Updates on Efforts to Protect Privacy Rights and Religious Liberty

You’ve seen those ridiculous “Coexist” bumper stickers, right? You know, the ones where the word is spelled out using religious symbols from Christianity, Islam, Paganism, Gay rights, Judaism, and so on?

coexist-blue

I call it ridiculous because, as someone once wrote: “The C wants to kill the E, X, T, and the O. The O offers peaceful non-resistance, which will be ineffective if real trouble breaks out. The E feels like it’s been oppressed, making it intolerant of the C, the X, and the T. The I and the S are numerically irrelevant, but are just necessary to spell out the word. And the sticker is mostly directed at the T (or the Christian), who ironically poses no threat whatsoever to any of the others.”

John Stonestreet, in a BreakPoint commentary dated April 21, 2016—

Many points can be made in opposition to laws and policies that would allow transgendered individuals to use the restroom different from the one designated by their own biology. One of the strongest such arguments affirms what ought to be obvious—that these policies allow predatory men to feign having gender identity issues and invade women’s restrooms. Of course, no one should lightly dismiss the needs of someone struggling with gender identity. At the same time, we also must care about how women would feel about sharing a restroom, not just with a predatory man, but also with a biological male who identifies as a woman. Female objections to a transgendered man in the ladies’ room aren’t indications of bigotry or hate, but of the legitimate desire for privacy when using the bathroom, locker room, and shower.

Do we really need to wonder how most women would feel about a man—any man—in the women’s bathroom? For anyone who does wonder, help is available. In his most recent Internet video, You Tuber Joey Salads conducted an experiment to find out. You can watch his video here.

In writing about Salads’ experiment, Michael Cantrell observes,

Interesting how most women aren’t comfortable with the idea of going to the bathroom with a man who pretends to be a woman. Perhaps the world isn’t quite as crazy as I originally thought.

If the majority of women aren’t comfortable with transgenders using their restrooms, why are their concerns being ignored for the sake of a very small minority?

Liberals claim to be about women’s rights, yet here they are, forcing ladies to do something against their will and stripping them of their right to privacy.

The hypocrisy is astounding.

Unfortunately, a bathroom bill that would have protected privacy rights in Tennessee’s public schools was withdrawn by its key sponsor in the Tennessee House of Representatives. Rep. Susan Lynn’s action effectively killed the bill for this legislative session, although passage was far from certain. Because children are of infinite worth, one wonders why, despite fierce opposition to the proposal, the legislature and the governor were not willing to draw a line in the sand to protect students in the Volunteer State.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina and Mississippi, which passed a religious liberty law, economic threats continue to mount. The NBA has scheduled its 2017 All-Star game in Charlotte, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is demanding changes in the law. Yet he, along with a host of other business leaders and entertainers like Bryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, and Boston, are either threatening to exercise or are exercising outright the very freedoms they wish to deny those whom they disagree. So much for coexistence!

deeply-held-belief-635x635

The bathroom bill in North Carolina actually can be called a privacy rights and business rights law, because it not only protects women, but also allows private businesses to set their own bathroom policies. Even so, politicians like President Barak Obama, New York Mayor Bill de Blaiso, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, to name a few, continue to revile and mischaracterize the law. They’re even trying to punish North Carolina for it. Even Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke out against it, effectively ignoring the risk to women that the law mitigates. Ted Cruz, who supports the law, criticized Trump, accusing him of giving in to political correctness.

Returning to the debate in Tennessee, we note that the Obama administration said it was pleased the state’s bathroom privacy law (of course, the administration didn’t call it that) had failed to pass. This shouldn’t surprise us, since, as we noted in a previous post, the Justice Department filed a “statement of interest” in court that argued Title IX requires that transgendered individuals be allowed to use whichever restroom they choose. In the case, a Virginia school district had dared to limit access to its restrooms on the basis of students’ biological sex. The lower court ruled against the administration’s arguments, but the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals now says the lawsuit against the Virginia school district may proceed.

It was a 3-judge panel at the 4th Circuit that made this decision, with 2 of the 3 judges having been appointed by President Obama. According to one report, this panel ignored the plain language of Title IX, just as federal bureaucrats also have ignored it in recent months. In his End of Day email report to his supporters dated April 20, 2016, Gary Bauer wrote that

the federal court did not decide the issue. But their 2-to-1 opinion does allow a lawsuit against a Virginia school district to proceed, suggesting that gender specific bathrooms represent some form of unconstitutional sex discrimination.

The ACLU and other left-wing groups are applauding the decision as “a complete vindication of the Education Department’s interpretation of Title IX.” But the Obama Education Department’s interpretation is utter nonsense!

Title IX was passed by Congress in 1972 to eliminate blatant sex discrimination between men and women in educational opportunities. No one in 1972 had transgenderism in mind.

But that is how Obama’s radical bureaucrats are interpreting—rewriting—the law today. And left-wing judicial activists on the courts are going along with it.

