Florida High School Denies Pro-Life Club, Allows LGBTQ Group: It’s ‘Blatantly Illegal’
A Florida high school is violating federal law and the Constitution by preventing the formation of a pro-life club even though the same school allows dozens of other student clubs, including LGBTQ special-interest ones, a religious liberty group alleges.
Gulf Coast High School in Naples, Fla., refused this year to officially recognize a pro-life club affiliated with Students for Life of America, even though the pro-life student in question, Gabrielle Gabbard, followed every requirement, according to a letter Alliance Defending Freedom submitted to Collier County Public Schools Thursday.
The club was to be called “Sharks 4 Life,” but the assistant principal declined to “approve the club because it was too ‘political’ and ‘controversial,’” the letter says. Further, the assistant principal said, “she did not want either pro-choice or pro-life groups at Gulf Coast,” according to the letter.
“[The] failure to recognize Sharks 4 Life is blatantly illegal under the Equal Access Act and First Amendment, both of which guarantee” Gabbard the right to “have a student club that stands on equal footing with the hundreds of other student clubs in Collier County public schools,” the letter says.
The Equal Access Act prevents schools from receiving federal funding if they deny students the right to conduct meetings because of the “religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meetings.” The letter cites a Supreme Court decision, Board of Education v. Mergens (1990), which said a school that allows one “noncurriculum related student group” may not “deny other clubs” on the basis of their content.
“Public school officials can’t refuse to recognize a student organization for being too ‘political’ or ‘controversial,’ especially when they have rightfully approved a whole host of other clubs formed around religious, political, and social interests,” said ADF legal counsel Michael Ross. “The First Amendment doesn’t permit a public school to play favorites when approving student organizations. Gulf Coast High School must recognize Sharks 4 Life, and Collier County Public Schools needs to update its policies so that this doesn’t happen again.”
The school officially recognizes 78 clubs, including “political groups like Turning Point USA, Young Conservatives, and Gulf Coast’s Collier Students for Change, ethnicity-based groups like clubs for Korean culture or Asian Culture, religious groups like Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and LGBTQ special-interest groups like the Gay-Straight Alliance.”
“These student clubs are an essential part of a student’s education because participating in and leading clubs allows students to develop their own special interests and to develop and express their religious and political views,” the letter says. “But Gulf Coast High School has denied Ms. Gabbard the ability to form her own pro-life student club.”
Teacher Defends Drag Queen Makeup Class: Parents ‘Don’t Know What’s Best’ for Their Children
Mikaela Mathews | ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor | Monday, November 18, 2019
A Texas school district has come under fire for allowing a drag queen to teach makeup to a high school cosmetology class.
Though school administrators communicated the event, several parents were concerned that the event happened in the first place, according to local reports. The man, who dresses as a woman, goes by the name of Lynn Adonis-Deveaux, though his real name is unknown.
“I’ve got a problem when somebody with a false name enters a school and has advertised himself as an adult exotic dancer for men…Nobody would be allowed in a school under those circumstances,” said Conroe ISD trustee Dale Inman.
But teachers within the surrounding school district believe that parents shouldn’t have as loud of a voice when it comes to these issues.
In a post on Facebook, Willis ISD teacher Anthony Lane said, “I believe that raising a child is the responsibility of the community, and that parents should not have the final say. Let’s be honest, some of you don’t know what is best for your kids. I have learned a ton about what is best for [my son] Ethan from his teachers, not the other way around.
“Parents believe they should be able to storm the school in the name of political and religious beliefs if something happens in the school that they are morally opposed to. They forget that we make a promise to prepare their children to live in a diverse world. We are not required to protect the misguided, bigoted views of their parents.”
Lane also supported the event, hoping that the district would “make an initiative to teach our kids to be tolerant and respectful.”
The Houston-area community has remained split on the issue. David Riley, a pastor at Grace Family Fellowship Church, wondered how guest speakers are vetted.
“My question is this: Who examined the character of the person who stood before our kids?” he asked at a trustees meeting.
Amid boos, Willis High School Principal Stephanie Hodgins said her staff is working to improve communication.
“We make decisions always keeping in mind these questions: Is this what’s best for kids? Is this what’s going to help us grow academically?” she said. “If the answer to these questions is no, then we move on. But if the answer is yes, then we are moving in the right direction.”
The district concluded the most recent trustees meeting saying that they “have examined our process on guest speakers and have made some adjustments in regard to communication to better serve the Willis ISD community.”
5 Reasons Evangelicals Like President Trump and 5 Reasons They Don’t
When Donald Trump announced that he was running for President in June of 2015, it would have been hard to predict that he would become the favorite candidate of evangelical Christians. Everything about the thrice-married billionaire seemed to run afoul of what evangelicals had professed to be looking for in a presidential candidate.
