Arkansas State University called an audible and decided to reverse its decision banning memorial crosses that football players had placed on their helmets to honor two fallen teammates.
The team had been ordered to either remove or modify the small cross decals, honoring former player Markel Owens and former team equipment manager Barry Weyer, following complaints that the cross violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
“It is the university’s position that any player who wishes to voluntarily place an NCAA-compliant sticker on their helmet to memorialize individuals will be able to do so,” the university announced in a letter.
Liberty Institute, a law firm that specializes in religious liberty issues, had given the university until Wednesday to reverse its decision or face a possible lawsuit. They represented one of the ASU football players.
“This is a great victory for the players of Arkansas State University,” said Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for Liberty Institute. “The university officials and the Arkansas Attorney General did the right thing restoring the religious liberty and free speech rights of the players to have the original cross sticker design if they so choose and we commend them for doing so.”
However, (and this is a big however), the university maintains they had a rock solid reason to ban the crosses in the first place. They denied they violated anyone’s constitutional rights.
The decals on the helmets “were not student speech,” ASU legal counsel Lucinda McDaniel wrote in a letter to Sasser. “Rather, the decals constituted government speech.”
The crosses drew the ire of a Jonesboro, Arkansas attorney along with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based atheist group.
“The crosses appeared to confer State’s endorsement of religion, specifically Christianity,” the FFRF wrote. “The inclusion of the Latin cross on the helmets also excludes the 19 percent of the American population that is non-religious.”
The team had worn the cross decals for two football games – without any complaints. And to the best of my recollection, the decals did not spark a Billy Graham-style revival meeting nor did fans bombard the field during halftime seeking to be baptized.
To make matters even worse, perpetually offended FFRF co-presidents Annie Lauire Gaylor and Dan Barker went so far as to suggest alternative ways for the football players to mourn.
“Many teams around the country honor former teammates by putting that player’s number on their helmets or jerseys, or by wearing a black armband,” they wrote in a letter to the University. “Either of those options, or another symbolic gesture free from religion imagery, would be appropriate.”
Fearing a potential lawsuit, McDaniel suggested the cross be modified into a makeshift mathematical plus (+) sign — because apparently nothing says “In Memoriam” like applied mathematics.
Liberty Institute claimed the cross memorial was perfectly legal and had been designed by students. However, ASU said the design was in fact created by the head coach. The memorial was jointly approved by members of the team’s leadership council as well as members of the coaching staff — and paid for with public funds.
And here’s the biggest oops — the coaching staff did all that without consulting with the university’s legal department.
“When this was brought to the attention of ASU’s administrative and legal officials, the decals were modified so that they were a single, horizontal bar that continues to bear the initials of the former students,” McDaniel wrote. “This was done, of course, to avoid Establishment Clause concerns.”
In the university’s opinion, the memorial stickers were “officially sponsored.”
“At no time was it ever our intention to limit the free speech of our student-athletes,” McDaniel wrote. “The university strongly believes in the rights of our students to freely express their beliefs.”
Sasser concedes the coaching staff messed up. Nevertheless, he’s glad ASU is going to let the players honor their fallen teammates.
“The correct solution is for Arkansas State University to get out of the way and let players place the stickers on the helmets if they so choose,” he told me.
How sad, though, that we live in a nation where it is against the law for a university football coach to design a memorial that includes a religious icon.
To wrap things up in Jonesboro, Arkansas – the kids could have the stickers affixed to their helmets by Saturday’s game. And the university made it abundantly clear that not a single penny of public money will be used to fund the memorial.
“The display of these stickers will be totally voluntary and completely independent of university involvement,” McDaniel wrote. “The university will not procure the stickers, purchase them or affix them to the helmets.”
How about that for a bucket load of Grade A legalese?
While they’re at it, maybe they can procure a spine and affix it to some of those intellectual eggheads.
