SB 350: Protecting religious liberty in counseling
Senate Bill 350 prevents political subdivisions in Indiana from regulating various types of counseling services, leaving this responsibility to the state government. Political subdivisions include the governments of cities, towns, counties, and any other local government entities. The legislation applies to services that perform marriage and family therapy, social work, mental health counseling, and addiction counseling. Both licensed and unlicensed practices are shielded under this bill from regulation by political subdivisions.
It is vital that Indiana protects the rights of counseling services to operate as they wish and the ability of Hoosiers to access them. In 2022, the city of West Lafayette attempted to infringe on religious liberty by banning unlicensed individuals from providing children with counseling on sexuality from a Christian perspective. This would have made the services offered by many churches illegal, as they often work with counselors who qualify under the tenants of their faith, not under the rules of state or medical licensing boards. Furthermore, many activists wanted the West Lafayette ban to go even further and ban counseling on sexuality from licensed providers as well. West Lafayette reversed this unconstitutional mandate when met with immediate pushback, but state law must ensure that another situation like this does not arise.
There are certainly many activists pushing for their local governments to enact similar bans to the one attempted by West Lafayette. To them, receiving counseling from a biblical perspective for someone who experiences same sex attraction or confusion over their gender identity equates to “conversion therapy” and must be banned. The left particularly wants to prohibit parents from accessing counseling on these topics for their children. It is children who often experience these identity questions most intensely as they grow. This makes them prime targets for the left who want to stave off any notion in a child’s mind that they should adhere to the religious principles with which their parents raised them.
According to the worldview of the left, the Christian principles which millions adhere to daily and teach to their children are nothing more than “pseudoscience” that must be banned. If liberal activists get their way, parents seeking help for their children or children who themselves seek advice on how to best live according to their religious principles in the difficult areas of sexuality and gender would be told no by the government. They would be told that for a child to go to a pastor or religious counselor for help in these matters is illegal. Instead, the left encourages minors to act in accordance with any sexual impulse they may feel and considers this to be the new norm. Indiana must not allow this dangerous reversal of the truth. No church or faith-based organization providing counseling should be threatened or shut down by their government.