Can 1st Amendment defeat faith-based counseling ban?

Thursday, June 28, 2018
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

Bill of RightsMassachusetts lawmakers have approved a bill banning faith-based counseling for children struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction but a conservative activist predicts the law might not survive a legal challenge.

Known by its critics at Massachusetts Family Institute as the "counseling ban," the state House of Representatives passed House Bill 4014 by an overwhelming vote of 137 to 14.

The bill follows a similar pattern in other states, where homosexual activists label such counseling "conversion therapy" and demonize it as dangerous and unhealthy for children.

Defenders of the professional counseling maintain that children who have been sexually abused, guided by their concerned parents, should have the legal right to seek the professional help they want.  

"This is a disappointment but not a surprise given how powerful the LGBTQ lobby is on Beacon Hill," responds Andrew Beckwith, president of Massachusetts Family Institute.

"The good news," he adds, "is that the section of the bill that labeled biblical counseling on issues of human sexuality as 'child abuse' was dropped at the last minute."

Despite the lopsided vote in the House, Beckwith credits supporters of Massachusetts Family Institute for sharing their concerns with lawmakers.

Beckwith

The bill, however, still prohibits therapists from counseling children and their families, and MFI is now working with Liberty Counsel and Alliance Defending Freedom to challenge the bill.

Pointing to this week's Supreme Court decision in NIFLA v. Becerra, Beckwith says that ruling undermines the legal basis upon which the authors of the counseling ban relied. 

"This means that it is likely," he predicts, "the legislation will eventually be struck down as an unconstitutional state restriction on the free speech of mental health professionals."

With Justice Anthony Kennedy retiring this summer, Beckwith also predicts a solid five-vote majority supporting freedom of speech if the case reaches the high court.

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