Fortunately, Judge Paul Niemeyer’s dissenting opinion made the case for common sense. He wrote:

This holding completely tramples on all universally accepted protections of privacy and safety that are based on the anatomical differences between the sexes. . . This unprecedented holding overrules custom, culture, and the very demands inherent in human nature for privacy and safety, which the separation of such facilities is designed to protect. More particularly, it also misconstrues the clear language of Title IX and its regulations. And finally, it reaches an unworkable and illogical result. [You can read more from Judge Niemeyer’s dissent here.]

Where is the left’s concern for the privacy rights of young girls?

Are you prepared to accept boys using your daughter’s bathrooms and locker rooms at your local public school? Are you prepared to share a public bathroom with someone of the opposite sex?

Are you willing to accept this assault on common sense?

The good news is that there is some indication that a great many people aren’t willing; this evidenced by the fact that when Target Stores announced a company-wide bathroom policy that allows biological men in women’s restrooms, and vice versa, a backlash began. Go here to read a handful of the negative reactions to Target’s guidelines.

Encouraging its readers to push back against the retail giant, an article at www.barbwire.com stated, “Clearly, Target’s dangerous new policy poses a danger to wives and daughters. We think many customers will agree. And we think the average Target customer is willing to pledge to boycott Target stores until it makes protecting women and children a priority.” On the American Family Association’s website, tens of thousands of angry consumers expressed their opposition and pledged to participate in a boycott.

This indeed is good news, but we’re actually not ready to leave Gary Bauer’s statements just yet. Read them again. Note that Mr. Bauer said, among other things, that the court is rewriting the law. It is critical that we understand this point—and that courts are not authorized to make or rewrite laws. Only the legislative branch of government pass laws. Judges are charged with the task of interpreting them.

Watch legal expert and Family Action Council of Tennessee’s David Fowler explain  how 2 members of the 3-judge panel are rewriting the law. If you don’t remember anything else from this post, remember what Mr. Fowler says here. Fowler makes some comments that are specific to Tennessee, but that doesn’t take anything away from his case that the ruling is unlawful. Everyone in America needs to understand why.

Members of the judicial branch will get away violating the Constitution in this way only if we permit them to do so. Yet, if we are to succeed in holding them accountable, we first must comprehend how we got to the place in our culture where we are debating whether or not we will allow men in women’s restrooms, and why, for millions of people, this issue isn’t a “no-brainer.”

We’ll explore this question next week. Stay tuned, and stay in prayer for our nation. America needs prayer perhaps now more than ever!

Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

For further reading:

Turning American Law Upside Down for the Transgendered by David French

Capitulation on Religious Liberty Laws Is Shameful and Shortsighted by the editors of National Review

 

Eight Reasons to Pass HB2414

To the Representatives and Senators of the Tennessee Legislature and to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam

Eight Reasons to Pass and Sign HB2414/SB2387 into Law

  1. HB2414 will protect the privacy rights of students in Tennessee’s public schools. Boys and girls should not have to worry about invasion of privacy when they use the restroom, and the presence of a biological male in a girls’ bathroom or a biological female in a boys’ bathroom is an invasion of privacy.
  2. HB2414 would set a statewide policy that would enhance the safety of students in Tennessee’s public schools.
  3. If bathroom policies in Tennessee’s public schools are left up to individual school districts, those who desire to limit restroom access to students based on biology will be left twisting in the wind against an almost omnipotent ACLU. In abandoning these school districts, the state also will be abandoning the students in them, as well as their parents.
  4. Contrary to the report on HB2414 released by Attorney General Slatery, advocates of HB2414 are standing on solid legal ground. The AG’s report claimed that HB2414 runs contrary to Title IX policies “because the U.S. Department of Education…interprets Title IX to require that transgender students be given access to restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their ‘gender identity’ instead of their anatomical gender.” Title IX doesn’t actually require this. According to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco, “DOE’s interpretation is completely off-base. What the law says is what matters, and the law explicitly allows separate restrooms and locker rooms. The DOE oversees but cannot change Title IX, which only Congress can modify, so the agency has no legal basis for forcing schools to open restrooms to students of both sexes.” Matt Sharp, Legal Counsel for ADF, puts it this way: “[U]nder current law, states and school districts that enact laws and policies requiring students to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their biological sex do not violate Title IX. The threats about losing funding are simply empty threats.”
  5. Large corporations that have adopted a politically correct line (not at all a courageous stance, given the number of corporations that have done so) must not be allowed to dictate a state’s policy through economic blackmail. Actually, these companies are putting themselves in a very untenable position when they threaten legislators and governors with economic ruin—and then look to these same leaders to establish and maintain policies that foster business-friendly environments.
  6. Expounding on point #5, we note that, generally speaking, states with family-friendly policies and laws have the most robust economies and the brightest economic futures. The 2016 annual report by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) confirms this. Rich States, Poor States is ALEC’s “Economic Competiveness Index” that includes state rankings. North Carolina ranks #2; Mississippi #17, and Tennessee #7. The Wall Street Journal recently sounded this word of caution to big business: “The private economy would be foolish to reject America’s heritage of liberty, which has powered the greatest engine of economic success in history. And if corporations want the benefits of a business-friendly environment, with lower taxes and less regulation, they would do well to recognize who enacts such policies: people with center-right social values, not the hard Left.” Consider the glaring difference in these two events that took place in North Carolina.nc_tworallies_rd
  7. Policy makers cannot assume that giving in to activists’ radical demands will lead to a truce. Recent events in North Carolina, as well as events occurring a year ago in Indiana, are instructive for us at this point. As we have seen, radical activists in the LGBT lobby never will stop making demands and never will be satisfied. How much will we surrender before we are willing to fight? And if we we won’t fight to keep male students out of girls’ bathrooms in our schools, is there a place where we will be willing to draw the line at all?
  8. A biology-based bathroom policy in Tennessee’s public schools fosters order and is based on reality and common sense.

