Category archives: Human Sexuality

The Damaging Delusions of Identity Obsession and Erasure

by Lisa

November 13, 2019

*Editor’s Note: This true account is Part 2 of a 6-Part series. Read Part 1.

Now in American culture, instead of applauding people for showing restraint, we applaud them for throwing off restraint. Hence the thousands of Instagram followers now telling my brother things like “You go girl!” and “You’re going to make one beautiful woman!”

The logical problem with all this is that if a man is to be “supported and celebrated” as he embarks on the journey to his True Self, shouldn’t everyone be celebrated as they allow their true selves to flourish? If we do away with the concept of sin and human weakness and simply concede that everyone is inherently good, there is really no impulse that needs to be fought against. Ever. The porn addict may as well explore his True Self via his fetish of choice. The opioid addict too. And of course the married woman should be celebrated when she finally finds her True Self in the arms of another man. Then there’s the pedophile. What do we do with the man who claims (as many have) that their True Self is attracted to small children?

My brother and sister-in-law would immediately sayof course pedophilia is wrong.” Because, they argue, any behavior that would cause direct harm to others is automatically out of bounds. My brother would argue that the trans person, however, is not harming anyone by simply switching genders.

So let’s consider his argument. Would my brother—who has been a man for 37 years now—suddenly changing into a woman really not be harmful?

I suppose that depends on your definition of “harmful.”

Is it harmful to disrupt the mental, emotional, and physical health of dozens of family members and hundreds of friends for years and likely decades to come? Is it harmful to raise five young children in a state of psychological confusion in which the person that they thought was one thing (a man) has morphed into another, causing all of reality to lose any permanence? Is it harmful for five small children to try to comprehend how their parents—who were previously a heterosexual couple—are apparently now a homosexual one as their mom now refers to her husband as her “wife” and their dad refers to himself as a lesbian? Is it harmful for a husband who promised to love and cherish his wife to abandon all responsibilities as the man she thought she married? Is it harmful to deprive five children who previously had a father of any sort of father figure going forward? Is it harmful for a husband/father/son/brother to commit a slow form of suicide and then demand everyone accept some random woman take his place in the family?  

American culture currently says none of this is harmful. Why? Well, for starters they’d argue that the random woman who’s now asking to be part of my family has all the same likes and dislikes as the brother I knew before.

Is that what makes a person who they are? Their TV show preferences and favorite sports teams? If so, then most of my friends are interchangeable with millions of other people.

Ok, so maybe that doesn’t entirely work. Then, they’d say, the reason Melissa and Josh are the same person is because they share the same memories. It’s definitely a stronger argument. But once someone switches genders, they often attempt to erase a lot of their past history to some degree. They associate the person they were before (the person who wasn’t living as his/her “True Self”) with someone who was weak. My brother posted on social media that being Josh for 37 years was like one long “April Fools joke.” He called it the biggest joke of his life. So while Josh may share the same memories as Melissa, Melissa has made it very clear she would prefer not to ever think about Josh.  According to my brother’s wife, even hearing the name Josh makes them feel like they’ve been “punched in the stomach.”

This is why when you Google Bruce Jenner, you only get articles about Caitlyn. There is no Bruce. Bruce is gone. This is the story of everyone who falls under the spell of the trans cult. Their old life along with its past memories slowly disappear—first online and then everywhere else. I cannot find a single trace of the years my brother Josh spent on social media, even though he had a decade’s worth of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts. He’s gone.

This is why my mother looks through photos from my brother’s wedding 18 years ago, lamenting, “He was such a handsome man.” That man has made it clear to us that he is no longer alive. Only Melissa and whichever memories she chooses to incorporate into her narrative are living now.

Read Part 3.

The Cult of Transgenderism: My Brother’s Crisis of Identity in an America Gone Mad

by Lisa

November 12, 2019

The Abandonment of Reality and the Embrace of the “True Self”

*Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 of a 6-Part Series. The author of this true account, a wife and mother of three, wishes to remain anonymous. All names in this account have been changed.

Last year, my brother Josh, a 37-year-old married father with five kids under the age of 9, announced he was becoming a woman.

His wife, in turn, announced that she not only plans to stay married, but that she is “more proud of him” than she’s ever been. Actually, she said she is “more proud of her than she’s ever been.” That’s because my brother Josh changed his name to Melissa and now requires everyone to use “she/her” pronouns when referring to him. If the grandparents refuse to do this, they have been threatened with limited access to their grandchildren.

My brother and sister-in-law claim that through several years of therapy, they came to realize the truth: that Melissa was Josh’s “true self” all along.

Thus, my tall, handsome, muscular brother began taking strong female hormones that transformed him into a different person. His facial hair stopped growing. He grew breasts instead. As part of his “social transition” he began wearing dresses, wigs, heels, and makeup in public. He will have to stay on female hormones until the day he dies. He refuses to answer to the name Josh now—the only name anyone’s known him as for almost four decades. He says Josh is dead. There was even some type of symbolic “burial ceremony” to say goodbye to Josh once and for all. Unfortunately, I didn’t get invited to that. Nor did my parents. No one sent us flowers. No one dropped off a casserole.

Basically, the best way to describe what happens when a loved one decides to swap genders is this: It’s as though someone murders your loved one and then the murderer gets extremely angry if you won’t let them take the victim’s place in your family.

My family and I are now called “transphobic” for not embracing Melissa with open arms.