However, despite some detractors, the President remains popular with a large percentage of evangelicals. An October 2019 survey found that 82 percent of white evangelicals want Trump to be the Republican Party’s candidate for President in 2020, the most of any subgroup.
Here are five reasons that evangelicals love President Trump:
- HE REFUSES TO BE POLITICALLY CORRECT
I first heard an evangelical Christian decry political correctness during Bill Clinton’s first term in the early 1990s. Since then, Christians have increasingly felt like the culture is more and more hesitant to say what is true because it could hurt someone’s feelings. Then, in stepped Donald Trump. Jack Graham, the pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas and former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, said of Trump, “He’s a fighter and he fights for things he believes in like the right to life – he’s not politically correct but he’s willing to take on the difficult issues.”
- HE HAS PROMISED TO PROTECT RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
Evangelicals have felt like they were under attack from the surrounding culture for decades and those fears have only escalated because of comments from Democratic Presidential candidates. In studying the popularity of President Trump among evangelicals, Gerardo Marti argued in the journal Sociology of Religion that he “occupies a pivotal role in forcefully affirming their feelings of being threatened and working to maintain their interests into the future.”
Robert Jeffress summed up evangelical’s thankfulness for President Trump in a recent interview about the rising number of people in America who claim no religion. He said “Leftists” have been attacking Christianity in America for “seventy years.” He said Christianity would survive the attacks, but he is not sure if America will. He argued that Americans must push back against the attacks on religion coming from the left and said, “It’s why I’m so grateful and supportive for President Trump, who wants to end these attacks on religion that have been launched by leftist courts for the last six decades.”
- HE HAS NOMINATED STRICT CONSTRUCTIONIST JUDGES
The marriage of Evangelical Christianity and the Republican Party began over the issues of abortion and increasing judicial activism. Christians believed that Republican Presidents would appoint Supreme Court Justices who might be willing to overturn Roe v. Wade and who would commit to interpreting the Constitution rather than legislating from the bench.
President Trump promised to nominate judges who would fit that mold as he ran for President in 2016 with a Supreme Court vacancy hanging in the balance. Trump even went so far as to release a list of judges he might consider if he was elected. Evangelicals who did not want to vote for Trump in 2016 were frequently reminded that they did not want Hillary Clinton appointing the next Supreme Court Justice. After President Trump won, he kept his promise by nominating Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia and Brett Kavanaugh to fill the seat that came open after Anthony Kennedy’s retirement. Evangelicals know that other seats could be coming open soon and want President Trump nominating the replacements rather than a Democrat.
- HE WORKS TO PUT AMERICA FIRST
In a 2013 study, white evangelicals were most likely to say they were “extremely proud” to be an American, with over two-thirds agreeing with the statement. Eighty-four percent said they believe that God granted the United States a special role in history. With their intense love for America, evangelicals are likely to buy into decline narratives when they see America shrinking from the special role they believe it enjoys.
President Trump came out of the gate in 2015 with an America First message. His promise to “Make America Great Again” resonated with many evangelicals because they could remember America’s glory days and they wanted to see them return. Trump said he would build a border wall and put Americans back to work again. He spoke of the American military with great affection and talked about America like it was the greatest country in the world. People who love America as much as evangelicals do have embraced this message.
- HE ENJOYS THE SUPPORT OF EVANGELICAL LEADERS
When many evangelicals were not sure if they could support Trump in good conscience, evangelical leaders came out of the woodwork to rally around him. Robert Jeffress, the pastor of the influential First Baptist Dallas, appeared at rallies with Trump and expressed support for his agenda. Jerry Falwell, Jr., President of Liberty University, invited Trump to address the student body at Liberty and enthusiastically supported his campaign.
President Trump has also enjoyed the enthusiastic support of Reverend Franklin Graham since he won the Republican nomination. Graham even called for a day of prayer for the President in June of 2019 because “no president has been attacked” more than Trump has and because “the only hope for him, and this nation is God.”
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Alex Wong/Staff
While many evangelicals remain supportive of President Trump, a number were critical of Trump before the election and others have abandoned him since his time in office began.
Here are five reasons that some evangelicals do not support the President:
- HE SPEAKS ILL OF OTHER PEOPLE
President Trump kicked off his Presidential campaign by demeaning immigrants who cross the border from Mexico. Within the first couple of months of his campaign, he denigrated John McCain’s military service, opining that he likes having heroes who weren’t captured. He insulted opponents by giving them derisive nicknames and appeared to mock a reporter who suffers from a physical handicap.
Trump’s supporters love his insults, claiming that he doesn’t speak like a politician and that it’s proof that he is a fighter. However, other evangelicals respond that he is degrading our nation’s political discourse and say they cannot support someone who speaks so sinfully about other people made in God’s image. David French commented on Trump’s language in the National Review, saying, “How can I support a man who demonstrates such a breathtaking level of malice and cruelty in his treatment of his fellow citizens?”
