Posts Tagged As: Liberty Counsel

Mat Staver Calls for “Civil Disobedience” Over SCOTUS Marriage Decision

Jim Burroway

August 23rd, 2016

Right Wing Watch caught up with Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver who was speaking to a Pennsylvania anti-abortion group last April:

We are coming to a place, ladies and gentleman, where we have to make a decision. Where we have to make a decision like Dietrich Bonhoeffer made a decision, like Martin Niemoller made a decision. We are coming to the position where we are in the same place that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had to make a decision, where the founders of this country had to make a decision that we will either obey God or we will obey man. And when those two directly, inherently, irrevocably collide with one another. We are in a position like Daniel in the lions’ den, like the three Hebrews that would not bow down, like Esther, who offered her life on the line and engaged in civil resistance against the most powerful king on the planet. We are coming to that moment in time.

When we have five lawyers on the Supreme Court — and I’ve had the opportunity to argue there, I’ve written lots of briefs, I’ve been a dean of a law school, I’ve been a tenured law school professor, I’ve taught constitutional law, I know all of that issue. But when we have five lawyers on the Supreme Court that not only contradict themselves in a two years period because, you know in 2013 they said the states had a right to define marriage, and in June 2015 they said states don’t have the right to define marriage. Frankly, states don’t have the right to define marriage to begin with any more than they have the right to redefine gravity. It is what it is. It’s part of natural creation. But they contradict themselves in a period of two years, and as Chief Justice John Roberts said, the five lawyers — that’s his term, not mine — they impose their will on a legal judgment not based on the Constitution, not based on the Court’s precedent.

That’s a lawless opinion. When are we going to stop playing charades and pretend that whatever those five people say, whoever they might be, whatever they say, no matter how devoid of the Constitution it may be, that it becomes the law of the land? It doesn’t! If that’s your belief system, if you have gotten so brainwashed to think that whatever those five people in Washington, D.C., say, we now have to march to it like toy soldiers because if they say so, irrespective of the fact that they have no authority under the Constitution to do it, then you would support Dred Scott, you would support Buck v. Bell, because those decisions came down from the United States Supreme Court as well.

And those decisions, the Dred Scott by the Supreme Court, they said that Blacks were not entitled to citizenship and therefore you cannot bring your case in court. We had a civil war to overturn that nonsense.

Staver gets his history just about as wrong as he does the law. Whenever anyone disagrees with a Supreme Court decision, they often point to Dred Scott as an example as a truly awful decision. We all know it was morally repugnant and a dark stain on our nation’s history. But that dark stain came about because the Constitution at the time — remember, it counted Black slaves like Dred Scott as only three-fifths of a person — made it pretty clear that he and others in his situation were not full citizens, not according to that pre-Thirteenth Amendment Constitution anyway. Pointing out that awful fact of history and the sorry state of the Constitution that our forefathers had foisted on this country is in now way the same as saying you support Dred Scott. No decent person can support what that decision did to Mr. Scott and million others like him. But since justices can’t declare constitutions unconstitutional, it seems to me that a decision like Dred Scott, as odious as it was, was also inevitable under the version of the Constitution they were stuck with in 1857. And that’s why we had a civil war and two critical constitutional amendments to ensure that black people would be full citizens rather than three-fifths of a person.

Staver’s respect for the law is just about as slippery as his grasp of history. As the law school dean at Liberty University, which he bragged about in this clip, he taught his law students that they should counsel their clients to break the law in favor of “God’s Law” if they perceive a conflict. And according to a RICO lawsuit that is currently pending in court connecting his law school to the Miller-Jenkins kidnapping case, his law school apparently practices what he taught.

Liberty Counsel Declares Victory In Kim Davis Lawsuit

Jim Burroway

August 19th, 2016

Kim DavisYou remember Kim Davis, right? She’s the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. After she refused a court order, she was briefly jailed for contempt while her office issued licenses as the judge ordered. Long story short: people are getting married in Morehead, and Kim Davis is no longer trying to interfere. So:

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed three lawsuits pending against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis over her refusal to issue marriage licenses in 2015, following the legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The issue is now settled, U.S. District Judge David Bunning wrote in his order. At Davis’ request, Gov. Matt Bevin and the General Assembly changed state law this year to remove county clerks’ names from marriage licenses. And in Rowan County, one of Davis’ deputy clerks has been issuing licenses to all couples, same-sex and opposite-sex, since Davis was briefly jailed for contempt of court last summer after violating Bunning’s order to resume issuing licenses.

“In light of these proceedings, and in view of the fact that the marriage licenses continue to be issued without incident, there no longer remains a case or controversy before the court,” Bunning wrote.

In typical fashion, Liberty Counsel, which has been defending Davis in court, has declared victory:

“Kim Davis has won! We celebrate this victory for her and for every American,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “County clerks are now able to perform their public service without being forced to compromise their religious liberty. The case is now closed and the door has been shut on the ACLU’s attempt to assess damages against Kim Davis. This victory is not just for Kim Davis. It is a victory for everyone who wants to remain true to their deeply-held religious beliefs regarding marriage while faithfully serving the public,” said Staver.