When I told my brother, “I’m sorry…I love Josh, but I cannot move forward with this new Melissa girl,” he simply texted me: “So long then.” So long to almost 40 years of relating as siblings. So long to weekly dinners at my parents’ home. So long to our kids growing up with their cousins. But I do not fault him or his wife for this. They are victims. They have been brainwashed by the trans cult. It all began with a therapist’s advice and ended with lifelong payments to the trans medical machine. There’s lots of money to be made in telling people to become the opposite gender. Lots. (More on that later.)

Oddly, even in this #MeToo era, American culture now tells me that my brother—who’s spent 37 years as a Caucasian male—now deserves the same rights and respects that I, an actual woman, deserve. I’m a woman who’s been sexually harassed hundreds of times in my 40 years of life. My brother was a star high school athlete who had his pick of girls to date. While I was fending off unwanted stares and groping hands of males in my 20s, he was enjoying all the perks of being just such a male in the 21st century. While I was giving birth to three babies who will grow up to be women in my 30s, he was joining the fight to get legal access to their public restrooms.

See, if my brother was claiming to be an alien or a time traveler instead of a woman, our culture would never support it. But since it’s 2019 and the denial of reality when it comes to biological sex is en vogue—countless people are blindly embracing Melissa as my brother’s “True Self.” Even though reality clearly proves my brother is male, people unabashedly deny reality out of fear of being called “intolerant.” They’re terrified of being lumped in with all the “Trump-supporting, LGBTQ haters.” They say things like, “If Josh tells us that this Melissa is actually his ‘true self,’ who are we to argue?”

The “True Self” has become the final measure of all things. Every book we open, every show we watch, every internet meme we read suggests we can all attain greater levels of health and peace through a deeper understanding and expression of our “True Self.”

It sounds so right. How can it be wrong?

In his book The Road to Character, David Brooks explains that back in the day, there was something called moral realism—a worldview that put an emphasis on human sin and human weakness. Biblical figures like David and Moses were seen as great leaders who were also deeply flawed. Augustine and the early church fathers talked constantly about the depravity of sin and the need for grace. Then around the 18th century, moral realism found a rival in moral romanticism. Romantics like Jean-Jacques Rousseau emphasized the inherent goodness of man and rejected the concept of sin.

Fast forward to the 20th century when books like Rabbi Joshua Liebman’s New York Times best seller Peace of Mind (published in 1946) urged people toward a new morality based on the idea that you should never repress any part of yourself as sinful. Instead, you should “love yourself” and not be afraid of your hidden impulses. Humanist psychologists ran with this idea. They began arguing that the primary problem for humans was no longer sin, but rather the fact that we weren’t fully accepting of ourselves exactly as God made us. This line of thinking led to the advent of the self-esteem movement in 1969, and the core of that movement morphed into what Charles Taylor calls “The Culture of Authenticity.” That’s the culture we’re contending with today.  

The central belief of the culture of authenticity goes something like this:

At the center of every one of us is a Golden Figure known as “the True Self.” The True Self can always be trusted. You know that what you’re doing is right when you feel an inner peace inside your True Self. You know that what you’re doing is wrong when you do not feel inner peace inside your True Self.

Because the True Self is inherently good, there is no sin to be found in it. Thus, sin is now found only in the external structures of society that seek to repress the True Self or stop it from fully emerging.

Previous generations believed the development of character and the road to salvation came by struggling against the desires of the True Self. This is why traits like selflessness and self-sacrifice were considered most admirable. But not anymore. Our culture now has a new “salvation”—with the True Self playing the role of redeemer. 

The steps to this “new salvation” are as follows:

  1. Relinquish any previous struggle you had against your True Self.
  2. Allow your ego/shadow self to fall away so your True Self can fully emerge without any guilt or shame (both of which are constructs of old, outdated religious systems).
  3. Adopt a new lexicon in which words like “sin” and “evil” now refer to the external constructs of society that caused you to doubt your True Self was good and perfect in the first place. (Thus, the only real sin a man is now capable of engaging in is the sin of intolerance.)

Yet many influential thinkers of the past, including John Stuart Mill, believed the point of life was to struggle every day to sacrifice the True Self on the altar of care and concern for others. This is done by achieving a series of small, inner victories against your own desires because you know that acting upon those desires could result in dire consequences for others.

Because we are all bound together through our good and bad choices, the smallest decisions we make today can negatively impact everyone in our sphere of influence, even reaching forward into generations to come. Thus, we build character by a thousand selfless acts of restraint every day that no one ever sees or applauds.  

Our society once believed this sort of self-restraint was the best way to live. Men and women were encouraged to exercise self-restraint in building a life of integrity. But the ideals of selflessness and self-restraint are now seen as hopelessly outdated and must be discarded in favor of the True Self.

Read Part 2.

Women Deserve Better (Part 5): A Smarter Way to Fight Prostitution

by Patrina Mosley

November 1, 2019

This is the final part of a series on prostitution. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Some advocates who recognize persons in prostitution for who they really are—victims of sexual exploitation—support a position between legalization and decriminalization, called “partial decriminalization.” Under this legal model, the act of selling sex is no longer criminalized, but the buying of sex still carries heavy penalties in an effort to disincentivize demand.

This approach of criminalizing only the buying of sex is based on the Nordic model, which correctly understands prostitution to be sexual exploitation and asserts that criminalizing sex buying reduces the demand that drives sex trafficking. The name Nordic model refers to Sweden’s 1999 legislative change. Countries such as Norway, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Canada, France, Ireland, and Israel have followed in Sweden’s footsteps.

