The Briefing

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Evangelicals Now

First They Came for the Homeschoolers…, by Ruth Woodcraft

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

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Part

Canadian father found guilty of ‘family violence’ for opposing sex reassignment of his teenage daughter

The biblical worldview begins with the most basic of all institutions, as we think about human society, and that is marriage. When you begin reading the Bible, right in Genesis 1, you read right through Genesis 2 and you go through the entire Bible. It is established that marriage is the gift of God, that it is God's intention for humanity from the beginning. It is the primal relationship amongst human beings. Therefore, God tells us in Genesis, "A man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh." Thus the relationship between a husband and a wife, defined as a conjugal relationship, has been considered inviolate when it comes to the state. That's one of the reasons why a spouse cannot be forced to testify against the other spouse in a legal endeavor.

But we also must recognize that the second most important relationship is between parents and child. It does turn out to be secondary. Remember again the close of Genesis 1: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife." That indicates the priority: it is marriage that is first, it is parenthood that is second. But the rights of parents in the raising of their own children, those rights have also been understood and respected by every respectable and healthy society.

That's why, when we look at those rights being abrogated, we are looking at a major shift in human civilization. We're also looking at something that is inherently ominous. For Christians it's hard to imagine a more dramatic warning: they are coming for our children. And this has been true for some time. As you look at Western European nations, you can see that the pattern is already there. But you also just have to look across America's northern border to see very dramatic danger signs.

Just about two months ago I reported on a very troubling story from Canada. Jeremiah Keenan, writing for The Federalist, told us about a father in British Columbia whose parental rights had not only been compromised, but fundamentally denied by a court there. And the story, as you might expect, comes with those letters, LGBTQ.

In this case it's a 14-year-old child, born a girl, who is now claiming identity as a boy. The mother has decided to go along with the child and with the process of what is known as gender reassignment, but the father has not been willing to go along. Furthermore he's raised basic questions about the very diagnosis that the medical establishment in Canada has assigned to his child. He has continued to speak of the child according to the child's birth name and using pronouns that fit the child's birth sex. Again, what a strange world we're living in in which you have to use the phrase "sex assigned at birth."

As I reported back in early March, the court there in British Columbia has ordered that a 14-year-old girl receive testosterone injections without parental consent, that is the consent of the girl's father. The court has also declared that if either of the child's parents referred to her using female pronouns or addressed her by her birth name, the parents could be charged with family violence.

We looked at two issues there. First of all, it's virtually impossible to report on this story. Let's just assume for a moment that you want to join the sexual revolution enthusiastically. How can you actually report on this story? Without he and she being meaningful categories, how can you even describe what's going on here?

But a far higher concern is the use of the term “family violence” within this court decision in Canada. Family violence here is defined as a father refusing to go along with the gender reassignment of the father's teenage child. That is now described as family violence, right down to the kind of language the father would use, the name the father would use in order to identify the child. That's now described using the term “violence.”

Now, one of the things we will need to see is that the use of this term is not accidental. It's quite strategic. The strategy's easy to understand. The main morality that is now recognized in our society is a non-ontological morality. It is no longer a morality of objective right and wrong. It is now just a morality of harm, as it's described. If that sounds abstract, just understand that our society is decreasingly able even to talk about morality in terms of absolute right or absolute wrong. Why is something right? Why is something wrong? It is now defined almost essentially merely in terms of harm. It's only wrong if you can show me where it has harmed someone. And here you see how that harm language is now being translated even into using the word violence in the term family violence, used against a father who dares to continue to identify his own child as the girl the child was born to be and is.

But just a few days ago Keenan reported again this headline: "Father Gagged, Found Guilty Of Family Violence For Calling His Trans Daughter A She." As the subhead in The Federalist article tells us, “British Columbia's Supreme Court declared the father guilty of family violence for giving interviews to publications, including The Federalist, in which he used female pronouns for his daughter.”

That's really important. We need to recognize what's happened here. A Canadian father has had his parental rights denied because he spoke of his Canadian daughter as a girl, using a feminine pronoun and a feminine name, in conversation with a reporter in the United States who ran the story in a U.S. publication. Just consider how ominous this is.

Keenan writes that just days ago, "Justice Francesca Marzari of the Supreme Court of British Columbia declared a father guilty of family violence against his 14 year old daughter on the sole basis that he had engaged in." Here's the wording of the court: "expressions of rejection of her gender identity." The word “her” there is put in brackets. It's necessary, as I've just pointed out, for meaning, and yet the father has now has his parental rights abrogated because he used the very pronoun that is impossible not to use. As Keenan explains, what the court described as these expressions of rejection that amounted to family violence "revolved entirely around the father's polite refusal to refer to his daughter as a boy in private, and his steady choice to affirm that she is a girl in public."

