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Following my report last week on the Salvation Army’s decision to rescind an order to offer health benefits for “domestic partners” or “one-domiciled adults” in 13 Western states, I have learned that homosexual-rights groups have threatened to picket and fill the organization’s Red Kettle with “notes of protest” during this holiday season.

A source within the organization told a member of my staff that the organization has been “put on notice” by homosexual groups who have also threatened to block access to the Salvation Army kettles across the country.

Homosexuals are incensed that the Salvation Army’s Commissioners’ Conference announced a decision to maintain the current level of health benefits to employees’ spouses and dependent children, thereby nullifying a plan by its Western Territory to enact a benefits program that would have allowed single adults – including homosexuals – to purchase insurance.

“[The decision] establishes the organization as anti-gay, and in a country that’s yearning to come together and heal, this was an extremely divisive move that I don’t think will be looked on kindly,” said David Smith, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign.

But the Salvation Army is far from “anti-gay.” The Salvation Army – just like Jerry Falwell Ministries – is committed to preaching the Gospel of Christ and to meeting human needs in His name without discrimination. This means the organization is committed to helping people regardless of their race, creed, religion or even sexual preference. Just as Christ reached out to all, so too must we as we represent Him.

Last week, Commissioner Lawrence Moretz explained, “We will not sign any government contract or any other funding contracts that contain domestic-partner benefit requirements.” Because the Commissioner’s Conference issued its difficult decision, the organization stands to lose unimaginable amounts of government funds.

The organization’s biblical foundations were ultimately more important than its funding, and the organization, in Mr. Moretz’ words, is “prayerfully accept[ing] the challenge to seek funding and continue our ministry that will not compromise any of our principles.”

I want to encourage all my readers to visit the Salvation Army website and make a donation to this exemplary organization that is committed to sharing the love of Jesus Christ and helping our fellow man. (Click on “Donate Online” to make a contribution.)

Free speech? Yes, but some have to fight for it

On Friday, Sept. 14, a female high-school student arrived at her Malone, N.Y., school wearing a sweatshirt she had worn on several other occasions. The front of the sweatshirt bore the message: “Abortion is Homicide.” The back of the sweatshirt read: “You will not silence my message. You will not mock my God. You will stop killing my generation.” The shirt is produced by the pro-life organization Rock for Life, which encourages students to wear the garments to school in order to promote the pro-life cause.

Even though this young lady said she had received a number of positive responses to the sweatshirt, on this day she was told to either put on a different shirt or go home. The reason? The shirt was “offensive.” She was placed on in-school suspension until her father came to school to pick her up because she refused to don a different shirt.

Thankfully, the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thomas More Law Center stepped in and successfully intervened on her behalf. Center attorney Edward L. White III sent a letter to the Malone Central School District superintendent explaining the student’s constitutional right to wear the pro-life sweatshirt and demanded written assurance that the school would no longer interfere with the girl’s right to wear her sweatshirt, as well as a written apology.

However, the district continued to prohibit the student from wearing her sweatshirt, citing a new reason – the shirt was deemed to convey a religious message, thereby constituting religious proselytizing. The school’s lawyer argued that students may not proselytize a specific religious viewpoint in school.

It never ceases to amaze me how some school officials – apparently convinced that they are on a moral mission to prevent any religious message from sneaking into their schools – will go to such great lengths to persecute students whose beliefs may run counter to today’s politically correct ideals. (If such schools truly want to embrace “diversity,” how then do they justify extinguishing the beliefs of pro-life students or cutting off the rights of religious students to meet on campus?)

School officials in this case quickly discovered they were in the wrong. The Thomas More Center reported that officials made a dramatic turnaround after Mr. White explained that not only do court decisions contradict the district’s decision to stifle religious speech, but even the U.S. Department of Education’s guidelines – which every school district has received – permit students to display religious messages on clothing to the same extent that students are permitted to display other comparable messages. The school district apologetically dictated a written promise that the student would be allowed to wear her pro-life sweatshirt to school.

Just as religious students are to have equal access to school facilities, they must not be prevented from expressing their faith or faith-related beliefs. Millions of unborn babies have been slaughtered in this nation, and this young lady should have the right to freely voice her outrage at this unspeakable holocaust. People should not be offended by this girl’s shirt – they should be offended that our nation has authorized the annihilation of more than 40 million innocent lives.

The so-called “religious right” is frequently accused of being censorship-minded, but this case shows the opposite to be true. Religious students in this nation are habitually harassed and punished solely because of their expressed faith.

I thank God for courageous young people like this young lady in upstate New York. I encourage pro-life public-school students across this nation to start wearing their pro-life clothing to school.

It’s time we all started standing up and being counted in the critical battle for the unborn.

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