Just recently, Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) introduced the bipartisan Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Act, which contains a proposal—based on the Nordic model—that would amend the minimum standards of combatting sex trafficking (contained in the current Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000) to include language prohibiting the purchase of sex.

For a long time, our legal system penalized persons in prostitution, while mostly letting the purchaser (“Johns” ) go free. This imbalance has begun to change as our country becomes more aware of the issue of sex trafficking and how various forms of sexual exploitation are interconnected.  

Persons in prostitution are often not consenting, as the evidence shows. They are frequently the victims of abuse and manipulation. Many are minors (which is legally considered child sex trafficking) or persons who believe they have no other financial options.

The partial-decriminalization model treats both consenting and non-consenting persons as victims and only penalizes the buyers who are exploiting them. However, this approach still does not satisfy the “sex work” activists who believe that treating all persons in prostitution as victims stigmatizes consenting women. The “sex work” lobby (supported by liberal billionaire George Soros) demands society accept the buying and selling of sex as a legitimate profession for consenting adults.

Yes, some persons willingly sell sex for money and are not forced by a pimp to do so. Some treat it like a normal job, even asking for references from sex buyers before agreeing to engage! But the Chair of Demand Abolition, Swanee Hunt, says it best: “establishing exactly who at any given time is in the minority of adults ‘willingly’ selling their bodies is not a pragmatic or reliable exercise, and it is an insidious distraction from stopping the abuse of the great majority.”

Full or partial decriminalization of the sex trade would only further complicate the distinction between those who are “voluntary” versus the vast majority who are forced, coerced, manipulated, groomed, abused, and controlled with drugs to perform.

New Laws Will Not Solve the Problem of Sin

Although there is much is to be explored with partial decriminalization, neither it, full decriminalization, or legalization preserves the sacredness of sex nor acknowledges the inherent sinfulness of humanity as a barrier to eliminating sexual exploitation. Partial decriminalization may reduce the demand, but it will not eliminate sex buying. Partial decriminalization says sex is a commodity to be sold, and it is not. We must not take the elitist position of thinking that prostitution is “okay” for “some” people.

We agree with Nordic Model Now on this point: “We do not accept prostitution as the answer for the poor and disadvantaged, for recent migrants, for single mothers, for women and children. Or indeed for anyone.”

In the Vita Nostra in Ecclesia blog post, “Trading in Human Bodies and Lives,” the author articulates a biblical sexual ethic that should be at the foundation of combating sexual exploitation:

The trading in sex is objectively and inherently contrary to the dignity and truth of the nature of the human person, as well as the truth of the sex act itself.  It advances the lie that sex is for personal satisfaction alone, and instead of a positive sexuality that is authentically human, it fosters a negative sexuality that is utilitarian and mechanistic.”

Laws encouraging wrong behavior never lead to the right outcomes. No country that legalized, decriminalized, or partially decriminalized sex buying has seen sex buying eliminated. Neither have the persons in prostitution enjoyed the protections and order such policies were allegedly supposed to bring them. No matter how you slice it, the sex industry is a business that thrives off the sinfulness of humanity, and there is no cure for that sinfulness except the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which has the power to change people from the inside out. As humanity exercises free will, it is inevitable that evil things will continue to happen in this world. Until Christ returns, we are called to act with justice, love, mercy, and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). In applying that principle to our justice system, an attainable goal is to create a system that can benefit as many victims as possible and prosecute as many perpetrators as possible.

Working Toward Restorative Justice

As we pursue mercy and justice, a legal model that will benefit women and society is a model that not only supports the non-commodity of sex but also emphasizes restorative justice.

Our laws should recognize the procuring or pimping of any individual as the facilitation of sex trafficking. Penalties for such actions should reflect the gravity of the injustice. Family Research Council supports the bipartisan Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Act. We affirm that prostitution and sex trafficking are inseparably linked, and one cannot be serious about combating sex trafficking if one is unwilling to go after the buyers that drive the commercial sex industry. (Learn more by reading Reduce the Demand for Sex Trafficking by Going After the Buyers and Sting Sex Trafficking at the Source… Its Buyers.)

Persons in prostitution are often accustomed to a lifestyle of addiction, acts of crime, violence, and homelessness. They often do not see themselves as victims due to the successful grooming and manipulation of their pimps/traffickers. Such individuals would benefit from restorative justice efforts like Ohio’s “CATCH (Changing Actions to Change Habits) Court” in Franklin County. Adults charged with prostitution have the option of entering this two-year restorative program. If participants complete the program, the charges against them are dropped—an essential component for starting one’s life over again. Persons with a criminal record face many obstacles that prevent them from re-establishing themselves into society. A paper published by the Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation at Villanova University, titled “Relief from Collateral Consequences of Prostitution-related Convictions: A Blueprint,” explores this in greater depth.

CATCH Court is changing lives by helping women who have been arrested for prostitution rather than condemning them. “The court views them as victims, not as criminals.” These women are getting clean, finding sobriety, escaping their exploiters, and starting over. More practical alleviations should be introduced to restore those in prostitution back into normal society, thereby lowering the recidivism rate and their risk for being exploited all over again. We need more programs like CATCH Court.

Restorative programs for convicted sex buyers, called “John” schools, have also been instituted across multiple cities. These programs are designed to teach offenders how their behavior is both dangerous and exploitative. According to Demand Abolition, “There are now over 60 separate john school programs in the U.S. that serve well over 100 cities and counties.” You can see a full list here.

