Some Thoughts about Fighting the Good Fight in This Present Darkness

FRM Monsters

San Diego, CA—On our watch, a cosmic battle of epic proportions rages between opposites:  light and darkness, good and evil, beauty and ugliness, hope and despair, flourishing and decay, life and death, truth and lies.  The war is both spiritual and physical.  The conflict is both internal and external to us because the divide between good and evil runs down the center of the human heart.  These are truly the times that try the souls of men and women. Much is at stake.  Our hyper-divided nation appears closer to civil war than any other time in our history except 1862.

The threat to freedom is real.  A radical and rabid left seeks to replace order with chaos.  They are actively deconstructing everything good that has made us a beacon of hope for the world and are seeking to, by force, reconstruct a disordered, unrecognizable, and increasingly insane culture.  In the center of the cultural chopping block is the Judeo-Christian worldview which has nourished, sustained and caused our republic to flourish—until now.  The self-evident truths which have heretofore guided the greatest and freest nation the world has ever known are experiencing a full-frontal assault from the forces of darkness and evil.  These truths include the reality that God has created us equal in His image (male and female) and has endowed us with inalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursued of happiness (virtue).

Darkness advances only as light retreats.  Tragically, most of the American church has been in full-blown cultural retreat for decades.  Many have been caught flat footed and tongue tied, not knowing what to say or how to respond to the growing cultural pressure, including false charges of hatred and bigotry.  We have largely abandoned our obligation to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)—whether it be preaching the full counsel of God, sharing the gospel, or opposing evil.   As such, we find ourselves marginalized to the sidelines in this epic battle—hiding in our Christian enclaves rather that engaging on the field. We have been unfaithful.  But not all is lost.  Now is the time for the church of Jesus Christ to awake, arise and engage.

Who is responsible to fight?  Everyone.  No exceptions.  But especially our pastors and Christian leaders.  In dark times, true leaders lead authentically by taking responsibility, not by making excuses.  As Germany spun out of control before WWII, Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, “I have made a mistake in coming to America.  I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the Christian people of Germany.  I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people.”  And as Sophie Scholl stated in a Nazi court shortly before her execution for participating in a leaflet campaign decrying the acts of the Third Reich, “We are Christian, and we are German, therefore we are responsible for Germany.”  We are Christian, and we are American, therefore we are responsible for America.

All is not lost.  I am very encouraged by the good work being done by many engaged and engaging organizations like the American Renewal Project.  I was blessed recently to see 700 pastors and Christian leaders at a conference in Southern California, gathering to commit to biblically impacting our lost and dark culture—to fighting the good fight—that His kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Leaders challenge the flock to not just be hearers of the Word, but doers of it (James 1:22-25). A Christian leader not exercising biblical leadership that makes a difference in the world is similar to a ship with a broken rudder.  He may hold a title, occupy a position, or even head a mega-church, but the results are spiritually fruitless.

Fear is paralyzing our leaders and neutralizing our witness.  Fear of man is leading us into cultural compromise, capitulation, and assimilation.  But God has not given us to a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7).  It is time for the American church to repent and stop being so listless and passive and running away from the good fight.  Let us agree to stop giving in to the downward pressure of the “spiral of silence.”  Rather, like Scholl and Bonhoeffer, let us commit instead to taking active responsibility for our communities and our nation, exercising clear bold and courageous biblical leadership.  The flock desperately needs good shepherds to protect us, disciple us, and lead us now, perhaps as never before.  And the world desperately needs the church to be salt and light, standing without wavering or compromise for what is, and always will be, good, true, and beautiful.

CA Legislators Beholden to Leftist Special Interest Groups Refuse Reasonable Safeguards On Early Erotic Child Development (SB 673)

SB 673 Testimony

Sacramento, CA—When you strip away all of the drama, the recent battle over Senate Bill 673 essentially boiled down to one fundamental issue:  State vs. parents.  More specifically, does the state collective have the primary authority to raise and train children as it sees fit, or do parents?  Even more precisely, does California have the primary authority to teach elementary school children, between the ages of four and twelve (TK-6th grade), comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) while making it difficult for parents to ascertain what is being taught?  And can the state make it challenging for parents to excuse their kids from early erotic education?  Put slightly differently, how far will the state go to force its radical and transformative new sexual orthodoxy on our families?

Precisely just how far leftist legislators are willing to go was on transparent display on January 15, 2020 during the Senate Education Committee hearing (read “kangaroo court”) on SB 673.  This legislation arose because parents across the Golden State were having great difficulty reviewing CSE materials their seventh-grade and high school students were being exposed to under the 2015 California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA).  In many cases, school districts concealed or hid the curricula, made access extremely difficult, or flat out refused to allow parents to review it.  It soon became evident why access was limited.  Districts did not want parents to see the extreme and graphic materials because they did not want students to opt-out of the sexuality program, which they view as a positive good for all students.  But, despite widespread district efforts to conceal CSE curriculum, the truth started leaking out.  Information is power and informed and concerned parents began to organize in opposition to CSE all across the state in 2018.  As CSE was recently expanded in the California Department of Education elementary “health” framework and curricula, the collective roar of a million “mama bears” only grew louder.

CHYA allows, but does not require, that CSE is taught in elementary school.  Regarding age and developmental appropriateness, the majority of parents who have reviewed the extreme and graphic CSE materials recognize that five-year-old children are not “little adults,” and understand that CSE is “too much, too soon,” especially for younger children.