- HE HAS QUESTIONABLE ETHICS
One of the chief reasons almost all evangelicals paused when they considered supporting Trump was because of his moral character. After all, evangelicals were the ones who were beating the drum for character in politicians in the 1990s. President Trump boasted of his sexual exploits, even going so far as to say that trying to keep from getting an STD in the 1960s was his own “personal Vietnam.” He has boasted of grabbing women by the genitals and faces credible reports of cheating on his wife while she was pregnant with his son. Also, the President displays a penchant for spreading outright lies and wild conspiracy theories.
Some evangelicals have rationalized their support for Trump by comparing him to King David. After all, did God reject David from being king after he had Uriah murdered? Evangelicals bothered by Trump’s questionable character have pointed out that the Prophet Nathan confronted David about his sin and that modern-day evangelicals should do the same with their current leader.
- HE HURTS EVANGELICAL WITNESS
Many evangelicals worry about how we can evangelize the culture after our open support of President Trump. Writing in the Atlantic, Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, said, “Nonchalantly jettisoning the ethic of Jesus in favor of a political leader who embraces the ethic of Thrasymachus and Nietzsche” comes at “the cost of Christian witness.”
Critics of evangelicals cite the statistic that 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump and use it as a battering ram to discredit the Christian message. Evangelicals worry that it will be difficult to regain credibility in the public square on moral issues after supporting a blatantly immoral man.
- HE IGNORES THE LEAST OF THESE
When President Trump rode down the escalator in Trump Tower to announce his Presidency, he made building a wall on the southern border the focal point of his campaign. Then, after a shooting in San Bernardino, he promised to restrict the immigration of Muslims to the United States. He shrank the number of refugees who could find asylum in the United States. Evangelical critics allege that the President has no heart for those whom Jesus calls “the least of these.”
Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention contrasted the President’s seeming contempt for immigrants with the love Christians should have for those coming from other nations. “Christians can disagree about what our exact policies should be… What we cannot disagree about would be the immigrants themselves. The Bible very clearly reveals that what we’re dealing with here is not a problem to be solved, but people who are created in the image of God. And so, while a Christian may have a disagreement with another Christian about exactly what bill should be passed to address the problem, a Christian can’t participate in immigrant-bashing and demonization of or mistreatment of people who are suffering around the world.”
- HE’S THE KIND OF MAN EVANGELICALS ONCE CRITICIZED
In a scathing opinion piece at the Washington Post, John Fea reminds readers of what evangelical leaders said during the last Presidential impeachment in 1998. He pointed to an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal from 1998 in which Franklin Graham criticized Americans for believing “the notion that what a person does in private has little bearing on his public actions or job performance, even if he is the president of the United States.”
Fea also reprinted the words of James Dobson, who served on Trump’s evangelical advisory committee, who said in 1998 that “you can’t run a family, let alone a country, without character. How foolish to believe that a person who lacks honesty and moral integrity is qualified to lead a nation and the world!” Evangelicals who are critical of Trump point to declarations like these and wonder what changed– the indispensability of character, or our values. Evangelicals warned about men like President Trump in the 1990s, but in the 2010s they have embraced him and heralded him as the new King David.
As President Trump’s impeachment proceedings continue and the race for the White House in 2020 ramps up, evangelicals will continue to have strong feelings about President Trump. Some will continue to support him, some will abandon him, and some will dig deeper in their opposition, but all Christians must obey the words of 1 Timothy 2 and pray for our leaders.
New Bill Seeks to Introduce Bible Classes across Florida Public Schools
Will Maule | ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor | Friday, October 18, 2019
A new bill introduced by a Florida Democrat seeks to introduce Bible classes as standard across the state’s schools. House Bill 341, which was put forward by evangelist and Jacksonville politician, Rep. Kim Daniels, specifies that schools must offer classes covering both the Old and New Testament.
The introductory text to the bill declares that each school district must “offer specified courses relating to religion, Hebrew Scriptures, & Bible to certain students as elective courses.” While students would not be forced to attend the classes, they must all be presented with the option to enroll.
In addition, the state’s Department of Education would also be required to add the courses to the Course Code Directory, as per the bill.
Should the legislation be successful, it is slated to take effect July 1, 2020.
Daniels, the founder of “Spoken Word Ministries,” has had mixed success in her attempts to bring Christianity into the classroom. In 2017, she was instrumental in the passing of the “Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act,” which prohibits school districts from discriminating against students, parents, & school personnel on the basis of religious viewpoints or expression.”