Pastor Daniel Ausbun and his familyPHOTO COURTESY OF DANIEL AUSBUN
YouTube has reversed its ban on Pastor Ausbun’s channel. YouTube sent the pastor a message telling him his account is once again active and operational. “After a review of your account, we have confirmed that your YouTube account is not in violation of our Terms of Service.” Click here to watch the sermon Pastor Ausbun’s preached on ISIS.
The pastor of a small-town Baptist church in Georgia says he got banned from YouTube after he posted video of a Sunday sermon he gave about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
On Aug. 24, Ausbun delivered a sermon about the Islamic State, terrorism, radical Islam and Christian persecution in the Middle East.
“So many people in the church had been asking about it,” the pastor told me. “This was almost more of an educational sermon.”
Based on a copy of his sermon notes, the pastor based his message on several New Testament verses – including Matthew 24:9. That verse reads: “Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of My name.”
Ausbun told his congregation that Middle Eastern Christians were given a choice to convert to Islam, pay a tax, leave immediately or face death. He also warned that ISIS is recruiting Westerners. He encouraged the church to pray for the Gospel message to advance despite terrorism and war.
About three-and-a-half years ago, Ausbun started a YouTube channel for church members who missed the Sunday service. Over the years, he posted dozens of sermon videos without a single problem – until Aug. 27.
“I received an email from YouTube telling me that my account had been terminated for violation of the terms of service and their community guidelines,” he said. “They actually terminated my entire account.”
Ausbun said he decided to read YouTube’s community guidelines, and that’s when he put two and two together. They thought his sermon amounted to hate speech.
YouTube clearly states that it doesn’t permit “hate speech” – and that includes “speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion” and so on and so forth.
“They didn’t tell me exactly why they terminated my account, but by default there was nothing else wrong,” Ausbun said. “It had to be hate speech.”
For the past week he’s been trying to reach someone at YouTube to explain what happened. So far, his calls have gone unreturned. I sent them a message, too. So far, no response.
“They didn’t like what I preached on,” Ausbun said. “I shared about radical Islam from a Christian perspective, and they consider that to be hate speech.”
I wish I could direct you to a link of the pastor’s message but YouTube deleted it. So, I can’t tell you verbatim what the pastor said. However, according to his sermon notes, there was nothing hateful about what he preached.
Ausbun concedes that YouTube can censor whatever videos it wishes. But he does wonder – what else is it banning?
YouTube came under a firestorm of criticism after ISIS was allowed to post a video showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley.
YouTube removed the video and explained its policy in a statement to the website Mediaite.
“YouTube has clear policies that prohibit content like gratuitous violence, hate speech and incitement to commit violent acts, and we remove videos violating these policies when flagged by our users,” the statement read. “We also terminate any account registered by a member of a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization and used in an official capacity to further its interests.”
To the best of anyone’s knowledge, the First Baptist Church in Moreland is not a foreign terrorist organization. The pastor says he simply wanted to inform his church about the threat posed by Islamic terrorists and pray for the victims of their Islamic slaughter. Is that hate speech?
“I’m literally terminated – like I’m the terrorist,” the pastor said.
Ausbun said what happened to him could happen to other American pastors under the guise of banning “hate speech.”
“Anything a pastor preaches on – whether it be radical Islam, homosexuality, the teachings of Jesus – YouTube can label that hate speech and censor their sermons,” he said.
The Georgia preacher said he decided to contact me because people need to be aware of YouTube’s censorship.
“ISIS is recruiting Americans to get trained over there, and we know what they are going to do,” he said. “They are not going to stay in Iraq and Syria. They’re coming back to our country.
Pastors should be speaking out on this. This is a grave concern to our Christian brothers and sisters who are literally dying for their faith, and it could affect our lives here.”
In the meantime, Pastor Ausbun has launched a new video channel – on Vimeo.
Kendra Turner was brought up right. She’s the kind of kid who says “yes sir” and “no ma’am.” She was “raised up right,” with good manners as they are prone to say around Dyersburg, Tennessee.
So it was not out of character for Kendra to say “bless you” after a fellow classmate sneezed. But that common courtesy landed the 18-year-old in hot water.