Sponsored by Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) and written by citizen-parent Denise Pursche, SB 673 was a very reasonable, moderate, and commonsense bill.  It simply required transparency, accountability, and meaningful active parental choice if a school district decided to teach CSE from TK-6th grade.  First, it required that all CSE materials be posted on the internet, in languages immigrants in the area schools can understand.  Second, it required that parents actively opt-in their four- to twelve-year-old children, to make sure kids do not accidentally participate in CSE classes by failing to opt-out.  Third, it required that CSE materials are medically-accurate and age-appropriate.  Objectively, no sane person who understands child development and respects parents’ rights should have voted against it.  A no brainer, right?  Not so fast!

Joining Senator Morrell in providing testimony in support were constitutional attorney Dean Broyles of the National Center for Law & Policy and Dr. Ahmed Soboh, Chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, an umbrella organization for 70 mosques and Islamic Centers representing over 500,000 community members. In fact, it is estimated that the diverse coalition in support of SB 673 collectively represents at least 10.8 million people, including: the California Catholic Conference, the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, branches of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, a chapter of the NAACP, dozens of Korean Christian churches, nondenominational churches, faith-based organizations and others, as well as tens of thousands of people who submitted letters and made calls to their representatives and committee members.

Yet, after a contentious debate, the Senate Education Committee voted along party lines (5-2) to kill the bill.  Why?  Many of the leftist committee members appeared to be sympathetic to parental rights and the need for transparency, but they still voted against it.  Democratic Senators and opposition witnesses claimed to be concerned that the opt-in would create “barriers” to young children accessing CSE.

Ideas have consequences.  Bad ideas have victims.  National CSE pushing SIECUS, for example, believes that children have “inalienable sexual rights,” apart from the guidance of their parents and faith community.  Elitist purveyors of CSE for very young children see these programs as a positive social good and that they are the experts on children, not parents.  Therefore, they are more than willing to circumvent parents and conceal their dark curricula in order to achieve the “greater good” of indoctrinating our children in the name of “health.”  But the primary reason they killed SB 673 was probably that there would be hell to pay with powerful special interest groups if they had not done so.  Who are these extremist organizations pushing early erotic education in California?  Well, it’s the usual suspects: Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Equality California, NARAL, the California PTA, and the California Teachers Association, to mention a few.

But one of the more note-worthy things about the hearing was that the primary opposition “research” heavily relied upon by the ACLU and regurgitated in approximately 80% of the opposition letters evaporated during the hearing.  How?  I actually read the research cited.  Thus I was able to point out in testimony that “the research cited…[in] most of the opposition letters does not support their allegations that opt-out is preferred by parents, nor that very early sexuality education is in the best interest of children.  The RAND study strongly supports parental informed consent, here transparency and opt-in, and the CDE and AAP articles support CSE starting in fifth grade, not kindergarten or first grade. The opposition research actually supports SB 673.”  In response to questioning by Senator Ling Ling Chang, I further explained that the RAND study did not support the ACLU’s contention that parents’ wishes are more in line with an opt-out, as opposed to the opt-in proposed by SB 673.  This is because RAND did not even research whether parents preferred opt-out for early elementary sex education classes, but this was actually a limited study speculating on parental intent based only upon opt-in vs. opt-out rates for a drug prevention program at two California middle schools.  In fact, the parents were never actually surveyed about their wishes about how to object to student participation in the RAND study.  Notably, after this testimony, no one cited the ACLU’s misleading “research” during the hearing or made any attempt to rely on it.

In spite of the fact that their opposition research was debunked, the Democrats on the Senate Education Committee proceeded to embarrass themselves by maintaining a stubborn opposition to SB 673.  In so doing, they proved themselves to be, at best, ignorant of the California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA) and the resulting CSE curricula or, at worst, intentionally deceptive.  Regarding CHYA, Senator Richard Pan (D-Elk Grove) attempted to rebuke a portion of my testimony as misleading, stating that CHYA only deals with sex education, but that it does not require the teaching of “sexuality” education.  Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino) quickly chimed in with her agreement with Pan’s blundering and specious statement.  But both Senator Pan and Senator Levya were wrong.  The truth is that CHYA does mandate sexuality education, specifically using the term “sexuality” seven times in the statute.  So, why would Pan and Leyva be so quick to mislead or deceive here?  Probably because “sexuality” includes a broad range of issues controversial and sensitive issues that may not be age-appropriate including, but not limited to, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, etc.  Apparently, these “public servants” on the Education Committee were trying to conceal the fact that CHYA and the unquestionably graphic and extreme “sexuality” curricula developed under the law actually do require that our children marinate in the moral cesspool of extreme “sexuality” education.  Sadly, a lack of basic integrity, candor, and transparency appears to be a dangerous problem for many California state officials involved in education.

Approximately 100 bold and courageous citizens, including parents, grandparents, pastors, and others, stood up and one by one and passionately explained why they supported SB 673.  As the spoke, they were representing the thoughts and feelings of thousands, if not millions, of California citizens.  In fact, Senator Morrell received approximately 50,000 letters in support of the bill and an online change.org petition was signed by more than 47,000 citizens.  The opposition was much smaller.  Only approximately 15 people stood up to speak in “me too” opposition to the bill, including Equality California, the ACLU, Plannned Parenthood, and surprisingly the PTA!

