A religious rights group, representing a Christian pastor who was previously fired from advising youth offenders for telling homosexual inmates that they would go to hell, is citing his constitutional rights to have him reinstated.
Brother David Wells of Pleasant View Baptist Church in Kentucky was fired from offering youth counseling at Warren Regional Juvenile Detention Center after he refused to sign an agreement that asked him to abstain from telling juvenile delinquents that homosexuality is sinful. That is when Liberty Counsel sent a stern letter to Bob Hayter, Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice, accusing him of muzzling Wells’ and thus violating 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.”
Defending Wells, Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, said most juveniles in custody of DJJ are there for having carried out sex-related offences. He said that Wells should be allowed to discuss the Bible’s take on matters of sexuality with such convicts when he is trying to do is help them.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Staver said Wells being asked not to discuss matters of sexual activity, even when inmates ask him questions, violates his right to religious freedom and free speech.
“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,” said Staver while referring to the orders that were given to Wells.
In its letter, Liberty Counsel warned Kentucky has little time to reinstate Wells and also promise that no religious litmus test would be added as a condition to the pastor discussing homosexuality. The letter added that the state would have to face legal action if it failed to reinstate Wells at the earliest.
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