Kentucky prison ministers silenced! Stop the gag-order

Petition to: Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice


Kentucky prison ministers silenced! Stop the gag-order

6,204 people have signed. Help us reach 10,000 signatures.

Kentucky prison ministers silenced! Stop the gag-order

Chaplain David Wells has spiritually counseled young juvenile offenders in the Kentucky prison system for 13 years. But this year, the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice revoked his credentials. Why? Because he refused to sign a state-mandated document promising to never tell inmates that homosexuality is "sinful."

The Kentucky regulation states that "DJJ staff, volunteers, interns and contractors shall not imply or tell LGBTQI juveniles that they are abnormal, deviant, sinful or that they can or should change their sexual orientation or gender identity."

For years, Wells and a ministry team from his church volunteered their time to hold volunteer worship services and offer counseling to troubled young people – many of whom have been abused. Chaplain Wells can offer his own story to these youth, sharing his own history of being sexually abused as a juvenile and how he found peace in the redeeming love offered by Jesus Christ.

But now, he's no longer allowed to share that message with juvenile inmates in Kentucky.

Constitutional lawyer Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel has called the 2014 Kentucky "Anti-Discrimination" policy unconstitutional, because it restricts "speech which volunteers are allowed to use while ministering to youth detainees" and "violates the protections given to private speech through the First Amendment and the Kentucky Constitution."

Essentially, Kentucky's policy requires affirmation of homosexuality as a precondition for ministers providing spiritual guidance to troubled youth, and singles out a particular theological viewpoint as expressly disfavored by the State of Kentucky.

This is a violation of religious freedom and an unconstitutional burden on Christian clergy who are ministering to troubled youth.

Please sign our petition to Bob D. Hayter, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice, demanding that he reinstate Chaplain Wells and other clergymen who have been silenced under this policy.


Further information:

The Christian purge has begun: Chaplains banned from preaching that homosexuality is a sin

Liberty Counsel letter to KY Department of Juvenile Justice

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Unconstitutional Restriction on Religious Speech

Dear Commissioner Hayter,

Your department recently revoked the volunteer prison minister status of ordained Christian minister David Wells, who has long provided voluntary spiritual counseling and mentorship to juvenile inmates.

This act is a violation of the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech and free exercise of religion.

As you know, government action that stifles speech on account of its message, or that requires the utterance of a particular message favored by the Government, contravenes our essential rights. The First Amendment does not permit the government to impose special prohibitions on religious speech simply because the speaker's positions are disfavored by the government.

I urge you to immediately remove the discriminatory test you have imposed on clergy, and reinstate Mr. Wells and any other spiritual counselors who were unconstitutionally censored by your department.

[Your Name]

Kentucky prison ministers silenced! Stop the gag-order

Sign this petition now!

6,204 people have signed. Help us reach 10,000 signatures.