Banning SOCE: Why You Should Care

In the next two days, the Washington State House of Representatives is likely to vote on HB 2451, a bill to ban sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) involving minors.  It would make it professional misconduct for a licensed therapist to provide counseling for the purposes of reducing or eliminating same-sex attraction.

Proponents of the bill say it is necessary to prevent therapists from forcing children to watch pornography while in an ice bath. But it goes far beyond that to make it illegal for a licensed counselor to even talk about changing sexual orientation except to say change is neither possible nor desirable. Never mind the fact that many people have.

You might be inclined to dismiss this issue completely because you are not a therapist and you have no experience with same-sex attraction.

But this bill is more than simply overregulation of the counseling profession, it is another example of lawmakers convincing themselves that they possess all relevant information in the universe about a subject so there is no longer room for disagreement. Ironically, in this case, they would be claiming to possess this knowledge about something they couldn’t possibly know anything about-the sexual development of an individual child.

This is something every liberty loving American should be concerned about.

Here are a few reasons to be concerned about the policy this bill creates:

  1. Licensed therapists are not currently involved in coercive therapy to change sexual orientation: The Washington State Department of Health has no records of complaints filed against a licensed therapist for coercive therapy intended to change their sexual orientation.  If anyone is receiving counseling to change their sexual orientation from a therapist, it is probably because they asked for it. Why would that bother you?
  2. Bans “aversive therapy” as well as talk therapy:Proponents of this bill claim it is necessary to prevent children from receiving shock therapy or forced to take ice baths as a form of therapy.  However, it goes far beyond those issues upon which there is general agreement to make it illegal for a licensed therapist to provide talk therapy to a client regarding unwanted same-sex attraction.
  3. Coercion is already professional misconduct: This bill is unnecessary because it is already professional misconduct for a therapist to dictate therapeutic goals to the client.  Current professional guidelines provide a recourse if a licensed therapist tries to force a client to change their sexual orientation.
  4. Denies counseling options to those with unwanted same-sex attraction:  Since coercion is already professional misconduct, the only real impact of this bill is to make it impossible for clients to get therapy to help with unwanted same-sex attraction.  Telling a client there is no help for something they want help with can be just as damaging as forcing someone to get help for something they don’t want help with.
  5. Places legislature in the middle of counseling sessions: Parents, counselors, and clients are in a much better position than the legislature to know what a child needs.
  6. Creates inconsistent policy: If this bill were to pass, it would be ok for a minor to seek professional help to change their gender but not to change sexual attraction.

No one thinks children should be forced to take ice baths and watch pornography.  If that is the concern, there are ways to deal with that that don’t include banning speech legislators personally disagree with.

Homosexuality specifically, and human sexuality generally, will always be controversial subjects. Human understanding of these topics has changed over the generations and is likely to change in the future.

Taking away the freedom of other people to express contrary perspectives about a highly politicized topic because we’ve decided we know all there is to know is neither enlightened nor progressive.

When you oppose legislation like this, you aren’t simply defending consumer choices for clients and conscience rights for therapists, you’re defending liberty generally.

To share your thoughts with the legislature about this bill, you can contact them through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.

 

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Now They’re Suing Churches

Recently, Eastside Catholic High School caused an uproar when they dismissed their vice-principal who entered a same-sex “marriage” in violation of church teaching.

In a story that could have implications for this case, as well as for churches everywhere, last week the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) filed a complaint against a Catholic girl’s prep school which refused to hire a man who is “married” to another man.

 Matthew Barrett applied for a job as the food service director at the Fontbonne Academy in Milton, Massachusetts and was offered the job.  When his pre-employment form listed him as having a “husband” the school informed him that they could not hire him.

The news is not that the homosexual community is suing people for doing things they don’t like.  That’s actually pretty old news.

The news here is that they’re suing churches, something they assured us would NEVER happen because they just respect religious freedom far too much.

To appreciate the significance of this latest development, a brief review of where we’ve come from is helpful.

Originally they just wanted homosexuality removed from the list of mental disorders. “You don’t have to like it or agree with it” they told us, “all we want is to no longer be told we’re crazy for having feelings we can’t control.”

Then they wanted to get rid of the ban on homosexuality in the military. “Don’t ask, don’t tell.  C’mon be reasonable.  All we want is the right to serve our country without being forced to lie about who we are.”

