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What the Bible Says, Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
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This is Part 3 of a series on prostitution. Read Part 1 and Part 2.Prostitution. It is a profession allegedly as old as time. Since it will always exist, why not make it better? Or so say the “sex work” advocates and progressive politicians who push for either the decriminalization or legalization of prostitution. But both approaches are misguided.To most of us, decriminalization and legalization might sound like the same thing. But in this context, decriminalization refers to removing government penalties for prostitution, while legalization refers to removing government penalties and imposing a regulatory structure on sex work (while something can be legalized and unregulated and also remain illegal, and civil penalties—as opposed to criminal penalties—can apply, that’s not what we are talking about here). While decriminalization and legalization are not the same thing, they are alike in that they hurt the very people they claim to protect.According to Villanova’s Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation, the decriminalization of prostitution “decriminalizes the sale of sex, decriminalizes the purchase of sex, and does not impose a legal scheme to regulate the commercial sex industry.” To decriminalize something means that it is no longer a crime to do that thing. Simply put, the decriminalization of prostitution means it would no longer be a crime to participate in the buying and selling of human beings for sex.The District of Columbia is currently considering legislation that would fully decriminalize the sex trade in D.C. This means pimping, purchasing sex, and operating brothels would no longer be crimes in the nation’s capital.Yes, you read that correctly. The Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019 would decriminalize the sex trade, thereby enabling exploiters of women and youth and exacerbating sex trafficking within the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia metro area (locally referred to as the DMV area). Law enforcement would have no right to interfere with acts such as pimping, purchasing sex, and operating brothels, further isolating victims who are under pimp or trafficker control.Rhode Island experimented with decriminalization in 1980 but eventually reversed course in 2009. Why? Because the state had transformed into a sex tourism destination and a hub for trafficking, violence, and crime. “The lack of law criminalizing or regulating commercial sex acts allowed for the growth of sex businesses in Rhode Island. By 2002, Providence was known as ‘New England’s red-light district.’ The lack of laws controlling prostitution impeded police from investigating and stopping serious crimes and prevented officials from arresting pimps, traffickers, and sex buyers.”As our friends at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation encapsulate it:Full decriminalization of prostitution, in which the laws regulating the activities of pimps, sex buyers and sellers are eliminated, represents the most egregious response to the commercial sex trade. Such an approach transforms pimps into entrepreneurs and sex buyers into mere customers. While decriminalization may redefine deviant and criminal behavior, it is incapable of transforming pimps into caring individuals who have the best interests of prostituting persons at heart, or metamorphosing sex buyers into sensitive, thoughtful, and giving sexual partners. Decriminalization of prostitution is powerless to change the essential, exploitive nature of commercial sex, and tragically grants it free rein.The legalization of prostitution, on the other hand, “legalizes the sale of sex, legalizes the purchase of sex, and creates a legal scheme to regulate the commercial sex industry.” Like decriminalization, legalizing something means it is no longer a crime to do that thing. Unlike decriminalization, such acts would be regulated under the law. Several counties in Nevada have made prostitution legal and have laws that regulate the trade. These regulations cover brothel inspections and STD testing, among other things. New York recently considered decriminalizing certain statues related to the sex trade and legalizing other parts of the sex trade to, as they saw it, “bring [persons in prostitution] out of the shadows and ensure that they are protected.”How does empowering the business of exploitation “protect” anyone? With everything we know about the abuse and violence that characterizes the commercial sex trade, equating unobstructed exploitation with victim protection is just as absurd as saying, “since many of those who endure rape feel the stigma of shame, let’s remove all penalties for rape and legitimize it so they won’t feel shame.”No sensible person would say such a thing. “Protecting” victims by removing the stigma of exploiting them makes no sense whatsoever. Not seeing persons caught up in prostitution as what they are—victims of sexual exploitation—will misplace the application of justice. Legitimizing the buying and selling of human beings only makes it easier for pimps and traffickers to groom vulnerable women, boys, and girls into thinking that sexual violence is normal and acceptable.Prostitution in the Netherlands is legal and regulated. The Dutch government legalized prostitution in 2000, and the entire community has felt the negative impact ever since. You can read numerous articles about the objectification and crowding prevalent in Amsterdam’s red-light district, known as “the capital of prostitution.” Prostitution has become so mainstream there that women stand in brothel windows like products to be bought. Yes, they are attracting customers, but now the district has become “the biggest free attraction park in the whole of Amsterdam,” as tourists come to gawk and snap pictures of the women for sale. Amsterdam is continually breaking up the organized crime that the business of the sex trade often attracts. The dehumanization of women, paired with the lack of effort to provide women with better options, has created problems on top of problems.