Other than our sexual mores, nothing is under greater attack in our country than religious liberty, and the two go hand-in-hand. But this trend is not something that has recently come to FACT’s attention.
Passing the Religious Freedom Protection Act
In 2008 the Tennessee Attorney General opined that nothing in Tennessee’s adoption law prevented homosexual couples from adopting, and FACT realized that it was only a matter of time before Christian adoption agencies in Tennessee were sued if they did not place children with homosexual couples.
So in 2009 Tennessee became one of the first states to pass a religious freedom restoration act (RFRA). And it’s a good thing we had the foresight to pass a broad religious liberty protection law back then; just last year, Indiana and Arkansas tried to pass similar legislation and were quickly excoriated on a national level for trying to do so.
Broad protective laws like we have in Tennessee may not pass any other state for years to come. And the law was an immediate source of protection for pastors, churches, and other organizations following the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex “marriage” ruling last summer in Obergefell v. Hodges.
Protecting Religious Liberty in the Professions
Increasingly, Christians in various professions are facing threats to their right to practice their professions according to the dictates of their conscience.
Attorneys—In 2013 the Board of Professional Responsibility for lawyers proposed a change in its ethics code that would have exposed lawyers to disciplinary actions if they in any way, whether in their representation of a client or even in their public advocacy (as with FACT’s president, who is a lawyer), evidenced a bias or prejudice against sexual orientation. FACT contacted its friends and allies in the legal profession, met with the Christian legal society organization in Chattanooga, and began to stir up attorneys to “comment” to the Tennessee Supreme Court in opposition to the proposed ethics code. The court rejected the proposed change!
Professional Counselors—In 2014 the American Counseling Association amended its ethical guidelines to make it unethical for a counselor to refer out a client if the counselor concluded that he or she could not in good conscience affirm and support the client’s therapeutic goals and objectives. Now the profession was trying to do to practicing professionals what it was doing to students in our public colleges, which we also passed legislation to address.
The change in the ACA code would not have been a problem except for the fact that the state’s licensing board had decided to adopt, in toto, the ACA’s code as our state law for regulating and disciplining counselors.
So, once again FACT’s legislative arm, Family Action of Tennessee, went to work. Despite intense opposition from the ACLU, LGBT advocacy groups, and liberal national counseling associations, we once again saw Tennessee pass a first-in-the-nation law to ensure that counselors could make a referral to another counselor if they could not in good conscience help a client achieve his or her therapeutic goals and objectives.
Thanks to your faithful prayers and generous financial support, we have come a long way in a decade to stand in the gap and advocate for life, family, marriage, and religious liberty in our state.