Then homosexuality was added to the list of protected classes in non-discrimination laws.  “Of course we’re not trying to stop you from having your own beliefs or expressing them however you want, we just don’t want to lose our jobs because we’re gay.  It’s not like we’re trying to get married.”

Then it was domestic partnerships with some of the rights and benefits of marriage.  “All we want is the right to visit our loved ones in the hospital. How heartless can you be?”

Then domestic partnerships were expanded to have all the rights and benefits of marriage. “We don’t want to change marriage, all we want is the same rights and benefits of marriage.  We’re tired of being treated like second class citizens.”  And they told that story about wanting to visit people in the hospital again even though it was a non-issue.

Then they decided they needed to redefine marriage after all. “All we want is to change civil marriage. We wouldn’t dream of interfering with a churches right to define marriage however it wants and act accordingly.  We love religious freedom.  Hey, I go to church too.” And they told the story about wanting to visit loved ones in the hospital…again…because it still worked. Tehehe.

And now they’re suing churches.

Despite the complaint against the Catholic school for making decisions consistent with their church teaching, Bennet Klein, the GLAD lawyer representing Barrett is STILL trying to make the case that he supports religious freedom.

There’s a Baghdad Bob component to all of this that’s actually kind of funny.

In a statement on their website, Bennett Klein, the GLAD lawyer representing Barrett said, “Our laws carefully balance the important values of religious liberty and non-discrimination. When Fontbonne Academy fired Matt from a job that has nothing to do with religion, they came down on the wrong side of the law.”

You see, all of you who think your religious freedoms are being taken away are mistaken.  They love religious freedom. In reality they’re just clarifying your confusion about what religion actually is.

In the future, if you have any questions about which parts of your church actually have to do with your religion you can check with your local GLAD lawyer. They’re happy to serve.

Lots of people have been observing the conflict between freedom and the sexual liberty movement from the sideline for decades.  I get it.  Conflict really isn’t that fun.  And isn’t life more fun when everyone thinks you’re awesome?

We’ve come a long ways since homosexuality was removed from the list of mental disorders and you’ve been quiet all the while.  They’re suing churches now. They moved out of the closet, slept on the couch for a while, eventually sent you to the guestroom when they took over the master bedroom, and now you’re standing with all your stuff in the front lawn while a guy is changing the locks on the doors.

At what point does ones desire to avoid conflict become cowardice?  It’s a question worth asking because there are tens of millions of people in America handing over their freedoms without so much as a disapproving look.  After all, there’s so much negativity already.

Maybe you resent the implication.  Fair enough.  Then answer this question.  Where is your line in the sand?

Is it when they sue you? Is it when you can no longer get a business license because the state mandated non-discrimination policy to get a business license violates your beliefs? Is it when they sue your church? When they sue your friend’s church? When they close your church? When they put your pastor in jail?  When they take your kids from you to prevent your brand of hate from being spread to the next generation?

Or perhaps there is nothing you won’t put up with so long as no one accuses you of being “divisive” or “political”.

Winston Churchill once quipped that an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.

That’s certainly one option.

Or, those who haven’t been eaten yet could just decide to stop the crocodile. Up to you.  If you make him stop he’ll certainly be upset with you and may even have some harsh words…in public.

Your motives will be misrepresented, they’ll say you hate gay people, and if you’re a pastor someone is sure to accuse you of co-opting the gospel for political purposes. But, it could allow us to preserve the liberty so many risked their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor for.  Are you sure you’re ready for that?

Yeah, may not be worth it. Here, eat this guy.

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Abortion Insurance Mandate Advances in Legislature

Yesterday in Olympia, the abortion insurance mandate bill advanced out of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee by a 9-8 vote that was strictly along party lines. All the Democrats voted for the bill and all the Republicans voted against it.

Some concerns with the bill can be found here.

Even those supporting the bill seem insecure about their position. During the hearing in the House, no members of the committee made any public statements in support of the bill.  Nor did any member of the committee attempt a response to the argument made by numerous women that women are smart enough to decide for themselves if abortion insurance was something they wanted to buy.

The supporters of this bill claim it is necessary in order to avoid confusion.

Since the hearing, numerous requests from constituents asking why it is preferable to force everyone to buy abortion insurance rather than to simply make it clear whether a policy covers abortion have been effectively ignored.

A companion to the Abortion Insurance Mandate (SB 6359) was introduced in the Senate this week as well and is being sponsored by 21 Democrats and no Republicans with Steve Hobbs as the prime sponsor.

