Important Update: Indiana Parents Appeal to SCOTUS


On Monday, IFI’s General Counsel Josh Hershberger filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari asking the United States Supreme Court to review the removal of a child from Indiana parents due to their beliefs about sex and gender.

You may recall hearing about this case from us in past years. Mary and Jeremy Cox are devout Christians, and here is a video of them explaining their beliefs and the removal of their child from their home in June of 2021:

The Indiana Department of Child Services initiated an investigation of their home because they were not referring to their child (a biological male) with a cross-gender name and pronouns and generally affirming their child’s self-identification as a girl. And DCS made the following argument for removal from their home at the initial hearing:

“We just feel that at this point in time this child needs to be in a home that’s not going to teach her that trans, like everything about transgender… tell her how she should think and how she should feel. However, she should be in a home where she is excepted [sic][accepted] for who she is.”

The trial court then removed the child from the Mary and Jeremy’s home—and never returned the child to their custody—even after DCS voluntarily dismissed all allegations of neglect and abuse against them (including false allegations that they were using vulgar language and not treating an eating disorder). The trial court also barred Mary and Jeremy from speaking to their own child about the entire topic of sex and gender while placing their child in a home with a specific qualification: that home must verbally affirm the child’s self-identification as a girl contrary to the parents’ religious beliefs and best judgment. The parents were also limited to a few hours of visitation with their child one day a week. The trial court never returned the child to their home, and he aged out of the foster care system while out of their custody.

Despite acknowledging that Mary and Jeremy did not abuse or neglect their child in any way, the Indiana Court of Appeals astonishingly (1) upheld the removal of the child from the parents’ home and (2) determined that the trial court’s orders barring the parents’ religious instruction to their own child in their own home was permissible because their speech was undeserving of heightened protection under the Indiana and federal constitutions.

The Indiana Supreme Court declined to review this case, so the parents are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene on behalf of the bedrock constitutional principles of parental rights, free speech, and the free exercise of religion.

Indiana Family Institute is committed to seeing this case through, which is why our General Counsel Josh Hershberger filed the Petition this past Monday. It is critical that the US Supreme Court correct this horrendous judicial wrong or else the rights of parents everywhere in the United States are at risk due to this case.

As Mary and Jeremy conclude in their Petition, “No other fit parent should lose custody of their child or face a government muzzle on their deeply held religious beliefs and best judgment. M.C. and J.C. have exhausted every other remedy and are gravely concerned that the state of Indiana will come for their other children. This Court’s intervention is needed.”

Please pray with us that the U.S. Supreme Court will intervene in this matter and for our efforts next legislative session to strengthen parental rights in Indiana. The right and responsibility of parents—and not the state—to raise their children according to their beliefs is a Biblical, pre-political principle that must be protected in Indiana law. (Ephesians 6:4.)

Thanks to your partnership with us, IFI is here to support parents like Mary and Jeremy and to protect all parents in Indiana from similar interference in their homes.



Apply to Apprentice U today!


Like you, IFI is sick of seeing woke politics take over our education system and attack anyone who will not bend the knee. Thankfully, we have a great opportunity here in Indiana called Apprentice University.

Apprentice U is an innovative institution dedicated to developing the next generation of God-honoring leaders. AU offers a post-secondary education that combines real-world skills, a Christian worldview, and a commitment to making a positive impact. AU understands the importance of instilling values, ethics, and a sense of purpose in the next generation of leaders. Students excel in the areas of digital storytelling, marketing, entrepreneurship, IT administration, professional sales, and project management.

Apprentice U students are:

  1. Grounded in Christian principles. AU’s community fosters a values-driven approach to leadership and service.
  2. Well-prepared for the workforce. No matter their chosen career path, academics, soft skills, and relevant technical skill development are critical to AU’s foundational curriculum.
  3. Prepared to be future leaders. Through mentorship and networking, graduates are enabled and equipped to contribute to any organization they work in.
  4. Employable. With over 3,000 hours of on-the-job training in addition to a resume chock-full of experience, AU graduates are in high demand.

If you know of a family member or student who may be looking for a faith-based, affordable experience with a pathway to a fulfilling future, you can reach out to Apprentice University here

Additionally, Apprentice U has committed to donating $500 to IFI for every new student you refer! 

This is an excellent opportunity to benefit students and families in your community, a growing Christian university, and IFI. 



Alliance Defending Freedom Conference


Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. and meet with fellow Family Policy Councils from around the nation, as well as many other socially conservative organizations, in order to strategize with Alliance Defending Freedom.

While there, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with Lori Smith, owner of 303 Creative, who found herself at the center of a US Supreme Court case which scored a major victory for conservative Christians and their religious liberties. 

After realizing that a Colorado law would force her to create products through her graphic design business that violated her religious beliefs about marriage, Lori challenged the statute in court. She faced immense scrutiny during her legal battle, but ultimately the Supreme Court ruled in favor of 303 Creative and the First Amendment rights of every Christian in America. We are incredibly proud of Lori for her courage in speaking up against the unlawful Colorado statute, and we are thankful to have been part of her journey through our close partnership with ADF, who did a phenomenal job of seeing this case through to victory.

