Christian counselor cites ‘religious freedom’ right to tell gay youth offenders they’re going to hell
A religious freedom group, representing a Christian counselor who was banished from advising youth offenders after telling gay inmates that they are going to hell, is citing his “Constitutional right to free speech” in order to get him reinstated.
Bro. David Wells, of the Pleasant View Baptist Church in Breckinridge County, Kentucky, was told he could not longer offer youth counseling at the Warren Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Bowling Green unless he signed an agreement promising to refrain from telling any juvenile inmates that homosexuality is “sinful.”
Wells refused and had his counseling volunteer status revoked, leading the Liberty Counsel to send a very stern letter to Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Bob Hayter, saying muzzling Wells is a “restriction of his Constitutional right to free speech.”
According to DJJ Policy 912 IV(H) “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,” volunteers: “[S]hall not refer to juveniles by using derogatory language in a manner that conveys bias towards or hatred of the LGBTQI community. DJJ staff, volunteers, interns, and contractors shall not imply or tell LGBTQI juveniles that they are abnormal, deviant, sinful, or that they can or should change their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Speaking up in defense of Wells, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver complained, “Many juveniles are in DJJ custody because of sexual crimes. Pastor Wells must be able to discuss what the Bible says about matters of sexuality with the juveniles he is trying to help. To remove the Bible from a pastor’s hands is like removing a scalpel from a surgeon’s hands. Without it, they cannot provide healing.”
The letter went on to state: “The Bible explicitly prohibits any expression of sexuality outside of the confines of man-woman marriage. It recognizes that every person, regardless of personal proclivities or attractions, is separated from God because of sin, whatever form that sin may take. Many juveniles are in DJJ custody because of sexual crimes, and Mr. Wells must be able to discuss the Bible and matters of sexuality with inmates, and he therefore was unable to sign the form.”
“WRJDC Superintendent Wade has told Mr. Wells, on the basis of Policy 912, that if a child now asks questions of him on issues involving sexual activity, he may not discuss the same with them: ‘You can give a scripture reference to the kids, and let them look it up,’ but you can’t read it in their hearing. You can’t say ‘sinful; ‘ you can’t discuss sexual orientation –heterosexual or homosexual – period.”
“Superintendent Wade expressed some regret about this, stating ‘I’m just doing what the state is telling me to do.'”
According to the Liberty Counsel, the state has until the end of the month to reinstate Wells along with making a promise that “no religious litmus test to the subject of homosexuality, as a precondition for ministers providing religious counseling or visitation in the Kentucky correctional system” be administered, or legal action — including more stern letters — can be expected.