In her closing remarks Senator Connie Levya took to arrogantly lecturing citizens supporting SB 673.  Leyva quickly drew loud boos when she assumed parents had not read the CSE curricula and glibly announced that “there is nothing in [in CHYA CSE curricula] that is not age-appropriate.”  This was a particularly offensive Leyva lie, among many others, and the informed citizens present knew it and immediately called her out on it.  Her misrepresentations did not stop there. She proceeded to deceptively declare that the CSE curricula did not include “anal sex, sexting, cybersex, phone sex, sensation play, and kinky sex….”  But in reality, the CSE curricula are even more graphic and extreme than is revealed by Leyva’s short list.  CDE approved materials promote, or link to sites promoting, a hook-up culture, pleasure focus, sex as sport, and porn normativity, among other terrible things.  Tragically, the state is condoning the mass sexual grooming of public school students, putting them at increased risk for abuse by sexual predators and sex traffickers.

Continuing to receive loud opposition from the citizens in attendance to her lecture, Levya angrily shot back that the reason the audience had issues with CHYA and support SB 673 is “because people are afraid to talk to their children about sex.”  This naturally generated more angry boos from the crowd.  Ironically, the CHYA-ignorant Chairwoman was attacking and blaming well-informed parents and grandparents for being ignorant.  This will likely cost her a lot of votes.

In stark contrast, Senator Scott Wilk’s (R-Santa Clarita) moral clarity on the Democrat’s stubborn unwillingness to support SB 673 was quite illuminating.

He warned, “You [parents] need to stay engaged!  If you’re not sure what is going on in this building, we are having our own private version of Animal Farm.  Policymakers in this building want to raise your children….You have to stay engaged or you’re going to lose the ability to raise your own children.”

Indeed!  While on one hand the “People’s Republic of California” favors the state, the U.S. Constitution, which remains the supreme law of the land, and the U.S. Supreme Court fortunately clearly favor parents here.  For nearly 100 years, SCOTUS has repeatedly ruled that parents have the fundamental right to direct the care and raising of their children.

“The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”  Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925).

However, the one-uber-liberal 9th Circuit ruled in 2005 that the right of parents to shield their children from sexually-explicit materials essentially ends at the school house door (Fields v. Palmdale).  The good news, however, is that well-respected constitutional attorneys believe the 9th Circuit’s case subverting parental rights was wrongly decided and that this collectivist and anti-family precedent will ultimately be overturned, either by an increasingly conservative 9th Circuit or a decidedly conservative U.S. Supreme Court.

Wake up California!   We the people must demand that our public servants actually start serving the public and not extreme special interest groups bent on sexually corrupting and harming our kids.  Our children are not primarily creatures of the state of California—to forcibly indoctrinate into its radical leftist mold.  Constitutional rights, including parental rights, do not end at the schoolhouse door.  The state does not have the authority to coercively impose a new sexual orthodoxy on our children and families, especially one that deconstructs truth and undermines the free exercise of religion and the freedom of speech.  Parents, especially those raising young children, deserve transparency and meaningful choices.  Yet, in most districts parents have been misled about CHYA and the CSE curricula has been concealed from families.  The status quo is unacceptable.  Informed consent is an ethical issue and is a civil rights issue, one that the majority of our public servants in California appear insistent on ignoring, to our collective peril.  California school districts that continue to ignore parents and trample on Constitutional rights should prepare themselves to be sued.

For further information about the Senate Education Committee SB 673 hearing and CHYA, please watch:

Pre-hearing Press Conference

Post Hearing Rally

Socialism 101: Utopian Dream or Dystopian Nightmare

1984-by-george-orwell-e-book

Washington, D.C.—One of the more disturbing things about the current political debate is the ascendancy and mainstreaming of socialism and socialist ideology.  Recent surveys confirm that members of the millennials and Gen-Z groups are far more supportive of socialism and redistributive economic policies than their elders.  For example, a recent survey revealed that 61% of 18-24 year olds have a positive response to the word “socialism,” while only 29% of 55-64 shared their sentiments.

Why is this important? It matters because ideas have consequences.  Good ideas can lead to human flourishing.  Bad ones have victims—they can diminish and destroy people and civilizations.  Therefore, before fully embracing socialism we should be asking some important questions.  Here, we briefly explore two important aspects of socialism.  First, what is the worldview behind socialism? Second, what has the track record of socialism been historically?

Socialism, as a utopian movement, asserts that humans are intrinsically good, and that under the right conditions, their good nature will emerge.  Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his later Marxists disciples believed, for example, that free from the restrictive obligations to church, family, and community, that individuals would self-actualize and experience the greatest good.  Furthermore, that the state, as a collective of many “free” individuals coming together, is the highest good and is therefore entrusted in helping to liberate individuals, ultimately dictating back to the people what is “good” for them.   In socialism, power and authority shifts away from the family, the church, and local communities to the state.  That is why socialism is called a “statist” movement.

Socialism is “soft” communism.  It is a definite step down the road of totalistic government control.  In socialism the government uses confiscatory tax schemes and redistributes resources, passing a myriad of laws than burden citizens and suffocate freedom. Communism is extreme socialism with absolute central government power and control over the means of production, distribution of resources, and nearly all aspects of life.  It has been observed the both systems lead to the loss of motivation to work hard, as the government confiscates most if not all of the fruit of your labor. Also, both communism and socialism invariably lead to diminished individual freedom and the loss of civil rights.

In contrast, the American republic was birthed by the Judeo-Christian concept of original sin—recognizing the fallenness of man.  The truth recognized here is that, being sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, our natural bent is towards selfishness and sin.  Not only is the individual corrupt and corruptible, but the state is in no better position because it is a collective of sinful individuals with power.