ADF attorneys Matt Sharp and Kellie Fiedorek, pictured above, have helped us put numerous pro-family policies into law in Indiana and protect free speech and religious liberty here in the Hoosier state, and we are incredibly grateful for their ongoing support.

Our network of 43 Family Policy Councils across the nation is committed to working closely with ADF to push back against the darkness and the chaos that is creeping into our land and building a nation and state where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive and life is cherished through strategic action in each of our states. We look forward to all we will accomplish in the upcoming year!



REGISTER NOW: The Indiana Family Institute 2023 Fall Dinner


IFI’s annual Fall Dinner is just around the corner, and we hope you’ll consider joining us for a memorable evening spent with Ambassador Sam Brownback and members of Indiana’s legislature.

We’re excited to welcome over a dozen pro-family state legislators and their spouses at the event, where we will honor them for their 100% score on the 2023 Legislative Scorecard. We hope you’ll embrace this opportunity to thank them in person for their excellent service to Hoosier citizens and the Kingdom of God.

We look forward to hearing from Ambassador Sam Brownback, who has spent his career fighting for religious freedom here in America and abroad. Late last year, his own religious freedom nonprofit, the National Committee for Religious Freedom (NCRF), was targeted by JPMorgan Chase Bank for its religious affiliations. The nonprofit’s account was closed without explanation and Chase demanded a list of donors and political candidates they intended to endorse as a condition of having the account reinstated. NCRF is not the only conservative organization to experience a targeted financial attack like this one, and the phenomenon has recently been termed “debanking.”

“We are concerned that religious institutions, houses of worship, and people of all faiths are at risk of having their business, credit, or even personal or private bank accounts terminated for any or no reason at all,” Brownback wrote in a letter to Chase’s CEO.

Brownback shared that dozens of other conservative organizations have experienced similar cancellations by their providers, including several Family Policy Councils from around the country. Despite all of this, Brownback will present a timely message of hope for the future of our nation, including fighting corporations who discriminate against people of faith and winning.

I’d love for you to join us in hearing from Ambassador Brownback on October 14th, and consider sponsoring a table for this exciting event. Your sponsorship helps generously support the work of Indiana Family Institute.



Connecting pastors and legislators through IFI’s Church Ambassador Network


Despite the insanity we are witnessing in America’s evolving culture, we hold a secret weapon: The Gospel. 

The Gospel can be the balm that heals the wounds we are seeing in our nation and state right now. The Gospel can bring men and women, Republicans and Democrats, people of different ethnic backgrounds and views together to help address the problems in our state. Believe it or not, that is happening right here in Indiana thanks to IFI’s Church Ambassador Network (CAN).

You may not recognize the Church Ambassador Network under that name, which originally began as “The Daniel Initiative” three years ago. In 2023, we rebranded to match the branding of the 17 other states who are standing arm in arm with us here in Indiana as we build bridges of relationship between the ministers of God and the ministers of government for the sake of the Gospel. 

IFI General Counsel Josh Hershberger is the director of CAN. He and his team are equipping the Church to faithfully and confidently engage in public life, with the ultimate goal of transforming our cities and state through the power of the Gospel. 

CAN has been making a significant impact in building relationships between pastors and government officials, partnering on tough issues such as foster care, the drug crisis, and mental health, and equipping and encouraging Christians to confidently and faithfully engage in government in quickly changing times.

Over the last three legislative sessions, CAN has hosted over 300 meetings between pastors and government officials, including:

  • Our U.S. Senators from Indiana, Todd Young and Mike Braun 
  • Governor Eric Holcomb
  • Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch
  • Attorney General Todd Rokita
  • Treasurer Daniel Elliott
  • Auditor Tera Klutz
  • Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives Todd Huston
  • Senate Pro. Tem. Rodric Bray
  • and several department heads such as Director Terry Stigdon of the Department of Child Services, Director Christina Reagle of the Department of Corrections, and Director Fred Payne of the Department of Workforce Development.

During the past legislative session, God blessed and grew our efforts, and we connected with 123 legislators out of 150. Below is a photo of CAN pastors from around Indiana meeting with Indiana’s Secretary of State Diego Morales.

As IFI fights the policy and legal battles throughout our state, CAN is taking a long-term discipleship approach to reach those who have previously been unreachable. In order to create an environment here in Indiana where families can flourish and the light of the Gospel penetrate the hearts of Hoosiers, we must fight these spiritual battles on all fronts.

IFI started the Church Ambassador Network to address this question, “Where is the church in public life?” And we are grateful for all God is doing through it. We want to continue to expand the reach of CAN and make a greater impact for Christ in our state.

If you believe in this mission and would like to get involved with the Church Ambassador Network, please reach out to Josh Hershberger at for more details. As always, our work would not be possible without your support. Please prayerfully consider donating to CAN so we can continue to build meaningful relationships between pastors and government officials, uniting on the issues that matter most to our communities.