Tony Perkins / June 8, 2018

CrossFit Muscles Out Conservative

If having an opinion on sexuality were a fireable offense, then just about every office in America would be empty! Unfortunately at CrossFit headquarters, Russell Berger’s is. Wednesday, the pastor and company spokesman was sacked by the fitness business because he dared to exercise something else: free speech!

If having an opinion on sexuality were a fireable offense, then just about every office in America would be empty! Unfortunately at CrossFit headquarters, Russell Berger’s is. Wednesday, the pastor and company spokesman was sacked by the fitness business because he dared to exercise something else: free speech!

The ruckus started earlier this month when an Indiana branch of the gym decided to cancel a workout that was being hosted specifically for LGBT pride month. Berger applauded the group for taking a stand, tweeting, “As someone who personally believes celebrating ‘pride’ is a sin, I’d like to personally encourage #CrossFitInfiltrate for standing by their convictions and refusing to host an @indypride workout. The intolerance of the LGBTQ ideology toward any alternative views is mind-blowing.” The backlash was immediate — and ferocious. Initially, CrossFit execs put Berger on unpaid leave to see if the extremists’ anger would cool. But after the response got more heated, the owners thought better of it and outright fired him.

“The statements made today by Russell Berger do not reflect the view of CrossFit Inc. For this reason, his employment with CrossFit has been terminated.” That was the polite way of putting it. CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman’s response was much more vicious. “He needs to take a big dose of ‘shut the f—k up,’” Glassman told a reporter, “and hide out for awhile.” It’s sad, he went on, “to have some zealot in his off-time do something this stupid. We’re all upset. The whole company is upset.”

Of course, there will be a lot of debate about whether Berger should have posted what he did as a representative of the company. But there should be no debate about the ruthless hostility that CrossFit’s CEO has for a view that roughly half the country holds! No one should level this kind of vitriol at an employee and expect to be taken seriously on matters of tolerance.

Glassman’s response is exactly the kind of animus the Supreme Court condemned in its opinion on baker Jack Phillips. “To describe a man’s faith as ‘one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use’ is to disparage his religion in at least two distinct ways: by describing it as despicable, and also by characterizing it as merely rhetorical — something insubstantial and even insincere…” Kennedy wrote for the court. “The neutral and respectful consideration to which Phillips was entitled was compromised…”

Obviously, Masterpiece was a case of government intolerance, but surely, in a civil society, we can agree that everyone deserves to be treated with respect — regardless of what they think about sexuality. Unfortunately, that seems to be a bridge too far for some who’ve made it “fashionable,” as David French writes, “to decry dissenters as haters and bigots, to attempt to write them out of polite society in the same way that the larger American body politic has rightfully rejected the Klan. Politicians thunder against Christian bigots. Media organizations put the words ‘religious liberty’ in scare quotes, as if the expression of deeply held religious beliefs is a mere pretext, used to conceal darker motivations. And ideologues in state agencies give full vent to their rage, mocking faithful Christians as if they stand in the shoes of slavers and murderers.”

Glassman could have dealt with the situation quietly. What’s the point of going to the press with a blistering rant, profaning someone for a view that every president except Obama espoused? There’s no excuse for this kind of public shaming.

“Only days after masterpiece, gay activists are seeking the ruination of a man for (correctly) calling the celebration of gay pride a sin on his personal social media profile,” Erick Erickson posted. “I went to seminary with this guy. He’s a good guy.” But unfortunately, as far as society’s bullies are concerned, there’s no such thing as “good” people who disagree.

Originally published here.

School Drums Up Outrage on Music Teacher

Indiana’s Brownsburg High School doesn’t want good teachers. It wants politically correct ones. And administrators will do anything — including forcing out Christians — to get them.

When John Kluge was told he had to start addressing kids by their “preferred” names, he went straight to the school’s administrators. A child may be struggling with their gender identity, but he couldn’t in good conscience encourage them down that dangerous path. The two sides compromised, telling John he could call the students by their last names instead. After several months, though, the school reneged, insisting he had to comply or resign.