A Better Way Forward

In conclusion, we should not enable the sexual exploitation industry in any way. Instead, Christians should bear witness that the buying and selling of human bodies for sex is outside God’s design and carries destructive consequences, seen and unseen. We need more Christian-based programs that rescue, advocate, re-educate, and restore those harmed by sexual exploitation.

Legalizing, decriminalizing, or partially decriminalizing the selling of sex is not a good way forward, nor a way forward at all. The better way forward is teaching the culture to value human dignity, applying a biblical sexual ethic, inspiring women to see themselves as made in the image of God—with strength, worth, and dignity—and for our laws to apply practical alleviations to victims of sexual exploitation.

Pornography: America’s Hidden Public Health Crisis

by Worth Loving

October 30, 2019

Many public health crises are clear and easy to detect, manifesting themselves in the form of disease, food contamination, or biological warfare. At one time or another, the United States has faced similar crises head on and overcome them with swift action. However, for several decades, there has been a growing health crisis that is far more subtle but with devastating effects. It begins within the privacy of one’s home, but its effects reach across the nation. 

Not too many years ago, pornography was often difficult and costly to obtain. In fact, pornography use was so frowned upon that people went to great lengths to conceal it. Laws strictly controlled the sale and display of pornography. People would have to go to XXX stores or order through the mail to obtain it. Today, however, we face a far different scenario. With the advent of the internet, pornography is available for free to anyone at the click of a button. Untold millions have been enslaved by addiction to pornography, and many others have been indirect victims of its effects. The negative effects of pornography have reached a point where legislative and prosecutorial action is needed. It’s time for Congress and the DOJ to step up, acknowledge the obvious effects of pornography, and enforce the obscenity laws that were put in place years ago to protect the American public.

The statistics are overwhelming. A recent study found that in the United States, approximately 98 percent of men and 73 percent of women between the ages of 18-35 have viewed pornography in the last six months, for a total of 85 percent. In 2018, porn videos were watched over 109 billion times on one porn site alone. These statistics are just a sampling of the growing pornography epidemic in the United States.

Proponents of pornography often argue that it should be protected on the grounds that it harms no one, but research proves otherwise. One study found that “when men consume violent pornography (i.e. depicting rape or torture), they are more likely to commit acts of sexual aggression.” And as FRC has written about previously, there is a strong link between porn, sex trafficking, and abortion. In addition, porn “fuels child sexual abuse, compulsive sexual behavior, sexual dysfunction,” and more.

There is more than enough evidence to warrant action. In fact, pornography and its destructive effects have become so widespread that many states are moving to declare it a public health crisis. In fact, 16 states have passed resolutions declaring pornography a public health crisis. While these resolutions are non-binding, they do serve to raise awareness and educate the public about the dangers of pornography. Furthermore, the goal of such resolutions is to curb the pervasiveness of pornography and provide resources to those who are struggling.

Contrary to popular opinion, the First Amendment does not automatically protect all pornography. In fact, federal obscenity laws passed by Congress prohibit the distribution of hardcore pornography in print and digital form. However, since the Clinton administration, the Department of Justice has failed to enforce these laws and prosecute those guilty of distributing hardcore pornography.

With enough evidence now available to the public, it’s time for Congress and the DOJ to take action. Pornography is not a free speech issue. In fact, it takes away the voices of so many who are silently screaming for freedom. It is harming individuals by fueling addiction, destroying families by increasing sexual dysfunction and aggression, and ruining countless lives by exploiting victims of sex trafficking. It’s time that we demand President Trump direct Attorney General Barr to enforce existing obscenity laws and that Congress pass stricter penalties for those who illegally distribute or produce pornography.

In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville brilliantly describes the secret to America’s greatness with this simple statement: “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” There is nothing good or wholesome about pornography. Granting so-called “freedom” to one group, knowing that it could lead to the violation of other’s rights, isn’t freedom at all. Let’s work together to protect our homes, our local communities, and our great nation from this scourge. 

Women Deserve Better (Part 4): Legitimizing Prostitution Will Not Make It Safer

by Patrina Mosley

October 17, 2019

This is Part 4 of a series on prostitution. Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Sex work” advocates say that legalization would make prostitution safer and healthier because states could require sex workers and buyers to use condoms and get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). They believe that criminalizing the act of selling sex only increases stigma and causes sex workers to avoid sexual health services.

These “sex work” advocates misplace the application of justice—they are more preoccupied with overcoming stigma than with alleviating exploitation. The evidence clearly demonstrates that, contrary to what they argue, legalizing prostitution would not make those caught up in prostitution healthier or safer. The only parties who would stand to benefit are the exploiters who buy and sell human beings.

There is no reason to believe that decriminalizing prostitution would result in better sexual health. Having multiple sexual partners is not criminalized, yet STD cases are at an all-time high, according to the latest Center For Disease Control report. Undoing criminal penalties for selling sex will not reduce STDs or make persons in prostitution any healthier than those within the 2.4 million cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia recently—only abstinence and keeping sex within the confines of a committed marriage will do this. Imagine what the STD rate would be if the sex trade is legalized and new clients enter a market in which bans are lifted? A 2018 study surveyed 8,000 American men and found that over 20 percent of respondents who had never bought sex before said that they would if it was decriminalized or legalized.