Passing HB2414 is the right thing to do. It may not be the easy thing to do, but that which is truly worthwhile seldom is easy. Surely the courage we’ve seen in North Carolina’s leaders isn’t unique to North Carolina. Tennessee also has courageous leaders who are willing to do what’s right for our state and its people, especially its children.

Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

The above images originally appeared on the April 15, 2016 edition of Family Research Council’s Washington Update.

The Folly of Surrendering Without a Fight for Tennessee’s Proposed Bathroom Bill

Tennessee Attorney General Slatery’s Assessment of HB2414 Is Flawed

 The people of Tennessee are tired of having their public policies being dictated to them by the various branches of the federal government, and they sure don’t want the state surrendering without a fight to the Obama administration on whether boys can choose to use a girl’s bathroom or locker room.
David Fowler, President, Family Action Council of Tennessee

North Carolina will never put a price tag on the value of our children. They are precious and priceless.
North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest

HB2414 is a common-sense bathroom bill currently before the Tennessee House of Representatives stating that in Tennessee’s public schools, the sex indicated on a student’s birth certificate designates the restroom the student will use. The companion bill in the Tennessee Senate is SB2387. A recently-passed law in North Carolina carries a similar provision for NC public schools and other public buildings but gives private businesses latitude to set their own policies.

The Tennessee proposal has generated a great deal of opposition from those who say it discriminates against transgendered students. An individual is transgendered when he/she identifies as a member of the sex opposite the one his/her body indicates. Transgendered individuals in the United States number around 700,000—0.3 percent of the adult population. Even though HB2114 relates directly to students, the number of transgendered students still would be extremely, extremely small when contrasted to the overall student population. Accommodations certainly can be made for these students that (1) address their needs while (2) protecting the privacy rights of the majority. These arrangements may not represent the first choice of those who are transgendered, but why should members of the tiniest of minorities be allowed have bathroom access that violates the privacy rights of everyone else, especially when their access also opens the doors of women’s and girls’ restrooms to predators?

One of the questions raised about HB2414 is this: Would it violate Title IX rules and result in a revocation of federal funding? In other words, would it cost the state federal education money because it has been deemed discriminatory on the basis of sex? While the Obama administration has sought to make this case, their arguments, to date, have not prevailed in court. Two court cases are instructive for is at this point.

Although Gavin Grimm was born a female, she identifies as a male. She calls herself “Grimm.” In the fall of 2014, she was a student at Virginia’s Gloucester High School. With the permission of school officials, Grimm used the boys’ restroom at her school for seven weeks. The Gloucester County School Board intervened in December, however, and, with a 6 to 1 vote, determined that use of school restrooms would be limited to members of “the corresponding biological genders.” The adopted policy also stated that “students with gender identity issues shall be provided an alternative appropriate private facility.”

The ACLU sued in federal court on behalf of Grimm. In the case, the US Justice Department filed a “statement of interest,” and in it argued that Title IX guidelines dictate that schools must allow transgender students to use the restroom corresponding to the sex with which he or she identifies. Even so,

on July 27, 2015, U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar ruled that the School Board’s policy does not violate Title IX because Title IX permits schools to maintain separate restrooms for different sexes. As a result, Judge Doumar dismissed this portion of Grimm’s lawsuit. “Prosecutors cannot use Title IX, a policy that bars a school from receiving federal funding if it discriminates based on sex, in their arguments” stated Judge Doumar.

A thorough summary of the case and its ruling can be found here.

A similar ruling in another transgender case also came down in 2015. Seamus Johnston, an undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was a woman identifying as a man. For a while she used the men’s restroom and no one formally objected, but when she enrolled in a weight training class and began to use the men’s locker room, the university discouraged her from doing so. Johnston was told she could use the unisex facility that referees often used, but she ignored the offer and continued her practice of using the men’s locker room. She sued after she was charged with “exhibiting disorderly, lewd or indecent behavior” and disobeying the school’s instructions to avoid using the men’s bathroom and locker room facilities.

In his ruling, “Federal Judge Kim R. Gibson dismissed Johnston’s suit, saying that his transgender status was not covered by either the Constitution’s equal-protection clause or Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars sex discrimination by institutions receiving federal funds.”

In the aftermath of the establishment of North Carolina’s new law, the governor’s office released a question and answer guide titled “Myths vs Facts: What New York Times, Huffington Post and other media outlets aren’t saying about common-sense privacy law.” Here is question 11 from that guide, along with the answer.

11. Will this bill threaten federal funding for public schools under Title IX?

Answer: No, according to a federal court which has looked at a similar issue.