[ Watch: The Failure of Legalizing Prostitution in The Netherlands ]One article put it bluntly: “The Dutch approach to prostitution is largely practical: sex work will always exist, so better for everyone to legalise, control and tax it.”Persons caught up in prostitution will admit, “I don’t like it (selling my body), but I have to.” Kristina has been working in the red-light district for a decade. She was persuaded to come by a Hungarian friend who had found her fortune in Amsterdam's seedy sex industry. “I’m saving for my two kids. For their future. They’re with my mother in Hungary. My kids don’t know what I do.”So now, by legalizing and regulating the sex trade, the presiding government functions as Kristina’s pimp by exploiting an exploitation business for tax revenue—a never-ending cycle of exploitation. Advocates for sex trafficking victims in New York told CBS News that “Most often [legalizing prostitution] increases sex trafficking...If you legalize, you are condoning brothels to become businesses and pimps to become business managers. That’s what we’ve seen around the world. The argument about safety is false.” Seeking to protect vulnerable individuals by either decriminalizing or legalizing prostitution is a misguided notion. The laissez-faire approach to protecting human dignity will always create more problems, not solutions.Stay tuned for Part 4, which will examine whether or not decriminalization or legalization would make the prostitution industry safer and healthier.
In a major victory for the personal freedom of young people with unwanted same-sex attractions to seek professional help to achieve their goals, a U.S. District Court judge in Florida has struck down a local ordinance in Tampa, Florida that outlawed sexual orientation change efforts (so-called “conversion therapy or reparative therapy”) for minors when conducted by licensed professionals.In Vazzo v. Tampa, U.S. District Court Judge William F. Jung, a 61-year-old Trump appointee who has been on the bench for a year, struck down the law and issued a permanent injunction against its enforcement.Judge Jung chose not to directly address federal constitutional issues of free speech under the First Amendment, which has been the focus of other court challenges to therapy bans. Instead, he ruled that local governments in Florida had no authority to legislate on this issue because of an “implied preemption doctrine,” declaring, “The City Ordinance is preempted by the comprehensive Florida regulatory scheme for healthcare regulation and discipline.”Judge Jung wrote that “substantive regulation of psychotherapy is a State, not a municipal concern,” and pointed out that “Tampa has never regulated healthcare substantively in any other way before” this ordinance was adopted in 2017.Not only are local governments not authorized by Florida law to regulate the provision of mental health care services, but they are hardly competent to enforce such regulations. Judge Jung noted this in the following passage (emphasis added; citations omitted):The City’s Department of Neighborhood Enhancement (formerly Code Enforcement) enforces the Ordinance. Although this is the City Department that usually enforces code violations like overgrown weeds and unpermitted contracting, the City’s Neighborhood Enhancement director testified that he would take any suspected violation of the SOCE Ordinance to the City Attorney before issuing a notice of violation. The Assistant City Attorney tasked as representative on this matter has been a lawyer for four years but has no training in counseling, therapy, or medicine; and stated that the City would consult Webster’s Dictionary to understand the terms in the Ordinance. If contested, the City would employ a “special magistrate” to adjudicate the alleged violation as a code enforcement proceeding. The City’s special magistrates are unpaid volunteers appointed by the mayor. The City has no plan in connection with the Ordinance to appoint someone who is a licensed mental health provider.Not only would the enforcers of such a law be incompetent to do so, but the enactors of it did so in ignorance:The main sponsor of the Ordinance on the council was unaware of the difference between talk therapy and aversive practices, and testified that council and participating staff are untrained in the mental health field.Judge Jung’s reliance on “preemption doctrine” may help fuel other efforts to overturn (or lobby against) other local therapy bans across the country. Although 18 states have passed state-wide therapy bans, passing such local ordinances in more liberal urban areas is a tactic therapy opponents have employed in conservative states that have refused to adopt state-wide legislation.However, Judge Jung’s opinion in the case is not so narrowly written as to be applicable only to local ordinances. For example, he ruled that the ordinance encroached upon at least five principles of state law in Florida which would apply to any proposed state therapy ban there (and possibly in other states) as well:“Florida’s Broad Right of Privacy” (“The Florida Constitution’s privacy amendment suggest that government should stay out of the therapy room.”)