A companion bill is a term given to a bill that is identical to a bill being considered in the opposite chamber.

Sen. Hobbs was also the prime sponsor of the mandate last year as well. Hobbs has been one of the more moderate members of the Senate Democratic caucus on some issues, but he could be using this issue to shore up support from the far left in an attempt to avoid getting a Democratic primary challenger in his upcoming re-election.

The bill passed the State House last year along mostly party lines but failed to get a vote in the Senate after the right of center Majority Coalition agreed not to bring the issue up for consideration.

The bill could face a similar fate this year as well.

You can contact your legislators about this, or any other bill through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them here.

The Fear of Change

On issues related to marriage and sexuality, the strategy from the left is now a well-established; punish behavior we dislike regardless of whether anyone is actually harmed.  Whether you’re a student, doctor, property owner, florist, bakery, or photographer, you are not free to make decisions in your professional life we dislike.

It’s all very familiar by now.

The left apparently feels the need to protect gay people from anyone who might not agree that homosexuality and heterosexuality are the same.  I suspect more than a few gay people are insulted by the presumption of frailty projected upon them.

Nevertheless, the campaign to punish everything they dislike has moved into a new front here in Washington State.  Yesterday, the House Health Care and Wellness committee held a hearing on HB 2451 which would ban sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) involving minors. (View Hearing)

The bill would make it professional misconduct for a licensed therapist to help a minor reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attraction.

The committee testimony included lots of hearsay and one personal account of people who were made to feel rejected and unloved as they struggled with their sexuality as adolescents.  The pain was undoubtedly real.

However, the inference that all their childhood pain could be directly traced to the fact that some people in their circles did not embrace their homosexuality is likely incomplete.

The most sensational story included allegations that an Olympia area therapist forced a child to watch pornography while in an ice bath so that they would associate sexual arousal with pain.

The woman providing the testimony could not provide any details about who the therapist was, when it happened, or where the person that this had happened to was.  In addition, when questioned after the hearing, she was unwilling to do any research to help uncover whether, if it had in fact happened, it was a licensed therapist.

Obviously, no one would support forcing a child to watch pornography in an ice bath for any reason, but no new laws are needed to address that problem.  Child abuse is child abuse whether a therapist is involved or not.

Nevertheless, coercion by therapists has been professional misconduct for generations.

Regardless of the nature of the counseling, professional guidelines require the goals of therapy to be determined by the client, not the therapist.

Therefore, under current professional practice, the only time it would be appropriate to help a client control or reduce same-sex attraction would be when the client requests it.

As a result, the only real change from this bill would be to make it impossible for clients who have unwanted same-sex attraction to be able to get help from licensed counselors.

Apparently the, “If you don’t like abortion, don’t get one” standard doesn’t apply to therapy.

The truth is, however, those pushing bans of this sort actually believe they are harmed when someone else is able to get this kind of therapy.

For the militant, political wing of the gay community (and it is important to distinguish them from the rest of the gay community which is often far more reasonable) the only thing more troubling than the prospect of someone wanting to change their sexual orientation is the idea that change is possible.

They attempt to preempt the philosophical or moral question of whether someone should change their sexuality by taking the factual position that change is impossible.

Undoubtedly, for many, their personal experience leads them to that conclusion.

I don’t think any of us can claim to know more about another’s experience than they do.  When someone says they didn’t choose to be gay, I don’t feel a particular burden to challenge them on that point.

However, those asking others to accept their reality that they did not choose to be gay are often unwilling to extend the same courtesy to former homosexuals whose experience is different but no less real.

The existence of ex-gays is an inconvenient truth that assaults the foundation upon which the “gay rights” movement is built-the immutability of homosexuality.

If it is true that some people who used to be gay no longer are, it raises issues they prefer not think about.

So, instead, they close their eyes tightly, put their fingers in their ears, tell themselves those people didn’t really experience what they said they experienced, and hope they’ll go back in the closet where they came from.

Sweet, blessed irony.

Not only is change not possible, they argue, it should be professional malpractice to suggest that it is.  I don’t care how many say they have changed and I don’t care how many clients may actually request this kind of therapy from their therapist.   My motives are good, I’m trying to save young people from pain.  Please don’t confuse me with facts.