Kendra said she was rebuked by her teacher at Dyer County High School and thrown out of class for violating the teacher’s ban on the words “bless you.”
“She said that we’re not going to have godly speaking in her class and that’s when I said we have a constitutional right,” Turner told Memphis television station WMC.
Another student sent the television station a photo taken inside the teacher’s classroom showing a list of banned words. Among the censored words are “dump,” “stupid,” “my bad,” “hang out” and “bless you.”
She wrote about her incredible story on Facebook -– and as they say these days – the story went viral.
“I stood up and said, ‘My pastor said I have a constitutional right – 1st amendment freedom of speech,’” Kendra wrote on Facebook. “She said, ‘Not in my class you don’t.”
Kendra says she was tossed out of the class and sent to the principal’s office where things apparently went from bad to worse.
“The assistant principal said if I didn’t want to respect my teacher’s rules then maybe my pastor should teach me because my freedom (of) speech and religion does not work at their school,” she wrote.
As you might imagine the school has a very different take on what happened inside that classroom.
“We can’t discuss discipline issues because of right to privacy of students,” assistant principal Lynn Garner told the Dyersburg Gazette. “But I can say there are two sides to every story. Sometimes people spin things and turn them to make them seem one way.”
The assistant principal said Kendra was sent to In School Suspension as a matter of protocol. She was allowed to leave at the end of the class period.
“In this case, this was not a religious issue at all, but more of an issue the teacher felt was a distraction in her class,” Garner told the newspaper.
To be clear – the school would have us believe that a child telling a classmate “bless you” after a sneeze somehow caused a classroom commotion so severe it warranted a punishment? It’s a good thing Kendra didn’t offer her classmate a tissue.
Kendra’s pastor is among those not buying the school’s explanation and he’s taking a public stand in defense of the young girl.
“I believe this young lady,” said Steven Winegardner, the pastor of the Dyersburg First Assembly of God. “Everything she said took place.”
Winegardner told me he’s hoping students will lead a petition drive to force the school to overturn the classroom ban on the words “bless you.”
“Christians have been told to be quiet, to shut up,” he said. “It’s ridiculous. Everybody has a right to their beliefs. I’m glad Kendra stood up.”
Winegardener’s wife told WMC that the teacher had issues with other students using the words “bless you.”
“There were several students that were talking about this particular faculty member there that was very demeaning to them in regard to their faith,” she told the television station.
Every now and then a story will land on my desk that seems too outrageous to be true. And to be certain there are two very different versions of what happened in that classroom. But I’m prone to believe Kendra, too.
That’s because Tuesday, a school official tried to convince me this young lady was a trouble maker. They were clever with their words – but that was the impression I received.
That same school official told me there was no ban on the words “bless you.” But a classroom photograph proves otherwise.
They said she was not punished. But Kendra’s pastor saw the slip of paper that ordered her to In School Suspension.
For whatever reason, the school will not explain why the teacher has an issue with the words “bless you.” This one is a head-scratcher, folks. But one thing is clear – religious intolerance is nothing to sneeze at.
There is growing outrage among sailors and religious liberty advocates over adirective that calls for the removal of Bibles from lodges and hotels run on U.S. Navy bases. The directive comes after an atheist group filed a formal complaint earlier this year over the placement of Bibles in the rooms.
“The current direction is to remove all religious material from Navy Lodge guest rooms,” read an email to a Navy chaplain from The Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM). “For those Navy Lodges with religious materials currently in guest rooms, the Navy Lodge General Manager will contact the Installation Chaplain’s office who will provide guidance on the removal procedure disposition of these materials.”
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The American Family Association received an exclusive copy of a similar directive from NEXCOM, the organization that manages the lodges.
“The Navy Lodge General Manager should advise the Installation Commanding Officer of our intention to work through the chaplain’s office to determine what installation policy is and the method to remove religious material currently in the guest rooms,” read a directive approved by Michael Bockelman, the vice president of NEXCOM and the director of the Navy Lodge Program.