We believe that, though fallen, individuals have dignity and worth because they are created in God’s image.  In our experience, this led the Declaration of Independence, which acknowledged that governments exist to secure the inalienable rights given to us by God.  Those rights include the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (virtue).  The U.S. Constitution acknowledged our fallenness and the corrupting influence of power by placing a separation of powers between government branches with checks and balances to keep the federal government from becoming too authoritarian and abusive.  This worldview led to the historically unprecedented protection of individual civil liberties, as our founders believed that people have inherent dignity because they are created in the image of God. Though not perfect, our system, including free market capitalism, has been the envy world, repeatedly emulated by nations desiring freedom, peace, a prosperity.

Compare socialism. Historically speaking, socialism has not faired very well at all.  In fact, everywhere it has actually been tried, it has failed.  The Soviet Union.  China.  Cambodia. Cuba. Venezuela.  Need I go on?  The socialist promise to liberate the individual from moral and economic oppression has largely backfired, leading to, at worst, totalitarianism, and at best, a crushing authoritarianism that more often than not subverts individual economic incentives and basic human rights.  Socialism’s utopian promise has, in most cases, devolved into a dystopian nightmare.

What is the actual fruit of socialism?  The utopian promise of liberation of the masses resulted rather in their actual enslavement by the very state that promised their freedom.  Oppression didn’t disappear, it increased exponentially. Socialist regimes suppressed religious freedom and decimated nearly all civil rights.  Freedom of speech was crushed.   Dissent led to the loss of our most precious human right—life, resulting in the death of millions.  When the state is God, it can do anything, including killing with impunity. It is estimated that in the 20th century communist regimes, including those of Stalin, Mao and the Khmer Rouge, killed between 85 to 100 million of their own populations.  Socialism’s fruit is rotten to the core.

Has socialism had any impact here?  Sadly, yes.  Many Americans continue to nurse and prop up the same failed utopian myths and cultural lies that produced such bitter fruit in totalitarian nations.  We can see socialism’s impact in the New Deal.  Later we saw it is the failed welfare state.  We can now see it in its rapidly growing popularity with the youth, long indoctrinated in Marxist ideologies throughout public education and in the universities.  Wake up kids!  Socialism isn’t cool!  Socialism stinks!

Is socialism the answer for the United States of America?  I submit not.  Our nation was founded on a healthy distrust of government.  For good reason. History teaches us that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When we deny the Judeo-Christian worldview and reject the beautiful truth that we bear God’s image, and that we are fallen sinners, in favor of socialism’s purportedly more “enlightened” view of a godless human nature, we actually end up undermining human dignity and losing freedom.  I hope that we wake up before it’s too late.

Revenge of the Nerds: Bezos Flip-Flops on Amazon’s Platform Neutrality, Banning Change Allowing Therapy Books

Bezos

Is the United States truly a free marketplace of ideas, or are we becoming a nation where dissent from popular opinion is suppressed and demonized—whether by the government or by politically powerful private enterprise?  Amazon’s deplorable decision to ban books affirming change allowing therapy for people struggling with same-sex attraction tends to affirm the latter.  I am sorry to say that we may indeed be well on our way to ideological serfdom.

In today’s hyper-digital age, mega-businesses like Google, Facebook, and Amazon can and do censor ideas and squelch free thought and expression in ways that are similarly effective as, and are comparable to, fascist government repressions of days past.  George Orwell was quite right about our future, but the existential threat is not just big government, it’s also big corporations.

Amazon’s politically correct ban occurred as the result of a British LGBT activist complaining to the distribution giant about the works of the late Catholic clinical psychologist, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, who died in 2017.  Nicolosi, considered the father of reparative therapy and who had successfully counseled thousands of former homosexuals, was the author of “A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality” and “Healing Homosexuality: Case Stories of Reparative Therapy.”  Of the ban of his father’s work, Nicolosi’s son stated in a released statement, “Amazon’s book ban puts radical LGBTQ ideology ahead of established science about how people leave homosexuality. It is anti-choice, anti-science, and anti-American.”  So much for the proverbial open marketplace of ideas.  That’s so, “the day before yesterday.”

Radical personal autonomy, especially regarding sexual choices, would appear to be a fundamental lynchpin of today’s progressive ideology and propaganda.  This is true, but only if one is making a sexual choice with which liberals happen to approve (i.e. blindly embracing and affirming LGBTQ ideology), not when one is making a choice with which they do not agree (i.e., learning how to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction).  What uber-liberals actually believe, but rarely publicly admit, is that the free flow of ideas and personal autonomy must now be disciplined and subjugated to serve the greater good of a sexually liberated socialist utopia, free from those purported Judeo-Christian sexually repressive restraints.  Unevolved pesky little things like Constitutions and First Amendments naturally get in their way.  They have actually become quite preachy of late, ironically becoming the new cultural fundamentalists.  They have become self-anointed sex gods.  For them, it is a “sin” to disagree with their radical sexual worldview.  Truth and morality are inverted as it has now become a “virtue” to silence any and all religiously informed views of human sexuality.

Not content with stopping at the works of Nicolosi, under pressure from the left, Amazon expanded its authoritarian commercial censorship to other books affirming that change is possible.  Within a few weeks, the works of former homosexuals were also banned.  Joe Dallas’ book Desires in Conflict: Hope for Men Who Struggle with Sexual Identity was removed from the platform.  Also, my friend Anne Paulk’s book — Restoring Sexual Identity: Hope for Women Who Struggle with Same-Sex Attraction, was removed.   Books by ex-gays Alan Medinger and Richard Cohen, whose stories I was honored to tell in amicus briefs at the U.S. Supreme court in key marriage litigation cases, were also censored by Amazon.  Interestingly, an otherwise bright attorney told me on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 that my (very real) clients didn’t actually exist.  Now, Jeff Bezos’ mega corp. is erasing their powerful stories of authentic transformation from our public memory.

