Not Equality Act. Suppression of Christians Act

I’m sure you’ve seen the recent coverage of the trial of Päivi Räsänen, a Finnish member of Parliament who is being charged with three counts of “ethnic agitation,” a hate speech provision in Finland’s criminal code.

The first charge concerns a 2019 tweet in which she questioned the decision of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (her own denomination) to partner with Helsinki’s gay pride parade. Her tweet also featured an image of Romans 1:24-27. The second charge concerns comments Räsänen made about homosexuality in a 2019 radio interview. The third charge concerns a 2004 booklet she wrote articulating her church’s teaching on sexuality.

Now, you might be wondering why we are giving so much attention to an international case. It’s because Räsänen’s situation is a harbinger of the growing threat to religious freedom and the freedom of speech that the Left considers offensive. It’s also because what is happening in Finland could soon be happening here. Unless we pray and act!

You see, in the United States, congressional Democrats are trying to pass legislation that similarly threatens religious freedom, specifically people’s ability to operate in the public square according to their sincerely held beliefs. In Finland, this type of thinking is what led the government to target Räsänen.

One such piece of legislation is the Equality Act, which would overhaul our federal civil rights framework to mandate special privileges for sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). It has already passed the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives twice in the past few years. But thankfully, conservatives have blocked this radical bill thus far in the U.S. Senate, and the Equality Act appears to be dead for the remainder of this session of Congress.

But the Equality Act isn’t the only cause for concern. The Fairness for All Act is pitched as a grand compromise between the progressive goals of the Equality Act and religious freedom. Although it is a modest improvement over the Equality ActFairness for All fails to adequately address the many concerns that most Americans have with the Equality Act. Fairness for All might prove to be the more dangerous bill, since it currently has 19 Republican sponsors in the House.

A third bill, the Global Respect Act, seeks to create the same changes as the Equality Act and the Fairness for All Act in American foreign policy.

That’s why we need your support today. We need to prevent Päivi Räsänen’s situation from ever becoming a reality here.

Mark my words: despite their appealing names, all three of these bills will gut religious freedom. If these bills become law, what is happening in Finland will happen in the United States.

With the midterm elections fast approaching, Democrats are pulling out all the stops to ram through their agenda, even attempting to change longstanding Senate rules to do so. Democratic leadership knows their fragile majority in Congress is in jeopardy, so they are putting tremendous pressure on those members currently on the fence about supporting this legislation.

We must continue to stand strong against these efforts and bolster support for religious freedom.

You see, if Räsänen would simply apologize for her remarks, this ordeal would all be over for her. But that would mean she would have to turn her back on the truth of God’s word and forfeit her God-given right to freedom of religion. Instead, Räsänen has chosen to boldly stand for truth and the right of people in Finland and around the world to hold and express religious beliefs. She recently said, “I cannot accept that voicing religious beliefs could mean imprisonment. I will defend my right to confess my faith, so that no one else would be deprived of their right to freedom of religion and speech.” Because of her stand, she could face up to two years in prison if convicted.

The threat to religious freedom is very real, and we must address it. Would you join us in protecting religious freedom both here at home and around the world?

May God give us all boldness in the days ahead to stand for our faith.

Standing (Eph. 6:13),

Tony Perkins
President
FRC Action

YouTube Labels John MacArthur’s Sermon Hate Speech After He Said God Made Us ‘Male And Female

YouTube has censored a Bible-based sermon, labeling it as “hate speech” because it isn’t pro-LGBTQ+. Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, CA, preached a sermon Sunday about biblical sexuality, which as CBN’s Faithwire reported was part of an effort by pastors across North America to protest a new Canadian law that took effect […]

YouTube Labels John MacArthur’s Sermon Hate Speech After He Said God Made Us ‘Male And Female

Secret Teacher Portals Reveal ‘Pronoun Survey,’ ‘Black Lives Matter Curriculum

The school district of Loudoun County, Virginia, may have made the headlines for aggressively pushing far-left content onto students, including pornography and critical race theory, but other districts throughout the country are no better off.

At the Santa Barbara Unified School District in California, teachers are given a plethora of politically radical resources that they are expected to implement in the classroom, which are now coming to light.

Christy Lozano, a teacher at the Santa Barbara Unified School District, has revealed that teachers are expected to access a password-protected portal for teaching “culturally responsive material.” She has exposed the far-left content with Laura Ingraham, and she recently provided me with the materials as well.

The materials are laid out in numerous webpages, each encompassing a different progressive cause. Some of the category headings include “Black Lives Matter,” “Bilingual/Multilingual Advocacy Month,” and “LGBTQIA+ Month.” When I started to dig into the materials, it quickly became apparent that they were not simply educational tools.