If that’s a victory, then I’ll take more of that, please.

Trump To Join Rubio At Anti-Gay Meeting In Orlando

Jim Burroway

August 10th, 2016

The Christian Broadcasting Network reported that Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump will appear at the anti-LGBT “Rediscovering God in America” conference in Orlando. The event will be held this week on August 11 and 12, coinciding with the two-month anniversary of the Pulse night club massacre:

Trump will speak to them about his push to repeal the Johnson Amendment. The law, which has been in place for decades, has made it more difficult for pastors to speak out on political issues and candidates from the pulpit. We should also note that former presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio will also speak to pastors at the two-day event.

Liberty Counsel Action, the political action arm of the Liberty Counsel, and the Florida Renewal Project, an affiliate of the American Renewal Project, are sponsering the the private event which will be closed to the public and press. About 700 pastors and spouses are expected to attend. David Lane, founder of the American Renewal Project told Bloomberg that Trump’s talking about the Johnson Amendment would be just “a good first step”:

“That’s a good first step,” said David Lane, the American Renewal Project’s founder. “But what about the religious liberty of Christian photographers, Christian bakers, Christian retreat centers, and pastors who believe same-sex intercourse and marriage is sin? These Christians were simply living out their deeply held convictions of their Christian faith when they politely refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding. Doesn’t the First Amendment give us all a right to our beliefs?”

Lane added, “Homosexual totalitarianism is out of the closet, the militants are trying herd Christians there.”

Last month, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was named the event’s headliner, a move which brought fierce criticism from members of Orlando’s gay community. Rubio tried telling the Tampa Bay Times, presumably with a straight face:

“The event I will be speaking at in Orlando is a gathering of local pastors and faith leaders. Leave it to the media and liberal activists to label a gathering of faith leaders as an anti-LGBT event. It is nothing of the sort. It is a celebration of faith,” he said.

So is it an anti-LGBT event? You tell me. Here’s a rundown on some of the other speakers that Trump and Rubio will be sharing a platform with:

  • Mat Staver: He is head of the Liberty Counsel and Liberty Counsel Action. Liberty Counsel defended Kentucky clerk Kim Davis’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. When Staver was dean of Liberty University’s law school, he taught his law students that they should counsel their clients to break the law in favor of “God’s Law.” And according to a RICO lawsuit connecting his law school to the Miller-Jenkins kidnapping case, his law school apparently practices what he taught. Last month, he denounced Orlando area churches for participating in “homosexual love feasts” by offering prayer services and open channels of prayer, and dialogue with the grieving community.
  • David Barton: He is a Texas-based fake historian who has said that God was preventing the medical profession from finding a cure for AIDS because it was “the penalty due them.” He has also repeated the false claim that gay people die decades earlier than straight people. In 2011 when Democrats still held the majority in the Senate, Baron claimed that prayers from the Senate side of the U.S. Capital can’t get through to God because “they get delayed twenty-one days because the principalities are up there fighting in the Heavenlies.”
  • David Lane: Right Wing Watch has this rundown, which included his 2013 statement that we would see “car bombs in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa,” because of “homosexuals praying at the Inauguration.” In 2015, Lane organized a trip to Israel for sixty Republican Party leaders which was paid for by the American Family Association.

Marco Rubio Announced As Featured Speaker At Anti-Gay Event In Orlando

Jim Burroway

July 27th, 2016

Marco RubioLiberty Counsel Action, the political action arm of the Liberty Counsel, and the Florida Renewal Project, an affiliate of the American Renewal Project, have announced that Sen. Marco Rubio will be speaking at its “Rediscovering God In America Renewal Project“on August 11 and 12 in Orlando. The conference will take place exactly two months after the Pulse gay night club massacre in which 49 people were killed and 53 injured. According to Right Wing Watch, Rubio will be speaking alongside anti-gay extremists like Mat Staver, David Barton, Bill Federer, David Lane, and Maine pastor Ken Graves.

Last week, Rubio was confronted by angry protesters when he made a media appearance just a short walk down the street from the now-shuttered Pulse night club. Protesters were angered by Rubio’s statement in which he said he was “honored to receive John Stemberger’s endorsement.” John Stemberger is Florida’s leading and best-known anti-LGBT activist as head of Florida Family Action. Rubio will now be sharing the platform with some of the country’s more extremist anti-gay activists. Here’s a brief refresher:

