The U.S. Supreme Court has been handed a bombshell: An appeal of a lower-court ruling that banned Christian counselors from talking with teens about the biblical standard for sexuality.
The case challenges laws that force licensed counselors to affirm homosexuality, prohibiting them from helping clients overcome same-sex attractions.
Such laws have been adopted in New Jersey, where a biased judge used it to shut down a Christian ministry, and in California and other states.
The case already was presented to the Supreme Court several years ago, but it did not get a ruling.
Now a new appeal has been submitted by the Pacific Justice Institute on behalf of two religious leaders in California and a student who was considering going into counseling.
The appeal argues affirmation of the state regulation by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ignored the fact that when lawmakers were arguing over the law, many, if not most, of their comments were specifically about religion and conservatives.
The appeal contends it’s unconstitutional to base a law on religious or anti-religious viewpoints.
“California’s lawmakers saturated the analyses with references, summations and quotes (at times without attribution) taken directly from the APA Report [on counseling to overcome same-sex attractions],” the appeal states.
“A review of the APA Report leaves no doubt that religious conservatives are those typically seeking SOCE [sexual orientation change counseling] – and those whose beliefs the legislature seeks to change. The evidence reflected in the APA Report shows that those wanting to diminish same-sex attractions do so because of religious convictions, desirous of living their lives in a manner consistent with their values.
“These ‘consider religion to be an extremely important part of their lives and participate in traditional conservative faiths.'”
However, the appeal, brought on behalf of Donald Welch, Anthony Duk and Aaron Bitzer, pointed out that the 9th Circuit affirmation of the state ban on counseling simply ignored the anti-religious component of the law.
“The 9th Circuit now overlooks unmistakable religious hostility in legislation,” the appeal argues.
It’s in the record that the law’s legislative history “made repeated references to the religious motivations of SOCE,” the appeal explains.
The law actually prohibits “communications of certain religious tenets regarding sexuality within the four walls of Dr. Welch’s church.”
The Supreme Court, therefore, needs to determine whether a state may “bar ministers from inculcating or encouraging certain religious values in youth, when those ministers are also licensed by the state as mental health providers.”
Also, questions include whether restrictions on religion are shielded by the court and whether minors’ rights are violated when they “may only seek to reduce same-sex attraction on their own or with the assistance of unlicensed individuals, and they may not seek professional help to do so.”
The defendants include a long list of state officials, from the state medical board to the governor.
The law originated with homosexual interests who want the state to require licensed counselors to promote homosexuality but be banned from explaining its negative consequences.
It began in the state’s schools, where a previous law allowed promotion of homosexuality but forbade educators from explaining the problems.
“If the Supreme Court grants our petition for certiorari, this will be the most important freedom of religion case for this year and will impact the rights of counseling ministries across the country, potentially for generations to come,” said Brad Dacus, president of PJI.
He said since the passing of SB 1172, which bars licensed counselors from assisting youth who want to change or reduce same-sex attractions, PJI has worked to defend counseling that takes place within church walls. The law also prohibits counseling that would steer youth away from gender confusion.
WND reported in 2015 that the bias of a trial court judge and the prevailing political perspective in the Obama administration that homosexuality should be promoted killed a New Jersey counseling program that offered help to those who are frustrated with their same-sex feelings.
The group JONAH, or Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, announced the closure of the organization due to a judge’s order in a lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
WND reported the jury verdict that ordered the organization to pay $72,000 to several plaintiffs who sued under a New Jersey consumer fraud law after they said their counseling sessions aimed at getting rid of unwanted same-sex attractions failed.
At the time, licensed professional counselor Christopher Doyle told the Anglican Mainstream website that the decision “is the consequence of liberal judicial bias.”
“Before and during the trial Judge Peter Bariso stripped JONAH of so many opportunities to really defend themselves, disqualifying five of the six expert witnesses for the defendants because their opinions contradicted the so-called mainstream view that same-sex attractions are not at all disordered, even if a client is distressed by these unwanted sexual feelings because of their sincerely held religious and spiritual beliefs,” he explained.
“The judge’s bias against religious freedom was so ruthless that he even refused to allow JONAH’s chief attorney to mention the First Amendment freedom of religion in his closing argument,” Doyle said.
Oregon also has adopted similar rules that prohibit people from offering help during counseling sessions to juveniles who have unwanted same-sex attractions.
But several other states have rejected the idea.
The case against JONAH was brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which infamously put Dr. Ben Carson, one of the most respected men in America, on a list of “haters” for his views on marriage. The organization also was formally linked to domestic terror through a criminal case in which a homosexual attacked a Christian organization in Washington.
In 2014, the Supreme Court refused to hear arguments on a related dispute regarding counseling sessions.