These court rulings and North Carolina’s reliance on at least one of them to describe the validity of its new law provide important background information that enlightens us about the debate surrounding Tennessee HB2414. Tennessee’s Attorney General, Herbert H. Slatery, III, was asked to evaluate the bill’s legality. He make his findings public on Monday, April 11, 2016. His report says, in part, that the Department of Education [DOE] “interprets Title IX to require that transgender students be given access to restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their ‘gender identity’ instead of their anatomical gender.…There may be valid legal arguments against DOE’s interpretation, but there is no settled precedent to provide guidance as to how a court may ultimately rule…” (emphasis added). 

What?!

With all due respect to Attorney General Slatery, this is, at very best, extremely misleading. At worst it is an outright lie (my words alone). I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t have to be one, and neither do you, to see how misleading this is. Keep in mind that we know Attorney General Slatery’s statement is deceptive because we reviewed two court cases and their rulings, all of which are pertinent. Slatery didn’t mention either case in his report.

There’s more. Making the points we’ve already made and then expounding on them, Family Action Council of Tennessee President David Fowler—who, by the way, is a lawyer—enlightens us further. Here is Fowler’s response to the report, in its entirety.

Attorney General Slatery’s opinion regarding the risk to the state of losing Title IX funding if House Bill 2414 passes puts forth a carefully worded legal position that only the trained lawyer can decode to deconstruct the fear of the federal government it engenders.

It essentially regurgitates legal arguments made by the Obama administration that were flatly and unequivocally rejected by the only two courts to actually rule on them. For some inexplicable reason, the attorney general does not even discuss these two cases! A first-year law student would get in trouble for writing a brief that ignored relevant persuasive authority as if it did not exist.

In the face of these two decisions, it is, therefore, more than a bit disingenuous for the attorney general to say, “There is no settled precedent to provide guidance as to how a court may ultimately rule.”

People need to know that these words are legal “code language” for “the U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled,” but that does not mean that there is no legal precedent in support of House Bill 2414. The two cases the attorney general failed even to discuss are persuasive precedent[s] the state can use to support House Bill 2414, made more persuasive by the strong language the courts used to condemn the Obama administration’s arguments.

People need to know that the words “no settled precedent” are legal “code language” for “the U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled,” but that does not mean that there is no legal precedent in support of House Bill 2414. 

Moreover, the attorney generals for South Carolina, West Virginia, Arizona, and Mississippi have submitted friend of the court briefs in support of the decision from Virginia upholding a law like House Bill 2414.

That Tennessee’s attorney general didn’t even mention these favorable legal decisions and the opinion of his colleagues from other states that support the position in House Bill 2414 is a great disservice to the members of the Legislature and the public.

The misleading nature of these omissions is compounded by the fact that the attorney general instead cites settlement agreements, not court decisions, entered into with the U.S. Department of Education. A settlement agreement only means that the school districts decided not to litigate the clear meaning of the word “sex” in Title IX and just go along with what the Obama administration wanted. Settlement agreements have no persuasive value as a matter of law, unlike the court decisions that have actually ruled in favor of sex-designated bathrooms.

Settlement agreements have no persuasive value as a matter of law, unlike the court decisions that have actually ruled in favor of sex-designated bathrooms.

Thankfully, the attorney general did mention that, by law, no money can be withheld from a state until the state loses its legal arguments, and then only if it doesn’t come into compliance with that ruling within 30 days. By law, no money can be withheld during this process, and no money can be withheld retroactively.

In other words, contrary to the general impression the opinion tends to create, legislators need to understand that there is little risk that the state will lose any Title IX money so long as it complies with whatever the U.S. Supreme Court might someday say the word “sex” means. No one needs to run around like their pants are on fire as if there is some immediate, real threat to Tennessee losing Title IX funds.

No one needs to run around like their pants are on fire as if there is some immediate, real threat to Tennessee losing Title IX funds.

But the bottom line is that Tennessee cannot be held hostage by what the Supreme Court might possibly say at some point about the meaning of the word “sex” when the law, as it exists right now, is clearly in support of House Bill 2414.

The law, as it exists right now, is clearly in support of House Bill 2414.

The people of Tennessee are tired of having their public policies being dictated to them by the various branches of the federal government, and they sure don’t want the state surrendering without a fight to the Obama administration on whether boys can choose to use a girl’s bathroom or locker room.

Please share this information with your friends so that they are not mislead by how the press may characterize the attorney general’s opinion.

Read the press release version that’s on our website here.

Sincerely, David Fowler, President, Family Action Council of Tennessee

As of this writing, HB2414 and SB2387 are making their way through various committees at the Tennessee Legislature. If this proposed legislation fails, it will likely fail primarily because of the misleading, disingenuous opinion of Attorney General Slatery regarding the House version of the bill, HB2414. Governor Haslam would certainly bear responsibility as well, because he “has raised concerns [the bill] could endanger federal education funding and says that he wants to leave the issue to local school districts to decide.” Make no mistake: if the state leaves the issue to local school districts, those who desire to limit restroom access to students based on biology will be left twisting in the wind against an almost omnipotent ACLU. In abandoning these school districts, the state also will be abandoning the students in them, as well as their parents. This ought not to be occurring in Tennessee!