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In other words, they’ve got to figure out a way to dispose of God’s Word.
I contacted NEXCOM spokesperson Kathleen Martin hoping to get the inside scoop. Yes or no — are Bibles being removed from Navy-run lodges? Martin dodged my question and to be quite frank, gave me the runaround. She refused, on numerous occasions, to explain the whereabouts of the lodge Bibles.
“Lodge managers are coordinating with base chaplains regarding the disposition of all religious material,” she said.
Martin said the directive will impact about 40 Navy lodges around the world.
“We looked at our policy — and realized there wasn’t a consistent policy regarding Navy Lodges,” she told me. “We decided we needed to have some consistency and be consistent with the Navy.”
I figured I would try one more time. Yes or no — will the Navy allow Bibles to be placed in Navy lodges? Martin refused to answer the question.
The order was hailed by the Freedom From Religious Foundation. The FFRF had filed a complaint with the military — claiming the presence of the Bible “amounts to a government endorsement of that religious text.”
“FFRF is pleased to learn that NEXCOM has taken seriously its constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion as a representative of our federal government,” FFRF Sam Grover told me. “By removing Bibles from Navy-run lodges, the Navy has taken a step to ensure that it is not sending the impermissible message that Christians are favored over guests with other religious beliefs or over those guests with no religion.”
The Bibles had been placed in the rooms, free of charge, by Gideons International.
An active duty service member contacted me and alerted me the Bibles were being taken out of hotel rooms and a lodge housekeeper told American Family Association the same thing.
“They told us to put them in boxes where they would be taken to a donation center somewhere,” the housekeeper told AFA.
The Navy even has a plan in the event, heaven forbid, a guest leaves behind their Bible.
“All religious materials left by a Navy Lodge guest, in the future, will be dealt with following established procedures for lost and found property,” the directive states.
FFRF said they were alerted to the Bible controversy by “two concerned service members.”
“One complainant noted that he ‘never saw a Book of Mormon or Koran’ in any Navy-run lodge,” read an FFRF letter to the Navy.
Mikey Weinstein, the president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told me he was delighted to hear of the Navy’s directive. His organization has been trying for more than seven years to cleanse military hotel rooms of the Good Book.
“We are happy to see the military doing that,” Weinstein said. “For years we’ve been telling them those Bibles are a violation of the Establishment Clause.”
Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, blasted the Navy for removing the Bibles.
“This is just one more assault by military leaders against anything Christian,” Crews told me. “It’s getting tiresome to see senior military leaders cave in to those who appear to be offended by Christians, by Christian symbols and now by the Bible itself.”
Crews said there’s nothing wrong with allowing the Gideons to place Bibles in Navy lodges — at no cost to the Navy.
“Our military service men and women have every right to look at literature in hotel rooms — including the Scriptures,” he said.
Pastors and churches have been banned from helping the thousands of illegal immigrant children housed in border detention facilities run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, clergy in Texas and Arizona tell me.
“Border Patrol told us pastors and churches are not allowed to visit,” said Kyle Coffin, the pastor of CrossRoads Church in Tucson, Arizona. “It’s pretty heartbreaking that they don’t let anybody in there — even credentialed pastors.”
A public affairs officer for the Border Patrol confirmed that ministers and church groups have been banned from the Nogales Placement Center.
“Due to the unique operational and security challenges of the Nogales Placement Center, religious services provided by outside faith leaders are not possible at this time,” the Border Patrol told me in a statement. “However, CBP’s chaplaincy program is supporting the spiritual needs of the minors for the limited time they are at the center.”
Coffin and a group of pastors from the Tucson area were hoping to provide spiritual encouragement and friendship to the hundreds of illegal immigrant children housed in a detention center in Nogales.
“It’s pretty ugly down there,” he told me. “They’re packed in there like sardines.”
Coffin said he was having lunch with four other ministers when they started tossing out ideas – ways their churches might be able to be an encouragement to the children being held.
One of the other ministers placed a telephone call to Border Patrol and was turned away. So Coffin decided to make a telephone call, too – and what he was told was startling.
