Welcome to G3 Weekly—a summary of this week’s top news stories on Christianity and the public square.
This week, Roman Catholic pro-life activist Mark Houck was acquitted of spurious charges from the Biden administration. A policy in Tampa, Florida, that banned counseling young people to resist their same-sex attractions was ruled unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds by a federal appeals court. Meanwhile, another federal court ruled against the Fellowship of Christian Athletes after a government school in California banned the club.
Sidewalk Counselor Acquitted of Bogus Charges
“Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves” (Isaiah 1:23).
Roman Catholic sidewalk counselor Mark Houck was acquitted on federal charges stemming from an altercation in front of Planned Parenthood Philadelphia.
Houck was arrested during an early morning raid in September by heavily armed federal agents, who carried the activist away from his wife and seven children. He was charged with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, a law which establishes considerable federal penalties for those who physically prevent a woman from having an abortion. Houck had shoved an abortion clinic escort two years ago at Planned Parenthood Philadelphia after the individual refused to cease harassing his young son with vulgar comments.
“The Biden administration has filed two brazenly defective and discriminatory charges against Mark Houck under the FACE Act, and both should be dismissed,” Thomas More Society executive vice president Peter Breen said in a statement ahead of the hearing. “This case is being brought solely to intimidate people of faith and pro-life Americans.”
The Justice Department has been zealously enforcing the FACE Act following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade even as the agency only recently began apprehending pro-abortion terrorists who vandalized and destroyed several crisis pregnancy centers.
Federal Court Tosses Rule Against Same-Sex Attraction Counseling
“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9–11).
Judges on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals deemed a Tampa, Florida, regulation banning so-called conversion therapy unconstitutional.
New Hearts Outreach, an organization which provides assistance with “sexual orientation change efforts” counseling through a biblical worldview, filed suit against the city of Tampa over the law, according to a summary of the case from Columbia University. The court overturned the regulation in line with a previous decision, in which one of the judges noted that “conversion therapy” was a “made-up” term popularized by media outlets despite its lack of accuracy, according to a report from WFLA.
Authorities have indeed taken an adversarial posture against churches which subscribe to biblical sexual ethics. Members of the Canadian Parliament enacted a law last year that defines conversion therapy as any treatment which is designed to “change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual” or “change a person’s gender identity to cisgender,” thereby discouraging ministers from counseling individuals who seek repentance from same sex-attraction.
Fellowship of Christian Athletes Still Barred from California School
“Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely” (Proverbs 28:5).
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes student club at San Jose Unified School District was dealt a loss by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which rescinded an earlier ruling that told administrators to recognize the group.
San Jose Unified School District ended the club’s official status four years ago upon objecting to its “sexual purity statement,” which says that “the biblical description of marriage is one man and one woman in a lifelong commitment,” according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle. The group was still permitted to assemble on the school’s facilities but could no longer deposit funds in a school bank account or be listed in school yearbooks.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will reconsider the ruling before a larger panel composed of eleven judges; the original order was enacted by three judges.
“For over a decade, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes student club met at San Jose Unified School District schools in California without incident,” according to a case summary from Becket Law. “But when a teacher within the district singled out FCA’s religious beliefs for ridicule, goaded students into protesting and harassing the club, and ultimately had the district kick the club off campus, FCA and its student leaders were shocked and hurt.”