Tony Perkins / February 17, 2018

Court: Accept Your Child’s New Gender or Lose Custody

This week, a shocking story hit the national news about an Ohio teenager who was removed from her parents’ home by authorities.

This week, a shocking story hit the national news about an Ohio teenager who was removed from her parents’ home by authorities. Why? Because they didn’t support their daughter’s decision to identify as a boy and declined to authorize hormone therapy to facilitate her gender “transition.” Yesterday, the story broke that Juvenile Court Judge Sylvia Hendon has permanently removed the child from her parents’ custody (despite the fact that the child is already 17 and would be able to make medical decisions for herself in less than a year).

What’s especially alarming is that a lawyer representing the child — as well as Donald Clancy of the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office — cited the parents’ religious beliefs as an argument for robbing them of their rights! The mom and dad are being criticized for seeking out a Christian therapist for their daughter and for daring to send her to Catholic school. Even so, the parents were clear that their stance on the gender transition wasn’t motivated on faith alone. After all, they pointed out, they’d had lengthy consultations with medical professions and did hours of research on their own. Only then did they come to the conclusion that “this is not in their child’s best interest.” (The American College of Pediatricians — not to be confused with the more “politically correct” American Academy of Pediatrics — agrees.)

For years, LGBT activists have scoffed at warnings from FRC and others that the radical LGBT movement poses a threat to personal and religious freedom. In the past, the Left directed most of its attacks on religious expression in the public square, doing everything it could to restrict faith to the four walls of your house or church. Now, even that tolerance is tumbling down.

I wrote this week about the shocking attack by two Michigan state legislators against a church in metropolitan Detroit that offered an “Unashamed Identity Workshop” for teen girls struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s becoming ever clearer that if we don’t fight to defend our liberties everywhere, they will not be safe from attack anywhere — not even in your church or your home.

Originally published here.

Ready for More Good News?

We wrote on Tuesday about the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s (FFRF) efforts to ban prayer from a local high school in Beloit, Ohio, and how the good people there are not backing down, aided by our good friends at First Liberty Institute. On Wednesday, I interviewed Brooke Pidgeon, a parent from the school district, and he shared what he and fellow community members are doing to fight back. Now we’re hearing word that the resistance is spreading.

Our own Pastor Tim Throckmorton, Midwest Field Representative in Church Ministries, reached out to Pastor John Ryser of the Damascus Friends Church, who’s been leading the “controversial” pregame prayers for the last 12 years (a practice that goes back four decades). Pastor Ryser expressed how tremendously grateful he was for the support of FRC and the good work we’re doing for the nation. He went on to share that his church had been praying for God to open doors in the community for them to share the Gospel but had no idea God would work so strongly in this fashion.

Rather than being discouraged by the FFRF’s efforts to censor prayer, Pastor Ryser enthusiastically declared: “The opportunities to talk about prayer and the Gospel are tremendous everywhere right now … all because of ‘No Prayer at Basketball Games!’” He’s had a number of powerful conversations with members of the community through the distribution of now over 5,000 “Prayer Matters” T-Shirts. He also related how three members of his church youth group and who play on the basketball team have led three of their teammates to faith in Christ as a result! As if that weren’t enough, half of the attendees at last week’s basketball game were sporting “Prayer Matters” shirts — and last night, when the team played on the road, the home team they visited made and wore their own “Prayer Matter” tees in a sign of solidarity!

So God has taken the devices of the enemy and turned them into an opportunity to spread the Good News and bring more people to Him. Pastor Ryser quoted 1 Corinthians 16:9: “For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” Let’s pray that God will continue to use what was intended for evil and turn it around for good, not only for the good folk in northeastern Ohio but also for every community across America where faith is under fire!

Originally published here.

Lee Right to Be Leery of Feldblum

Plenty of conservatives remember the name Chai Feldblum, Barack Obama’s head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). She came to the administration with an impressive résumé of radicalism — complete with jobs at the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU, and a clerkship with U.S. Supreme Court justice who authored Roe v. Wade. Perhaps most famously (or infamously?), it was Feldblum who said that when same-sex marriage and religious liberty clash, she’d have “a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.” So why, exactly, is she being re-nominated? Good question.

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is as confused as the rest of us. In a new piece for The Daily Signal, the Utah senator points out that if Feldblum were a typical administrator, it might make sense to confirm her. But Feldblum is anything but typical; she is an activist. Her radical “views on marriage and the appropriate use of government power place her far outside even the liberal mainstream.” As Sen. Lee reminds everyone, Feldblum has claimed to be “not sure marriage is a normatively good institution,” and her vision of society “cannot be adequately advanced if pockets of resistance … are permitted to flourish” (emphasis mine). In Feldblum’s view, “No individual exceptions based on religious beliefs” should be allowed at all if they come into conflict with “the goal of liberty for gay people.”

Apart from being an extremist, it seems Feldblum is also power-happy and pleased that “other agencies” will “look to” the EEOC for guidance on legal interpretation. This could be particularly dangerous, since Feldblum, like most LGBT activists, believe think sex discrimination should include “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” discrimination — which, when combined with her radical views expressed above, makes her approach as a commissioner very toxic to the rule of law.

Even supporters of transgender-focused protections, such as the Employment Law Alliance (ELA), agree that “the current law can’t be extended to accomplish” the LGBT movement’s goals — which is exactly what Feldblum and her allies want to try to do. “It’s a slippery slope when you allow an agency to legislatively rulemake without going through the appropriate process,” noted Ginger Schröder from the ELA. “We’re set up as a nation of laws. We have a procedure in place for the passage of laws and the interpretation of laws and it should not be the case that EEOC is expanding the scope of a statute without going through that proper process.”

We completely agree. Different people can have different views on policy, and they can argue based on the merits of their views. But it’s an entirely different story to claim you’re enforcing the law when you’re actually implementing policy in a sneaky and underhanded manner.

That’s especially important on the question of what constitutes sex discrimination. We’ve watched as LGBT advocates cite “the law” when court decisions are in their favor, but invoke “fairness” when the rulings go against them. That kind of open and willful disregard for the law is exactly why we can’t have activists like Feldblum in positions that oversee, administer, or enforce the law. They cause deep structural harm to our constitutional order, and the rule of law suffers as a result — something else we’ve observed in the context of the EEOC.

The Trump administration, especially through Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department, has taken positive steps to bolster this order by ensuring it is enforcing and not making law. The federal Title IX and Title VII statutes bar discrimination based on “sex,” an issue that has always been simply about men and women. Even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing about the proposed Equal Rights Amendment decades ago, didn’t take “gender identity” under consideration when she dismissed concerns that sex non-discrimination provisions could force people to open bathrooms to both genders. So when the Trump administration’s Department of Justice and Department of Education announce a policy of interpreting Title IX and Title VII this way, they’re simply announcing a policy of departing from President Obama’s novel and radical approach back to interpreting the law as it had always been.

Unfortunately, Chai Feldblum would carry on Obama’s legacy, and her views stand in stark contrast to the Trump administration in this regard. Her confirmation would be bad for the rule of law and bad for our country. Sen. Lee is right to point this out, and we stand with him in doing so.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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