Thursday, May 19, 2022
It's Thursday, May 19th, 2022.
I'm Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
An Effort to Shame a School Into Changing LGBTQ Policy: Louisville Christian School Catches Heat for Assigning Homework Consistent with Biblical Worldview
We're going to talk about several issues related to schools and schooling today, but I want to start with a story that headlines right out of Louisville, Kentucky.
It's a story about a local Christian school that was actually caught red handed in the act of teaching Christian truth and inculcating that biblical truth in the students of the school. We're talking about Christian Academy of Louisville, the headline news story broke in recent days. It broke, at least to my knowledge, first in the Louisville Courier Journal, the local newspaper and the headline was, "Homework at Christian Academy of Louisville Pursued Your Friend to Stop Being Gay." Lucas Aulbach is the reporter on the story. You can imagine how this story broke in a city like Louisville, Kentucky.
Christian Academy's the largest private school system here in the Kentucky area. And it is a school that's had a long history. It's been connected with many churches, including an association of Christian churches that would be most well known through the Southeast Christian Church, which is one of the largest churches in the United States.
We're also looking at a school that has clear doctrinal positions on these issues, upholding marriage as exclusively the union of a man and a woman, a school that has behavioral expectations, and a school that's very upfront about that requiring parents who bring their children and enroll them at Christian Academy to sign an acknowledgement that they understand what the school teaches and the behavioral expectations of the school.
But let's just stand back for a moment because the importance of this is not just in Louisville, it's not just about one school or school system, not just about one homework assignment. This is about where we stand as Christians in an increasingly secular and increasingly morally progressive society. We're looking at an effort here to try to shame a school into changing its policy. And that's exactly what's going on. That's how the story broke.
So let's look a little more closely at the story, not just about one school in Louisville. This is about just about any Christian ministry, any Christian school, any Christian college or university, any Christian Church or denomination, or for that matter Christian family these days.
Let's look at how the story broke. A middle school teacher in the school had given students an assignment I'm going to read directly from the assignment. The assignment is to write an essay, "Write a letter to a friend of your same gender who is struggling with homosexuality." The assignment was explained further, "Assume that you've known this friend since kindergarten, that you go to the same church and that you've been pretty good friends over the years until now. This friend is your same age. The aim of your letter should be to lovingly and compassionately speak truth to the person you're talking to in a way that does not approve of any sin. Instead, try to persuade them of the goodness of God's design for them."
Interestingly, the words try to persuade them of the goodness of God's design are all in caps. They are emphasized. The assignment then ends, "In at least eight sentences try to show the friend from the Bible reason and your personal friendship that God's designed for them is good, that homosexuality will not bring them satisfaction, that you love them, even though you don't approve of their lifestyle."
Now, I don't know if the teacher came up with this assignment himself or herself. I don't know if it came from some other source in Christian education. I do know it's actually very sensitively written. I do know that unquestionably is based in a biblical worldview.
I know as I told the local newspaper, when I was called about this development, that this represents the Christian consensus going all the way back to the early church and continuing throughout unbroken centuries, over 20 centuries of Christian history, Christians of all branches, in all places, at all times would have agreed with this worldview until very recent times when still only a very small minority of liberal Christians has broken from the biblical teaching.
There's so much to be learned here, several things that we need to observe. Number one, this story broke because we are told a local business person, in this case, a man by the name of J.P. Davis, had gone to the media after he said they had been shown the homework by a friend who was a parent with a child at Christian Academy, who was according to the courier journal, "Visibly and understandably upset about the assignment."
Now, when this story is written this way, and by the way, you can predict a story is going to be written this way. In this case, the Louisville Courier Journal is representing as a very liberal newspaper, exactly what you would expect, but you pretty much better expect this across the board. That's one observation. You are supposed to be shocked by this. That's the assumption in a society like ours undergoing this utter moral revolution.
This is written in such a way that the readers of this newspaper are assumed to be ready to be shocked by this news. Again, a Christian school guilty of operating on Christian truth, who would've thought it? But notice that we are then told that there was a child who had received this assignment who was "visibly and understandably upset about the assignment."
Again, you have a child in a Christian school who has parents who intentionally put the child in the Christian school and had been required to sign a statement saying that they understood the convictions of the Christian school when it comes to the definition of marriage, God's arrangement and design for human sexuality, God's purpose in gender. There should be no surprise here.
But what we have here is a very widespread effort to try to shame a school, to put public pressure on a school, in order to force a change in its policy and teaching. The businessman who released the story to the media speaking of the parents said, "Her kid is in the class that was given the assignment and he and her are both uncomfortable with it."