With proposals like this one, the campaign to take away people’s individual freedoms in the name of sexual equality is making a shift.  In the case of the photographers, florists, bakers, doctors, and innkeepers, the state is punishing businesses who are doing things they believe are “discriminatory” against a customer.  Therefore, they force them to do things they otherwise would not do.

However, in this case, the state would prohibit professionals from doing things they are otherwise willing to do and restrict the therapeutic services available to individuals simply because they are offended by the idea that someone would ever want it.

Honestly, I kind of get it. My desire to ban skinny jeans has similar motivations.  However, being the good liberal that I am, I’ve decided I’ll be satisfied with simply not buying any. Here’s to hoping the legislature will be equally as accommodating.

The Problem with House Bill 2451

This post was written by Rebecca Faust

House Bill 2451, banning sexual orientation change efforts for minors, is scheduled for a public hearing before the House Health Care & Wellness Committee this Wednesday.

Sexual orientation change efforts refers to therapies provided to help people get rid of or reduce unwanted same-sex attractions or to identify and behave in accordance with their birth gender. As used in the law, the term applies to therapies regardless of whether they target feelings or behavior, but doesn’t include therapy to avoid illegal behavior or promote self-acceptance as long as the therapies don’t hold one sexual orientation as being better than another. The bill would make it “unprofessional conduct,” subject to disciplinary action, for mental health therapists, as well as a number of other professionals, to provide such therapies.

This bill is concerning for the following reasons.

First, it makes it more difficult for teens struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions to get help. Presumably, pastors will still be a source of guidance for these vulnerable youths. But it would be better if they could also have the resources of trained therapists (in addition to spiritual leaders). Please tell legislators to let mental healthcare providers offer a full range of therapies to youth.

Second, it takes away from parents the decision of what therapy options are best for their children. Perhaps some of you may think that therapy to eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions is not the best option for a child. But unless you are the child’s parents, you shouldn’t make that decision. Please tell legislators to uphold the right of parents to make these decisions for their children.

Third, it discriminates again a conservative – or Christian – viewpoint on sexuality. The law would allow therapies to encourage youth to accept their same-sex attractions or identification with a gender other than their birth sex, as long as the therapist doesn’t hold one sexual orientation out to be better than another. But it would ban therapies which help confused youth come to a Biblical understanding of gender and conform their feelings or behavior to it.  Please tell legislators to respect the right of those with a conservative view of sexuality to express it and receive therapy consistent with it.

Please let your legislators know how you feel about this bill. You can send a message to them by email, or by calling the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000. You may also wish to attend the public hearing on Wednesday, January 22, at 8:00 a.m. It will be at the state capital in Olympia, in the O’Brien Building, Hearing Room B. If you attend the hearing, please arrive early and don’t forget to sign in.

 

Bill Banning Sexual Orientation Therapy Scheduled For Hearing

This post was written by Rebecca Faust.

State Representative Marko Liias introduced a bill today banning therapy for minors to help them change their sexual orientation or associated behavior.

House Bill 2451would make it unprofessional conduct, subject to disciplinary sanctions, for a mental health therapist to provide therapy to change sexual orientation or gender expression to anyone under eighteen years old, regardless of whether the patient or the patient’s parents desire or agree to the therapy.

In fact, the prohibition would not only apply to mental health therapists, but to a number of other professions as well, including sex offender treatment providers, hypnotherapists, East Asian medicine practitioners, and others.

It would be legal to provide acceptance, support, “identity exploration and development,” and “sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices” as long as these interventions “do not seek to change sexual orientation.”

The bill has already been scheduled for a public hearing in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee on Wednesday, January 22nd, at 8:00 a.m.

You can  call the legislative hotline at 1-800-563-6000 to send a message to your representatives, letting them know how you feel about this bill. If you live within driving distance of Olympia, you may wish to attend the public hearing as well. If you do so, be sure to sign in so that your position on the bill will be noted.

Irony Abounds in Abortion Mandate Hearing

Monday afternoon the House Health and Wellness Committee held a hearing on HB 2148, which would require all insurance policies in Washington State to cover abortion. Proponents of the legislation refer to it as the Reproductive Parity Act (RPA).

Supporters of life and insurance choice significantly outnumbered abortion industry advocates, filling the hearing room and two over flow rooms as well.

Proponents of the bill argued that the mandate is necessary to ensure that women’s choices about their pregnancies are not dictated by their insurance coverage.

