Sounds like sensationalism. An attempt to fuel anger against the government. Have Christians actually been abruptly removed from an organization for preaching Christianity?
According to the Baptist Press, “David Wells, a 13-year volunteer prison minister from McQuady, Ky., was informed in July by the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice that he would no longer be permitted to serve at the Warren County Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Bowling Green because he refused to sign a document, per state policy, promising not to ‘imply or tell LGBTQI juveniles that they are abnormal, deviant, sinful, or that they can or should change their sexual orientation or gender identity.'”
Todd Starnes, radio host of Fox News and Commentary, writes, “The Kentucky regulation clearly states that volunteers working with juveniles ‘shall not refer to juveniles by using derogatory language in a manner that conveys bias towards or hatred of the LGBTQI community. DJJ staff, volunteers, interns and contractors shall not imply or tell LGBTQI juveniles that they are abnormal, deviant, sinful or that they can or should change their sexual orientation or gender identity.’”
“They told us we could not preach that homosexuality is a sin – period,” Wells said. “We would not have even been able to read Bible verses that dealt with LGBT issues.”
Wells said they’ve never used hateful or derogatory comments when dealing with the young inmates. Starnes calls the dismissal of Wells the beginning of a “purge.”
Mat Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal organization, is representing Wells. He said the state’s ban on Biblical counseling is unconstitutional religious discrimination. “There is no question there is a purging underway. The dissenters in the recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage warned us this would happen.” Staver is demanding the state immediately reinstate Wells as well as the other volunteer ministers.
“By restricting speech which volunteers are allowed to use while ministering to youth detainees, the State of Kentucky and the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice have violated the protections given to private speech through the First Amendment and the Kentucky Constitution,” Staver wrote in his letter to state officials.
The Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice demanded Wells sign a state-mandate document promising to never tell inmates that homosexuality is “sinful” or else DJJ would revoke his credentials . Wells said, “We could not sign that paper. It broke my heart.”
I’m not telling a shocking story at the expense of accuracy to provoke excitement. “Purge” may sound over-the-top. But this is the abrupt removal of volunteer chaplains for preaching Christianity—in this case, stating that the Bible calls homosexual practice a sin.
Time we’ll tell what happens in the courtroom. But how can the Kentucky regulations, grounded in the Supreme Court decision, not uphold the KDJJ’s decision? The writing’s on the wall: Christians who stand with God’s Word regarding sexuality are, at best, frowned-upon and, at worst, removed from official government positions. And, of course, the “hate speech” charge lurks everywhere.
Nor, according to Lonnie Wilkey, editor of the Tennessee Baptist Convention “Baptist and Reflector” news journal, should we presume such action will be limited to the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice. He is certain this “represents a trend of religious liberty infringement.” Wilkey warns, “If you think this won’t happen again and again, you are sadly mistaken . . . it will eventually find its way to Tennessee — probably much sooner than later. Two freedoms that Americans hold dear — speech and religion — are under attack. We have to be diligent and pray more fervently than ever. And we all need to be able to answer this question: Will we stand boldly for Christ?”
Whatever we think of the “Father Knows Best” and “Ozzie and Harriet” era in America, those days are long gone. And the days when the Judeo-Christian ethic informed this nation’s laws are fast disappearing. Not because immigrants with other religions are flooding the country. But because worldviews and practices the Bible calls sinful are making deep inroads into America’s universities, media, entertainment and public schools. Inevitably, we Christians will increasingly clash with culture.
God forbids hate speech and derogatory language. He commands us to love our neighbor and our enemy. But the first step toward rescue from the power of sin is knowing what sin is. We must “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). It may very well cost us to do that, as the State, once friendly to Christianity, progressively becomes its opponent.
Time for the church in America to wake up! Not to fight the government. Nor to retreat behind the walls of our sanctuaries. But to stop thinking of our faith as a comfortable, inspirational and personal help-source. And to start realizing we are in a spiritual war for our soul and the soul of this nation—and war costs.