For the record, I want to say I stand with David Fowler and others who are fighting valiantly to pass and see Governor Haslam sign HB2414/SB2387 into law. I will do everything I can to hold responsible those leaders in Tennessee who are all too willing to turn a deaf ear to parents with moral concerns about students’ privacy rights and a deaf ear to the needs of those students themselves.

B. Nathaniel Sullivan

Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

 

Update on the Virginia case: The Daily Signal: What the Supreme Court’s Ruling Means for Transgender Bathrooms in Schools, 8/4/16

Homosexual Activist Bullying Is Rife with Hypocrisy

The sex bullies have taken over the social sphere. Now you’re considered intolerant if you simply want to protect the innocence of a child in the classroom, or think that you ought to be able to teach your kids about the advantages of traditional marriage, or believe that men and women are different from each other. You must be cured of your thought crimes. And the sex bullies are there, bullhorns in hand, ready to apply that cure at a moment’s notice.
—Ben Shapiro1

In March of 2015, barely one year ago, the Indiana Legislature passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act [RFRA], a law that informs and guides state courts in religious liberty cases. The law was extremely controversial, in part because it was woefully misunderstood. In the end, a balanced, reasonable provision was watered down to such an extent that those most likely to be coerced into violating their consciences lost important religious liberty protections. Indiana’s Republican legislature and Republican Governor Mike Pence caved to homosexual activist pressure. A summary of what happened can be found here.

Both bullying and blatant hypocrisy abounded, but in this post I’d like to focus primarily on the hypocrisy that pervades this kind of battle, one that is becoming all too commonplace. We see hypocrisy not just from Big Business and militant gay activists, but also from politicians when they cave in to the pressure.

Fast forward one year, to March, 2016. During this momentous month, we have witnessed similar bullying in both Georgia and North Carolina. In Georgia, a weak and narrow religious liberty bill passed the state legislature and was sent to Governor Nathan Deal’s desk for his signature. The Republican governor vetoed the measure. Bryan Fisher of the American Family Association explains.

Gov. Deal, as Indiana governor Mike Pence did before him, has abandoned any pretext of protecting Christians from discrimination in his state. As one lawmaker bluntly put it, “It’s open season on people of faith” in Georgia.

The bill had been virtually eviscerated before it even got to the governor’s desk. Even if the governor had signed it, it would have provided no protection at all for Christian vendors who exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to the free exercise of religion in the way they run their businesses. Christian bakers, florists, photographers, T-shirt makers, etc., etc., etc., are now officially left high and dry in Georgia, abandoned by the very official who has taken an oath before God to protect them.

About all that was left in the bill was protection for what pastors and churches and faith-based organizations do inside the four walls of their own buildings. Now even that protection has vanished like a whiff of smoke and the governor has left them without a shred of legal protection.

The governor piously claimed “I do not respond well to insults or threats,” and then vetoed the bill after Coca-Cola, Netflix, Apple, Time Warner, Marriott, Walt Disney and the NFL rattled their sabers.

The governor is right. He does not respond well to insults and threats. He folded like a cheap accordion at a Lawrence Welk concert.

Roberto Rivera of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview warns that this has dark and ominous implications for the future of religious liberty in America. Under the cloak of protecting liberty for all, Governor Deal, just one day after Easter, vetoed “a modest bill that would provide protections for churches threatened by government discrimination in the wake of the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage.” Unfortunately, this kind of accommodation has become the norm for many, though not all, Republicans. They promise resistance to the Left’s agenda, then after they’re elected, they cave. It’s hypocrisy, and it’s left conservatives feeling both angry and betrayed.

No wonder Franklin Graham recently declared he has no hope in either the Democrat or Republican party. But wait! While his hope is in God and God alone, Graham also believes that Christians must participate in the political process by running for office themselves if they can and certainly by voting for those who will uphold biblical principles once they’re elected. Among other things, Graham was emphasizing that hypocrisy on the part of politicians who promise to oppose evil must end.

Thankfully, turning to North Carolina, we see a refreshing example of leadership in Governor Pat McCrory, who expressed concern about a new bathroom bill in Charlotte that would have given males access to women’s restrooms and vice versa. To McCrory, such a law defied common sense. Although the governor did not call for a special session of the legislature, he did support it, and after the legislature passed a statewide measure stipulating that men’s restrooms were for biological males and women’s restrooms for biological females, McCrory signed the measure into law. Here is a statement from the governor’s office clarifying what the bill does and does not do.

The wrath of the Left descended upon the state—and with it, the Left’s hypocrisy. Here are some clear examples of leftist duplicity.

  • Opponents of North Carolina’s new law claim it will hurt business. While it’s true that Big Business has expressed strong opposition to the state law [part of a pattern we’ve seen before], it’s also true that hundreds of businesses strongly objected Charlotte’s bathroom bill. Frank Turek reports that on Monday, March 28,

Lt. Governor Dan Forest, who helped call the special session to pass HB2, called the executive in charge at one large protesting company and simply asked if him if he or anyone there had actually read the bill. He admitted they had not. They just labeled it “discriminatory” without even reading it.