So back in March we were reporting about the action of the court there in February of this year, in which the court had said that the testosterone injections could continue for the 14-year-old even without parental consent. And then we are told that the girl had begun regular injections of testosterone in order to make her appear as a boy and to stop the female progression of puberty. And we are told that that's been going on for the last two months.

But then Keenan points to the fact that the girl's father had not only objected to the treatment but had spoken about this in public, the father making the argument that the girl's DNA will not change regardless of all the experiments and treatments that the medical establishment might undertake, no matter what they might claim. Keenan then wrote, "While many might take this to be an honest statement of biological fact, Marzari, that is the judge, quoted it as prime example of this father's family violence of a public denial of the girl's gender identity." Again the language: "family violence of a public denial of the child's gender identity" as decided by the court.

Part

What the gag order on a Canadian father means for parental rights in the sexual revolution

The key turn in the story is that the judge has now convicted the father of this crime of family violence because of his refusal to address his daughter as a boy. But the judge went further, issuing a protection order which also prevents the father from speaking to journalists or speaking at all in public about the case. In her decision the judge critiqued the fact that the father had demonstrated a "continued willingness to provide interviews to the media in which he identifies the [child] as female, uses a female name for," again the child put in brackets, "and expresses his opposition to the therapies that the child has chosen." And again the court found that father guilty of violence, family violence against his own child, the word violence here used in an explicitly criminal context. So according to this so-called protection order handed down by the British Columbia Supreme Court, the father is now not allowed to speak of his case or the situation concerning his daughter at all in public, period.

I wanted to look at the actual decision. It was available at the website of the court there in British Columbia. The author, of course, is the judge identified as the Honorable Madam Justice Marzari. And in the course of the decision she says, "Family violence can take many forms. Family violence is defined in section 1 of," she cites the Canadian law, "but that definition," she says, "is inclusive and not exclusive. The inclusive definition of family violence recognizes that the risk of harm extends beyond the infliction of physical violence." The judge says, "I note that in particular the definition encompasses psychological abuse in the form of harassment or coercion, and unreasonable restrictions or preventions of a family member's personal autonomy." The judge then says, "In the case of a child, both direct and indirect exposure to such harm may constitute family violence."

Now, the one word I want to point to here is the word autonomy. We are told that it is now violence in Canada to infringe upon a family member's personal autonomy. Let's just state the obvious: this is a child. This is a minor. The child is 14. But we're also looking at the fact that we are now reaping what our society has sown. This idea of radical personal autonomy is going to be extended to every single human being. If a child at 14 is now autonomous, why not a child at 4, or for that matter at 4 weeks? Who can infringe upon personal autonomy if any infringement upon autonomy is a matter of family violence?

In the next paragraph the judge writes, "This court has already determined that it is a form of family violence for any of the child's family members to address the child," she refers to the child as him, "by his birth name, refer to him as a girl or with female pronouns, whether to him directly or to third parties, or to attempt to persuade him," again the language of the court, "to abandon treatment for gender dysphoria."

In the next paragraph the court actually says that it is wrong for the father even to express his opposition to the therapies that the child has chosen. Again, now the father, we are told, cannot even express opposition, his own sincere opposition to the therapies that the child has chosen. Now, notice that these therapies are therapies that are intended to allow the child to present as a boy rather than a girl. We're talking about massive injections of testosterone into the body of a 14-year-old girl. We are looking at a massive medical and moral lie, but it's the father who is now criminalized for speaking the truth.

When you look at a story like this that has now unfolded over a number of weeks, you have to ask some basic credibility questions. Is this real? Well, it's all too real. You can actually go to the website of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Canada and you can find the decision. Then you have to ask the question, "Is this an outlier?" Well, it's not. It's following the course, the trajectory, of the logic that is now set in place by the Canadian courts. This judge is citing the decisions of previous judges in rendering her own decision in this case. It's also important for the credibility of this story to understand that the Canadian medical establishment is now standing, as is most of American medical establishment, in this unreal world in which it is possible for a boy to become a girl or a girl to become a boy.

But we're also looking at the fact that even though this story is particularly ominous ... because we haven't seen these particular facts before; similar facts and similar decisions have already been undertaken ... this just appears to be the inevitable next step, once this trajectory, this logic, is set into motion.

