Silencing Christians, prison ministry and politics

Homosexual advocates in Missouri are attempting to silence Christians or anyone opposed to the controversial lifestyle. City councils in Columbia and Kansas City have passed laws banning therapy and counseling from a biblical, Christian perspective for people wanting to leave homosexuality, also known as “conversion therapy.” The broadly written measure also threatens parental rights as well as one’s right to freedom of speech and religion. The city councils took the action because they claim biblical counseling is not effective and is dangerous. St. Louis is on the verge of passing a similar measure (see story on page 21).

Public schools can refer children confused about their sexual orientation to counselors who will not use biblical principles. To speak against such counseling is illegal, even for parents who do not want such counseling for their children. The last line of the ban states: “ … it shall be unlawful to provide conversion therapy … whether the provider receives compensation or not.” Make no mistake, that statement targets Christians. Tyranny reigns.

These horrible laws must be challenged in federal court. Parents are being denied their right to control the religious upbringing of their children. Such laws make a mockery of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, denying people their right to free speech and freedom of conscience. This is an issue Missourians should watch closely.

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The Wisconsin-based atheistic group, Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), is bullying Missouri public schools again because students are praying. The FFRF recently sent a letter to the Cameron School District north of Kansas City accusing a football coach of proselytizing players for holding a voluntary post-game prayer at the 50-yard line. The FFRF uses such tactics to frighten rural school districts worried about a costly legal battle. The FFRF have employed similar intimidation tactics toward school districts in Tipton and other rural communities. But the law is on the side of the school districts. Students have the right to pray – as long as it is student-led and voluntary.

“Unless someone presents a plaintiff with actual legal standing, school officials should ignore these letters,” said Jeremy Dys, special counsel for litigation and communications at First Liberty Institute. He characterized the FFRF letter to Cameron as “little more than a noisy, public complaint meant to harass and embarrass Americans just trying to live their lives.”

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A recent Pew Research poll found 63 percent of Americans say churches and religious institutions should stay out of politics.

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Christians are citizens just like unbelievers. The Bible teaches that Christians have been involved in public policy all along. Why should we expect government to pass God-honoring laws if God’s children are not involved, teaching, advocating and praying? We must be involved in public policy, just as we should be in all of God’s creation.

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The Missouri Baptist Convention and Hannibal-LaGrange University hosted a meeting Nov. 12 at the Baptist Building with leaders of Global Prison Seminaries Foundation and the Missouri Department of Corrections. The purpose was to plan the launch of a Prison Seminary Program.

“The goal is to equip offenders as missionaries, sending them out to work as field ministers in prisons across the state,” said HLGU President Anthony Allen. Global Prison Seminaries Foundation has programs in 14 states with another 14 – including Missouri – in the works. HLGU faculty will provide curriculum and instruction for the inmates. Anne Precythe, director, Missouri Department of Corrections, expressed support for the privately funded program.

An effort to raise another $200,000, enough to fund the program for the first two years, will begin in 2020.

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