  • Mat Staver: He is head of the Liberty Counsel and Liberty Counsel Action. Liberty Counsel defended Kentucky clerk Kim Davis’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. When Staver was dean of Liberty University’s law school, he taught his law students that they should counsel their clients to break the law in favor of “God’s Law.” And according to a RICO lawsuit connecting his law school to the Miller-Jenkins kidnapping case, his law school apparently practices what he taught. Last month, he denounced Orlando area churches for participating in “homosexual love feasts” by offering prayer services and open channels of prayer, and dialogue with the grieving community.
  • David Barton: He is a Texas-based fake historian who has said that God was preventing the medical profession from finding a cure for AIDS because it was “the penalty due them.” He has also repeated the false claim that gay people die decades earlier than straight people. In 2011 when Democrats still held the majority in the Senate, Baron claimed that prayers from the Senate side of the U.S. Capital can’t get through to God because “they get delayed twenty-one days because the principalities are up there fighting in the Heavenlies.”
  • David Lane: I haven’t been following him, except for this post where he organized a trip to Israel for sixty Republican Party leaders which was paid for by the American Family Association. Right Wing Watch has this rundown, which included his 2013 statement that we would see “car bombs in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa,” because of “homosexuals praying at the Inauguration.”

Ex-Gay Activist: Gay Marriage “A Sign Of the Last Days”

Jim Burroway

June 2nd, 2016

Janet Boynes, an ex-gay activist who has long been a favorite among the most extreme anti-gay activists, was been appearing on a radio program this week hosted by Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver. When Staver was dean of Liberty University’s law school, he taught his law students that they should counsel their clients to break the law in favor of “God’s Law.” And according to a RICO lawsuit connecting his law school to the Miller-Jenkins kidnapping case, his law school practices what he teaches.

So, you know, birds of a feather and all that. On Staver’s radio program, Boynes said parents should absolutely not allow their gay kids to bring their significant others home for Christmas or Thanksgiving:

Janet Boynes“That is not a marriage,” she said, “and so we have to not allow ourself to get so confused and realize that the Bible talks about these things are going to happen in the Last Days. We have to have a better understanding that the Bible talks about in the Last Days, these things are going to happen and trust God that he has an answer for everything in his word.”

…Straight siblings, on the other hand, should be more than welcome to come home as a couple “because they are heterosexual [and] they’re doing things right,” but gay relationships are “unacceptable … in the world of God.”

The Crazy Anti-Gay Bigotry of the Liberty Counsel

Rob Tisinai

February 25th, 2015

The virulently, almost hysterically, anti-gay Liberty Counsel has offered an amicus brief to the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals. Its official purpose is to strike down rulings for same-sex marriage, but it can’t resist pushing one of its favorite notions: that gay men are pedophiles.

I refer to crazy bigotry in my title, but that’s redundant. Bigotry, almost by definition, is an emotional reaction that cuts one off from facts and reason, and that’s what crazy is. You’ll see that in bizarre reasoning used in this brief.

It shows up in what’s almost a throwaway line:

In 2010, young MSB (men having sex with boys, aged 13-24 years) accounted for 72 percent of new HIV infections among all persons aged 13 to 24.

“Men having sex with boys.” They got this assertion from the CDC, which worded it more clearly honestly:

In 2010, young gay and bisexual men (aged 13-24 years) accounted for 72% of new HIV infections among all persons aged 13 to 24, and 30% of new infections among all gay and bisexual men.

I’m sure you can see the many distortions Liberty Counsel managed to insert as they twisted this information.

  • The CDC did not indicate how many of these young gay and bisexual men were infected via sex. I imagine many were, but Liberty Counsel is insisting they all were.
  • The CDC did not indicate indicate how many of these young gay and bisexual men were infected by men. Again, I imagine some were (no one denies that boys — and girls — get molested), but many were likely infected by their peers.
  • And most obviously — I imagine you’re practically screaming this by now — on what planet do we count 18-24-year-olds as boys? This is more than half that age range, men who can vote and serve in the military, and they are boys? And Liberty Counsel’s source doesn’t indicate what fraction of the group falls in this clearly adult range. The group, in fact, is likely to skew toward the older end.

Liberty Counsel actually anticipates this in a footnote, but it only serves to illuminate how crazy, how divorced from fact and reason, they are:

Since the incubation period for HIV can be 10-12 years, this means that they were first infected when they were 3 to 14 years old.

One obvious rejoinder would that just because the incubation period can be 10-12 years, that doesn’t mean it necessarily is. But that misses the point. The incubation period, of course, is the time from infection to the full onset of AIDS. The CDC, however, is not talking about AIDS, but about the age at initial infection. This whole incubation-period argument is nonsense, along with their “3 to 14 years old” conclusion.

Let me amend that: This whole “men having sex with boys” argument is nonsense, at least as presented in the brief.

That being said, I don’t claim Liberty Counsel is trying to deceive anyone. They may be completely sincere; crazy people often are. I’m also not saying their intentions are innocent. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have staff retreats devoted to nothing but inventing ways to spread vile statements about us. What stunning here is the naked stupidity with which they present their disgusting fantasies. And that, of course, can only be explained by recognizing homophobia truly is a mental and psychological disorder.

