Christian conservatives have spoken out against New York City Mayor Eric Adam’s firing of one of his education advisers, who is also a pastor, after the New York Daily News reported on some of his past writings on sexuality and gender.
Last week, Adams announcement nine choices to the city’s Panel for Education Policy, which “replaced the former Board of Education in 2022 and is part of the governance structure responsible for the city’s public schools.”
Initially, the list of nominations included Reverend Kathlyn Barrett-Layne, the leader of Staten Island’s Reach Out and Touch Ministries.
In the initial announcement, the mayor’s office presented Barrett-Layne as a seasoned minister who “spends her time inspiring people through speaking and teaching in Bible studies.”
After Adams announced Barrett-Layne’s appointment to the panel, the New York Daily News published an article highlighting what he called “anti-gay” remarks from his past.
Specifically, the tabloid publication took issue with Barrett-Layne’s 2013 book. Challenge your disappointmentswhich lists homosexuality alongside several other sins, including “fornication, adultery, pedophilia, theft, lying, envy, [and] covetousness”.
In the book, Barrett-Layne argued that incarcerated youth “live in the grip of fornicating homosexual lifestyles with the risk of being infected with the AIDS virus and other sexually transmitted diseases.”
In a 2004 book titled When your mess becomes the message, the pastor recalled how his 3-year-old daughter determined that “she was a boy” after hearing her mother give advice to a lesbian. After her daughter’s statement, Barrett-Layne said she and her husband “began to pray militantly and violently for, with and over our daughter” and prayed “against any spirit that was not of God. , including the spirit of homosexuality”.
She wrote that the moment her daughter experienced gender confusion was “one of the scariest experiences I’ve had with my baby girl”.
Members of the city’s LGBT community pressured Adams to remove Barrett-Layne from his administration as a result of the article.
On the same day Adams announced Barrett-Layne as one of his picks for the city’s equivalent of a school board, the administration said it had requested his firing.
In one letter Sent to Barret-Layne on March 25, Adams claimed that her statements released in the past are “not consistent with an open and welcoming public education system for all New Yorkers, regardless of background or identity.” . The letter said his withdrawal would be effective on April 7.
Adams’ spokeswoman Amaris Cockfield told the New York Daily News via email that “we were unaware of these writings and have asked her to resign.”
The city removed Barrett-Layne’s name from the statement announcing new members of the Panel for Education Policy.
Barrett-Layne reacted to the development in a maintenance with the New York Times.
“I feel harassed. I believe the city is being bullied,” she said. “I feel like my character, my name, my church has been defamed with lies and everything has been taken out of context.”
Conservative Christian activists have cited Barrett-Layne’s dismissal as another example of what they see as intolerance toward Christians whose beliefs align with biblical teachings on human sexuality.
Tony Perkins, president of the Washington-based lobbying organization DC Family Research Council, wrote in a editorial by “[pulling] the take on Barrett-Layne” and “removing his name,” the Adams administration “sent a chilling message that believers need not apply.”
“The controversy over a Christian with a Christian perspective should be another wake-up call for parents with children in public schools,” he added. “Don’t think that the iron grip of LGBT activists on public education is limited to big city schools.”
Perkins argued that “Barrett-Layne would have had a direct contribution to the local program” as a member of the city school panel.
“What does this say to local Christian moms and dads who have children in public schools? It’s simple: their opinions will not be tolerated,” Perkins wrote.
Radio host and author Michael Brown, a Messianic Jewish believer, noted in a blog post On Tuesday, Adams had already been rebuffed by LGBT activists for hiring “three people with histories of homophobic views and statements” in his Faith and Community Partnerships office.
While Brown praised Adams for refusing to fire his appointees under pressure, he lamented that Barrett-Layne’s previous comments about homosexuality were “too much for Adams and his team.”
“God forbid they allow another Bible-believing Christian to darken the doors of their administration. It was a step too far,” he wrote.
Brown concluded by declaring Adams’ actions to be “anti-Christian discrimination” that “must be faced head-on, without compromise or surrender.”
Adams, a Democrat first elected to power last November, has worked to establish himself as an ally to the LGBT community.
After Florida passed a bill prohibiting school officials from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity with students in kindergarten through third grade, Adams released a declaration condemning the legislation as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill”.
“The extremist culture war targeting our LGBTQ+ community is hateful and harmful. Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is the latest shameful measure,” he said. “We are the town of Stonewall. We fight for our LGBTQ+ neighbors, especially our children. »
Adams informed “families leaving in fear of this state-sponsored discrimination” that they were “welcome to New York.” He described the city’s “arms and hearts” as “open wide, embracing every child of every identity.”
Barrett-Layne’s impeachment comes after then-Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta fired fire chief Kelvin Cochran in 2015 over objections to a men’s devotional he wrote for his church that he also distributed at work. The book highlighted Cochran’s views on sexual morality. Reed claimed that Cochran violated city policy by promoting the book while on the job.
But in 2018, after Cochran filed a discrimination lawsuit, the city agreed to pay $1.2 million as part of a legal settlement in the case.
“Given my history and work throughout my career and with the city of Atlanta, I was shocked that writing a book and encouraging Christian men to be the husbands, fathers and men that God had called us to be, would jeopardize my 34-year career,” Cochran said in a statement.
The Christian Post contacted the Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal group that represented Cochran, to comment on Barrett-Layne’s case. The ADF was unable to issue a public statement on this.
The ADF, however, maintained that “the government cannot force its employees to obtain its permission before engaging in free speech”.
“Nor can he fire them for exercising that First Amendment freedom, causing them to lose both their freedom and their livelihood,” ADF lead attorney Kevin Theriot said in a 2018 . declaration.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be contacted at: [email protected]