The business consultant then went on to say about the parent, "She doesn't know how to handle it. And her kids upset." Later in the original news article, the Christian school's system superintendent indicated that this was an assignment given to students in the middle school Bible elective class. We're told that it was part of a unit of study, which discusses, "What are humans and where is their identity?"
The superintendent went on to say that understood in context, this was all about, "How a person could discuss homosexuality with a friend from a biblical perspective, with compassion and love." So further observation here's what's going on in the society right now. When I wrote my book a few years ago, entitled, We Cannot Be Silent, I was tracking how the revolution in sexual morality and in gender understanding was happening so fast.
One of the ways it is happening so fast, one of the engines of the velocity of this moral revolution is turning everything into an emotional issue. All of a sudden we are told here is a child who is upset. People don't generally step back to say, "Well, why is the child upset?" And how could a child, knowing what this school teaches, be upset with a school teaching what it says it's going to teach? But then you might back up and say, "Well, after all we're talking about an early adolescent here, a middle school student, perhaps the middle school student is upset?"
But then the story turns to the parent, how in the world could the parent be upset? The school is doing exactly what it said it was doing consistent with biblical Christianity that the school represents, so much so by the way, that it puts Christian in the name of the school.
Now we know there are many schools that would use the word Christian, or describe themselves as Christian that fall far short of Christian orthodoxy. In this case, we're looking at a school, that at least in this assignment and by this particular class, is indicating that this teacher is upholding historic Christian teaching. That's exactly what the school says it's doing.
So how can the parent be surprised? Much less how can the parent be upset, because the child is upset, when the teacher is teaching exactly what the school says, it teaches? But then another observation you can count on the fact that no matter the Christian identity of a school, by the time you graduate a significant number of say, high school seniors going out into the world, or college students, and yes, every single Christian academic institution bears this sad experience.
There are those who go out and end up holding positions, contrary to what they were taught at the school. And so we have alumni of Christian academy coming out saying that they are appalled at what the school teaches. The story in the Courier Journal, the original story, says, "A 2002 CAL graduate with ties to the school, told the Courier Journal she was also outraged when she heard about the assignment through a social media post. She said she immediately reached out to other alumni, as well as parents who have kids at CAL."
Again, what's she going to say, "Hey, it turns out that they're teaching exactly what they said they were teaching." Notice something else, the emotivism and how all this has turned around. I'll assume that this alumnus is actually speaking honestly, that doesn't mean that she's speaking accurately, to the contrary, listen to this quote.
"I would not call this out of character in any way, but I was still really disappointed because I've been gone 20 years and I would've hoped that in 20 years, maybe they would've learned that love is the way to go as opposed to the fire and brimstone hate, but it doesn't seem like it to me."
So again, here Christians have to learn how to hear the word love misused. So as you go back to the original assignment, let's just remember how saturated in concern the original assignment actually was. It's about speaking to someone who is a friend, the aim of the letter said the assignment should be to, "Lovingly and compassionately speak truth to the person you're talking to in a way that does not approve of any sin, but instead, try to persuade them of the goodness of God's design for them."
The last statement in the assignment is published by the paper was, "That you love them, even though you don't approve of their lifestyle." So here's something to note the argument about endorsing the LGBTQ revolution, and for that matter, all that's required in it, implied in it, and extending now from it, the argument is that if you are loving, you will approve of persons given the lifestyle that they've chosen or the orientation with which they identify. You simply say, you love them because love accepts everything.
But you'll notice that isn't love. That isn't even close to love is defined in the scriptures, but nonetheless, you see how rhetorically powerful this is. You see how this has actually been so successful in pushing a society institution by institution, even in some cases, especially in liberal churches, denomination by denomination towards just going off the cliff, abandoning biblical truth in the name of love.
But that is the one thing Christians can't do. We have to define love in biblical terms. It's also interesting to see how other rhetoric plays into this. It's all instructive to us. For example, WAVE TV, channel three, released a news article on this, "Leaked Christian Academy Assignment Requires Students To Argue About Homosexuality."
The reason I'm bringing up that headline is the word leaked. Leaked? That's what you normally speak of in terms of say national security information, leaked financial data, or a leaked draft opinion by a justice of the United States Supreme Court. Homework leaked? Well, those are two words I've never seen put together before.
The Lexington, Kentucky newspaper, the Herald Leader also ran an article. It started out, "A Christian school in Louisville gave an assignment asking middle school students to write a letter to a hypothetical friend warning against homosexuality, resulting in public criticism and a review by school leaders."
We have to expect that public criticism is going to come in the wake of a story like this. And we have to hope that a review by school leaders identified by this newspaper will end up with the school standing by its historic biblical conviction.