Then, in 2018, Daniels spearheaded HB 839, which requires schools to display the motto, “In God We Trust,” in a prominent place on campus. However, the evangelist’s previous attempt to introduce Bible classes, HB 195, failed to pass through the subcommittee stage earlier this year.
Speaking to NBC-2, students expressed mixed opinions on the latest legislative proposal. “I personally feel like a large majority of students wouldn’t care about the class,” one said. “I ask them, are they going to teach the Torah, the Quran and all the other stuff, because separation of church and state.”
Others felt more optimistic about the notion of elective Bible classes.
“Don’t shut something out that you haven’t tried,” said one high schooler, suggesting that the new course could “[open] up your mind” and help students develop more diverse friendships.
Photo courtesy: Priscilla du Preez/Unsplash
There is no Gay Gene- pulled from News Watch
As reported by Live Science, in a genome-association study of nearly 500,00 people in the U.S., U.K., and Sweden, researches noted, “No individual gene alone makes a person gay, lesbian or bi-sexual; instead, thousands of genes likely influence sexual orientation” (August 29, 2019). The finding led the researchers to conclude “the predisposition to same-sex sexual behavior appeared influenced by complete mix pf genetic and environmental influences.” That is, homosexuality is not somethings preordained at birth. As one of the study’s co-authors stated, “It’s effectively impossible to predict and individual’s sexual behavior from their genome,” demonstrating that the “gay gene” is, in the word of Live Science, “a total myth.”
NEWS IN BRIEF
Record 10.2 Percent of TV Characters Are LGBT, New Report Shows
Michael Foust | ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor | Tuesday, November 12, 2019
A record 10.2 percent of regular characters on primetime broadcast television shows in their current seasons are LGBTQ, according to a new report that also calls on the networks to aim for 20 percent by the year 2025.
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s annual “Where We Are On TV” report examines the presence of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters on broadcast and cable television. It is the 24th year GLAAD has released the report.
Last year, 8.8 percent of regular characters on primetime broadcast TV were LGBTQ, and GLAAD subsequently issued a challenge for the networks to reach 10 percent.
“In a single year, broadcast surpassed that goal, climbing to a record-high 10.2 percent of broadcast series regulars being LGBTQ characters,” the report says.
A total of 90 regular characters in the 2019-20 primetime broadcast season are LGBTQ, according to the report, while 792 are straight.
Shows with LGBTQ representation include The CW’s Batwoman, in which the title character is lesbian, the CW’s Riverdale (Cheryl Blossom and Toni Topaz are lesbian), ABC’s Stumptown (Dex is bisexual), ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy(Doctors Levi Schmitt, Nico Kim and Casey Parker are gay), Fox’s 9-1-1: Lone Star (Paul Strickland is transgender) and NBC’s Good Girls (Isaiah Stannard is transgender).
“The role of television in changing hearts and minds has never been more important,” GLAAD said in its report. “Indeed, our nation’s cultural institutions are being called to stand in the gap at this tumultuous time in the history of our movement for full acceptance.”
NEWS IN BRIEF
Thousands of Witches Plan to Cast ‘Binding’ Spell on Trump
Mikaela Mathews | ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor | Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Thousands of self-proclaimed “witches” will gather together on October 25 to cast a “binding” spell on President Donald Trump in an effort to stop “his malignant works.”
According to CBN News, this spell is hardly the first that Wiccans have cast on the administration. Since Trump’s inauguration, witches have met together in masses to hold rituals for “the protection of immigrants and refugees, reproductive rights, anti-fascism, and the protection of the earth.”
This spell will take place at 11:59 pm and is not intended to harm Trump, simply bind him. Thousands of people across the world have gathered at previous rituals and organizers anticipate just as large of a showing.
“Knowing thousands of people are gathering together at the same time from all over the world to do this ritual and to put our beliefs and our desires into sharp focus, and to do that ritualistically, I think that has a really powerful effect,” Michael Hughes, a self-described magical thinker and activist told the Washington Examiner.
Many of these witches believe that their spells are working, manifested in the Democratic attempt to impeach Trump, and that casting them makes them feel empowered after the election. They have also attempted the same rituals against other powerful leaders, such as Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
But several spiritual authorities warn people from being pulled into the event.
“Some [people] may be doing it thinking it’s just fun, but they are gambling with evil, and just because their motive is one way doesn’t mean they’re not opening up any entry point for evil in their own life,” Father Vincent Lampert, a Roman Catholic priest and designated exorcist of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis said. “I think evil will present itself as something good, maybe initially to attract people’s attention, to draw people in, but then ultimately people are going to discover it’s all about fracturing their lives.”
According to studies, witchcraft is on the rise in the US. Between 1990 and 2008, Wicca grew from 8,000 adherents to 340,000. A 2014 Pew study put that number at an estimated 1.5 million people.