Chaplain David Wells was told he could either sign a state-mandated document promising to never tell inmates that homosexuality is “sinful” or else the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice would revoke his credentials.
“We could not sign that paper,” Chaplain Wells told me in a telephone call from his home in Kentucky. “It broke my heart.”
The Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice revoked his volunteer credentials as an ordained minister – ending 13 years of ministry to underage inmates at the Warren County Regional Juvenile Detention Center.
It isn’t just one minister, either. Starnes reports every volunteer in the church, and other churches, was faced with the same choice, and received a letter specifically naming their “religious convictions” as the reason for their termination:
“We sincerely appreciate your years of service and dedication to the youth served by this facility,” wrote Superintendent Gene Wade in a letter to Wells. “However, due to your decision, based on your religious convictions, that you cannot comply with the requirements outlined in DJJ Policy 912, Section IV, Paragraph H, regarding the treatment of LGBTQI youth, I must terminate your involvement as a religious volunteer.”
Keep in mind that we’re not talking about employees, who the state might have at least some pretext to censor on the job. We’re talking about volunteers who provide essential counseling to troubled youth being told that the state doesn’t need them because of their personal religious beliefs. And wouldn’t you know it, Democrats are happy to support the new policy:
State Sen. Gerald Neal, a Democrat, dared Christians to challenge the law in court.
“I’m just disappointed that the agendas by some are so narrow that they disregard the rights of others,” he told the newspaper. “Let them sue and let the courts settle it.”
Barely a month after Obergefell and already we have laws targeting religious leaders, and Democrats are saying that even these don’t go far enough. Well, we can’t say Starnes and company didn’t tell us so.
Nick Arnold is a researcher for American Principles in Action.