By the way, the school's statement of faith and theological document says, "We believe that God created the marriage covenant to be between one man and one woman. We believe that sex is a good gift of God to be celebrated within the confines of the marriage covenant, agreeing that all other sexual expressions go against God's design." Next cited is this, "We believe that all individuals are created in the image of God and therefore should be treated with compassion, respect, dignity, and love at all times, even in disagreement."
I'll simply say it's hard to find a single syllable in all of those words that is not entirely consistent with, and required by, biblical Christianity. There was a follow up article that ran just in the last 24 hours at the Louisville Courier Journal, the major newspaper here in Kentucky published in Louisville, and the same reporter Lucas Aulbach is back, along with Olivia Krauth, the headline in this article, "Homophobic Homework? For Some Christian Academy Alums Assignment is Par For the Course."
Now, again, here's one of the things you just have to watch. People are going to go to alumni of the school, and they're going to say, "Are you not appalled by this?" And in any school with a significant number of alumni there, regrettably will be some, who'll be embarrassed about the Christian commitments of the school they had attended.
This article does cite the website of the school that says, "We want to partner with families who are also teaching their children, what it means to have a Christian lifestyle regarding personal and family relationships, such as an ability to share love for others, demonstrating a teachable spirit, and sharing the belief that a biblical marriage is limited to a covenant relationship between a man and a woman."
The handbook for students and for families, and also the requirements of employees, including faculty, is that they uphold this teaching and that they do not violate it in their personal lives. In order to preserve the function and integrity of the school, the report here says, "Any employees, volunteers, or independent contractors must uphold the school's beliefs."
The reporter called me and asked for a response. And I simply said that the homework assignment looks like an entirely reasonable and appropriate class lesson for a class in a Christian school, teaching a Christian worldview, on the basis of Christian commitments.
At least a part of what I was trying to say is there is no news here about this homework assignment. The only news is about the response to it. I said in that report, and I'm glad the paper ran it, "The biblical convictions behind this assignment have been held for 2,000 years, the entirety of Christian history in every major branch of Christianity, without exception, until very recent times."
I pointed out, "There are some denominations that have gone off to endorse the LGBTQ revolution, but still worldwide today, they represent only, and if anything, this is an understatement, a tiny fraction of the overwhelming consensus of Christianity based on Scripture."
If you line up all the Christians, all those who identify with Christian churches today worldwide, it is hard to describe how few will be the totality of those who are endorsing any break from the biblical teaching on this issue.
We're living in a society that represents modern Western industrialized nations confused about the issue of marriage, but still worldwide, let me give you a little reassurance. There is very little confusion about marriage, but we can't avoid the issue of religious liberty because it is key here.
The article in the Courier Journal gets to it, "Private schools in Kentucky are allowed certain privileges, not available to their public counterparts. They're exempt from standardized state testing that frustrates students and teachers alike, statewide COVID-19 policies like non-traditional instruction and mask mandates were easier to dodge. That means for private schools, including private religious schools, and teaching religious values, even those considered discriminatory is fair gain."
The article continued by going to University of Louisville law professor Sam Marcosson who said, "No one should call on the government to sanction them or pass a law barring educational practices like this by a private school. Such a law," he said, "would be massively unconstitutional." That's very clarifying. It's very important. It's important that Professor Marcosson said that and that the paper reported it, but he goes on to make very clear he thinks the school is reprehensible.
He said, "Teaching children that their gay friends need to be told they're violating God's plan is a disgrace." He went on to say, "CAL is a disgrace." At least at this point, I'll have to say what you see here is a civil libertarian being a civil libertarian. He actually does state rightly that religious schools have a right to operate on religious conviction and religious principles.
He then goes on to say, he thinks that the school is a disgrace. He said, "I'm no expert in what it means to be a good Christian, but I have enough wonderful, kind, generous Christian friends that I can say with certainty that this isn't it. And if this is how they exercise the rights provided by the first amendment, they should be ashamed of themselves."
So even though you have this law professor saying, look, it'll be unconstitutional to try to prevent a Christian school from teaching Christianity. You'll notice the moral judgment that is made here, and he makes that abundantly clear, the schools a disgrace and the school should be ashamed of themselves. And here again, you just notice how the moral rhetoric is addressed to those who would uphold a biblical understanding of sexuality.
Now, let me also point out something else. You're talking about offense at people who would uphold the only form of sexual relationship that actually leads, successfully, to children.
To an even greater extent this article goes to alumni of the school, recent and not so recent, who are quite upset about this. But the fact is I just have to underline any school of any size is going to have alumni who become an embarrassment to the school. The big issue is what does the school teach? And in the main, what do its graduates look like? What do they believe? And when you're looking at a Christian school, the stakes are just going to get higher.
These days, as you're looking at this kind of media coverage, it is sometimes so one sided, so slanted towards the LGBTQ revolution, that conservatives actually don't have much of a voice at all, or a Christian perspective in terms of a biblical Christianity just is not represented.