Rep. Paul Harris, from Vancouver, suggested an alternative to a mandate would be a requirement that the summary of benefits clearly state whether the policy covers abortion or not.

Dr. Annie Iriye, from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists countered that the mandate, rather than full disclosure, was necessary because some women who would say they don’t want an abortion may actually want one when they become pregnant.

Several women, including a young mother and a student, testified that women should have the choice to decide for themselves if they wanted abortion coverage and should not be forced into it by the government.

Everett business owner, Aaron Mischel, told the committee he did not want his company to be forced to purchase abortion insurance because he is morally opposed to abortion.  Mischel shared that his biological mother, who was raped, ultimately gave him up for an adoption after attempting to get an abortion.

Winner of the award for most ironic testimony was Elaine Rose, CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest.

Moments after six women had testified that they wanted the freedom to choose plans that did not cover abortion, she testified in support of the mandate saying that, “the purpose of the RPA is to make sure that women, (dramatic pause) women make decisions about the kind of health care they want.  Not insurance companies, not the government, not you, but women.”

Rose continued, “What we have always acknowledged in this state, is to acknowledge that women, even before Roe v. Wade, that women actually are competent, autonomous human beings who can make these kinds of decisions. And these decisions shouldn’t be made for them.”

She ended her remarks saying, “I would hope you would recognize that women can make those decisions with their families and their god.”

It was as if the fact that she was trying to take away women’s ability to choose the kind of insurance they want was completely lost on her.

Angela Connelly, President of the Washington Women’s Network, summarized the opposition testimony well when she said, “This bill is not about access to abortion. This is a bullying bill. It’s not about choice. It’s about taking away choice.”

You can watch the entire hearing online by clicking here.

You can also contact your legislators through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or you can email them by clicking here.

There are Phil Robertsons Everywhere

There is some good news in the dust up involving Phil Robertson and A&E.

Last week, A&E suddenly reversed course and has said they will continue filming with Phil Robertson despite his statements that he believes homosexuality (like a lot of other things) is sin.

Before we close the books on this little chapter of our cultural debate over sexuality, marriage, and religious freedom, there are two things I think we should try to remember.

The first is that freedom won this time because the public demanded it.

I would like to think A&E’s reinstatement of Phil Robertson will represent a sea change of sorts.

Perhaps they are finally confronting the fact that their view of “tolerance” is irrationally inconsistent.

Perhaps the left will now begin celebrating actual diversity, not just the kind in which everyone thinks and acts the same as they do.

But I doubt it.

It is more likely that this little episode simply proves that the bully can be defeated when enough people stand up and say “ENOUGH!”

A&E changed their position because they saw viewers, sponsors, and ultimately dollar signs standing up and preparing to walk out the door. A&E wasn’t persuaded by an argument, someone touched their hot button.

Politicians behave in much the same way. If you want to see public policy created that respects conscience rights and religious liberty, don’t try to make great arguments to elected officials, convince them that their next election depends on it.  

If enough people insist on change, change will come.

Change came for Phil Robertson.

But that leads to the second point to remember about this entire episode.

There are Phil Robertson’s everywhere.

The Duck Dynasty situation got national attention because he was part of a television show that is watched and loved by millions.

But there are bakers,  sportscasters, innkeepers, doctors, photographersand many more all over the nation who are seeing their livelihood threatened because of their beliefs. Sadly, the public is not coming to their defense in the same way.

Right here in Washington State, a florist is being sued because she did not feel comfortable being part of a same-sex wedding and florists have to go to court to defend their right not to sell a drug that causes abortion.

The only difference between the situation involving Phil Robertson and the situation involving the florist and the pharmacist in Washington State is that the public has not demonstrated the same degree of outrage they expressed on behalf of Phil Robertson.

Politicians have the same pressure points that A&E has, but so far we haven’t had enough people stand up and say “ENOUGH!”

Politicians get lots of money for doing what the gay lobby asks them to do, and that money translates into votes.

Those who support freedom need to be a sufficient counterbalance so that defending individual rights is politically more viable than taking them away.

The Duck Dynasty scenario simply proved that there are enough people on our side of the issue to do this…if we simply decide to do something.  

If you want to help protect the interest of the Phil Robertson’s in your neighborhood, call Attorney General Bob Ferguson and ask him to stop suing small businesses because of their beliefs about marriage.

Then contact your local elected officials and demand that they protect the conscience rights of people to run their businesses in a way that is consistent with their conscience.