There's something else to note here. Even here in the United States, in the state of Ohio, parents have had their own parental rights negated because of a similar situation in which they would not agree to the gender transition, or the sex reassignment as it has been called, for their own teenage child, and instead the child was placed in the custody of the child's grandparents because the grandparents told the court they would agree to the therapy, to the medical treatment, recognizing the autonomy of this teenager.

And also, of course, behind all of this was the coercive power of mainstream medicine that has now bought into the moral revolution in a big way with enthusiasm and also with all of its professional powers of cultural and personal coercion. The mainstream medical establishment in the United States, as much as in Canada, is now putting its own reputation on the entire idea of gender reassignment, just about everything that is demanded by the activists and the revolutionaries behind the LGBTQ spectrum.

But what we need to know as parents is that the most important issue here, frighteningly enough, is the sacredness of the relationship between parents and child, the right of parents to raise their children according to their own deepest convictions. This story is complicated by the fact that you have a mother and a father which are in different positions of judgment, but the reality is that the courts are willing now to invade parental rights and to nullify parental rights, because the moral revolution is now taking precedence even over the sacredness and the respect for the relationship between parents and their own minor children.

So looking at this headline news from Canada, there's no good news at all. There's no ray of hope whatsoever. Everything in this story points to very ominous developments. And we know that they will not stay north of the American border. The very logic is already here. And so our court precedents already begin to stack up in the United States as they have in Canada.

Part

The threat that homeschooling presents to the moral revolution: Why the British government is seeking to control the education of all children, even homeschoolers

But next we're going to shift from Canada to the United Kingdom, another headline. This one isn't getting much attention, if any at all, in the United States but it should. The headline and the article at the newspaper Evangelicals Now is this: "First They Came For The Home Schoolers." The reporter is Ruth Woodcraft. The subhead in the article: "The government is consulting on new plans for a home education register. But this isn't about home education; it's about the right of any parent to teach their child anything." As Woodcraft reports, calls for the government in Britain to register homeschooled children is actually an effort to try to intervene in the relationship between parents and their children. As she says, it is only a small jump "to tell parents how and what can be said at home on other matters." She concludes, "As suspicion of faith increases, it would only be a small step to see Bible teaching brought into the government's sights."

That might sound to be extreme, but let's look at the documentation in her article. She says, "The register was first suggested in The Casey Review." That was an official government report to which we will turn in a moment. "That report had a prejudicial attitude," she says, "towards religion throughout. Mainstream views on sexual ethics were referred to as regressive, and Christians were seen as part of the problem for a lack of integration in society." In a very important paragraph she writes, "The assumption in the consultation is that a child's development, as defined by the government, could be damaged by parents teaching children. Evangelical Christians are mentioned in one of the impact documents to be read alongside the survey, as an increasing number home educate."

Here's something we've noticed in the United States. The right to educate our children, the right to decide on the education of our children, that is a fundamental parental right that this government must respect. We also have to understand something else. If you are trying to bring about a worldview revolution, a cultural revolution, a massive shift in the way the society thinks, a reordering of the entire civilizational norms, then the fastest way to do it is to aim at the youngest so that you have their hearts and minds before you have to turn to any other more coercive steps. This is why every moral and cultural revolution sets its sights on the control of the schools.

That also points to the other problem. If you want to bring about this revolution by control of the schools then you're going to find a great obstacle in the schools that you do not supervise, the schools outside your control, or parents who are making decisions to remove their children, or never to enroll their children, in the public or the government schools. And that's where Ruth Woodcraft tells us something absolutely amazing. "Home education," that's homeschooling in Britain, "has grown 40% in the last three years." Just think about that. Homeschooling has grown in the United Kingdom by 40% in three years. What could explain that? Well, I would suggest that what explains that more than anything else is a sense of moral panic among parents there in Great Britain. And it appears to be quite justified panic.

The Casey review itself that was handed down in 2016 states, "It is extremely concerning that children can be excluded from mainstream education without sufficient checks on their well-being and integration. The government said the report should step up the safeguarding arrangements for children who are removed from mainstream education, and in particular those who do not commence mainstream schooling at all." This is an amazingly straightforward statement, a statement by a government report that the government should actually make certain that children who are outside of the mainstream schools, that means the government schools, are still not outside the reach of the government. And this is explicitly put in moral terms, lest the government by its inaction allow these children to be influenced by their parents in moral convictions that are not ... there's that word again ... mainstream.