And with that, we can dismiss the rest of the brief. Not that I’ve proven it’s wrong from start to finish — I just mean it’s not worth our time. Once you hear the guy on the corner scream out one crazy thing, you don’t stick around to fact-check the rest of his rant. That’s just masochism. And in this case, Liberty Counsel truly is the crazy guy screaming on the corner.

Supreme Court Declines to Review California’s Conversion Therapy Ban

Jim Burroway

June 30th, 2014

In other less-talked about Supreme Court news today, the high court declined to hear an appeal challenging California’s ban on sexual orientation change therapy for minors. This leaves in place a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling stating that the state of California had a legitimate interest in banning professional treatments that were considered harmful. As is customary, the Supreme Court didn’t give a reason for declining the appeal.

While California’s converstion therapy ban prohibits licensed professionals from providing change orientation therapy to minors, it does not apply to unlicensed religious-based ex-gay ministries, nor does it prohibit licensed professionals from providing sexual orientation change therapy to adults. Nevertheless, it’s likely to have a serious financial effect on licensed providers. In 2012, Joseph Nicolosi, co-founder of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) which bills itself as the professional arm of the ex-gay movement, admitted that about half of all NARTH clients are teens. NARTH, which had appealed the case to the Supreme Court with the help of Liberty Counsel, has not yet issued a statement responding to the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear their case. Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver issued a statement however that is about as nasty as it gets:

I am deeply saddened for the families we represent and for the thousands of children that our professional clients counsel, many of whom developed these unwanted attractions because of abuse of a pedophile. …These children have been victimized twice –  first by the likes of Jerry Sandusky, and second by legislators and judges who have essentially barged into their private therapy rooms and told them that they must pursue their unwanted and dangerous same-sex sexual attractions and behavior.

Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver: Recognizing People’s Marriages Is Just Like Slavery, Eugenics and the Japanese Internment

Jim Burroway

June 28th, 2013

They’re still chattering. Via Right Wing Watch:

I’m very dissapointed in this decision. I think this decision represents a line that the court has crossed into illegitimacy. We’ve seen this before in its history, where it decided the Dred Scott decision, which was an illigitimate decision; the Korematsu decision which was the Japanese interment decision; the Buck v. Bell decision that says its okay to force people to be sterilized, an illegitimate decision. All of which we say were dark spots in the Court’s history. I think today’s decision falls into that same category. This decision is by five justices that cut the tether between themselves and the Constitution. They are in their own fantasy world that there is somehow an equal protection right to mame-sex marriage.

Speaking of illegitimate: Mat Staver founder of Liberty Counsel. He’s also a vice president at Liberty university and the dean of its law school, which teaches his law students should ignore the law counsel their clients to break the law in favor of “God’s Law.” And according to a RICO lawsuit filed last year connecting his law school to the Miller-Jenkins kidnapping case, his law school practices what he teaches.

Pastor Sentenced in Miller-Jenkins Kidnapping Conspiracy

Jim Burroway

March 5th, 2013

Kenneth Miller

Mennonite pastor Kenneth Miller was sentenced to 27 months in prison for helping Lisa Miller violate a court custody order requiring that she turn over then- seven-year-old Isabella Miller-Jenkins to the child’s other mother, Janet Jenkins. Instead of complying with the 20o9 court order, Miller fled to central America and went into hiding. According to an FBI investigation, her flight across international borders was aided by several pastors and personnel from Liberty Council and Liberty University.

Kenneth Miller (no relation to Lisa Miller) was found guilty last August. The pastor of the Beachy Amish-Mennonite sect in Stuart’s Draft, Va, who is also one of many defendants in a RICO lawsuit, was defiant in yesterday’s hearing:

During a two-hour sentencing hearing, Miller told U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions III he couldn’t promise he would not commit again aid in international parental kidnapping…. “I give myself unto you to do with me as you see fit,” an obviously emotional Miller told the judge in a courtroom packed with the same supporters who later sang with him outside.

Sessions said he admired Miller for the depth of his convictions, but he could not allow him to choose God’s law over his country’s, saying the pastor had helped deprive Isabella of Jenkins’ love.

Kenneth Miller’s sentence will likely be put on hold while the case is appealed, a process which could take years.

Liberty University’s law school, which is also named the RICO lawsuit, teaches its students to advise their future clients to disregard civil law if it conflicts with “God’s law.” Lisa Miller’s attorneys, Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen, are both professors at Liberty University’s Law School. Staver is also the school’s dean and head of Liberty Counsel.

In last August’s trial, prosecutors showed that Kenneth Miller arranged the purchase of airline tickets to Nicaragua for Lisa Miller and Isabella, dressed them in traditional Mennonite clothing for their trip to the Toronto airport, and arranged for Mennonites in Nicaragua to meet them and take them into hiding.

Isabella Miller-Jenkins turns eleven next month.