Even better, go visit them in person, explain your concern over the growing assault on religious freedom and conscience rights and get your friends and neighbors to do the same.

This story had a good ending, but let’s hope it is not the end.

We proved that success is possible.

Hopefully, when history records this episode, it will be said that Phil Robertson’s situation caused supports of religious freedom to draw a line in the sand and say, “no more.”

Otherwise, the history books may simply record that the only people whose freedoms we will fight for are those whose TV shows we enjoyed.

Your contribution of $5 or more will help us protect conscience rights and religious freedom in Washington State. 

 

 

Good Intentions, Bad Outcomes

Life has many frustrations.

one of the greatest for me is the fact that I get very little credit for all my good intentions. If only people knew how patient, organized, and romantic I intend to be.  I even give myself pep talks when I know I need to step up my game.

But for some reason I have a hard time translating that into my actual life.  So, despite the way I know I intend to be, my friends, colleagues, and wife live in the reality that I’m still somewhat impatient, often unorganized, and romantically lost.

I suppose there is some comfort in knowing I’m not the only one to suffer this affliction.

If intentions mattered, Jimmy Carter’s presidency would have been our nation’s finest hour, the Donner Party “shortcut” would have actually gotten them to California sooner, and everyone would have enjoyed that safe, luxurious passage across the Atlantic on the Titanic.

But one of the many things that separates the adults from the children is the ability to look at the situation for what it is separate from what it was intended to be.

Such is the dilemma many are facing in the growing feud over religious freedom and same-sex “marriage”; the latest episode prompted by A&E’s decision to suspend Phil Robertson over his statements about homosexuality.

While there are lots of people firmly embedded on one side or another of this issue, there are a number of people genuinely troubled because they support same-sex “marriage” but also truly believe in religious freedom.

The tension between the two is bothering them.

So they look to strike a balance.

They heard the assurances from those promoting same-sex “marriage”, and they can easily imagine a world in which gay people can get married at the same time that institutions that hold a natural view of marriage continue to thrive. They don’t accept the idea that religious freedom has to go away in order for gay people to get “married”.

In theory, they would be right.

But that’s the challenge.  We live in reality, not in theory.

In reality, proponents of sexual liberation generally and same-sex “marriage” specifically are creating very real harm to religious freedom.

Is that because legions of gay people have conspired to destroy rights of conscience?

Hardly.

No one claims to be opposed to religious freedom just like no one claims to be for discrimination. The devil is in the details.

When proponents of same-sex “marriage” say they support religious freedom, they aren’t lying, they’re just not clarifying.  So with the very best of intentions, they try to be advocates for both.

But as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The company selling thalidomide in the 1950’s wasn’t trying to kill babies and cause severe deformities, they were trying to help expectant mothers with morning sickness.  But that didn’t make the harm any less real. There comes a point when you have to accept responsibility for certain outcomes even if you didn’t intend them.

Proponents of sexual liberation aren’t trying to destroy religious freedom, they’re trying to end discrimination.

But now we know what that actually means in real people’s lives.  A world free of discrimination, as they understand it, requires people to choose between their livelihood and their conscience.  It forces photographers, florists, inn-keepers, bakeries, and many, many more to do things that violate their conscience or get out of business.

Did this movement set out to take away people’s freedoms, interfere with people’s ability to make a living, and make it harder for faith based ministries to serve their communities?

Does it matter?

The facts are what they are.

Unless you’re just afraid of conflict, actions speak louder than words. Especially in politics.

If you’re conflicted over the Duck Dynasty/Chick-fil-A/florist/photographer/baker issues because you desperately want to strike a balance between gay marriage and religious freedom stop listening to arguments and start looking at the facts.

At the end of the day, you are going to be judged by your actions and not your intentions.   Don’t be afraid to do the same.

Your donation of $5 or more will help us protect religious freedom here in Washington.

Why the Left Abandoned Religious Freedom

In 1990, the Supreme Court’s Employment Division v. Smith decision lowered the bar for religious freedom protections.  Three years later, Congress responded by passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which restored the higher standard of religious freedom protections that existed prior to the Smith case.

The RFRA required the government to have a “compelling government interest” before doing anything that would restrict religious freedom.