“Parental Choice in Healthcare” (“. . . [W]ith very few exceptions, parents are responsible for selecting the manner of medical treatment received by their children . . . until age 18.”)“Florida’s Patient’s Bill of Rights” (“A patient has the right to access any mode of treatment that is, in his or her own judgment and the judgment of his or her health care practitioner, in the best interests of the patient, including complementary or alternative health care treatments . . .”)“Florida’s Endorsement of Alternative Healthcare Options” (“It is the intent of the Legislature that citizens be able to make informed choices for any type of health care they deem to be an effective option . . . including . . . treatments designed to complement or substitute for the prevailing or conventional treatment methods.”)“Florida’s Well-Established Doctrine of Informed Consent” (“When the patient is denied the ability to exercise or even consider informed consent, the patient’s personal liberty suffers.”)The judge’s decision also cited abundant evidence in the record of the case demonstrating scientifically how weak the case for any such therapy bans is (source citations omitted):• Minors can be gender fluid and may change or revert gender identity.• Gender dysphoria during childhood does not inevitably continue into adulthood.• Formal epidemiologic studies on gender dysphoria in children, adolescents, and adults are lacking.• One Tampa expert testified there is not a consensus regarding the best practices with prepubertal gender nonconforming children.• A second Tampa expert testified consensus does not exist regarding best practices with prepubertal gender nonconforming children, but a trend toward a consensus exists.• Emphasizing to parents the importance of allowing their child the freedom to return to a gender identity that aligns with sex assigned at birth or another gender identity at any point cannot be overstated.• One cannot quantify or put a percentage on the increased risk from conversion therapy, as compared to other therapy.• Scientific estimates of the efficacy of conversion therapy are essentially nonexistent because of the difficulties of obtaining samples following individuals after they exit therapy, defining success, and obtaining objective reassessment.• Based on a comprehensive review of this work, the American Psychological Association 2009 SOCE Task Force concluded that no study to date has demonstrated adequate scientific rigor to provide a clear picture of the prevalence or frequency of either beneficial or harmful SOCE outcomes. More recent studies claiming benefits and/or harm have done little to ameliorate this concern.• No known study to date [looking at 2014 article] has drawn from a representative sample of sufficient size to draw conclusions about the experience of those who have attempted SOCE.• No known study [looking at same 2014 article] has provided a comprehensive assessment of basic demographic information, psychosocial wellbeing, and religiosity, which would be required to understand the effectiveness, benefits and/or harm caused by SOCE.• Although research on adult populations has documented harmful effects of SOCE, no scientific research studies have examined SOCE among adolescents.• With extraordinarily well-trained counseling “in a hypothetically perfect world” it may be an appropriate course of action for a counselor to aid a gender-dysphoric child who wants to return to biological gender of birth.• There is a lack of published research on efforts to change gender identity among childhood and adolescents.• As of October 2015 no research demonstrating the harms of conversion therapy with gender minority youth has been published. In 2018 an article was published on youth but causal claims could not be made from that 2018 report.The Tampa ruling comes on the heels of New York City’s recent decision to repeal its adult therapy ban for fear of a negative precedent from a court case challenging it. Together, these two events have given welcome evidence that the days of such freedom-denying therapy bans may now be numbered.
After 183 years as a Roman Catholic nation, Bolivia officially became a secular country in 2009, when a new constitution, promulgated by the administration of its first indigenous leader, President Evo Morales, dropped any mention of the historic faith of its Spanish colonial rulers, bolstering the position of its pre-colonial religions.
Sunday, May 24, 2009 Host: Dr. John McNeal Jr. Luke 10:38-42
This year was one of the best weeks at camp that we've ever had. There was lots of fun, the teens rekindled some old friendships, and most importantly the preaching (and the teens' response to it) was great! Big thanks to everyone who prayed and gave of their time and money ...
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