Although change allowing therapy has provided real help and hope to thousands of people struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction, LGBT activists intentionally disparage all change allowing therapies with the negative moniker, “conversion therapy.”  And, rather than engage in evidence-based conversations about the effectiveness of change allowing therapy, radical sexual liberty activists reactively disparage it as harmful and ineffective.  Without any evidence, Christians and others have been blamed for fostering the high LGBT suicide rates. This despicable defamatory disparagement continues in spite of the fact that aversive therapeutic methods are not used and the fact that thousands struggling with their sexual identity have successfully left the gay lifestyle behind.  Sexual activists hate the truth because the very presence of former LGBT’s exposes the propaganda of the “born gay” myth and the pernicious lie that change is not possible.  That’s not hope—that is hopelessness and despair.

So, what about the viability of the Amazon ban itself? Certainly the First Amendment doesn’t directly apply here because it is a private company—although Amazon certainly has a monopoly.  But is it the right thing for Amazon to do—to put its thumb on the scales of neutrality, deciding ideological winners and losers? I don’t think so. A misattributed Voltaire quote, famously employed by the ACLU and the free speech movement in the past is: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos seemed to be channeling Voltaire, when more than twenty years ago back in a 1998, he said, “We want to make every book available—the good, the bad and the ugly (emphasis added).”  True to his word, Bezos’ otherwise uber-tolerant platform has marketed and sold a wide variety of distasteful books, including books on Satanism, suicide, and Hitler’s Mein Kampf.  But that was then and this is now. Bezos spoke those reassuring words on the eve of the ascension of the radical sexual liberty movement—a movement with boastful totalitarian impulses to silence and obliterate all dissent—especially from those damn Christians.   A possible takeaway from this entire situation is that, at least for committed radical leftists, change allowing therapy (a.k.a. the gospel of Jesus Christ) is worse than Hitler.

I warned about the growing intolerance of the radical sexual left more than 25 years ago in a speech that I wrote titled, “The Myth of Tolerance.”  I wish I were wrong, but I predicted that those then clamoring for tolerance of their “alternative lifestyle” would wield their power quite intolerantly, once their initial cultural goals were achieved. I really wish that I had been wrong. Some are concerned that we may someday look back at this moment as a sort of historical reprisal of Kristallnacht, when the Nazi’s broke into places of worship and shops, burning disfavored literature in the streets.

As Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion of NIFLA v. Becerra, “[T]he people lose when the government is the one deciding which ideas should prevail.” The people also lose when behemoth virtual corporate monopolies like Amazon decide which ideas should prevail. Corporate tyranny may prove to be just as detrimental to liberty as any government tyranny. We certainly don’t need business elites deciding what we can read, think, and say. And, in the glow of Amazon’s digital book burning, some are wondering what other Christian books are next, C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity?  The Bible?  Where will this literal liberal lunacy stop, no one truly knows.

So much for diversity and inclusion!  Oh well, along with tolerance, these liberal ideals were, in the end, just distracting excuses to overthrow the Judeo-Christian worldview and, with it, Western Civilization.  Tolerance, diversity, and inclusion are dead—unless we push back.

If we are to remain a free people, should Amazon remain a neutral platform in the marketplace of ideas?  Yes.  Is Amazon, as a company, now playing the part of a commercial 600-pound gorilla, displaying rank elitist politically correct anti-religious bigotry?  Yes.  Should they knock it off?  Absolutely.  Memo to Jeff Bezos (and your rich friends at Facebook and Google): a little more faux Voltaire and a little less ThoughtPolice, please.

Evangelical “leader” used as PR prop for state resolution urging pastors and churches to abandon biblical sexual ethics and denounce change allowing therapy

Low Mannoia

 

Sacramento, CA—After facing growing opposition from religious organizations and leaders, California Assembly Member Low withdrew AB 2943 in 2018, which would have declared sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) consumer fraud, causing conscientious objectors to LGBT sexual orthodoxy to be targeted and punished by the state.  Now, he has replaced that failed effort with a resolution (ACR 99) seeking to pressure all Californians, including all religious institutions and religious leaders, to voluntarily embrace a statist sexual orthodoxy, regardless of their deeply held religious beliefs.  This time, however, Low is boasting about the very thin evangelical Christian support for his new resolution, specifically that of one appeasing evangelical leader.

As currently written, by a joint resolution of the Senate and Assembly, ACR 99, the government of the state of California “calls upon all Californians to embrace the individual and social benefits of family and community acceptance….”  Furthermore, “the Legislature calls upon religious leaders with conviction to counsel on LGBT matters from a place of love, compassion, and knowledge of the psychological and other harms of conversion therapy…. We call upon the people of California—especially its counselors, pastors, religious workers, educators—and the institutions of California with great moral influence—especially its churches, universities, colleges, and other schools, counseling centers, activist groups, and religious centers—to model equitable treatment of all people of the state…”  (emphasis mine)

ACR 99 is a transparent attempt to chill religious speech and silence the biblically faithful voices of our pastors.  The resolution not-so-subtly pressures religious leaders, including pastors, to disaffirm biblically orthodox viewpoints on human sexuality and replace them with pagan viewpoints.  Specifically, ACR 99 asks pastors to agree that change-allowing therapies, which the resolution defames as “conversion” therapy, are always harmful and ineffective.  Apparently for Low, pastors and churches should just get on the alleged “right side of history” here and adjust their preaching and counseling accordingly.