Consider this paragraph from the report: "All children outside mainstream education should be required to register with local authorities, and local authorities' duties to know where the children are being educated should be increased. It should also consider the standards against which home education is judged, to be clear that divisive practices are not acceptable in any setting." What exactly would divisive practices mean? Well, in Britain it could mean a concern by the government for Islamic extremism. But it's real clear in the report that Evangelical parents are also being identified here as being outside the mainstream, and Evangelical moral convictions based on scripture are defined as divisive.

Again, I wanted to look to the primary document, so I have the entire Casey Review document before me, about 200 pages long, an official publication of the British government. At section 7.69 I read, "Parents should continue to have the right to home educate their children, but stronger safeguards are required to ensure the child's right to a decent and suitable education for life in Britain and to protect them from harm." The next sentence: "The evidence we have seen in this review shows it is too easy for children to be raised in a totally secluded environment that does not provide a suitable education or sufficient protection from harm."

Just consider again what that means. Harm is being used here, just as violence and harm were being used in that Canadian court decision. We are told that home schooling can allow parents to seclude their children. What does that mean? Well, it means preventing their children from accepting mainstream moral judgements. Remember what the mainstream is now.

It can be argued rightly in so many ways that it is the English political tradition that gave birth, eventually, to the United States of America. But we also need to note that Britain does not have a written constitution. And it certainly doesn't have a Bill of Rights. There is nothing exactly analogous to the First Amendment's guarantee of the free exercise of religion. And so the British government will sometimes say things that you really can't imagine the United States government saying, at least for now. Consider for example that the report conceives that Britain is "an officially Christian country with our head of state, Her Majesty the Queen, also Supreme Governor of the established Church in England." But the report goes on to say don't worry too much about that; it's not the Anglicans we're worried about.

The next paragraph: "At the same time, there has been a shift away from mainstream Christian denominations and a growth in Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, largely reflecting changes in ethnic diversity." The main thing to note here is that Evangelicals are described as outside of the mainstream, and that shows up in this report as a big concern.

Elsewhere Ruth Woodcraft has responded to the Casey review by describing it as liberal humanist imperialism, which of course it is. It is that precisely. Rightly she says that the review indicates the desire upon the part of many for the government to enforce socially liberal values on the wider society "with which one must not disagree or one is thus intolerant." She also points out that missing from this list of social values is freedom of religion.

She also points to something else that's very ominous in this review and that is the fact that the review refers to certain religious groups as regressive, and it would appear that that would include more conservative forms of Christianity. Regressive values, we are told, are what these religious groups teach. And thus, one of the implications, it's right here in the report, is that it would serve the government of Britain well to define what a healthy Christianity would look like, what a healthy Islam would look like. It's hard to imagine a more coercive effort undertaken by a government than to define the right mainstream acceptably liberal theology for the Christian church, or for any other religious body for that matter.

The report from British Columbia's getting a good deal of attention among Christian, and it should. We needed to take a closer look at this new development. The developments in Great Britain are not getting much attention in the United States at all, and that's a problem. We need to understand what's at stake there because quite too soon it will also be at stake here.

There's so many other issues I wanted to talk about today, including the transition in the Japanese monarchy. It has huge theological dimensions that most of the mainstream media are missing. We'll have to turn to that tomorrow.

But ending today's edition of The Briefing, I want us to remind ourselves of why biblically minded Christians understand the priority of those first two most fundamental relationships: the relationship of a husband and a wife in marriage, and the relationship of parents and their children in the family. We come to understand that those are not only very convenient, long-standing, well-respected sociological developments, those are relationships that our Creator established for human flourishing and human good, for human holiness, institutions and relationships, marriage and the family, that show his glory and without which there can be no rightful ordering of human society. But we're looking at the fact that right now, biblical Christianity is being described as outside of the acceptable moral and cultural mainstream precisely because we cannot redefine that first relationship of the husband and the wife, and we will not and must not redefine or compromise that relationship between parents and children.

We need to keep this in mind when we see school system after school system imposing the most draconian liberal sex education curricula on students, and often not even allowing a parental notification or opt-out provision. Or you see the schools then redefining the transgender or gender identity aspect under the rubric of health so they don't even have to trigger sex education.

You also see how the elites operate in a society. The medical elites operate with the legal elites, who work with the cultural creatives amongst the elites, who work with the educational elites. That's how a culture is coerced and transformed, level by level, institution by institution, relationship by relationship. If Christians will not awaken to understanding what exactly is at stake here, keep very much in mind the other side knows exactly what's at stake.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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