Second Judge Denies Request for Injunction Against California’s Ex-Gay Therapy Bill

Jim Burroway

December 4th, 2012

In a second, separate case filed in Federal District Court seeking to block California’s ban on Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) for minors from taking effect, Judge Kimberly K. Mueller denied (via Scribd) Liberty Counsel’s request to issue a preliminary  injunction against the state of California. In Judge Mueller’s 44-page ruling denying the request, she reviewed the state legislature’s methodology for modifying the proposed law in consultation with the state’s licensing mental health organizations which are ultimately responsible for enforcing the ban. She concluded that “the court finds plaintiffs are not likely to prevail on the merits so as to prevail at this stage of the litigation.”

This case is David Pickup v Edmund G Brown, which is NARTH and Liberty Counsel’s challenge to California’s S.B. 1172, which  prohibits California’s licensed professionals from providing SOCE for minors. Therapists who violate the ban will be subject to discipline by the professional organization responsible for their licensing. The bill does not prohibit therapists from providing SOCE to adults, nor does it affect unlicensed counsellors, pastors, and other ex-gay therapy providers such as religious-based ex-gay ministries.

David Pickup, who say s he is ex-gay and is now a therapist with NARTH,  has emerged as NARTH’s chief spokesman against the new law. Pickup was particularly critical of Exodus International when the evangelical ex-gay organization distanced itself earlier this year from Reparative Therapy, a particular form of SOCE which is rooted in a specific set of unproven theories of sexual orientation. (A particularly cringe-worthy video featuring Pickup explaining his approach to “increasing manhood” can be seen here.)

Earlier today, a different Federal District Judge issued a preliminary injunction (via Scribd) which prevents the state of California from enforcing S.B. 1172 against three plaintiffs who are also seeking to overturn the ban. That injunction however is limited to those three plaintiffs only. Judge William Shubb found that the plaintiffs “are likely to succeed on the merits of their 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims based on violations of their rights to freedom of speech under the First Amendment.”

Mat Staver Reacts

Jim Burroway

November 8th, 2012

The Deaon of Liberty University Law School says elections don’t matter:

The event we have just witnessed was far more than a general election – it was a referendum on the soul of America. We grieve today like we have lost a friend or a close relative. Millions of Americans looked evil in the eye and adopted it. Some Christian observers called the Democratic Party platform for 2012 a “Romans 1 Platform,” and they were right. Abortion, same-sex marriage, and immorality carried the day.

God is not through with our nation! God calls us to remain faithful, no matter the consequences. We might be a Bonhoeffer in Nazi Germany who never lived to see the fruit of his faithful labor. We might be a Wilberforce in England who saw the fruit of his labor (the abolition of slavery and reformation of morals), but died soon after, never getting the chance to enjoy the results. We might even be a David who stood up against popular opinion and defeated a giant who blasphemed God Almighty.

We have a higher calling than the world. Our calling and our values do not depend on a survey or an election. Whether we are on the verge of revival or are soon to face the death chamber makes no difference in how we respond or how we act. Our obedience is to Christ and to Christ alone!

Not a surprising stand for him to take. His law school teaches his law students to ignore the law — and even counsel clients to break the law — in favor of “God’s Law.” And according to a RICO lawsuit filed in August connecting his law school to the Miller-Jenkins kidnapping case, his law school practices what he preaches.

NARTH, Liberty Counsel to Challenge California’s Ex-Gay Ban for Minors in Court

Jim Burroway

October 1st, 2012

The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) has just sent an email blast by president Christopher Rosik, announcing that they fight California’s new ban on licensed therapists providing Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) to minors:

NARTH is saddened but not surprised by this unprecedented legislative intrusion and will lend its full support to the legal efforts to overturn it. California citizens and especially parents should know the indifference that supporters of this bill have toward their freedom of choice, as reflected in Senator Lieu’s recent acknowledgement that, “The attack on parental rights is exactly the whole point of the bill…” The Senator went on to equate the harms to minors of smoking and alcohol abuse, which have been documented over decades of research, with the reported harms of sexual orientation change efforts, the prevalence of which the American Psychological Association admits we have no way of knowing.
Anecdotal stories of harm are no basis from which to ban an entire form of psychological care. If they were, the psychological professions would be completely out of business. We fully anticipate that activist groups like Equality California will be back next year to see what further erosions of parental rights and professional judgment politicians and mental health associations will authorize in California and other states. Counselors adhering to traditional values cannot be blamed for wondering what other practices disliked by these activists are going to be targeted as “unprofessional conduct” in the future, particularly in states that have legalized same-sex marriage.

The non-sequiter about same-sex marriage is puzzling. California currently prohibits same-sex marraige. NARTH will join forces with Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel in challenging the California law in court.

“We are filing on behalf of mental health professionals who find themselves in a catch-22,” Staver said.  Therapists have an ethical obligation to help clients deal with conflict. If a client is experiencing conflict between religious beliefs and same-sex attractions and wants to prioritize those beliefs over such attractions, the counselor is ethically obligated to directly help or refer for help. Under this law, the counselor will be forced to disregard the client’s religious beliefs or change them. “This bill and the ethical codes of all of the licensing boards in California are on an inevitable collision course,” Staver said. “The licenses of countless mental health professionals hang in the balance.”