Legalizing prostitution with the requirement of wearing condoms has not proven to increase the safety of persons caught up in prostitution. One study of Australian communities with legalized or fully-decriminalized brothel-based prostitution reveals that sex buyers still encourage one another, and pressure prostituted persons, to not use condoms. The study notes:

Sex buyers frame unsafe sex practices as both an expected part of the sexual encounter and as a feature of the brothel experience that women are expected to be comfortable with and acquiesce to [emphasis added]. When women are reported as showing signs that they are uncomfortable about unprotected sex, or require more payment to perform it, punters construct the experience in negative terms.

Requirements placed on exploiters (brothel owners, pimps, and traffickers) and persons caught up in prostitution would only protect the consumers, not the victims who will encounter buyers with pre-existing STDs and/or other health hazards. To think that exploiters would be transformed into law-abiding entrepreneurs complying with inspections and regulations—especially when it impedes the ability to increase profit—is dangerously naive.

An extensive evaluation of the legalization of prostitution in the Netherlands was coordinated by the Dutch Ministry of Justice. They found that licensed brothels did not welcome frequent regulatory inspections. And the Netherlands, which has some of the most liberal prostitution laws in the world, is viewed as the country “where anything goes with regard to prostitution” (pg.12)! The Netherlands is also well known for the facilitation of human trafficking. Because of the general unwillingness to comply with even liberal restrictions, the Dutch police has had to dedicate an entire unit just for inspection enforcements. “The feeling in the prostitution sector is that licensed businesses are inspected more often than non-licensed businesses. This situation undermines the willingness of owners of licensed businesses to adhere to the rules and complicates the combat against trafficking in human beings” (pg. 11).

Even countries like New Zealand must acknowledge that their decision to decriminalize prostitution did not improve “working conditions” for prostituted persons: “New Zealand’s Prostitution Law Review Committee found that a majority of prostituted persons felt that the decriminalization act “could do little about violence that occurred” (pg. 14). The Committee further reported that abusive brothels did not improve conditions for prostituted individuals; the brothels that ‘had unfair management practices continued with them’ even after the decriminalization.”

Decriminalizing or legalizing prostitution would not make those caught up in prostitution healthier or safer. It would only benefit the exploiters and make the state a collaborator in the exploitation of women and children. Such policies say to pimps and traffickers, “We’ve got your back” and to victims, “Good luck out there!” Laws are inherently meant to discourage certain types of behavior, and good laws promote the right types of behavior. Enabling organized sexual exploitation only succeeds in inviting more crime and exploitation in other forms, devaluing women and children, and legitimizing the buying and selling of human beings for pleasure.

Stay tuned for Part 5, which will take a more in-depth look at the path forward for going after the perpetrators of sexual exploitation.

Federal Court Ruling in Texas Is a Big Win for Religious Liberty

by Katherine Beck Johnson

October 16, 2019

An Obama-era regulation went to court recently at a U.S. federal courthouse in Texas. In Franciscan Alliance v. Azar, Judge Reed O’Connor issued an opinion striking down a Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring doctors to perform gender transition procedures. Judge O’Connor held that the Rule violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

In May 2016, the federal government, through HHS, issued a mandate that would require a doctor to perform gender transition procedures on any patient, including a child. The Rule required doctors to provide these procedures even if the doctor believed it could harm the patient. In addition, the mandate required virtually all private insurance companies and many employers to cover gender reassignment therapy. If the insurance companies or employers refused, they would face severe penalties and legal action. While HHS exempted Medicare and Medicaid, they expressly prohibited religious exemptions. The Plaintiffs asked the District Court to vacate the Rule and convert its previously entered preliminary injunction to a permanent injunction.

Judge O’Connor held that the Rule violates RFRA. The Rule substantially burdened Plaintiffs’ sincere religious beliefs without a compelling interest. In addition, the Rule expressly prohibits religious exemptions.

The Plaintiffs’ refusal to perform, refer for, or cover transitions or abortions is a sincere religious exercise. In order to follow this sincere religious belief, the mandate requires extensive expenses. The Rule places significant pressure to perform and cover transition and abortion procedures, it forces Plaintiffs to provide the federal government an extremely persuasive justification for their refusal to perform or cover such procedures, and it requires them to remove the categorical exclusion of transitions and abortions. Judge O’Connor found that the Rule makes the practice of religion more expensive in the business context.  

Judge O’Connor ruled that the Defendants did not provide a compelling interest that would justify the burden on religious exercise. Those advocating in favor of the mandate argued that a compelling interest was specified in the preamble to the Rule, which states, “the government has a compelling interest in ensuring that individuals have nondiscriminatory access to health care and health coverage.” Judge O’Connor found that although that could arguably satisfy a categorical application of strict scrutiny, it cannot satisfy RFRA’s “more focused” inquiry. He said that even if those in favor of the mandate had provided a compelling interest, they failed to prove the Rule employs the least restrictive means.

The Rule was vacated (as opposed to a less severe permanent injunction) because it was found to be arbitrary and capricious. The Rule was found to be “contrary to law” under the APA due to its conflict with Title IX, its incorporated statute.

Judge O’Connor’s ruling is a huge win for religious liberty. HHS under President Trump is also working to take strides that further protect religious liberty. In May 2019, HHS proposed bringing its regulations into compliance with those decisions and ensuring that the government did not interfere and require a person to go against their convictions to provide gender transition procedures. The win in Texas coupled with the new rules from HHS provide optimism for the future of religious liberty.