Who needs the truth when you make so much “progress” by ignoring the truth and engaging in the very bigotry and name-calling you claim to oppose?

The truth is they, like other companies who haven’t bothered to read the bill, are simply taking their marching orders from the misnamed “Human Rights Campaign,” who have the audacity to claim that men have a human right to have access to women and girls in public bathrooms, and that any acknowledgement of the biological differences between men and women is somehow discrimination against people who prefer same-sex relationships.

Amac, the Association of Mature American Citizens (a conservative alternative to the AARP), wonders if businesses that have opposed the North Carolina law now are allowing men into women’s restrooms in their local retail locations in the state. It’s a great question, given the fact that the law allows them to set their own policies.

  • In protest of North Carolina’s new law, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has banned “non-essential” state travel to the Tar Heel state. Yet he’s been to Cuba in an official capacity as governor, and he’s partnering with JetBlue airlines to encourage people to travel there. All of this has taken place despite the fact that transgendered people have not been treated humanely by the Cuban government. The North Carolina Governor’s Office issued this statement about Cuomo’s words and actions:

“Syracuse is playing in the Final Four in Houston where voters overwhelmingly rejected a nearly identical bathroom ordinance that was also rejected by the state of North Carolina,” said Governor McCrory Communications Director Josh Ellis. “Is Governor Cuomo going to ask the Syracuse team to boycott the game in Houston? It’s total hypocrisy and demagoguery if the governor does not, considering he also visited Cuba, a communist country with a deplorable record of human rights violations.”

  • Connecticut Governor Daniel Mallory also has banned state-funded travel to North Carolina. Ed Lee, the Mayor of San Francisco, is preventing city employees from such travel as well. Elected to address problems and issues directly affecting their constituents, these leaders should not be honing in on the affairs of the Tar Heel state. Of Ed Lee, Franklin Graham wrote,

Can you believe it? I think Mayor Lee needs to focus on the problems of San Francisco—which are many—and leave NC to our governor to manage. He and others who are threatening NC with all kinds of boycotts really need to get their facts straight rather than believing the misinformation promoted by the Progressive Left.

  • The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced on March 24 that

they may reconsider hosting 2017 All-Star Weekend activities in Charlotte, because of their commitment to “equality and mutual respect.” They apparently missed the irony in taking this moral stand, given that the NBA and WNBA are separate leagues, but Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation didn’t, observing on Twitter: “Hey @NBA, you’re against bathrooms based on biology, but think basketball should be?”

Watch Governor McCrory share his perspective on the new North Carolina law.

Before concluding, let’s recall that the NBA opposed the new law on the basis of “equality and mutual respect.” We are compelled to state that while some opponents of North Carolina’s new law may sincerely believe they are promoting these virtues, the policy the Charlotte City Council voted to implement on February 22 would have caused great harm. Whom would it harm?

  • Women. The doors of women’s bathrooms would be thrown open to predatory men. The number of such men will only increase under these kinds of ordinances.
  • Those dealing with gender identity issues—despite the fact that these are the very people the policy was designed to help. Walt Heyer knows. He’s had two sex change operations. Born male, he became Laura, then years later, Walt again. He now has a website called Sex Change Regret. If sex change surgery is harmful, then so is encouraging people to follow their inclinations to act as members of the opposite sex.
  • Finally, the teaching that gender is fluid and a matter of choice is harmful to children—so policies that promote this idea are harmful as well. This information comes from the American College of Pediatricians—professionals who are in a position to know.

I realize that some may oppose the new NC law sincerely and with good intentions, and they can’t rightly be called hypocrites. They are misguided and misinformed nonetheless. Other opponents, however, aren’t so innocent, as we’ve indicated above. Yet, even those who are innocent have a responsibility to be sensitive to the way the law would make women vulnerable.

The truth is that the biggest proponents of anti-bullying measures have become bullies themselves. As Dr. Michael Brown says in this important article, “Christians Must Unite Against Gay Bullies.” Among other things, Dr. Brown states,

As I have warned for years (and repeated almost ad infinitum), the activists who came out of the closet want to put you and me in the closet, and they will not rest until that door is safely shut. It is time for us to say: That will never happen, and we will go to jail rather than compromise our convictions. Your bullying will backfire in the end.…

In the days to come, I plan to lay out some specific calls to action, including a strategy for Christian athletes in the NFL and NBA. But for now, it’s time for us to get on our knees before God so we can stand tall before man, resolving in our hearts that, whatever it takes (in godly, not fleshly terms), we will do what is right.

Whatever strategies Dr. Brown offers, I’m sure he would agree that legislation like North Carolina’s new law should be supported. In Tennessee, Representative Susan Lynn and Senator Mike Bell are two very courageous lawmakers. They are sponsoring legislation that would require students in Tennessee’s public schools to use the restrooms and locker rooms corresponding with their birth sex. As you can imagine, especially in light of recent recent events in Georgia and ongoing events in North Carolina, legislators are tempted to run for the tall grass and hide rather than support this common-sense legislation. If you live in Tennessee, please stay informed on this legislation and let your senator and representative know of your support. Wherever you live, stand for the truth in loving ways, yet in ways that refuse to compromise what you know to be right. Moreover, support those who are telling the truth about this important issue. They’re being vilified and need you to stand with them.