Therapists also have an ethical obligation to provide effective treatment. There is, to date, no evidence (PDF: 816KB/138 pages) that SOCE is or has been effective in changing sexual orientation, making it, essentially, the Laetrile of the social sciences.

RICO Suit Filed Against Liberty University and Others Over Isabella Miller-Jenkins Kidnapping

Jim Burroway

August 15th, 2012

Yesterday, Mennonite minister Kenneth Miller was convicted of aiding and abetting the abduction of Isabella Miller-Jenkins by her mother, Lisa Miller, who fled to Nicaragua with Isabella in violation of a court order transferring custody of Isabella to her former partner Janet Jenkins. (Kenneth Miller is reportedly not related to Lisa Miller.) During the trial, jurors heard testimony which revealed a wide-ranging conspiracy to illegally transport Lisa Miller and Isabella to Nicaragua, which has no extradition treaty with the United States. That conspiracy included several people, including those with ties to Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University

While the jury was deliberating, Janet Jenkins filed a lawsuit (PDF: 415KB/17 pages) with the U.S. District Court in Vermont under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), naming the following as defendants in an alleged international conspiracy to facilitate the kidnapping of Isabella Miller-Jenkins:

  • Kenneth L. Miller (No relation to Lisa Miller)
  • Lisa Ann Miller f/k/a Lisa Miller Jenkins
  • Timothy D. Miller (No relation to Lisa Miller)
  • Andrew Yoder, individually and as an agent for Christian AID Ministries, Inc.
  • Christian AID Ministries Inc.
  • Response Unlimited, Inc.
  • Philip Zodhiates, individually and as an agent for Response Unlimited, Inc.
  • Victoria Hyden f/k/a/ Victoria Zodhiates, individually and as an agent for both Repsonse Unlimited, Inc and Liberty University School of Law and its related ministry, Thomas Road Baptist Church
  • Liberty University School of Law and its related ministry, Thomas Road Baptist Church
  • Linda M Wall, individually and as an agent for Thomas Road Baptist Church.
  • Douglas Wright

The filing ties these names together in a remarkably detailed timeline in its charge against the defendants. Some of the info in this document have been reported before, and some of it appears to have come from the FBI’s original criminal complaint against Timithy Miller. The lawsuit alleges that by late summer of 2009, Lisa Miller, who had moved to Virginia with the assistance of Thomas Road Baptist Church:

35. On September 19, 2009, two days before her departure for Nicaragua, Lisa Miller and Isabella travelled back to Winchester, VA. During this trip, Lisa arranged to meet Defendant Wright in a parking lot so that she and Isabella could say “good-bye” to him. Defendant Wright testified under oath that by good-bye, he understood that Lisa and Isabella were leaving and he would not be seeing them again. At this meeting, Lisa Miller also asked Defendant Wright to help her dispose of some personal items. Pastor Wright understood that Lisa Miller would be taking Isabella away, and he did nothing to notify law enforcement of the situation

36. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff Janet Jenkins, on September 21,2009, Lisa Miller and Isabella were transported, in disguise as Amish-Mennonites, to the Canadian border by Philip Zodhiates and at least one other Response Unlimited, Inc. employee. Lisa Miller and Isabella crossed the border at the Rainbow Bridge in a taxi in the early morning hours of September 22, 2009, just days prior to the contact ordered by the Rutland Family Court in its September 2009 Interim Order.

37. In the days prior to September 22, 2009, Lisa Miller and Philip Zodhiates conspired with Kenneth Miller, a member of the Virginia Beachy Amish-Mennonite Brotherhood with whom both Victoria and Philip Zodhiates were acquainted, to arrange the purchase of plane tickets from Canada to Nicaragua for Lisa Miller and Isabella Miller-Jenkins. Kenneth Miller also arranged for a Canadian member of the Brotherhood to transport Lisa Miller from an Ontario Hotel to the Toronto airport. Lisa Miller and Isabella Miller-Jenkins flew to Mexico, then El Salvador, and then met Timothy Miller in Nicaragua. Timothy Miller was instructed by Kenneth Miller to purchase plane tickets for Lisa Miller and Isabella, and used his mother-in-law’s credit card to do so. Several days later, Kenneth Miller used cash to send a money order to reimburse Timothy Miller’s mother-in-law. This was done anonymously, and in such a way as to avoid detection in a clear effort to avoid the September visit, and the anticipated transfer of custody.

Timothy Miller was arrested in April, 2011 and charged with aiding in the removal of a child from the U.S. and retaining a child with intent to obstruct parental rights. Charges were later dropped in exchange for Timothy Miller’s cooperation, but it was during his arrest that the FBI’s criminal complaint detailed a wider network of conspirators in the kidnapping saga. Some of the information revealed in that criminal complaint makes its appearance in this lawsuit, but with a few additional details tying it all together:

38. Kenneth Miller was a pastor at the Pilgrim Christian Fellowship in Stuart’s Draft, VA and a leader within the Beachy Amish-Mennonite Community. He was also employed at his family’s garden center, Millmont Greenhouses, Inc., in Stuart’s Draft, VA.