This did not mean you could do anything in the name of religion, but it prevented the government from punishing an individual’s religious expression simply because they didn’t like it.  It would not allow someone to beat their children as a matter of religious expression because the government has a compelling interest in the protection of children. But it would allow Native American’s to use peyote in their religious ceremonies despite the fact that it is generally illegal.  The compelling governmental interest in stopping the ceremonial use of peyote could not be demonstrated.

Significantly, when congress adopted this standard it wasn’t even controversial. Everyone believed in religious liberty

The bill was sponsored by Chuck Schumer, still one of the most prominent leftists in Washington DC. It passed the House of Representatives unanimously and passed the Senate 97-3. President Clinton, who signed it into law, called the bill one of his greatest accomplishments as President.

A later Supreme Court decision said that the federal government could not force the states to abide by the standard in RFRA so 18 states have subsequently adopted their own state version.

However, when the Washington State Senate began a debate over RFRA-like language two weeks ago, it was apparent that it will be controversial.

Questions during the hearing indicated that the proposal will face significant, if not insurmountable opposition, in the legislature.

This begs the question, what exactly has changed since 1993 that makes a formerly uncontroversial proposal suddenly so controversial?  If RFRA was supported by Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, and John Kerry, why can’t they support it today?

In 1993, the left still cared about individual rights.

They could still remember the 1970’s when modern liberalism cut its teeth on the idea that it is better to allow people to be offensive (e.g., burn flags, be profane, create and distribute pornography) than to allow the government be the judge of what kind of speech or behavior was acceptable.

Freedom, they argued, is the right to do and say things other people disagree with.

While a belief in individual rights used to be the hallmark of liberalism, it has since been replaced by a commitment to amorphous concepts like “equality” and ending “discrimination”. While they never define those terms in a way they could be held accountable for, what is obvious is that their pursuit of those values leaves no room for people to disagree.  After all, how can we have a tolerant world if people are allowed to do things that are intolerant?

The new left wants government to officiate all of our interactions to make sure no one “discriminates”.

This explains why, in 1993, Chuck Schumer was the prime sponsor of the RFRA, but in 2013, he is a vocal opponent of efforts that would allow the Catholic Church not to pay for contraception in violation of its beliefs.

It also explains why in 1993, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), co-chaired the lobby committee that helped make RFRA federal law.  However, in 2013, they filed a lawsuit against a florist in Washington State because they did not want to provide floral services for a same-sex “wedding”.  The ACLU now opposes RFRA language in Washington State specifically because it could allow business owners the freedom to make decisions consistent with their religious beliefs.

Going back even further to 1973, abortion advocates argued for an understanding of the right to privacy that would allow a woman to have an abortion.  In 2013 they argue for the right to force other people to pay for their abortions and the right to demand professional services from people who are morally opposed to it.

They used to support people’s right to buy a car. Now they argue for the right to hijack someone else’s car and force the owner to take them where they need to go because they believe the destination is that important.

Of course the loss of individual freedom is only a regrettable and temporary means to an end. Once everyone agrees with them, individual rights won’t be quite as dangerous as they are right now.

Still, the fact that they now value a “tolerant” world free of “discrimination” more than individual rights explains why previously uncontroversial concepts like religious freedom are now viewed so skeptically.  Their value system has changed.

As a result, during the hearing in the Washington State Senate Law and Justice Committee two weeks ago, two State Senators expressed serious concern that such a bill would allow pharmacists not to sell abortion drugs or a florist not to provide floral services for a same-sex “wedding”.

Some legislators now believe it is their job to make sure businesses owners are not free to do things they find intolerant.

In the process, those who support religious freedom protections are being characterized as people simply looking for a license to hate.

The problem with this position is that the same religious freedom protections being asked for today were once supported by less than rabid conservatives like Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, and Paul Wellstone.

The fact that religious freedom is now a controversial topic is not because prominent, new sects of dangerous, religious extremism have formed. To the contrary, religious freedom is now controversial because the voices in culture that have always said that not every impulse should be indulged are the enemy of their well-intentioned but entirely subjective concept of tolerance.

So in pursuit of a more tolerant world, they ironically seek to arm government with the power to decide which ideas are acceptable and which are not. That puts them in historically uncomfortable company where typically everyone’s ox is gored.

We need not follow that path, but we’d be foolish to deny how close we are to it.

In the process of looking for religious freedom protections, we don’t need to convince everyone to see the world like we do. What we are really doing is asking liberals to be liberals again.

To share your thoughts on religious freedom with your state legislators click here, or call the Legislative Hotline at 1.800.562.6000.