I want to say that at least in the media coverage of this story, and that would include the Louisville Courier Journal there has been an effort to ensure that there is a conservative Christian voice or voices in the news coverage.
Now, undoubtedly, there's going to be more to this story and will be following it. But just at this point, I think listeners to The Briefing understand this is really big news. Not so much because of just one school or one school system and just one city in the United States. But because of what this shows us about the larger pattern and how the moral landscape is shifting right before our eyes and how the arguments take shape that are used to try to intimidate Christian schools from teaching Christianity.
A 1.2 Million Drop in Public School Enrollment Since 2020?: Evaluating a Major Shift in the Educational Landscape in the U.S.
But next, a story that actually is connected to this. The New York Times ran a big story yesterday and other major media are also reporting on statistics that have just come in indicating what the New York times calls a seismic hit to public schools. And the seismic hit is a fall-off in the number of students.
Now that's a big story. It's a big story in the largest sense because of what it tells us about our society. And frankly, the fact that we have turned into such an antinatalist society, that is a society that is no longer celebrating having birth as it should. The fact is we have a falling birth rate. We have a falling fertility rate. We have a huge problem. And that huge problem is actually showing up very fast in projections about school enrollment in the public schools.
Now, why would the public schools be concerned about this? After all, why should it matter to them whether they're teaching say a 100,000 students or 60,000 students? Well, get to it in a hurry. It's because of the budget. It's because of the jobs. The article in The Times by Sean Hubler includes this information, "Altogether, America's public schools have lost at least 1.2 million students since 2020. State enrollment figures show no sign of a rebound to the previous national levels anytime soon."
So this tells us that it's not just the falling birth rate and the forward projections about the children who aren't going to be there because they never were born. It's also about a 1.2 million student deficit just measured when you look at enrollment before COVID and after many of the COVID restrictions have been lifted.
The article then says, "A broad decline was already underway in the nation's public school system as rates of birth and immigration have fallen, particularly in cities, but the Coronavirus crisis supercharged that drop in ways that experts say will not easily be reversed."
The article then suggests some reasons why. I just want to backtrack for a moment and say, let's understand one of the reasons why is that increasingly parents, if they understand what's being taught in so many public school systems are saying, that's not going to be taught to my kids.
I'm certainly not denying there are other issues, including parents just fed up with remote learning or any number of other issues, but the fact is you are looking at a seismic change in the entire educational landscape when it comes to the education of children in the United States. And I think Christians understand all these headlines remind us there's a lot more at stake here than many would recognize.
Moral Insanity Reaches Epic Level: Oregon Adopts Policy to Require Feminine Products in Boys’ Bathrooms in Public Schools
But I'm going to end today, and I just give you a little warning, I'm going to end today on a story that comes from Oregon. That also, I believe, will go a long way in explaining why a lot of kids haven't returned to the public schools and many others, I predict, or at least I hope, will be missing from at least many public school systems.
This is an article that is headlined from Oregon about the fact that there the government has adopted a so-called Menstrual Dignity Act that requires schools to place feminine products in boys bathrooms. I'm not going to get any more specific than that.
But you're wondering why so many parents are saying, "They're not going to be sending their children to schools?" You look at why so many Christian schools have burgeoning enrollment. You look at why so many Christian, or for that matter, even just conservative parents in the United States are turning increasingly to homeschooling. You look at a headline like this, you say, "Well, that just might be a very good reason."
Don't worry. I'm not going to be explicit here. But it's really interesting to look at what was described as the toolkit for this legislation that says, "That the act affirms the right to dignity for transgender, intersex, non-binary, and two-spirit students by addressing the challenges that students have. Some of them managing these challenges while minimizing negative attention that could put them at risk of harm and navigating experiences of gender dysphoria during this physical process, that according to some of the supplementary material concerning the policy. Research also connects gender affirming bathroom access to supporting student safety at school."
There's a lot more in this news story that I'm going to spare you, but to the credit of Fox News, it broke the story. And it also included ample comments from people, including parents who find this particular policy just well, unthinkable, except it's real. And what you see here is an intentional effort, not just to celebrate and to endorse and to institutionalize the LGBTQ agenda, but to basically break down any objective distinction between boys and girls, between males and females.
This is not accidental. It is key to the rebellion against creation that in this case takes the shape of certain materials, put into boys bathrooms in the school restrooms. How long will they even be boys and girls restrooms in a school system, in a society, that is losing contact or confidence in the very notion of girls and boys? That's a question that should haunt us all.
Thanks for listening to The Briefing.
For more information go to my website at albertmohler.com. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/albertmohler. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College, just go to boycecollege.com.
I'll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.