Women Deserve Better (Part 3): How Legitimizing Prostitution Empowers Exploitation

by Patrina Mosley

October 16, 2019

This is Part 3 of a series on prostitution. Read Part 1Part 2Part 4, and Part 5.

Prostitution. It is a profession allegedly as old as time. Since it will always exist, why not make it better? Or so say the “sex work” advocates and progressive politicians who push for either the decriminalization or legalization of prostitution. But both approaches are misguided.

To most of us, decriminalization and legalization might sound like the same thing. But in this context, decriminalization refers to removing government penalties for prostitution, while legalization refers to removing government penalties and imposing a regulatory structure on sex work (while something can be legalized and unregulated and also remain illegal, and civil penalties—as opposed to criminal penalties—can apply, that’s not what we are talking about here). While decriminalization and legalization are not the same thing, they are alike in that they hurt the very people they claim to protect.

According to Villanova’s Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation, the decriminalization of prostitution “decriminalizes the sale of sex, decriminalizes the purchase of sex, and does not impose a legal scheme to regulate the commercial sex industry.” To decriminalize something means that it is no longer a crime to do that thing. Simply put, the decriminalization of prostitution means it would no longer be a crime to participate in the buying and selling of human beings for sex.

The District of Columbia is currently considering legislation that would fully decriminalize the sex trade in D.C. This means pimping, purchasing sex, and operating brothels would no longer be crimes in the nation’s capital.

Yes, you read that correctly. The Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019 would decriminalize the sex trade, thereby enabling exploiters of women and youth and exacerbating sex trafficking within the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia metro area (locally referred to as the DMV area). Law enforcement would have no right to interfere with acts such as pimping, purchasing sex, and operating brothels, further isolating victims who are under pimp or trafficker control.

Rhode Island experimented with decriminalization in 1980 but eventually reversed course in 2009. Why? Because the state had transformed into a sex tourism destination and a hub for trafficking, violence, and crime. “The lack of law criminalizing or regulating commercial sex acts allowed for the growth of sex businesses in Rhode Island. By 2002, Providence was known as ‘New England’s red-light district.’ The lack of laws controlling prostitution impeded police from investigating and stopping serious crimes and prevented officials from arresting pimps, traffickers, and sex buyers.”

As our friends at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation encapsulate it:

Full decriminalization of prostitution, in which the laws regulating the activities of pimps, sex buyers and sellers are eliminated, represents the most egregious response to the commercial sex trade. Such an approach transforms pimps into entrepreneurs and sex buyers into mere customers. While decriminalization may redefine deviant and criminal behavior, it is incapable of transforming pimps into caring individuals who have the best interests of prostituting persons at heart, or metamorphosing sex buyers into sensitive, thoughtful, and giving sexual partners. Decriminalization of prostitution is powerless to change the essential, exploitive nature of commercial sex, and tragically grants it free rein.

The legalization of prostitution, on the other hand, “legalizes the sale of sex, legalizes the purchase of sex, and creates a legal scheme to regulate the commercial sex industry.” Like decriminalization, legalizing something means it is no longer a crime to do that thing. Unlike decriminalization, such acts would be regulated under the law. Several counties in Nevada have made prostitution legal and have laws that regulate the trade. These regulations cover brothel inspections and STD testing, among other things. New York recently considered decriminalizing certain statues related to the sex trade and legalizing other parts of the sex trade to, as they saw it, “bring [persons in prostitution] out of the shadows and ensure that they are protected.”

How does empowering the business of exploitation “protect” anyone? With everything we know about the abuse and violence that characterizes the commercial sex trade, equating unobstructed exploitation with victim protection is just as absurd as saying, “since many of those who endure rape feel the stigma of shame, let’s remove all penalties for rape and legitimize it so they won’t feel shame.”

No sensible person would say such a thing. “Protecting” victims by removing the stigma of exploiting them makes no sense whatsoever. Not seeing persons caught up in prostitution as what they are—victims of sexual exploitation—will misplace the application of justice. Legitimizing the buying and selling of human beings only makes it easier for pimps and traffickers to groom vulnerable women, boys, and girls into thinking that sexual violence is normal and acceptable.

Prostitution in the Netherlands is legal and regulated. The Dutch government legalized prostitution in 2000, and the entire community has felt the negative impact ever since. You can read numerous articles about the objectification and crowding prevalent in Amsterdam’s red-light district, known as “the capital of prostitution.” Prostitution has become so mainstream there that women stand in brothel windows like products to be bought. Yes, they are attracting customers, but now the district has become “the biggest free attraction park in the whole of Amsterdam,” as tourists come to gawk and snap pictures of the women for sale. Amsterdam is continually breaking up the organized crime that the business of the sex trade often attracts. The dehumanization of women, paired with the lack of effort to provide women with better options, has created problems on top of problems.

[ Watch: The Failure of Legalizing Prostitution in The Netherlands ]

One article put it bluntly: “The Dutch approach to prostitution is largely practical: sex work will always exist, so better for everyone to legalise, control and tax it.”

Persons caught up in prostitution will admit, “I don’t like it (selling my body), but I have to.” Kristina has been working in the red-light district for a decade. She was persuaded to come by a Hungarian friend who had found her fortune in Amsterdam’s seedy sex industry. “I’m saving for my two kids. For their future. They’re with my mother in Hungary. My kids don’t know what I do.”