“They flat-out said no,” he said.
What about just a pastoral visit to encourage the children?
“They said no,” he said.
What about allowing pastors to pray with the children?
“There was an immediate no,” he replied.
The message was clear – men and women of the cloth were not welcome at the border.
“That frustrates me to no end, to be honest with you,” Coffin told me. “It drives me absolutely nuts that our government would turn us away.”
He said churches are not even allowed bring soccer balls or play ping pong with the illegal immigrant children.
Pastor Coffin even asked if they could provide the children with toys, blankets and food. But the federal government’s response was the same – no donations allowed.
“We just wanted to go down there and have a presence because we care about people,” he said. “That’s all we wanted to do. For the church to be available sends a message that the church cares.”
Religious folks in San Antonio had a similar experience. One professional counselor at a camp run by BCFS, an organization previously known as Baptist Child and Family Services, said there were no clergy at all.
“The clergy needed to be involved with the children,” my source told me. “The children were very spiritual and their spiritual needs were not being cared for.”
My source said a group of counselors urged BCFS to consider bringing in a priest or minister.
“We were turned down,” my source said.
“We had suggested they bring in a priest on Sunday,” the counselor said. “Instead, they had a girl playing a cassette tape of Christian songs. They denied those kids the opportunity to be with a minister.”
The counselor said during her entire tenure working at the Lackland Air Force Base camp, she never saw a single minister.
“It was heartbreaking,” the counselor said. “The church needs to become involved. The spiritual needs of these children need to be tended to.”
BCFS tells me they now provide religious services for the children at Lackland. They also said boys and girls are provided a Spanish-language Bible should they desire one.
Back in Tucson, Pastor Coffin said churches have a responsibility to help the children.
“We have a heart to treat immigrants, whether legal or not, with respect,” he said. “It’s not our job to judge whether they came here for legitimate reasons.”
Coffin describes CrossRoads Church as a conservative congregation that has a “huge heart for the poor in our community.”
“I don’t politicize,” he said. “I just teach the Bible.”
That being said, Pastor Coffin believes the government has overstepped its constitutional authority – and is trying to do the work of the church.
“Back in the day, if you were in trouble and poor, the first thing you thought of was going to the church,” he said. “Whether it was for food, clothing, shelter or helping pay bills – the church was the front line. Now, it’s the government who is the front line.”
Pastor Coffin believes it’s time for the church to take back what the government took away.
“We’re not anti-government at all,” he said. “We think the government is equipped to do what they were constitutionally created to do – and not do the church’s job.”
But I’m afraid under this administration, the government believes they are church and President Obama is the deity. Heaven help us all.
Their survey found that 85 percent of Americans want to keep “under God” in the pledge.
The survey results show little support for changing the pledge, says Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research.
“Most Americans have recited the pledge hundreds of times and are not inclined to memorize a different pledge,” said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research. “Changing it may just feel wrong. Most Americans say they believe in God or a higher being and feel comfortable having ‘under God’ in the pledge.”
Earlier this week, the American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey school district claiming the words “under God” violated the state constitution.
The group says the phrase, added in 1954, “marginalizes atheist and humanist kids as something less than ideal patriots.”
“Public schools should not engage in an exercise that tells students that patriotism is tied to a belief in God,” said David Niose, attorney for the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “Such a daily exercise portrays atheist and humanist children as second-class citizens, and certainly contributes to anti-atheist prejudices.”
LifeWay researchers did find one in four Americans (25 percent) believe forcing students to say “under God” violates their rights. But less than one in 10 (eight percent) Americans want to remove “under God” from the pledge.
The study by LifeWay Research also found younger Americans are more likely to support removal of “under God” from the pledge. Fourteen percent of those ages 18-29 want to remove the phrase, compared to five percent of those over 64.
I was in the mood for a ham sandwich the other day so I walked around the corner to my neighborhood market to pick up some provisions.