“Evangelical leader” Kevin Mannoia, who submitted a letter in support and testified in support of ACR 99 on June 18th in Sacramento, serves as Chaplain at Azusa Pacific University (APU) and formerly served as the President of the National Association of Evangelicals.  His letter claimed the support of “some Christian pastors,” who remain unnamed, vaguely expressing “various levels of support for ACR 99….”

During the resolution hearing, Evan Low read aloud the 2018 Op-ed. Mannoia had written in support of AB 2943, which threw change-allowing therapy under the proverbial biblical bus:

“Reparative therapy is without evidence as to its efficacy and is inconsistent with Christian living. We support Mr. Low in his opposition to practices that cause harm in people. This is contrary to the nature of the Christian message, which, while calling for change in all people to be oriented toward Christ even at great sacrifice, neither favors nor supports any practice that causes harm.”

Not surprisingly Mannoia’s employer, APU, has itself struggled with remaining biblically faithful, especially regarding issues of human sexuality, and according to many respected evangelical leaders, has, in fact, failed to remain biblically orthodox under growing cultural pressure.

Elizabeth Wonning, a former lesbian who is a leader with Equipped to Love and Changed, testified against ACR 99 implication that religion is to blame for LGBT suicides, “I take exception to the belief that religion is central to the high rates of suicide among LGBT youth.  For me, and many others, faith rescued us from suicide.  The experience of discovering you are different than most other people is traumatic and troubling whether you have faith or not.  Hopelessness causes suicide.”  Ken Williams, a pastor and former homosexual, concluded his testimony with these powerful words, asking Low to respect rights of conscience and religious freedom: “And so, assemblyman Low, I am asking you, you may have the votes to pass this, but I don’t believe that you have the right to presuppose people’s consciences, or to tell them what they need to believe.  I totally support your right, and everyone you represent, to experience whatever in life that you’d like to, I have no intention to take that away.  I just am asking that my rights, and my people group would also be respected. So I, I ask for a no vote on this resolution.”

We can all agree that aversive therapeutic methods, involving coercion or physical pain, should not be employed in the context of change-allowing therapies.  However, I submit that this is not actually a current problem.  Aversive therapeutic methods are not being employed today nor have they been widely employed for decades.   Indeed, the false accusation that change-allowing therapies are harmful and ineffective was strongly rebutted by a letter submitted and signed by dozens of therapists, attorneys, and public policy organizations, confirming that change allowing therapies are non-aversive, in that they often give people hope and result in transformative change.  Indeed, the very lives of thousands of former homosexuals and former transgender individuals tell a very different story.  Sexual identity isn’t immutable.  People can and do change.

Biblically orthodox evangelical Christians cannot affirm that all change-allowing therapies are ineffective and harmful, nor can they endorse a therapeutic ban. This is true for the following reasons:  First, it is a denial that we are created in the image of God, as male or female.  Second, it is a denial of the transformative power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to change the human heart.  Third, thousands of former homosexuals and former transgendered persons have been genuinely helped by change-allowing therapies—being set free from unwanted same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria.  Fourth, it would result in government coerced supression of speech, in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the further diminution of religious freedom.

Members of the Coalition for Counsel Choice repeatedly tried to warn Kevin Mannoia and other pastors about engaging with Evan Low. They specifically raised the issue that any resolution that evangelical leaders might agree upon with Assemblymember Evan Low would be a compromise of one or more of the above truths—as ACR 99 actually is.  Furthermore, they cautioned that from a public policy and legal perspective, a compromised resolution will almost certainly serve as a stepping stone toward a future outright legal ban on change-allowing therapies.   If it does, CCC members warn that history may prove that evangelical leaders will have actually been complicit in moving the cultural conversation towards an ultimate ban on change-allowing therapies with the further erosion of religious freedom—resulting in Orwellian restrictions on sharing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Mannoia was also specifically asked to not submit his vague and confusing “support” letter for ACR 99.  He did not listen.

Immediately after the resolution hearing, Evan Low was quick to take a victory lap, touting Kevin Mannoia as a PR prop by posting a glossy photo of himself and Kevin on Facebook, tagging all his radical friends at Equality California, the Trevor Project, the National Center for Lesbian rights and the Human Rights Campaign,  “@Kmannoia, Former President of the National Association of Evangelicals & Chaplain at @azusapacific, speak in support of #ACR99, to reaffirm our values of love and dignity while also acknowledging the harmful practice of #ConversionTherapy @TrevorProject @eqca @NCLRights @HRC”

Unfortunately, this unorthodox and aberrant behavior by one of our purported evangelical “leaders” highlights the dangers of the strategy of appeasing the enemies of the gospel and freedom in Christ.  It never ends well.  Tragically, too many Christians leaders today fear people and worship the culture, rather than fearing God and worshipping Christ. But this isn’t Christian leadership, it’s cultural surrender. To shamefully join forces with the enemies of Christ, to defame all change-allowing therapy, and to surrender to the idea that people can’t change is to surrender to the satanic lie that the Gospel has no actual transformative power.  For biblically orthodox evangelicals, that is heresy.

Christians can certainly all agree that everyone, including those struggling with same-sex attraction or gender identity should be treated with love, dignity, compassion, and respect.  Everyone deserves this, precisely because they are created in the image of God.  However, in a free society, this can and should be done without the government attempting to tell churches and pastors how they should counsel or what they should preach.  Christians, who desire to remain free, must always oppose the annexation of the church by the state.  We don’t want to have to relearn the painful and difficult lessons of the appeasing German Lutheran church of the 1930’s and 40s.