Dr. Brown concludes his article with this word of encouragement.

Billy Graham once said, “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”

Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.
—Billy Graham—

Let courage spread from you to others—in your home, your school, your place of business, your congregation—beginning today.

We will not bow down to the bullies!

If you’re willing to make this commitment, you’re well on the way to winning battle after battle. Why? For this simple reason: “Bullies can’t deal with those who stand up to them.”2

For further reading:

Updates, added April 7, 2016:

Update, added April 15, 2016

Tony Perkins’ Washington Watch, April 15, 2016: Big Biz: Do You Want Appease of Me?

Notes:

1Ben Shapiro, Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America, (New York: Threshold Editions, 2013), 198.

2Shapiro, 7.

Headline graphic courtesy of the Family Research Council.

Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Bold Declarations Needed

Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying,…“So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?”’ Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’”
Ezekiel 33:1,7-11

Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, has locker room facilities it shares with two high schools—Olympia High and Capital High. The Evergreen Swim Club and Aquatics Academy also use the facilities. Keep in mind that Aquatics Academy has students who are six years old.

On September 26, 2012, a girls’ swim team was using the locker room. A biological male identifying as a female also was present, and he exposed himself to the girls through a window in the sauna. The girls’ coach, as well as the mother of one of the team’s members, reported the incident to the police, but they were told that the school would not act to prevent a man from using the women’s locker facilities. According to an eyewitness, the girls subjected to the incident were 6 to 18 years old.

If there ever were a clear case of indecent exposure, you’d think this would be it. Yet the county prosecutor indicated he would not pursue the matter in court to prevent it from occurring again. For its part, Evergreen College provided curtains and directed that the girls change behind those. A spokesman for the school, Jason Wettstein, declared, “The college has to follow state law.…[It] cannot discriminate based on the basis of gender identity. Gender identity is one of the protected things in discrimination law in this state.”

The offender was a student who was 45 years old! He dresses as a woman and calls himself Colleen Francis. He chose to live as a woman beginning in 2009—and this is not the first time he’s behaved this way at Evergreen. He said of the incident, “This is not 1959 Alabama. We don’t call police for drinking from the wrong water fountain.”

David Hacker, Alliance Defending Freedom’s Senior Legal Counsel, came to the aid of the girls and others who were outraged by the incident, declaring that the school’s giving preference to the whims and desires of an adult man over the clear need to protect young girls is “beyond unacceptable.”

DavidHacker

He also said, “Little girls should not be exposed to naked men, period. A college’s notions about ‘non-discrimination’ don’t change that. The idea that the college and the local district attorney will not act to protect young girls is appalling. What Americans are seeing here is the poisoned fruit of so-called ‘non-discrimination’ laws and policies.”

“Poisoned fruit” is absolutely correct. At the time, in a BreakPoint commentary, John Stonestreet described just how far and how fast society had fallen. Two factors have been strongly influential: first, an emphasis on individual rights (including sexual rights) as absolute, and second, a cultural shift that stresses gender over one’s biological sex.

John_Stonestreet_photo

Until very recently a person was either male or female and the determination was based on objective physical criteria. While it isn’t always as simple as I just made it sound, the rule generally held.

Today, we speak in terms of “gender identity,” which “refers to a person’s private sense…and subjective experience.” It doesn’t matter if Francis has had sex-reassignment surgery or not—all that matters is his self-identification as “transsexual.”

It’s not an exaggeration to say that there are potentially as many gender identities as there are people. And under Washington law, each of these is protected from “discrimination” by state agencies such as Evergreen College.

When Francis walked into the women’s locker room, he was a rights-bearing individual whose “right” to use the facility trumped any other interest. Even the mental and sexual health interest of six-year-old girls.

Obviously this is absurd, but it didn’t come out of nowhere—it is where American law and culture have been headed for some time. And there aren’t enough screens to cover this damage.

Unfortunately, the legal situation has worsened in the state of Washington since 2012, further subjecting the general public to the whims of a miniscule few who have certain issues. Certainly we must not minimize these issues, but there are better ways to address them than trouncing on the privacy rights of the public at large. In the name of being sensitive to the tiniest of minorities, the doors have been thrown open to outright predators who will think nothing of feigning transgender experiences to gain access to vulnerable members of the opposite sex. Whatever happened to protecting the majority—especially innocent children? This noble principle is being increasingly ignored.

Apparently some city leaders are all too willing to throw the majority, including young, impressionable children, under the bus. Recently, in February of 2016, Dr. Michael Brown cited the incident at Evergreen State College in a speech warning the leaders of Charlotte, North Carolina, not to adopt a non-discrimination policy that, among other things, would allow a biological male to use a women’s bathroom or locker room facility, and vice-versa. City leaders, wisely, had rejected it in 2015. The text of the speech is available here.  Unfortunately, even against the backdrop of overwhelming opposition to the policy, Brown’s speech and other pleas against the proposal fell on deaf ears. The bill was adopted 7-4.

