As we daily fight for traditional family values, we recognize that the work we do is for our children, for the next generation. We owe these children the right to life, and we owe these children a relationship with their mother and their father. Next is that we owe these children a sound religious formation; we owe them teaching in the truth of our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.
“Yet, what we’re seeing in a host of areas is that the ability of families to form their kids in the faith, and then to live out those faith commitments, is being threatened.” So says Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., of The Heritage Foundation.
Anderson gave the keynote address at NC Family’s Major Speakers Dinner in Charlotte on October 8, 2019. We are pleased to share Part 2 of that speech on this week’s episode of the Family Policy Matters radio show and podcast.
In Part 2 of his address, Anderson unpacks numerous religious liberty cases from the past decade, many that have raised the question of whether parents will be able to educate their children in the faith.
“We’re going to need lawyers, policy-makers, lobbyists, activists, pushing back on this,” says Anderson. “So what we owe to the children is a way in which they can be formed in their faith, and then live out their faith without government penalties.”
Tune in to Family Policy Matters this week to hear Dr. Ryan Anderson speak on some of the most important issues facing social and religious conservatives today, in Part 2 of a 3-part show.
All right, so what would come next in this kind of concentric circle? We owe our children a life, the right to life, to protect their life, to welcome them into life. We owe our children a relationship with their mother and with their father.
The next is that we owe our children an upbringing that reflects the truth about God. One of those next things that we would owe is to give our children a sound religious formation, to teach them truths about the Creator, about the Redeemer, about the Sanctifier, teaching our children truths about the most important things in life. And this is why the very first clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution deals with religious liberty. And yet what we’re seeing in a host of areas is that the ability of families to form their kids in the faith, and then to live out those faith commitments, is being threatened.
Let me just give you one example right off the bat. During oral arguments in Obergefell—the Supreme Court case that redefined marriage—Justice Alito asked the Solicitor General during the Obama Administration, “What’s going to happen to Christian schools that continue to teach that marriage unites husband and wife? Will they lose their nonprofit tax status the way that racists schools lost their nonprofit tax status?” He mentioned the case of Bob Jones University, a famous Supreme Court case in which a school—an evangelical school—that had a policy of no interracial dating; the IRS revoked their nonprofit tax status. And so Alito says, “If this Supreme Court redefines marriage, will the Obama IRS now revoke the nonprofit tax status of Wheaton College, of the University of Notre Dame, of Gordon College, of Regent, of Liberty?” Just fill in the blank for your Christian school. And not just colleges, but K-12. Maybe you send your kids to a private Christian day school; maybe you send your kids to a private Christian high school. Will all of those schools now be on the wrong side of the government? And what the Solicitor General said was chilling! He said, “I don’t deny it Justice Alito, that’s going to be an issue.” He could have said, “Of course not, Justice Alito. Racism is utterly different than Orthodox Christian beliefs about human sexuality, and so the Obama Administration will never treat people who believe marriage unites man and woman the way that we treat racists.” Right, he could’ve said that; he could have tried to have a little distance between the bad outcome that he knew Alito didn’t want to see him endorse. And instead he said, “Look, that’s going to be an issue.” Had Hillary Clinton won the last presidential election, it would be an issue right now. There’s no doubt in my mind, just given what the Obama Administration was doing in its last months of office, that they were paving a way to pass the baton to the Clinton Administration. Everyone assumed she was going to be winning the election. And Trump, his Administration has been remarkably good on religious liberty. They’ve been undoing step-by-step all of the religious liberty violations that took place in the prior Administration.
If you think about this, religious liberty wouldn’t even have been a main topic for a dinner discussion like this prior to the Obama Administration. Can you think of any high profile religious liberty violations during the George W. Bush Administration? Or even for that matter during the Clinton, Bill Clinton Administration? President Bill Clinton was the one who signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. And then when Indiana passed the same exact bill and Governor Pence signed it into law, the state gets boycotted. Just like your state got boycotted after HB2. The Left all of a sudden has decided that policies that 10/15/20 years ago were common sense, bipartisan, unanimous policies, all of a sudden now you’re a human rights violator.
So one question will be, will you be able to educate your children in the faith? Will faith-based schools that teach the truth about marriage, that teach the truth about issues where the government has strayed from the truth, will they lose their nonprofit tax status? Will they lose their accreditation? What’s the good of going to a non-accredited college? Or, put it this way, if you’re under the age of 16, you have to go to an accredited school. Either a state run, government run public school, or a private school, homeschooling program, that has met the state’s standards for education.
What then happens after you graduate and certain professions are closed to you? What if you can’t become a doctor unless you’re willing to perform abortion? Or you’re willing to counsel same-sex couples that are having marital trouble? Or you’re willing to turn men into women and women into men—we’ll get to that a little bit later. But the religious liberty challenges facing the country, there’s been a pause button that has been pressed during the past two-and-a-half years. It’s not a stop button; it’s not a rewind button; it’s a pause button. As soon as there’s a hostile Administration back in D.C., you can expect all of these religious liberty cases to come back with a vengeance. Whether that deals with Little Sisters of the Poor—the fact that they had to spend eight years of their lives suing the federal government. The fact that the owners of Hobby Lobby had to sue the federal government. The fact that Wheaton College had to sue the federal government. Don’t think that any of these cases are settled and done with forever. The Trump Administration is settling these cases, but the next Administration will have another hostile regulation, whether it comes from the Department of Health and Human Services, or the Department of Education, or the Department of Justice.
And so we’re going to need people. We’re going to need lawyers; we’re going to need policy-makers; we’re going to need lobbyist, activists, pushing back on this.