So now, by legalizing and regulating the sex trade, the presiding government functions as Kristina’s pimp by exploiting an exploitation business for tax revenue—a never-ending cycle of exploitation. Advocates for sex trafficking victims in New York told CBS News that “Most often [legalizing prostitution] increases sex trafficking…If you legalize, you are condoning brothels to become businesses and pimps to become business managers. That’s what we’ve seen around the world. The argument about safety is false.”

Seeking to protect vulnerable individuals by either decriminalizing or legalizing prostitution is a misguided notion. The laissez-faire approach to protecting human dignity will always create more problems, not solutions.

Introducing Lecture Me! - A New Podcast from FRC

by Family Research Council

October 15, 2019

We all need to be lectured sometimes.

Family Research Council’s new weekly-ish podcast Lecture Me! features selected talks by top thinkers from the archives of the FRC Speaker Series. Our podcast podium takes on tough issues like religious liberty, abortion, euthanasia, marriage, family, sexuality, public policy, and the culture—all from a biblical worldview.

Listen with us to the lecture, then stick around afterward as we help you digest the content with a discussion featuring FRC’s policy and government affairs experts.

The first three episodes are now available. They include:

  • Nancy Pearcey: Love Thy Body

FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview David Closson joins Lecture Me! to discuss Author Nancy Pearcey’s lecture about her book Love Thy Body, in which she fearlessly and compassionately makes the case that secularism denigrates the body and destroys the basis for human rights, and sets forth a holistic and humane alternative that embraces the dignity of the human body.

  • Military Mental Health Crisis

Currently, an average of 21 military veterans are taking their lives each day. FRC’s Deputy Director of State and Local Affairs Matt Carpenter joins the podcast to discuss Richard Glickstein’s lecture as he shares the compelling evidence that proves faith-based solutions reduce suicides, speed the recovery of PTSD, and build resiliency.

  • Repairers of the Breach

How can the conservative movement help restore America’s inner cities? FRC’s Coalitions Senior Research Fellow Chris Gacek joins the podcast to discuss Robert L. Woodson, Sr.’s lecture on how the conservative movement must identify, recognize, and support agents of individual and community uplift and provide the resources, expertise, and funding that can strengthen and expand their transformative work.

Lecture Me! is available at most places you listen to podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and Castbox.

Federal Judge Strikes Down Tampa Therapy Ban

by Peter Sprigg

October 8, 2019

In a major victory for the personal freedom of young people with unwanted same-sex attractions to seek professional help to achieve their goals, a U.S. District Court judge in Florida has struck down a local ordinance in Tampa, Florida that outlawed sexual orientation change efforts (so-called “conversion therapy or reparative therapy”) for minors when conducted by licensed professionals.

In Vazzo v. Tampa, U.S. District Court Judge William F. Jung, a 61-year-old Trump appointee who has been on the bench for a year, struck down the law and issued a permanent injunction against its enforcement. Plaintiff Robert Vazzo, a licensed marriage and family therapist, was represented in the case by Liberty Counsel.

Judge Jung chose not to directly address federal constitutional issues of free speech under the First Amendment, which has been the focus of other court challenges to therapy bans. Instead, he ruled that local governments in Florida had no authority to legislate on this issue because of an “implied preemption doctrine,” declaring, “The City Ordinance is preempted by the comprehensive Florida regulatory scheme for healthcare regulation and discipline.”

Judge Jung wrote that “substantive regulation of psychotherapy is a State, not a municipal concern,” and pointed out that “Tampa has never regulated healthcare substantively in any other way before” this ordinance was adopted in 2017.

Not only are local governments not authorized by Florida law to regulate the provision of mental health care services, but they are hardly competent to enforce such regulations. Judge Jung noted this in the following passage (emphasis added; citations omitted):

The City’s Department of Neighborhood Enhancement (formerly Code Enforcement) enforces the Ordinance. Although this is the City Department that usually enforces code violations like overgrown weeds and unpermitted contracting, the City’s Neighborhood Enhancement director testified that he would take any suspected violation of the SOCE Ordinance to the City Attorney before issuing a notice of violation. The Assistant City Attorney tasked as representative on this matter has been a lawyer for four years but has no training in counseling, therapy, or medicine; and stated that the City would consult Webster’s Dictionary to understand the terms in the Ordinance. If contested, the City would employ a “special magistrate” to adjudicate the alleged violation as a code enforcement proceeding. The City’s special magistrates are unpaid volunteers appointed by the mayor. The City has no plan in connection with the Ordinance to appoint someone who is a licensed mental health provider.

Not only would the enforcers of such a law be incompetent to do so, but the enactors of it did so in ignorance:

The main sponsor of the Ordinance on the council was unaware of the difference between talk therapy and aversive practices, and testified that council and participating staff are untrained in the mental health field.

Judge Jung’s reliance on “preemption doctrine” may help fuel other efforts to overturn (or lobby against) other local therapy bans across the country. Although 18 states have passed state-wide therapy bans, passing such local ordinances in more liberal urban areas is a tactic therapy opponents have employed in conservative states that have refused to adopt state-wide legislation.