With no real choice but to lose his job or violate his faith, he gave notice. “They’re acting as if I have [resigned], even though I’m pleading, ‘No,’” he said, according to the Indianapolis Star. “I’m not dead yet. I still want to work here.” Kluge said he only tendered his resignation because the school threatened to fire him. Still, he says, his beliefs haven’t changed. “I’m being compelled to encourage students in what I believe is something that’s a dangerous lifestyle,” he said. “I’m fine to teach students with other beliefs, but the fact that teachers are being compelled to speak a certain way is the scary thing.”

And not just scary, damaging. Encouraging this kind of gender confusion is “child abuse,” the American College of Pediatricians has warned. “When an otherwise healthy biological boy believes he is a girl, or an otherwise healthy biological girl believes she is a boy, an objective psychological problem exists that lies in the mind not the body, and it should be treated as such.” Not to mention, the experts go on, that this is typically a phase that most children grow out of. “As many as 98 percent of gender confused boys and 88 percent of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty.”

Kluge’s approach, then, isn’t one of tolerance but compassion. “I view my responsibility to students in my community as more than just helping them become the best musicians they can be,” he said in a statement. “I wish to remain a teacher in good standing with the administration. However, as much as I love my job and would desire to keep it, I cannot take actions that could encourage harm to the students in my care and provide a poor example for others. I ultimately must submit my conscience to a higher authority.”

Next Monday, Kluge has requested a meeting with the school board with the hope of being reinstated. If he is, he’ll have the support of plenty of Brownsburg families. Pastor Jim Bohrer, whose daughter is one of Kluge’s students, says Kluge has always been well-liked and respectful. “He treats them all the same,” Bohrer said. “He cares deeply. This is not an issue of John excluding anyone. This is purely the administration trying to get rid of John for his convictions.”

If you’re a Hoosier (or even if you aren’t), take a minute to contact the Brownsburg school board. No one — let alone a teacher looking out for his students’ best interest — should be forced to choose between his career and his convictions!

Originally published here.

The Korean War on Faith

If President Trump manages to meet with Kim Jong Un next week, the two men will have plenty to talk about. And while denuclearization will probably top the list, there’s also the matter of the regime’s other weapons — against faith.

Kim Hak Song, one of the Americans released by North Korea last month, knows exactly how oppressive the government there can be. Thrown into prison for the “crime” of praying, Kim says he was spared some of the horrors the others experienced. At one point during his captivity, he took the risk of sharing the Gospel with a regime official — a decision that could have cost him his life. “I was grateful and thankful that at this time I was able to share God’s message to this person.”

But it is a message the country does not tolerate. For that reason, a coalition of religious liberty advocates — including FRC — sent a letter to President Trump, urging him to bring up the dictator’s hostility toward faith in the list of topics the two discuss.

“We applaud and support your efforts to secure the release of American citizens,” they write. “We also implore you to recognize that there are tens of thousands of other men, women, and even children — most of them North Korean citizens and many of them Christians — being brutalized by Kim and his regime. For decades, North Korea has been in effect a national torture chamber. There is nowhere on earth more dangerous for dissenters of conscience, especially those who believe in God.”

In particular, they ask the following list to be included in any sort of agreement the two countries reach:

  • “As a good-will gesture, the immediate release of substantial numbers of prisoners of conscience.”

  • “Within one month of any agreement, access to all prisons by the International Red Cross and the members of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry.”

  • “The setting of quotas for voluntary emigration of released prisoners and their families, and for other applicants, to be administered and overseen by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.”

  • “Agreement that the U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and the U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in North Korea may visit North Korea within three months of the agreement and have free access to any part of the country.”

At this point, even having the meeting would be considered a success. But Americans should all be in prayer for an even greater victory for the persecuted in North Korea — and beyond.

Originally published here.

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

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