39. Starting in September 2009, Lisa Miller and Isabella lived near or among the Beachy Amish-Mennonite Community in Nicaragua, hereinafter the (“Nicaragua Brethren”). This was all done in secret and in such a way as to avoid detection by United States authorities and Janet Jenkins. Lisa Miller would eventually go into “hiding” with Isabella among the Nicaragua Brethren, but would continue to communicate with members of Thomas Road Baptist Church with the assistance of Mr. Zodhiates, Kenneth Miller and members of the Nicaragua Brethren. Lisa Miller went by the name “Sarah” and Isabella was called “Lydia” while in Nicaragua.

41. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff Janet Jenkins, in 2009 Victoria Zodhiates (now Hyden) was an employee of Response Unlimited, Inc., and also a “student worker” at Liberty University School of Law. On information and belief, Victoria Zodhiates sent an email during this time period to her co-workers at the law school requesting donations for supplies to send to Lisa Miller to enable her to remain outside the country. Lisa Miller’s attorney, Matthew Staver was the Dean of the Law School and Ms. Zodhiates’s boss. Matthew Staver and Philip Zodhiates were also personal acquaintances at this time. On September 20, 2009, both Philip Zodhiates and Victoria Hyden called Lisa Miller’s father, Terry Miller in Tennessee to assist in arranging her and Isabella’s transportation from a Walmart parking lot in Lynchburg, Virginia, to Waynesboro, Virginia, from whence they would depart for Canada and Nicaragua the next day.

New to this lawsuit is the allegation which, if proven true, would directly implicate Thomas Road Baptist Church as part of the conspiracy:

42. In early November, 2009, elders of the Thomas Road Baptist Church packed up the personal belongings of Lisa Miller in two bags. These bags were picked up from Lynchburg, Virginia by Philip Zodhiates who arranged to have the bags transported to Nicaragua by sending them with his son’s school teacher who was taking some children on a mission trip to Managua. Philip Zodhiates arranged for the teacher, John Collmus, to deliver the bags at the airport to Timothy Miller. The bags also contained some supplies for Lisa Miller, such as peanut butter.

The lawsuit also includes the incident which we reported in December, 2009, when Deborah Thurman,  the facilitator of an apparently defunct ex-gay ministry in Lynchburg, VA, called The Formers, posted a threat of civil violence on her web site. The complaint also includes the revelation that Lisa Miller’s attorneys, Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen, both professors at Liberty University’s Law School, provided a case history nearly identical to the Miller-Jenkins case and instructed their students that the proper course of action would be to engage in “civil disobedience” and defy the court order.

The problem with conspiracies is that the more people who are involved, the greater the chance is that one of them will have a bit too big of a mouth and draw attention to the operation. In addition to Thurman’s reckless blog post, another member of the conspiracy felt compelled to brag as well. In 2008, Linda Wall and other members of Thomas Road Baptist Church, had formed the Protect Isabella Coalition (PIC), when it became clear to them that Virginia law would not prevent Janet Jenkins from gaining custody of Isabella. PIC allegedly was the nucleus of the movement that morphed into the larger conspiracy. According to the lawsuit, Linda Wall essentially admitted that there was an active kidnapping conspiracy and that she as a part of it.

51. In January 2010, Linda Wall appeared on television with several members of the PIC and TRBC [Thomas Road Baptist Church], including TRBC’s Pastor for Outreach and Assimilation Tipton Killingsworth, to endorse the kidnapping. In discussing her role, Wall compared herself to Harriet Tubman, and suggested she would take similar actions with regard to more children from same-sex families. Pastor Killingsworth also publically supported Lisa Miller’s actions and threatened ongoing kidnapping activity. He wrote in an internet chat on February 22, 2010:

“No one has been “kidnapped. “It may come to that as when the Pharoah tried to do the same thing to the Israelites in Egypt. Just as it was necessary for Moses to be in the basket, that might be necessary for Izzy but time will tell. As you’ve said, Lisa is certainly Izzy’s refuge from the VT law. “

52. Defendant Wall also wrote on Facebook that if anyone knew of Lisa and Isabella’s whereabouts, they should not tell anyone. She also made several phone calls to law enforcement to instruct them that they should not look for Lisa and Isabella.

This just carries us to 2010. There is so much more, including allegations of money laundering, Liberty University Law School employees who were fired, and Law School employees (the same ones perhaps?) who were “too intimidated to come forward to law enforcement for fear of angering Dean Staver and losing their jobs.” If Janet Jenkins’s lawyer has the proof to back up these allegations — and it appears that much of it is already available from various criminal complaints and Kenneth Miller’s trial testimony — then the trial promises to be an exceptionally enlightening affair. I can hardly wait.