Christians ought to be concerned—very concerned—and must remain vigilant against the dark impulses of statist domination. Let’s be clear: our enemies want to silence us and thereby kill the gospel message. California, over the past five years, has been churning out a series of bad legislation targeting religious freedom and the freedom of speech, often in the name of LGBT rights (See i.e. AB 775, SB 1146, AB 1888, AB 569, AB 2943).  And History confirms that non-binding resolutions like ACR 99 often proceed more coercive, restrictive, and freedom-robbing legislation. That is why the NCLP submitted a powerful separate legal opinion memorandum explaining how ACR 99, if enacted, will chill speech and suppress religious beliefs and practices, in violation of the protections of the First Amendment.

The gospel is not fraud, consumer or otherwise.  It has the power to transform us, including our sexual desires.  Although deceptively camouflaged in the language of love and compassion, ACR 99 is a naked attempt by the government to establish progressive sexual orthodoxy and dis-establish (and destroy) religious sexual ethics. Although not binding, this resolution, if adopted, will chill the speech of pastors, churches, and Christians who are already concerned and fearful about government infringements, especially related to LGBT issues.  We can’t afford to have our voices censored and silenced by the state.  Truth is at stake.  The Gospel is at stake.

Hippies Turn against Free Speech

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Do you remember the good old days, when liberals believed in the freedom of speech? The University of California Berkeley is arguably the birthplace of the free speech movement. Indeed, beginning in 1960’s UC Berkeley was one of the epicenters of powerful counter cultural movements that spawned the hippies and a radical commitment to question, protest and overthrow existing authority structures with a robust commitment to the freedom of speech. The ACLU and other free speech advocates often took to quoting Voltaire: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”  Now, Berkeley has ironically become one of the centers of free speech suppression.

What a difference a few decades make! Now that some of the very same individuals who were leading protests in the 60’s and 70’s have matriculated, and have grown up to teach and lead institutions of higher education, many have decidedly turned against the First Amendment’s promise of the freedom of expression. Now that the liberal elites control these institutions, they seek to abuse their power by aggressively turning against all free thought and speech that would dare question now-entrenched leftist orthodoxies or undermine their ability to seamlessly indoctrinate the next generation with collectivist leftist group-think. There are now two classes of speech on most American college campuses: politically correct liberal speech, which is allowed, and politically incorrect conservative speech, which is not.

The clear message to everyone paying attention is that academic elites will only permit ideas and speech with which they agree, but will target for eradication ideas and speech with which they personally disagree. The dominant target for thought and speech suppression on college campuses today is all things conservative, especially ideas informed by the Judeo-Christian worldview. Completion of their radical decades-long revolution apparently means they now must actively suppress, punish, and silence thoughts and words that do not perfectly align with the now institutionally entrenched leftist worldview.  But if the freedom of speech means anything, it certainly does not mean that some speech is more “free” than others or that the state can support speech it likes and obliterate speech it doesn’t.

This decidedly dark Orwellian trend was highlighted recently when Milo Yiannopoulos, a very controversial Trump supporter and an openly gay member of the right, was invited by the campus Republican Club to speak and UC Berkeley.  More than 100 “tolerant” faculty members referring to Milo’s presentations as “harassment, slander, defamation, and hate speech” signed a letter demanding that the University cancel the event. Protestors clad in black clothing and masks smashed windows, set fires, and pepper-sprayed a young female Trump supporter in the face, while carrying posters and signs claiming, quite ironically, that Milo is a “fascist.” Rather than protecting Milo and his speech, UC Berkeley officials and police folded like a cheap suit, allowing the protesters to prevail in their “heckler’s veto” by canceling Milo’s talk. Unfortunately, Berkeley is not alone. Ben Shapiro’s event at UCLA faced similar opposition recently. But, as Yale Law Professor Jose Cabranas pointed out in the Washington Post, “No one can doubt that we should strive for civility. But problems arise when we are told that “uncivil” speech has made a campus “unsafe” — and that university officials should make a campus safe again by punishing uncivil speakers.”

As George Orwell wrote, “If freedom means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” Yet, today in our universities, once the bastions of the freedom of thought and expression, the Freedom of Speech is being destroyed, sacrificed on the false altars of “trigger warnings,” “safe spaces,” “hate speech” and all other forms of mind-numbing snow-flakery. Academic freedom increasingly means liberty only for liberals. Conservatives need not apply or should at least remain silent.

This is no small matter. Our very freedom and the continuation of our republic are at stake. As a conservative constitutional attorney, I do not always agree with former Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren. However, I must wholeheartedly agree with Warren’s prediction about the republic-ending threat of political correctness when he wrote that either “teachers and students must always remain free to inquire, to study and evaluate,” or “our civilization will stagnate and die.” (Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U.S. 234 (1957”)).  Benjamin Franklin agreed that the “freedom of speech is a principal pillar of government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected in its ruins.”

Yes, the freedom of speech includes religious speech. But in this hostile environment, many believers have stopped talking about God and sharing the gospel. Why? Fear of man—fear of retribution. Yet, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so elegantly wrote, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” George Washington warned, “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

Although liberals have lost their love of free speech, we must be different – if not for ourselves, for the sake of our children and grandchildren. Let us this day, as free Americans, commit to steadfastly oppose every authority, government, or other influence, that seeks to suppress, destroy, or silence the freedom of speech. Long live the freedom of speech!