I snagged a shopping cart with three workable wheels and maneuvered my way through the store humming along to a Muzak menagerie of Mr. Mister and Lionel Richie songs. I stopped for a brief moment in the produce aisle to admire a pair of hipsters as they harmonized to “Say You, Say Me.”
Anyway, after selecting a deli ham, I dropped by condiments aisle to get a jar of spicy mustard along with some bread & butter pickles.
I was about check out when I suddenly remembered that I needed some cheese.
So I made a beeline for the dairy aisle and that’s when I made a startling discovery. I brought my three-wheeled shopping cart to a screeching halt. I came face to face with a massive sign bearing giant letters.
It read: “HISPANIC CHEESE.”
I stared at the display for quite some time. I found myself drifting into an imaginary conversation with a store clerk…
“Do you need some help, sir?”
“Yes. Could you tell me where you keep the Caucasian cheese?”
“I’m sorry, sir but we don’t carry Caucasian cheese – although, we do have a rather nice selection of white cheddars.”
I was tempted to purchase some “Hispanic” cheese, but I feared retribution at the checkout counter. What if the clerk confronted me about trying to purchase a cheese that was contrary to my ethnicity?
“Sir, I’m afraid you’ve violated our tolerance and diversity regulations,” I imagined the clerk saying. “It’s apparent that Hispanic cheese is nacho cheese.”
So to be safe, I decided to purchase American cheese (which is allowed provided you have at least two forms of government identification).
I found the entire episode a bit disconcerting. When did they start segregating the dairy products?
Seeing how President Obama ushered the nation into a post-racial age, you’d think grocery stores would be a bit more sensitive to that kind of thing.
Why single out the Hispanic cheeses?
What about the Italians or the French?
What’s next? Will grocery stores separate American cabbage from Bok Choy? Will Basmati rice be allowed to share shelf space with Uncle Ben’s?
Oh, how my taste buds weep for the less fortunate cheese among us.
I recall that delightful song from church days gone by. “Jesus loves the little cheeses, all the cheeses of the world. Swiss and Cheddar, stinky, too. If He loved them, so should you. Jesus loves the little cheeses of the world.”
I hold this truth to be self evident – that all curds are created equal, that they are endowed by their cheese maker with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of a Ritz cracker.
I dream of a day when cheese is not judged by its country of origin but by the content of its butterfat – be it Gouda or Velveeta.
Intolerance is bad for business no matter how you bag it. And in my estimation the only thing worse than intolerance is lactose intolerance.
One major conservative family group is calling on parents to pull their children out of California public schools after the governor signed a law allowing boys and girls access to the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice – regardless of their gender.
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown announced Monday that he had signed AB1266 – seen as a landmark decision for transgender Americans. The new law gives students the right “to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities” based on their self-perception and regardless of their birth gender.
The law had the support of gay rights groups and many Democrats who said it would help reduce bullying against transgender students. It comes as the families of transgender students have been waging local battles with school districts around the country over what restrooms and locker rooms their children can use.
Detractors like Randy Thomasson of SaveCalifornia.com said allowing students of one gender to use facilities intended for the other could invade the other students’ privacy.
“Jerry Brown and the Democrats have targeted every kid in public school with gender-bending brainwashing,” Thomasson said, warning the law would trample parents’ rights and invade the “personal comfort zone of millions of California children for a handful of sexually confused children who need professional counseling.”
Thomasson said parents should consider pulling their children out of California’s public schools.
“Fortunately, parents can protect their children from the insanity of biological boys in girls’ restrooms and girls’ showers and biological girls in boys’ restrooms and boys’ showers by exiting the dysfunctional, immoral public schools for homeschooling and solid church schools,” he said.
“We stand ready and willing to defend anyone who will be victimized as a result of this new law,” said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute. “That includes someone whose privacy rights are violated in the bathroom, in the locker room, in the showers, or someone who is prevented from playing on a sports team because someone from the opposite gender took their place.”
Karen England, executive director of the Capitol Resource Institute said the law forces “San Francisco values on all California schools.”