Minister Found Guilty of Aiding Miller-Jenkins Kidnapping

Jim Burroway

August 14th, 2012

Kenneth Miller

A jury in Burlington, Vermont has found Kenneth Miller guilty of aiding and abetting international kidnapping of Isabella Miller-Jenkins, now ten years old, whose mother, Lisa Miller, fled to Nicaragua after losing a custody fight with her former civil union partner Janet Jenkins. Miller is believed to have fled to Nicaragua shortly before a Vermont court awarded primary custody to Jenkins over Miller’s refusal to cooperate with Jenkins’s visitation rights.

The jury deliberated for only a few hours before finding Kenneth Miller guilty:

Federal prosecutors say Kenneth Miller of Stuarts Draft, Virginia, helped orchestrate Lisa Miller’s flight to Canada and Nicaragua in 2009 with her daughter out of Christian solidarity with her decision to reject homosexuality and her former partner. The two Millers are not related.

…Joshua Autrey, a lawyer for Kenneth Miller, did not dispute evidence about his client’s role in organizing Lisa Miller’s secretive flight days before a court-ordered visitation with Jenkins.

Instead, the defense attorney offered a nuanced legal argument that his client did not know about her intent to violate Jenkins’ visitation rights. The attorney said Kenneth Miller helped her leave the country ahead of an anticipated Vermont family court ruling granting full custody to Jenkins.

While the jury was deliberating, Janet Jenkins filed a lawsuit against both Millers and others associated with the case.

Kenneth Miller, who is a pastor of the Beachy Amish-Mennonite sect, contacted other Mennonite pastors to drive Lisa Miller and Isabelle to Canada where they caught a flight to Central America. According to court testimony, Kenneth Miller was careful to ensure that the Canadian fight did not touch down on American soil, undermining his claim that he didn’t know that Lisa Miller was under a court order. His claims were further undermined when the Canadian Mennonite pastor, Ervin Horst, testified that he refused to cross into the United States to drive the pair across the border into Canada. Miller and Miller-Jenkins arrived in Canada in a taxi while wearing Mennonite clothing.

Isabella Miller-Jenkins and her fugitive mother Lisa Miller

Other Mennonites in Nicaragua picked them up at the airport there and made living arrangements for the pair. Prosecutors say that Lisa and Isabella have changed their names in Nicaragua to Sarah and Lydia. In addition to the Mennonite accomplices, jurors also heard about a collaboration from a Virginia businessman by the name of Philip Zodhiates:

Telephone records suggest that Mr. Zodhiates was in touch with Ms. Miller for months and drove her and her daughter to the Canadian border for their escape.

Mr. Zodhiates has not been indicted, and declined to comment.

Telephone records also indicated that as he drove home from the border, Mr. Zodhiates tried to call a cellphone number registered to Liberty Counsel, an evangelical legal group.

That cellphone number has sometimes been used by Mathew D. Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel, dean of the Liberty University Law School in Lynchburg, Va., and a leader of Ms. Miller’s defense team.

In an e-mail Tuesday, Mr. Staver said that the phone number in question had been widely circulated as a contact number for Liberty Counsel’s public relations office and that he had no knowledge of Ms. Miller’s flight and had never discussed her case with Mr. Zodhiates.

Zodhiates has been identified as a prominent financial backer for Liberty University who, according to an FBI report, owns a beach house in Nicaragua where Lisa and Isabella had been staying. The FBI report held that Zodhiates had requested that his daughter, Victoria Hyden, “disseminate a request to get Lisa Miller supplies.” Hyden just happens to be an administrative assistant for Liberty University’s School of Law’s financial aid department.

Kenneth Miller faces up to three years imprisonment.

NARTH and Liberty Counsel Pledge To Fight California Ex-Gay Therapy Ban In Court

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2012

With the California Assembly poised to consider S.B. 1172, which would bar licensed therapists in California from offering therapies identified as Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) to minors, the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) and Liberty Counsel pledged in an email blast to NARTH supporters to seek to have the law blocked in court if it becomes law:

NARTH to officially work with Liberty Council to pursue an injunction and all other necessary court action against SB 1172
While we are doing everything possible to defeat SB 1172 in the California Assembly NARTH is also working with Liberty Council to stop this destructive legislation if it is passed and signed into law by the Governor. As we have said from the beginning, NARTH will continue to oppose these efforts to limit client rights by taking whatever action is legally open to us as an organization. 

The proposed legislation has been scaled back since it was first introduced in the Senate in April. The provisions requiring that adult clients seeking SOCE sign a mandated informed consent statement has been dropped, along with provisions allowing SOCE clients to sue their therapists if they feel they were harmed by such therapies. The Senate approved S.B. 1172 on a 23-13 vote in May. Because the proposed law would only apply to licensed therapists, religious ex-gay ministries are exempt. In  a statement on SOCE issued in June, Exodus International declined to oppose the bill.

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