Let’s begin with the Black Lives Matter materials. The page contains links to various BLM-related resources, segregated by age group. Under the preschool-to-second grade heading, there is a link to Black Lives Matter at School, an activist group dedicated to spreading the teachings and activism of BLM throughout the K-12 school system.

Santa Barbara Unified School District
This image depicts the various Black Lives Matter materials found in the teachers portal. (Photo: Kenny Xu)

Its page includes recommendations on how to organize students to fight against “systemic racism,” including a link to a PowerPoint encouraging students to demand “restorative justice” from their district.

“Systemic racism” is the idea that racism is the normal state of affairs in American society, meaning that the ordinary American is racist. “Restorative justice” is the idea that the U.S. justice system is responsible for rehabilitating and emotionally caring for criminals. Make no mistake: The U.S. justice system, which is necessarily and obviously punitive, should not be remotely associated with the activities of a day care. 

Santa Barbara Unified School District
The teaching portal includes a section titled “Specifically for White Folx.” (Photo: Kenny Xu)

It also links to the 13 Guiding Principles of BLM, one of which includes “disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.”

But the most shocking information was contained under the LGBTQIA+ page. The linked articles and discussion guides cannot be considered anything less than grooming, which is the emotional manipulation of children to make them more susceptible to sexual exploitation by adults.

Under a “Elementary Lessons and Resources” heading, the page links to several videos and written guides meant to be used in preschool-second grade classrooms. It includes a video and accompanying guide for “Sparkle Boy,” a story about a young boy who enjoys crossdressing. The guide claims “Teachers can challenge traditional gender bias” via the story and calls on teachers to help students “explore gender identity.”

It also links to a video and guide for “When Aidan Became a Brother,” a book about a young girl who “transitions” to a boy. The guide notes that teachers must be very careful to help students use proper terms and pronouns to refer to trans people. One of the reader’s response questions is, “How might your understanding of ‘being yourself’ have changed after reading ‘When Aidan Became a Brother’?”

Preschool-aged children are highly impressionable, and using books like “Sparkle Boy” and “When Aidan Became a Brother” are bound to create an unhealthy focus on one’s own sexuality at an extremely vulnerable age. It is quite conceivable that a normal 5-year-old girl, upon reading one of these books, suddenly decides she is trans based upon a classroom experience.

Conditioning children by presenting these ideas as objective truth begins the dangerous path of grooming them for future gender activism and self-doubt about their identity.

The programming continues for older children as well. At the high-school level, the resources include a TED Talk playlist about coming out, a biased gender term list put out by a leftist advocacy group, and a documentary exploring “the struggle for queer rights.” It also links to Gender Spectrum Groups, confidential online communities for students to explore their gender identity and sexuality.

Every single link on the teacher portal takes the reader to a queer ideology-affirming resource that promotes the queering of society.

Santa Barbara Unified School District
The lengthy list of content found on the LGBTQIA+ page. (Photo: Kenny Xu)

The grooming nature of these materials is compounded by a “pronoun survey” disseminated in the district. One teacher required their students to fill out a Google form sharing their pronouns, with some of the options including “they/them/theirs,” “he/they,” and “other.”

Later there was a yes/no question asking whether the teacher could use the student’s preferred pronouns when contacting home, insinuating that the teacher would be complicit in hiding any changes in the student’s gender identity from the student’s parents.

In fact, one question goes on to state, “If you would like me to use different name and pronouns when calling home or talking to other teachers—please state this name and pronouns.”

Santa Barbara Unified School District
A screengrab of the “pronoun survey” that one teacher made students take. (Image: Kenny Xu)

The final yes/no question is, “Would you like to follow up with me (in a private conversation) about your pronouns?” To be clear: There is not a single situation in which it is remotely appropriate for a teacher to have a private conversation with a high school student about their gender identity and sexuality.

Taken in conjunction with prior questions that encourage deceiving one’s parents and adopting progressive ideas of gender, it would require numerous logical backflips to rationalize this classroom situation as anything short of grooming psychologically unstable minors.

There are two problems at the core of all these materials. First, they are unilaterally slanted in favor of progressive politics. While educational environments should certainly encourage students to consider controversial ideas, they must be balanced by opposing viewpoints as well.

Within the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s teacher portal, there is not a single resource that affirms biological reality or traditional views of gender, or questions whether the Black Lives Matter movement is anything but a pure struggle for moral advancement.

Secondly, there is no community transparency or accountability. Had these materials not been leaked by a teacher working in the school, neither I nor the public at large would have any idea of how deeply ingrained these ideas are in the district.

Parents have the right to know that their children are being exposed to radical propaganda at school and to respond accordingly if they disagree with the contents of a class.

With these materials coming to light, parents must demand their districts tell them the truth: Are they brainwashing our children? Are they hiding our children’s struggles with identity? Are they forming our children into progressive activists right beneath our noses?

