3 - California governor signs bill banning therapy for gay teens who wish to change sexual orientation; lawsuits filed
Early last week, California Governor Jerry Brown announced he had signed legislation that would ban therapy for gay teens who desire to change their sexual orientation. According to coverage in the Christian Examiner, the law states that "being lesbian, gay, or bisexual is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming" and that "sexual orientation change efforts can pose critical health risks to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people."
"Under no circumstances shall a mental health provider engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a patient under 18 years of age," the law states. Any mental health providers who attempt such counseling could lose their licenses.
Brown was quoted by CNN as saying such therapy "will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery."
Here is the coverage from the Christian Examiner.
Saying that the law violates religious liberty, two Christian legal advocacy groups almost immediately promised to file lawsuits, and followed through this week. Brad Dacus, President of Pacific Justice Institute said, "This outrageous bill makes no exceptions for young victims of sexual abuse who are plagued with unwanted same-sex attraction, nor does it respect the consciences of mental health professionals who work in a church. We are filing suit to defend families, children, and religious freedom. This unprecedented bill is outrageously unconstitutional."
Mat Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel said, "The California governor and legislature are putting their own preconceived notions and political ideology ahead of children and their rights to get access to counseling that meets their needs...A number of minors who have struggled with same-sex attraction have been able to reduce or eliminate the stress and conflicts in their lives by receiving counseling of their choice which best meets their needs and religious convictions..."
The governor signed two other bills this week that were pushed by the gay rights community, according to CitizenLink. He signed a law allowing clergy to opt out of performing same-sex wedding ceremonies without being punished by the state. Under the legislation, championed by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), churches won’t lose their tax-exempt status if they don’t perform same-sex ceremonies.
Brown also signed into law last Sunday a bill requiring foster parents and other caregivers to undergo training focused on sensitivity and cultural competency for kids struggling with same-sex attractions and gender identity.
2 - Christian Bible and book publisher latest to sue government due to contraception mandate
The Alliance Defending Freedom reports that its attorneys, representing Tyndale House Publishers, have filed a federal lawsuit against the Health and Human Services mandate that employers, even religious entities, provide free contraception and abortion pills through their health insurance plans. Tyndale House is one of the world’s largest privately held Christian publishers of books, Bibles, and digital media, but it is a for-profit corporation, and therefore considered to be "non-religious". It is owned by a non-profit foundation that provides grants to help meet the physical and spiritual needs of people around the world.
“Bible publishers should be free to do business according to the book that they publish,” said Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “To say that a Bible publisher is not religious is patently absurd. Tyndale House is a prime example of how ridiculous and arbitrary the Obama administration’s mandate is. Americans today clearly agree with America’s founders: the federal government’s bureaucrats are not qualified to decide what faith is, who the faithful are, and where and how that faith may be lived out.”
On July 27, ADF attorneys obtained the first court order against the mandate on behalf of Colorado’s Hercules Industries and the Catholic family that owns it. That order temporarily suspends the mandate only against Hercules Industries while its lawsuit goes forward in court.
1 - Catalyst conference attracts thousands of church leaders to Atlanta
This past Wednesday through Friday, thousands gathered in the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Atlanta to hear from a stellar lineup of speakers, emphasizing the importance of leadership consistent with Biblical truth, energizing and equipping attendees to implement strategies that can impact their churches and communities. A crowd estimated at almost 13,000 filled the arena with energy and anticipation.
Catalyst has become an annual destination for many church leaders from throughout the country, and a destination for an impressive cadre of speakers. Here is some of the coverage from the website, www.catalystspace.com. This is just a synopsis of the 2nd day of conference:
Andy Stanley, Senior Pastor of North Point Ministries, opened the day with three highlights of what makes a leader: unexpected opportunity, unavoidable adversity and unquestionable calling. He explained that we have no control over any of these things except for one critical piece - they way we respond to them.
Susan Cain spoke on the power of introverts in an extrovert-dominated world. Patrick Lencioni of The Table Group, Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, Mary Frances Bowley from Wellspring Living and the White Umbrella Campaign were just some of the speakers throughout the day.
Perry Noble, Senior Pastor of NewSpring Church, impacted attendees by addressing the frustrated leaders...He called us to, "Stop screaming at the world, ‘Discover me!' and start screaming at God, ‘Develop me!'"
Mark Burnett, Executive Producer of The Voice, Survivor, and The Apprentice and his wife, Roma Downey, previewed the new ten-hour docudrama series on The Bible:
After audience members were amazed by the clips shown at Catalyst, Mark inspired us by explaining his heart behind the series: to drive masses of people into the church so that the church can help them untie the knots.Christine Caine, Founder of the A21 Campaign, brought attendees a powerful message by explaining to the crowd that they were made to run the race of faith and that it is not about who is the biggest, best or fastest, but rather it is about all of the people who are running in the same lane. She shared that it is better to be marked by God than marked by man. She called us to fix our eyes on Jesus and focus on faith.
During the final session of the day, leaders learned about the impact that Charity:Water is making on countries throughout the world by providing clean water and joined AdoptionJourney.com in celebrating the adoption process for one family with a donation of $5,000 and the potential for so much more through interaction from the audience.
Francis Chan, closed the day with a convicting message reminding those attending that in order to successfully make disciples, leaders must act more like Jesus.
And that's just day two...
Day one featured Mark Batterson, Michael Hyatt, and Jon Acuff, among others. The theme for the event was "Make" - in other words, to attempt to "make" something of their experience, of their lives and of what God has called them to do, according to the Catalyst Space blog.
This really reminds us God is providing opportunities for us to make an impact - it's so important that we are obedient to Him and reliant on His equipping to fulfill His call.