The Senate Judiciary Committee’s October hearing on the nomination of Lawrence VanDyke for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals may be remembered for more than VanDyke’s emotional testimony.
It may go down in history as the moment when the general public saw through the American Bar Association’s facade of neutrality in making recommendations regarding judicial candidates.
During the hearing, VanDyke choked back tears in response to a letter from the ABA calling him unqualified for the position and claiming that in their interview with him, he “would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community.”
VanDyke forcefully denied the accusation, prompting Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to call the ABA’s letter a “politically motivated, fact-free hit job.” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) agreed. “I will no longer consider the ABA’s recommendation on any nominee, for any position, for any reason,” Hawley said. “They are, as Sen. Lee said, a special interest group. They should be treated like any other special interest group.”
But the legal profession isn’t the only one with a professional association that has been presented to the public as the objective, authoritative voice of that field—when in reality it is acting as a leftist-progressive activist group.
“National professional associations across the country have become secularized political activists promoting a left-leaning ideology,” said Todd Chasteen, vice president of public policy and general counsel for Samaritan’s Purse. “Associations that have monopolized professional memberships for decades have forced members to create new associations because they moved so far to the left.”
Powerful professional associations for public educators, health care professionals, psychologists, psychiatrists and librarians are among groups having adopted policies and stances that oppose Biblical truth.
Taken together, these associations exert an enormous influence on public policy and opinion. And when they are led by radical progressives, it is no surprise that the general public is led into ever more liberal views.
Psychiatry and Psychology
The fields of psychiatry and psychology were among the first in which aggressive ideology began to outpace science, studies and data, according to Glenn Stanton, director of global family formation studies at Focus on the Family. Today, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association affirm both homosexuality and transgenderism.
Regarding transgenderism, both groups speak of “treatment options” such as cross-sex hormones, sex-change surgery, puberty suppression and counseling. Their goal is not to help people feel comfortable with their God-given sex but rather to help them feel comfortable what they believe they are.
Both groups reject any claim that same-sex orientation should be changed, and the psychological association recommends books such as one aimed at 3- to 5-year-olds called “Rainbow: A First Book of Pride,” described as “a must-have primer for young readers” that “celebrates LGBTQ+ pride.”
With more than 3 million members, the National Education Association claims to be the nation’s largest professional employee organization. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, more than 92% of the NEA’s total contributions from 1990 to present have gone to Democrats. The smaller American Federation of Teachers gave more than 99% of its contributions to Democrats.
Jessica Anderson and Lindsey Burke, writing in USA Today, called out the NEA for its “full-throated endorsement of abortion” last summer—while at the same time it defeated a resolution to make student learning the Association’s priority.
“Left-wing activism rather than student learning is now clearly the union’s top priority,” wrote Anderson and Burke.
And an AFT conference in October featured leftist speakers from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood.
The American Library Association touts itself as a champion of intellectual freedom—a worthy sounding goal. But it does so by opposing virtually any attempt by parents to protect children from sexually explicit or age-inappropriate material—not to mention its complete support of “drag queen story times” in public libraries.
Stanton told Decision that the ALA tries to “shut down parents who are involved and have opinions about what their kids are reading. That’s called responsible parenthood.”
When parents object to certain books, the ALA labels it censorship. It promotes an annual “Banned Books Week,” during which it encourages people to read the 10 most challenged books in schools and libraries.
“For the mother or the father at school who has those concerns,” Stanton said, “it basically says, ‘We don’t want to hear a word you have to say. You have no voice here.’”
Many of the most prominent medical associations, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, strongly support abortion. In October those groups filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging a Kentucky law that requires women’s health care clinicians to show pregnant patients ultrasounds of their babies before performing an abortion.
The AMA has also voiced support for same-sex marriage and gender transitioning, said Dr. Mike Chupp, CEO of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations. And during last summer’s annual meeting, the AMA actually considered taking a neutral stance on physician-assisted suicide, until a group of mostly younger doctors and medical students spoke out forcefully about how antithetical it would be for doctors not to oppose the practice.
Stay or Leave?
Christian members of these professional associations have a choice to make: Stay and try to make a difference, or join a Christian group instead. The fact that a group within AMA was able to win a small victory regarding physician-assisted suicide shows that Christians can still make a difference from within, Chupp said.
Others will choose to leave. “The forces arrayed are so powerful,” Stanton said. “It’s like an individual with an umbrella trying to stop a tsunami.” But members can at least plead for freedom of conscience: “You’re not going to stem the tide,” Stanton said, “but you can say, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t participate in this. Do I have a right to be free from coercion?’”
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