Unless parents demand transparency, school districts will continue to shape the minds and very identities of our most vulnerable population.

The Santa Barbara Unified School District did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation. 

Truth

The increasingly dangerous non-constitutional overreach of the Federal Government should alarm anyone. And yet, while some state legislatures and governors are working to stop the power theft (like Virginia’s new governor Glenn Youngkin, much to the consternation of those who want complete Federal authority over everyone), many Libertarians and conservatives seem pacified by the current administration and congressional makeup.

Civil liberty supporting liberals were alarmingly tolerant of war and overreaching surveillance under Obama, just as many people who considered Obama overreach a sign of tyranny supported a growth in government power under President Trump. And they all seem fine with the Biden administration’s attempts at further ruling every aspect of our lives under the guise of COVID, “far-right” terrorism, or a “rise” in whatever bogeyman they can dream up to scare the populace.

Fear and liberty haven’t coexisted very well over the course of history. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about fear of government, fear of lawlessness, or fear of disease.

Unfortunately, many of today’s voting-age Americans have never even read the U.S. Constitution, which was written to prevent all of it. Apparently, most civics classes in public schools today dwell on other things. So far too many people have no clue how far their government has overreached and taken away their liberty.

But here’s the truth: The 10th Amendment states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, or prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Ever since the Southern states were prohibited from removing themselves from an alliance that no longer worked in their favor – an alliance they entered into voluntarily — the U.S. government has grown increasingly more powerful.

Here’s what has transpired since: During reconstruction the Republican Party centralized government, subsidized railroads, raised taxes on Southern property and businesses, then confiscated the property when taxes couldn’t be paid and established an education system that taught a revisionist history of the run-up to and causes of the war. Then, in 1917 Congress established the Federal Reserve — a non-constitutional entity with the power to control the U.S. money supply — President Franklin Roosevelt pushed through New Deal provisions that further empowered the Federal Government while enriching certain constituencies, President Nixon further destroyed the dollar and monetary freedom by taking the U.S. off the gold standard, The U.S. declared multiple “wars” on its own citizens in the form of the war on drugs and then the privacy-destroying war on terror, and Presidents Bush, Obama, Trump and now Biden have pushed through extra-constitutional spending bills that send spending into the ultra-stratosphere.

Does it then surprise anyone that the mood of many in our country reached a tipping point as a result, or that radio and TV talk shows are alive with voices proposing that America return to its constitutional roots? Tea Party activists denounced the growing government and were squashed and deplatformed by the establishment starting a decade ago, and here we are, right back in the same place.

Unfortunately, many in America don’t understand what all the hubbub is about. So, to help them understand, here are five talking points from the 10th Amendment Center:

  1. The People created the federal government to be their agent for certain enumerated purposes only. The rest is to be handled by the state governments, or locally, by the people themselves. The Constitution does not include a congressional power to override state laws. It does not give the judicial branch unlimited jurisdiction over all matters. It does not provide Congress with the power to legislate over everything.
  2. If Congress had been intended to carry out anything they claim would promote the “general welfare,” what would be the point of listing its specific powers in Article I, Section 8, since these would’ve already been covered?
  3. The states remain individual and unique sovereignties; they were empowered in areas that the Constitution did not delegate to the federal government. Any federal attempt to legislate beyond the constitutional limits of Congress’s authority is unconstitutional.
  4. Governments and political leaders are best held accountable to the will of the people when government is local. The people of a state know what is best for them; they do not need bureaucrats, potentially thousands of miles away, governing their lives.
  5. We agree with historian Kevin Gutzman, who has said that those who would give us a “living” Constitution are actually giving us a dead one since such a thing is completely unable to protect us against the encroachments of government power.

If you want to first halt then reverse the tide of government overreach, pass these points around to your friends and send them to your state and U.S. representatives.

As another midterm election approaches, Americans need to thoroughly examine their current Representative in the House and their Senator and determine whether he or she has voted in a way that expands governmental overreach, or in a way that upholds the constitutional principles of the Founding Fathers.

If that Representative is found worthy, vote him or her back into office. If not, find an alternative. If your Senator passes the test and is on the ballot in November — a third of them are up for re-election — then re-elect him or her. But if he or she has failed the test, examine the alternative there.

Hopefully, the alternative candidate will understand that Americans are tired of a Congress that grows government into an ever-larger freedom-crushing leviathan and apparently doesn’t understand that, as James Madison wrote, anything the government does beyond the few enumerated powers means the government is overreaching. Our Founders wanted to limit government because they saw how oppressive it could become. The future they saw and warned against is our present.

Yours for the truth,

Bob Livingston
Editor, The Bob Livingston Letter®