by Jorge Gomez • 5 min read
For all the talk about “safe spaces,” tolerance and diversity, it seems there are less safe spaces for people of faith in America. A recent example shows how radical Leftist ideology is quickly moving beyond large metropolitan areas and into middle America.
In West Lafayette, Indiana—located about an hour northwest of Indianapolis—the city council proposed an ordinance targeting houses of worship and religious organizations offering biblical counseling to the community.
The proposed ordinance would have banned counselors from practicing “conversion therapy” with children under the age of 18, with a penalty of up to $1,000 for violators. The problem was how broadly it defined “conversion therapy”:
“Any practices or treatments that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings towards individuals of the same gender.”
The ordinance also took aim at religious freedom by vaguely defining what constitutes counseling:
“ ‘Counseling’ is defined as techniques used to help individuals learn how to solve problems and make decisions related to personal growth, vocational, family, and other interpersonal concerns.”
The proposal was met with considerable opposition by the local community. It also roused national leaders, such as Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who sounded the alarm and called this “a direct attack upon the right of churches in West Lafayette to preach the gospel and conduct a Gospel ministry based upon Biblical authority.”
Earlier this week, however, houses of worship and faith-based ministries in West Lafayette received some good news. The city council withdrew the ordinance and voted instead to condemn—not criminalize or outlaw—the use of what it vaguely defined as “conversion therapy.”
This was indeed a tyrannical proposal that threatened to criminalize religious activity and force churches into forfeiting any counsel that conforms to their beliefs. Had it become law, it would have been disastrous to the religious community. Christian counselors, for example, would have endangered their careers and licenses for offering biblical counsel to children and adolescents on matters of sexuality and gender identity.
Not only was it a threat to counselors, but potentially to any religious person expressing a viewpoint that doesn’t conform to the modern Leftist orthodoxy. That means pastors, lay ministers and even parents who teach their children religious values were also in the crosshairs.
Faith Church could have been one of many religious institutions penalized for operating in accordance with their beliefs. For over 45 years, it has operated a free biblical counseling ministry for members of the community. It currently has 32 counselors offering 60-80 hours of biblical counseling each week. Think of the crippling financial impact a $1,000 daily fine would have had on this church, and that’s just one example.
Of course, with the proposal now withdrawn, houses of worship can breathe a little easier knowing they won’t be criminalized and penalized for operating ministries, teaching and advising in accordance their religious beliefs.
But the withdrawal doesn’t change the facts. This brazen attack on religious freedom happened in a Midwestern city with a population of 49,000. One would think heartland Indiana is a place where people of faith could be free from the talons of woke ideology. Clearly, this is no longer the case—which means religious Americans must be watchful and vigilant.
For people of faith, the lesson is clear: The fight for religious liberty is happening everywhere in our country. The Left has laid all their cards on the table and there’s no hiding from their intolerant agenda.
Dr. Albert Mohler summarized it well: “If they can get away with this in West Lafayette, Indiana, they can get away with it anywhere.”
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