Billy Graham, the widely known and widely respected evangelist, grew up near Charlotte, which now is home to the Billy Graham Library and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). Graham’s son, Franklin, BGEA’s CEO, was bold in his response to the proposal both before and after it was adopted.

There is much more to discuss here than we will be able to consider in this one post. For now, I would like to highlight some of the words Brown and Graham used in expressing their opposition to the the non-discrimination bill. Note that Brown used the word warning in the title of his public remarks. He called the policy madness. Note as well the underlined words in these quotations from Graham’s Facebook page. Before the vote, Graham said,

Franklin-Graham-Featured2

It’s really hard to believe that such a ludicrous law would even be seriously considered…! Are people just not thinking clearly? This law would allow pedophiles, perverts, and predators into women’s bathrooms. This is wicked and it’s filthy.…It should be inconceivable that Charlotte’s mayor and the supporting City Council members have succumbed to the pressures from depraved sexual activists and are willing to put women and girls at risk like this. The ordinance was defeated last year, and the mayor shouldn’t have allowed it back on the table. Shame on her.

The next day, Graham stressed once more, “Shame on Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and the City Council members who voted last night to pass an ordinance that would allow people to use the bathroom of their choice, not based on their biological sex.”

Especially taken together, these words reflect a rich prophetic tradition of confronting evil directly and forthrightly. Brown and Graham are to be commended for their boldness and candor. Neither man lacks compassion for those struggling with gender identity issues; however, to his credit, neither allowed compassion to overshadow the truth about the bill and the destination to which it certainly will lead. All too often today, out of fear of offending people, ministers fail to present the whole truth about the seriousness of sin and the severity of sin’s consequences. Without abandoning compassion or love, we need to warn people about the road down which society is heading. If we fail to do so, we are complicit in the moral degradation that occurs (see Ezek. 33:7-11). Mark it down! As believers, we don’t just have this responsibility to individuals, but also at the corporate level, in the society in which we live! We’ve been told that we don’t have the right to yell “fire!” in a crowded theatre, but we actually have a duty to do so if there really is a fire! We cannot let a packed theatre burn to the ground simply because we didn’t want to offend anyone!

“But wait!” someone will say. “Society abandoned absolute truth a long time ago, so people don’t have a set of standards by which to understand right and wrong. How can we speak of evil and wickedness and expect people to understand?” This person has a point. As Francis Schaeffer declared in the late 1960s,

Absolutes imply antithesis. The non-Christian went on romantically operating on this basis without a sufficient cause, an adequate base, for doing so. Thus it was still possible to discuss what was right and wrong, what was true and false. One could tell a non-Christian to “be a good girl” and, while she might not have followed your advice, at least she would have understood what you were talking about. To say the same thing to a truly modern girl today would be to make a “nonsense” statement. The blank look you might receive would not mean that your standards had been rejected, but that your message was meaningless.

Francis-Schaeffer

Schaeffer was right in saying that the abandonment of absolute truth has led to a generation—to generations now—who have no familiarity with truth (moral and ethical standards of right and wrong) as far as a societal consensus is concerned. Yet this vividly underscores the critical need to help people see the benefits of such a consensus, and to uphold it and point them to it. Now more than ever, we are witnessing the devastation to which an abandonment of absolute truth in society has led. Do we really want to continue down this path? After struggling in quicksand, surely some relief comes from making one’s way to solid ground. Not all will escape the quicksand, but some will—and with each one that does, society moves closer to a return to truth. Jonah’s preaching provides a wonderful example of how God can use a strong and even harsh message to bring people to repentance. So does the ministry of John the Baptist.

As the Bible indicates, a lack of experiential familiarity with a societal consensus on absolute truth does not mean a person has no reference point at all for fairness and decency. In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis astutely observed, “Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining ‘It’s not fair’ before you can say Jack Robinson.” Hear Romans 2:12-15 in the New Living Translation (NLT):

12 When the Gentiles sin, they will be destroyed, even though they never had God’s written law. And the Jews, who do have God’s law, will be judged by that law when they fail to obey it. 13 For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight. 14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.

Of course, we know that people are more confused about some sins than others. There is a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding in society today about homosexuality and about gender identity. The Bible has answers for the questions that arise from this confusion. These answers include the truths that homosexual activity is sinful and wrong (a violation of God’s plan; see Rom. 1:18-27) and that God created men and women, boys and girls, in His image (see Gen. 1:27). We find fulfillment in God’s design, not apart from it. That said, let’s set these issues aside for a moment and consider how Charlotte’s non-discrimination bill exponentially intensifies the vulnerability of women and young girls. Supporters of the bill may not admit it, but they innately know it is wrong to give male perverts unfettered access to women’s public restrooms.

Thus, the strong language from Michael Brown and Franklin Graham is entirely appropriate—and even necessary. As believers, we need to add our voices to theirs if we haven’t already. We cannot effectively oppose evil or even begin to address it if we fail to call it what it really is.

 

Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Check out the two-minute Bible studies on Easter!

Breaking Bread: Easter

 

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Note:

1 Francis A. Schaeffer, The God Who Is There, in Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy, (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1990, [The God Who Is There was originally published in 1968]), 7.