Rogue Nation: Birthplace of Religious Freedom Added to the List of Countries Where Christians Face the Most Persecution

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The silence was deafening as the United States, the birthplace of religious freedom, joined the infamous ranks of the world’s worst places to be a Christian—places where followers of Jesus Christ face the worst harassment and persecution because of their faith. Major American media outlets largely ignored a story of immense implications for the future of the Judeo-Christian worldview and western civilization.

This dirty dozen is a list created by the International Christian Concern (ICC), a watchdog organization formed in 1995 to protect the rights of Christians worldwide, released in its 2016 Hall of Shame Report. It was not surprising that the Islamist dominated countries of Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt and Nigeria made the list for their persecution and killing of the Christian “infidels.” Nor was it a shock that Russia, Mexico and India were noted because of the suppression of evangelical Christianity either by people espousing other variations of Christianity or by Jesus-hating radical Hindus. It is even understandable that that the totalitarian communist/atheist states of China and North Korea were included.

Nearly simultaneous with the ICC’s report was the European Parliament’s acknowledgement that Christianity, not Islam, is the world’s most persecuted religion. The Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World, confirmed that Christians are currently the earth’s most harassed and intimidated religious group that “routinely suffer religiously motivated persecution.”

Regarding the ICC report, what raises eyebrows is the first-time-ever addition of the United States to the list of the twelve worst countries for the Christian faith.  The ICC’s explanation is as follows:

“Throughout the US, current events and shifting perceptions are causing conflicts between Christian beliefs and public sentiment. This cultural shift affects Christians businesses, organizations and individuals through legal action, free speech infringement, public expressions of faith, and employment.”

The article explains that Christians in the US are facing constant attacks in the media, where they are portrayed as bigoted, racist, sexist, and close-minded. Furthermore, Christians and all religious people are being marginalized through laws and legal action. Specific examples include Christian bakers fined $135,000 for declining to back a cake for a same-sex wedding, Intervarsity Christian fellowship losing official recognition as a student club at California public colleges, employees being terminated because of their faith, and many more. The ICC report cites that claims of “intolerance” and “inequality” are being used to bully Christians and create legal precedents that are actually undermining well established First Amendment rights, including the freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.

As we celebrate the peaceful transfer of power, President-elect Trump may provide some relief for believers if he fulfills his promise to respect and restore religious freedom. The overwhelming evidence of the past eight years reveals that President Obama’s legacy must include the truth that he was no friend of religious freedom, exasperating Christians by his First Amendment undermining actions, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Trying to force Catholic nuns (The Little Sisters of the Poor) and other church groups to provide abortion-related products and services.
  • Supporting the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples (Obergefell v. Hodges).
  • The United States Commission on Civil Rights issuing its 2016 anti-religious hit piece report suggesting that sexual liberty (i.e. new anti-discrimination laws) should prevail over religious liberty claims (First Amendment protected) and asserting that “religious freedom” and “religious liberty” are code for anti-LBGT discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, etc. (i.e. Christians are the “deplorables”).
  • The Department of Justice and Department of Education’s 2016 transgender bathroom mandate, forcing public schools to allow student access to bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding based on their perceived gender identity rather than their biological sex.

The ICC posits that part of the explanation for the change may be growing secularization, citing a Pew Research poll showing that those the total U.S. adult population identifying as non-religious jumped by seven percent in just seven years, from 16 percent to 23 percent (2007-2014). Notably, a stunning 35 percent of millennials identify as atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular! The report, How America Changed During Barack Obama’s Presidency, confirms that those identifying as Christians also dropped seven percent, from 78 percent to 71 percent, though the share of evangelicals has remained fairly stable. So, what does this all mean?

First, it means we must recognize that there is rapidly growing public pressure on American Christians today, as many secular-progressive elite forces are seeking to drive us out of the public square into hiding and to silence us and the gospel of Jesus Christ. We live in a time where, sadly, the church is far more influenced by the culture than it is influencing the culture. “One nation” once “under God” has become “divisible,” and divided, as we are now left “with liberty and justice for” some. Most Christians in the US are not handling the current hostile environment very well and many are simply giving in to the pressure, allowing themselves to be silenced and marginalized. Biblical resistance is required. Millennials are the most vulnerable to cultural pressure and the church must do a much better job of inculcating a comprehensive biblical worldview, passing the baton of “the faith of our fathers,” to them.

Second, it means, as I have been warning others for more than a decade, that we are rapidly moving from “soft” persecution towards “hard” persecution of the church in a place formerly known as the land of the free and home of the brave. It is true that while some of us are losing our livelihood, we are not being imprisoned or killed yet, but if the pendulum keeps swinging in its current direction, those prospects may not be far off. The separation of sheep and goats, already well underway, will continue and accelerate. Do not be alarmed that many you thought were authentic believers were only pretending. We need to realize that persecution is a normal part of being a Christian and gird our loins accordingly.

Third, it means that if we value our freedom and the gospel of Jesus Christ, we had better wake up, engage the culture by speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), and fight the good fight of faith by actively pushing back culturally, politically, and legally. The American “health and wealth gospel” will be nakedly unmasked for the fraud that it always was. This is not the time for wimpy, half-hearted, “fluffy-bunny” Jesus or “comfortable” Christianity. Those days are long gone in America.  But do not despair!  We have the hope and confidence that our ultimate victory is secure in Jesus Christ. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness had not overcome it (John 1:5).

Ready or not, Biblical promises of persecution are about to get very “real” and, especially for the unprepared, it’s going to be a rough ride. You are not alone. There is a strong remnant. You are surrounded by a cloud of faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Be much in the Word, prayer, and fellowship. Be filled with the Spirit. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.