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1/16/2004 4:23:42 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Ohio--Calls Needed to Protect Religious Liberty and Parental Rights

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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January 16, 2004

Dear Ohio HSLDA members and friends:

Last June, the Ohio Senate passed a bill that would require pastors
to report suspicions of child abuse. 32 senators voted for it, and
only one voted against it. The Bill has now moved to the House of
Representatives. HSLDA opposes this bill, because it makes it harder
for parents to receive spiritual help when they need it most, and it
turns pastors into agents of the state. This bill is a "knee-jerk"
reaction to the sex abuse scandals in recent years.

I have discussed this legislation with a number of pastors and church
organizations in Ohio. I have yet to speak with any religious group
that really wants this bill, but many are afraid to oppose it
publicly. That means that freedom-loving families like yours may be
the last line of defense in Ohio. I need you to contact each member
of the House Criminal Justice Committee, and express your opposition
to Senate Bill 100. If possible, please attend the hearing on this
bill next Tuesday in Columbus.


Action items:

1. Please call each member of the Criminal Justice Committee. Say,
"Please vote no on Senate Bill 100. It makes priests and pastors
agents of the state."

Rep. Stephen Buehrer (R) (614) 644-5091
Rep. Jamie Callender (R) (614) 466-7251
Rep. Thomas (Thom) Collier (R) (614) 466-1431
Rep. David Evans (R) (614) 466-1482
Rep. Keith Faber (R) (614) 466-6344
Rep. Mike Gilb (R) (614) 466-3819
Rep. Timothy Grendell (R) (614) 644-5088
Rep. William (Bill) Seitz (R) (614) 466-8258
Rep. John Willamowski (R) (Vice Chair) (614) 466-9624
Rep. Lance Mason (D) (Ranking Minority member) (614) 466-5441
Rep. Dean DePiero (D) (614) 466-3485
Rep. Edna Brown (D) (614) 466-1401
Rep. Edward Jerse (D) (614) 466-8012
Rep. Annie Key (D) (614) 466-1414
Rep. Shirley Smith (D) (614) 466-7954
Rep. Tyrone Yates (D) (614) 466-1308

2. Please print this information and pass it on to your own pastor
and fellow church members this Sunday. Remember, this bill may
affect every Christian parent in Ohio, not just homeschoolers. Your
fellow citizens need to know what they can do to stand up for freedom
before next Tuesday.

3. If possible, plan to attend the hearing on this bill in Room 114
of the Statehouse in Columbus at 2:30 p.m, on Tuesday, Jan. 20. For
a map of the Statehouse and parking information, see:

http://www.statehouse.state.oh.us/statehouse/floorplans.html
http://www.statehouse.state.oh.us/welcome/garage.html


Background:

In the last few years, many state legislatures have filed bills to
force all pastors to report all suspicions of child abuse. These
bills were a predictable over-reaction to the sex abuse scandals
involving Catholic priests. HSLDA members have managed to defeat
such legislation in a number of states, and amend it in others. Now
it is Ohio's turn.

Senator Spada, the chief sponsor of this bill, is a well-respected
Republican. His initial bill would have made all pastors report any
suspicions of abuse or neglect. The Ohio Council of Churches, which
includes the Roman Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church, the
United Presbyterian Church, the Episcopalian Church, and several
other similar denominations, was able to persuade Senator Spada to
make some changes to his bill. Senator Spada's staff believes that
the Ohio Council of Churches now "supports" this legislation. Our
sources within the Ohio Council of Churches have not expressed any
"support" for the bill, but have withdrawn their open objection to it
in its current form. That means this bill, if it is to be
successfully opposed, must be opposed by "grass roots" activity.

Pastors, if they are performing their duties correctly, are "tuned
in" to a great deal of information which the police are unaware.
Pastors are God's agents, sent into a world of sin to redeem lost
souls. Pastors routinely hear about horrifying situations, yet go
back to work, day after day, because the Gospel is the solution to
sin. Senate Bill 100 tries to "tap into" this "inside information" in
order to protect additional children. Unfortunately, turning pastors
into spies for the government will do far more harm than good.

Under current law, pastors and priests are free to report child abuse
or neglect if they choose to do so. This bill will have no effect on
the pastor who believes that he can serve God and his fellow man by
reporting his suspicions. The only direct affect that this bill will
have is to apply criminal penalties to pastors who do not believe
they can report a suspicion in good conscience. Since this bill sets
up a conflict between a pastor's conscience and the criminal law, it
is fraught with constitutional problems. The best way to avoid this
constitutional train wreck is to contact each member of the Criminal
Justice Committee to indicate your opposition to SB 100. If
possible, please attend the hearing on this bill on January 20.


Sincerely,

Scott Somerville
HSLDA Staff Attorney



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