FRANKFORT, Ky., July 28, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) - The state of Kentucky has now barred all pastors of juvenile offenders from calling homosexuality "sinful" or "disordered" when ministering to them.
Uncovered by Liberty Counsel, an organization dedicated to defending religious freedom and free speech worldwide, Kentucky's Department of Juvenile Justice has imposed restricted volunteer pastors from ever referring to homosexuality as "sinful" when ministering to youth, characterizing such action as "hate speech."
According to DJJ Policy 912 IV(H) "Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity," pastors "shall not refer to juveniles by using derogatory language in a manner that conveys bias towards or hatred of the LGBTQI community. DJJ staff, volunteers, interns, and contractors shall not imply or tell LGBTQI juveniles that they are abnormal, deviant, sinful, or that they can or should change their sexual orientation or gender identity."
Liberty Counsel became aware of the new policy after ordained Christian minister David Wells was let go as volunteer prison minister after receiving a note of dismissal from Superintendent Gene Wade on July 7, which said Wells had violated the policy.
"I must terminate your involvement as a religious volunteer serving the youth in this facility per DJJ Policy 112, Section IV, Paragraph H, (8)," wrote Wade.
In a letter to Bob Hayter, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice, Liberty Counsel condemned the new policy as "blatantly unconstitutional," as it violates both the federal and state constitutions, while demanding that David Wells be reinstated as minister.
Liberty Counsel writes regarding the blatantly unconstitutional revocation of volunteer prison minister status of ordained Christian minister David Wells, who has provided voluntary spiritual counseling and mentorship to juvenile inmates under the control of the Department of Juvenile Justice. … This revocation was issued by Warren County Regional Juvenile Detention Center on the basis of the April 4, 2014, DJJ Policy 912, which mandates full DJJ support of homosexuality and transvestism.
With no evidence of any violation of DJJ policy on Mr. Wells' part, his volunteer status was revoked by the Warren RJDC superintendent because he could not sign a state-mandated statement that homosexuality was not "sinful," among other things.
The letter also emphasized the deep harm such a policy would have on youth, considering that many of them experience sexual confusion owing to childhood abuse and molestation.
Many juveniles are in DJJ custody because of sexual crimes. Pastor Wells must be able to discuss what the Bible says about matters of sexuality with the juveniles he is trying to help. To remove the Bible from a pastor's hands is like removing a scalpel from a surgeon's hands. Without it, they cannot provide healing.
DJJ 912 equates the teaching of biblical morality with "derogatory," "biased" and "hateful" speech.
In so doing, the DJJ policy creates an unconstitutional, religious litmus test for DJJ access. The First Amendment prohibits the government from viewpoint discrimination. This detention center may not prohibit the expression of biblical morality simply because a few DJJ policymakers object to the Bible and its teaching.
Second, at no time in more than 12 years of ministry has Mr. Wells or any of the other volunteer ministers who assist him ever used "derogatory language" in a manner that "conveys bias towards or hatred of children."
Third, any religious services or spiritual counseling offered by Mr. Wells is always completely voluntary in attendance; and no juvenile offender is ever required to attend the services or meet with him or other volunteers.
Wells has dealt with a multitude of sexual abuse victims and perpertrators, ranging from "a young man who sexually abused his sister, and then killed her … to children who have been molested and sodomized by adults and older teens."
Liberty Counsel's letter concluded by demanding that the Kentucky's Department of Juvenile Justice reinstate Mr. Wells by July 31 or else they would have to conclude that violating the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is official policy, which may lead to a lawsuit.