy support centers. As incredible as that was, the impact of the Court’s decision goes much further. The opinion includes strong language affirming the speech rights of all kinds of “professionals” – including counselors who are coming under increasing attacks. It’s an exciting development that we did not expect to come out of this case, and we intend to capitalize on it!
Of particular significance, the Opinion leaves little doubt that the so-called “conversion therapy” bans we see popping up in states everywhere would be declared unconstitutional if challenged. These laws prohibit licensed counselors – many of whom are also ordained ministers – from counseling a child experiencing gender dysphoria or confusion to embrace his or her true biological gender, or to overcome or navigate through their unwanted same-sex attractions consistent with Biblical precepts about human sexuality. To understand just how outrageous these initiatives are, I encourage you to read for yourself a Virginia bill that was introduced this year. We worked hard to help defeat that bill by just one vote.
Here are just a few of the strong statements the Court made about “professional speech” in its majority opinion:
“As with other kinds of speech, regulating the content of professionals’ speech ‘pose[s] the inherent risk that the Government seeks not to advance a legitimate regulatory goal, but to suppress unpopular ideas or information.’”
“Throughout history, governments have ‘manipulat[ed] the content of doctor-patient discourse’ to increase state power and suppress minorities: [citing as an example] In Nazi Germany, the Third Reich systematically violated the separation between state ideology and medical discourse.”
“Further, when the government polices the content of professional speech, it can fail to ‘preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail.’ Professionals might have a host of good-faith disagreements, both with each other and with the government, on many topics in their respective fields. Doctors and nurses might disagree about the ethics of assisted suicide or the benefits of medical marijuana; lawyers and marriage counselors might disagree about the prudence of prenuptial agreements or the wisdom of divorce;”
“‘[T]he best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market,’ and the people lose when the government is the one deciding which ideas should prevail.”
“All that is required to make something a ‘profession,’ according to these courts, is that it involves personalized services and requires a professional license from the State. But that gives the States unfettered power to reduce a group’s First Amendment rights by simply imposing a licensing requirement. States cannot choose the protection that speech receives under the First Amendment, as that would give them a powerful tool to impose ‘invidious discrimination of disfavored subjects.’”
Others have picked up on this connection to conversion therapy bans, too. Read further commentary from the Ruth Institute and The Christian Post.
As more professions are increasingly being caught in the crossfire (or crosshairs) of the Gender Revolution on account of their faith-based convictions, and as too many men, women, and children are being sacrificed as pawns in its relentless ideological quest, this Opinion could not have come at a better time.
The Left's War On Conscience
The Left's War On Conscience
During a congressional hearing last Wednesday, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar, testified in front of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. During the hearing, Bobby Scott (D-VA 3rd District) pursued an aggressive line of questioning, which highlighted a tragic religious liberty attack that has become increasingly common in recent years.
Scott repeatedly pressed Secretary Azar in regards to Christian adoption agencies and their placement policies. Essentially, the issue involves the question of whether Christian adoption agencies should be coerced into violating their consciences by being forced to place children with same-sex couples. The hearing revealed Scott’s alignment with the increasingly mainstream Left on this issue, who are actively striving to force Christian adoption agencies to compromise their religious beliefs by allowing the placement of children to same-sex couples.
Sadly, many Christian adoption agencies have been given the choice between violating their most deeply held religious convictions and shutting down. As a result, several faith-based adoption agencies have already closed their doors, including the Catholic Charities in Boston, San Francisco, and Illinois. Among the frequent attempts by the Left to strip religious liberty away from Christians, this is one of the most damaging examples. Not only is the Left harming the Christians who are losing their religious freedom, but also the thousands of children who receive life-changing aid from these organizations. As Secretary Azar accurately pointed out in the hearing, faith-based adoption agencies “have a long history of providing social services to poor and underprivileged children as well as families, and if we take steps to exclude faith-based groups from our programs, it will harm them and harm efforts to support our programs.”
Indicative of the Left’s movement as a whole, they have chosen to place their radical ideology ahead of the well-being of these children. Unfortunately, the stories of Christian adoption agencies closing down is only a small piece of a much larger picture: the Left’s relentless attack on the religious liberty of faithful Christians. The battle against Christian adoption agencies is not about an attempt to ensure that same-sex couples can adopt children, for there are already numerous adoption agencies that are willing and happy to place children with same-sex couples. Instead, it is simply about the Left’s continued attempt to ram their radical ideology down the throats of faithful Christians.
As we witness time and time again, in the great irony of our age, a war of intolerance is being waged against Christians under the banner of “tolerance.” In this unique moment of history, Christians have to decide whether to obey the truths of their faith and the judgements of their conscience or bow down to the altar of tolerance.
By James Rossi
James is a 2018 Summer Policy Intern at The Family Foundation and a student at Christendom College.