“This is a very radical idea,” she said. “You’re going to have first-grade boys going to the restroom next to first-grade girls without any supervision.”
England said the law would allow students of any gender to access public school bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice. It would also students to participate in sports activities based on “that student’s assertion that he or she identifies as having a different private sense of their own gender regardless of their biological gender at birth.”
San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano said the law simply clarifies existing non-discrimination provisions in the education code. He said districts must offer transgender students equal access to programs and facilities based on their gender identity.
“No student can learn if they feel they have to hide who they are in school,” he said in a statement.
He identified gender identity as a “person’s internal, deeply-rooted identification as male or female.”
England said parents or students who feel uncomfortable with their daughters showering next to boys – are being accused of being bigots.
“And now if a girl doesn’t want to shower with a boy, there’s something wrong with you,” She said.
The assemblyman’s office provided a statement acknowledging that some parents and students may be uncomfortable with the law.
“Discomfort is not an excuse for discrimination,” he said in a statement.
Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told SF Weekly that California is “blazing the trail for transgender young people and their families.”
“This a watershed moment not only for California, but for the entire nation,” she told the newspaper.”The public’s understanding and acceptance of transgender youth have grown exponentially in the past few years, and today’s law is a huge step forward in ensuring that these young people are truly welcomed and included in our state’s public schools.”
State Republican Sen. Jim Nielsen opposed the law. He said it would violate the privacy of students who don’t want to share restrooms with members of the opposite sex.
“Think of all of the parents and all of the students that would be uncomfortable in this situation, and that a student has no burden but to declare that ‘I want to be in the boys shower or the girls shower’ that day,” he told the Los Angeles Times.
The soldier, who is an evangelical Christian, said she returned home from church on Sunday and was watching a documentary about a minister who endorsed homosexuality.
“I was frustrated with what I saw so I posted a Facebook message about it,” she said.
Her Facebook message read:
“A lot ticked off, now to all my gay friends you know I care about you so don’t think otherwise. I’m watching this documentary and this gay guy went to a church and the Pastor was telling him that he needs to embrace his way and know that it is not a sin. Ok umm wow, dude it is. I’m sick of people making Gods word what it’s not. Yes God loves you as a person but He hates the sin. Tired of hearing about Pastors being ok with homosexuality.”
The 26-year-old chaplain’s assistant said she believes individuals within her unit reported her. On Monday she was ordered to the commander’s office where she was told to either remove the most or face a reduction in rank and pay.
“He said I was creating hostile and antagonistic environment in the unit by posting that on Facebook,” she told Fox News. “He said I needed to either take it down or face a UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice).”
So she reached out to Todd Hudnall, her pastor at Radiant Church in Colorado Springs.
“I read what she posted and there was absolutely no trace of animus, disrespect or hostility,” Hudnall told Fox News. “Instead, she expressed love for her gay friends but insisted that biblical values should not be compromised. Her issue wasn’t with anyone who is gay but with pastors who refuse to acknowledge scriptural teaching about homosexual behavior.”
The pastor said she was reprimanded for “holding to orthodox biblical instruction.”
“I was struck by the fact that the military was denying her right to privately exercise her freedom of expression and freedom of religion,” Hudnall said.
The pastor said it’s not the first time he’s heard of Christian soldiers facing threats and intimidation over their personal beliefs.
“It sounds more like totalitarianism than keeping with our heritage of liberty,” he said. “I’m becoming quite concerned that we are losing the freedom of speech and religion in the name of tolerance and over shifting norms of morality and behavior.”
“Just because a person wears a uniform does not mean they give up their religious liberties and their ability to speak about matters of faith,” Crews told Fox News.
Crews said the Chaplain Alliance has been in contact with the assistant and said they play on being fully supportive.
But Pastor Hudnall worries about other military men and women who are facing threats for not “lining up with the current accepted ideology.”
“I’m also hearing that many are deciding to back down rather than stand up for their constitutional rights,” Hudnall told Fox News. “A few have told me they are actually thinking about getting out of the military because of it.”