And it can come at both the federal level and the state level. So most of you are probably familiar with Jack Phillips, the baker. He was sued under a state law, a bad state law, that said that he had to make custom wedding cakes for same-sex weddings. He was then tried under the state Human Rights Commission that was packed with a bunch of political appointees from a left-leaning Administration. And during his own administrative hearings, they compared him to Nazis and to racists. They ridiculed his faith. That’s why he won at the Supreme Court. He won 7 to 2 because the treatment that he had received under a state tribunal had been so biased that they even got 2 of the Lefties to vote for him. Right? This wasn’t a 5 to 4 win at the Supreme Court; it was a 7 to 2. That could happen here. This is what’s at stake when you see North Carolina contemplating to pass a sexual orientation and gender identity law. Some of your cities have these laws, but statewide you don’t and you don’t want to. What these laws do is they take sexual orientation and gender identity—they make it a protected class the way that race is a protected class.
So just think of all of the ways in which it’s illegal to run a racist business, as it should be. It’s illegal to run a racist school, as it should be. It’s illegal to be a racist lawyer, as it should be. Now plug in sexual orientation and gender identity, so that if you believe we’re created male and female and that male and female are created for each other, you’re now homophobic or transphobic. You’re going to be treated in law the same way as the racists. That’s what’s at stake. That’s what Jack Phillips was facing.
So what we owe to the children is a way in which they can be formed in their faith, and then live out their faith without government penalties. I want my son to grow up to love God and to live out his faith every day of the week, 24 hours a day. I don’t want him to be the type of Christian that just goes to church on Sunday morning for one hour and says, “Alright, I checked the box for this week.” Right? None of us want that for our own lives or for our children’s lives. We want them to be able to live out their faith at work, in their families, in their communities, in their charitable activities. What happens when the government says, “No.” “The Green family, you can’t live out your faith at work.” The Greens are the owners of Hobby Lobby. “Jack Phillips, you can’t live out your faith at work.” “Little Sisters of the Poor, you can’t even live out your faith in your own charity.” These people run nursing homes for the elderly as they approached death, and they were told, “No, you have to pay for abortion and contraception.” They’re Roman Catholic nuns! Why do they need contraception and abortion in their health care plans? This was utterly to make a point. The Obama Administration was trying to prove a point about these sexual issues, that if you disagreed with them on these sexual issues, you were part of a “basket of deplorables.” You remember that phrase? I didn’t create the phrase. There are many people who think that way about people like us, and it’s a sad political reality, but that’s going to be coming back in this coming election.
Okay, last thing I want to say—and this is kind of a new topic. The last time I spoke for John at one of these dinners, it was probably three or four years ago, and I don’t remember saying a word about this, and that’s the new question of gender identity. I’m not even sure the phrase gender identity was on any of our radar screens four years ago. It wasn’t until Bruce Jenner, as he was then known, went on 20/20 for that two-hour special and announced that he was becoming Caitlyn Jenner, that this really became kind of like a primetime topic. In fact, I think that was the first primetime interview devoted to transgender issues.
And now today, at the Supreme Court, a very important case involving Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, asking if the word “sex” in the Civil Rights Act means gender identity and transgender status. There’s a chance that you would have unelected judges rewriting the law. Thankfully with Kennedy retired and with Kavanaugh on the Court, it seems much less likely that that would happen with the current Supreme Court Justices than what might’ve happened two years ago. Both of Trump’s picks—Gorsuch and Kavanaugh—have been outstanding, just from a purely jurisprudential perspective. What’s at stake here: the LGBT activists, they knew they were going to win in Obergefell. They knew that they had Anthony Kennedy’s vote, and so they pivoted from the LGB part of the acronym to the T part of the acronym, right? For the past 20 years, we had a discussion about gay marriage. We’ve had debates about gay marriage. We knew what the LG and the B part of the acronym meant. We never really had a discussion about the T part of the acronym.
And then overnight Bruce Jenner goes on national TV, and then the Obama Administration issues a “Dear Colleague” letter telling every school in the country that they have to do their bathrooms based on gender identity. They have to do dorm rooms based on gender identity. They have to do sports teams based on gender identity. Overnight, Loretta Lynch is suing your state because of HB2. Recall that the Obama Administration sued the State of North Carolina because you said, “No, we’re going to keep it as biology, not subjective identity. Objective biology is how we’re going to govern our public facilities, not someone’s subjective identity.”
This was when I first kind of started digging into the question, what does the gender identity part, the transgender part of the acronym really mean? And this is when I was first really troubled because I first encountered people who had transitioned and then de-transition. And so I ended up writing a book about this topic, partly because after having done a book on the gay marriage debate, and having done a book on the religious liberty debate, there was nothing left to lose. That’s a very liberating feeling. Janis Joplin, when she says, “Freedom’s just another word for ‘nothing left to lose,'” there’s actually a lot of truth in that statement. And so from my perspective I was like, “Anyone who hates me, they can’t hate me anymore. And the people who hate me already, this new book won’t give them any more additional reasons to hate me. The people who don’t already hate me, this new book isn’t going to flip them on me.”
And so what I discovered is that the way that they’re now treating children—so staying for a minute with the children focus—is a child as young as two or three years old, if they’re consistent, persistent and insistent that they’re the opposite sex, should be treated as the opposite sex. Given a new name, a new pronoun, a new wardrobe; have access to new bathrooms at school; play on the new sports team. And if you doubt that this is happening at those young ages, do Google searches for Washington Post and Los Angeles Times and ‘five-year-old transgender child’ or ‘three-year-old transgender child.’ You will see these newspaper reports of the parents being proud of the fact that they have the youngest transgender child, which makes you question who’s really driving this decision making process.
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