However, Judge Jung’s opinion in the case is not so narrowly written as to be applicable only to local ordinances. For example, he ruled that the ordinance encroached upon at least five principles of state law in Florida which would apply to any proposed state therapy ban there (and possibly in other states) as well:

  • Florida’s Broad Right of Privacy” (“The Florida Constitution’s privacy amendment suggest that government should stay out of the therapy room.”)
  • Parental Choice in Healthcare” (“… [W]ith very few exceptions, parents are responsible for selecting the manner of medical treatment received by their children … until age 18.”)
  • Florida’s Patient’s Bill of Rights” (“A patient has the right to access any mode of treatment that is, in his or her own judgment and the judgment of his or her health care practitioner, in the best interests of the patient, including complementary or alternative health care treatments . . .”)
  • Florida’s Endorsement of Alternative Healthcare Options” (“It is the intent of the Legislature that citizens be able to make informed choices for any type of health care they deem to be an effective option … including … treatments designed to complement or substitute for the prevailing or conventional treatment methods.”)
  • Florida’s Well-Established Doctrine of Informed Consent” (“When the patient is denied the ability to exercise or even consider informed consent, the patient’s personal liberty suffers.”)

The judge’s decision also cited abundant evidence in the record of the case demonstrating scientifically how weak the case for any such therapy bans is (source citations omitted):

• Minors can be gender fluid and may change or revert gender identity.

• Gender dysphoria during childhood does not inevitably continue into adulthood.

• Formal epidemiologic studies on gender dysphoria in children, adolescents, and adults are lacking.

• One Tampa expert testified there is not a consensus regarding the best practices with prepubertal gender nonconforming children.

• A second Tampa expert testified consensus does not exist regarding best practices with prepubertal gender nonconforming children, but a trend toward a consensus exists.

• Emphasizing to parents the importance of allowing their child the freedom to return to a gender identity that aligns with sex assigned at birth or another gender identity at any point cannot be overstated.

• One cannot quantify or put a percentage on the increased risk from conversion therapy, as compared to other therapy.

• Scientific estimates of the efficacy of conversion therapy are essentially nonexistent because of the difficulties of obtaining samples following individuals after they exit therapy, defining success, and obtaining objective reassessment.

• Based on a comprehensive review of this work, the American Psychological Association 2009 SOCE Task Force concluded that no study to date has demonstrated adequate scientific rigor to provide a clear picture of the prevalence or frequency of either beneficial or harmful SOCE outcomes. More recent studies claiming benefits and/or harm have done little to ameliorate this concern.

• No known study to date [looking at 2014 article] has drawn from a representative sample of sufficient size to draw conclusions about the experience of those who have attempted SOCE.

• No known study [looking at same 2014 article] has provided a comprehensive assessment of basic demographic information, psychosocial wellbeing, and religiosity, which would be required to understand the effectiveness, benefits and/or harm caused by SOCE.

• Although research on adult populations has documented harmful effects of SOCE, no scientific research studies have examined SOCE among adolescents.

• With extraordinarily well-trained counseling “in a hypothetically perfect world” it may be an appropriate course of action for a counselor to aid a gender-dysphoric child who wants to return to biological gender of birth.

• There is a lack of published research on efforts to change gender identity among childhood and adolescents.

• As of October 2015 no research demonstrating the harms of conversion therapy with gender minority youth has been published. In 2018 an article was published on youth but causal claims could not be made from that 2018 report.

The Tampa ruling comes on the heels of New York City’s recent decision to repeal its adult therapy ban for fear of a negative precedent from a court case challenging it. Together, these two events have given welcome evidence that the days of such freedom-denying therapy bans may now be numbered.

Will Your Child Be Forced to Celebrate Sex Politics 15 Times This School Year?

by Cathy Ruse

September 30, 2019

Powerful forces are pushing your child’s public school to celebrate sex politics this year—15 times!

How many of these events have made it onto your school’s calendar? Find out today.

For the 2019-2020 School Year:

1. Banned Books Week (September 22-28, 2019) – Includes books that have never been banned, but have been the subject of parental concern because of age-inappropriate sexual content.

2. Ally Week (September 23-27, 2019) – Pressures students to declare themselves “allies” of students or teachers who identify as LGBT.

3. Bisexual Awareness Week (September 16-23)

4. LGBTQ History Month (Month of October 2019) – Labels historical figures as LGBT, even when they never identified as such.

5. National Coming Out Day (October 11, 2019)

6. International Pronouns Day (October 16, 2019) – Ignores the fact that forced declaration of one’s own pronouns, or false pronouns for others, violates free speech and religious freedom.

7. Spirit Day (October 17, 2019) – Encourages students and teachers to wear purple, and highlights LGBT bullying (even polite dissent can be characterized as “bullying”).

8. Transgender Awareness Week (November 12-19, 2019)

9. Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20, 2019)

10. No Name-Calling Week (January 20-27, 2020)

11. Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31, 2020)

12. Day of Silence (April 24, 2020) – Known as the “high holy day” of LGBT activism.

13. International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (May 17, 2020)

14. Harvey Milk Day (May 22, 2020)

15. LGBTQ” Pride Month (June 2020)

Parents: You have the legal right to withhold and refuse consent for your child to participate in school events, assemblies, classes, or activities that violate your beliefs.

Your family’s faith and beliefs deserve respect. Demand it.

Remember, LGBTQ lobbyists are getting their “high holy days” on the school calendar even while many school districts are scrubbing Christmas Break for “Winter Break,” Easter Break for “Spring Break,” and Columbus Day for “Indigenous People’s Day.”

To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln: The philosophy of the public school in one generation will be the philosophy of the culture in the next.

Imagine what could happen if government schools just focused on providing an excellent education!

Thanks to Mission America for assembling the calendar events. Read here for more details.

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