It’s Saturday, January 15th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast.
1) Pastors Call Out ‘Conversion Therapy’ Laws
The Topline: Canadian pastors are warning that a new “conversion therapy” law in their country could be used to prosecute Christians for teaching biblical sexual ethics as Indiana legislators introduce a similar bill.
Quote Of The Day: “…the case is being made that this is talking about psychologists and counselors. In some ways, that’s the cover. That’s the cloak, the disguise…They’re not after the psychologists, they’re after the church.”
– Pastor John MacArthur
Conversion therapy has been called “reparative” or “ex-gay” therapy. In the past, it typically referred to any abusive or coercive treatment intended to train same-sex attracted people to prefer the opposite sex. It’s also been used on individuals who believed they were transgender to embrace their biological sex.
This has involved electro-shock and brain-altering drugs, but almost no doctors offer this kind of treatment today, and nearly every major health care organization has discredited such practices.
The New Bills
Churches and religious freedom groups say these laws effectively ban preaching and teaching that draws on biblical standards for sexuality and gender.
The new Canadian law, C-4, bans any counseling that advocates for the Christian standard that sex is reserved for one man and one woman within marriage. It also potentially criminalizes any instruction confirming that human beings are created as wholly male or female from birth. The Bible doesn’t have a category for transgender, but it does have passages teaching that men aren’t to dress like women and vice versa.
The legislation bans counseling or advice to help someone turn from homosexuality or transgenderism, even if the person wants that help.
In Indiana, a new bill only applies to minors. However, the language of these laws is so broad, it could potentially apply to almost any context.
If a pastor preaches a message from the pulpit about sexuality, and authorities interpret it as trying to potentially convince someone in the audience not to be gay or transgender, they could arrest him. The same could happen to a teacher at a Christian school.
One prominent Canadian pastor, James Coates, said the legislation essentially “criminalize[s] evangelism.”
While the United States has religious protections in place, LGBT groups have increased efforts to pass conversion therapy bills.
California, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada, and a number of other states have some version on the books, and activists have been working to broaden their application. The Democratic Party made banning conversion therapy practices an official part of its platform last August.
Religious freedom groups have pointed out that there are no laws or bills doing the opposite – preventing teachers or therapists from counseling people to become transgender or homosexual.
Pastors Respond: Pastors are responding by filing legal challenges and issuing statements, and MacArthur issued a call to U.S. pastors to preach about biblical sexuality on January 16th in defiance of laws and bills like this. According to people at his church, thousands of pastors across the country have signed up.
2) Real Estate Websites Wipe Crime Data
The Topline: At least two of the largest real estate websites, Realtor.com and Redfin, are now saying that they won’t provide neighborhood crime data due to concerns of racial bias.
Realtor.com and Redfin said they’re concerned that the crime data is racially biased against minorities. On the same day in December, both companies announced that they won’t include crime data on their websites to help guide home buyers.
Realtor.com scrapped a crime map that some users said was the site’s most useful feature.
CEO David Doctorow said the company has been working to “break down those hurdles” relating to discrimination in home ownership. Realtor.com initially said it would “reimagine” how to provide safety data for buyers, but the company told The Daily Wire last week that they don’t have any updates regarding that move.
Redfin never had a crime map, but they were considering adding one until they decided it could reinforce racial bias against minorities. Redfin went further and declared that the available crime data should not be on “any other real estate site” either.
Redfin said that it considered using data from both the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report and the National Crime Victimization Survey, but both of those data sources had problems, such as missing, unreported crimes.
In a recent blog post, Redfin’s chief growth officer, Christian Taubman, said that in the 2019 survey, people reporting crimes were more likely to describe their offender as young, male, and black than would be expected given the representation of those groups in the population.
Taubman also said Redfin is aware that people want to know whether they’ll feel safe in their home or neighborhood, but the data available doesn’t allow them to speak accurately on that, and he cited the “long history of redlining and racist housing covenants in the United States.” He said there’s “too great a risk of this inaccuracy reinforcing racial bias.”
Both Realtor.com and Redfin rank in the five most trafficked real estate websites in the U.S. as of October.
A lot of major cities have seen crime spike over the last two years. Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, and D.C. have all experienced high crime rates. Last year, Chicago had more than 800 murders, making 2021 the city’s deadliest year in 25 years.
3) Grocery Stores Experience Empty Shelves
The Topline: Americans around the country are noticing their grocery store shelves are looking more empty than usual.
Quote Of The Day: “…over the course of this fall, we’ve seen concerns about product shortages in particular categories and otherwise. What we see overall, if you look at retail inventories, including grocery store inventories, they’re actually higher now than they were pre-pandemic – so, in a pretty healthy place. But that doesn’t mean that there’s logistical challenges at bottlenecks that may be localized. And to the degree that we can work with private sector companies and help, you know, ease the challenges in their private sector supply chains certainly we will – we’ll remain open to doing that.”
– White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese
Grocery stores are beginning to look sparse again.
While grocery stores in the U.S. ordinarily have 5% to 10% of their products out of stock at any given moment, the rate right now is around 15%.
The shortages aren’t limited to certain areas of the country or to specific items – the problems are widespread. The items especially hard hit are many of the essentials, such as meat, fruit, vegetables, and packaged items including cereal.
Not only are these essential goods more difficult to obtain, but they are costing more.
There are several factors contributing to the situation. Winter storms, supply chain delays, and labor shortages are all causing problems, as well as the Omicron variant.
A lack of workers is also playing into the problem. There have also been many workers absent from their jobs recently.
The Washington Post reported, “In a Monday call with 27 food industry chief executives, Geoff Freeman, CEO of the industry organization Consumer Brands Association, said more employee absences were reported in the past two weeks than in all of 2020.”
The National Grocers Association reported that grocery stores have fewer than their typical number of workers, noting that lots of its members are operating with fewer than 50% of their typical workforce.
Inflation is also an ongoing issue. The consumer price index went up 7% last year, which is the quickest pace since 1982. The producer price index went up 9.7% in December, which is the highest calendar-year rise ever recorded.
Many are placing the blame directly on President Joe Biden for the lack of goods. Last week, the hashtag “#BareShelvesBiden” trended on Twitter.
Other Stories We’re Tracking
The visa of unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic has once again been revoked by the Australian government. Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced the decision on Friday, claiming it was in the interest of protecting public health. The top-ranked tennis star’s visa had been reinstated by a court earlier in the week. His lawyers are appealing the decision.