Is it time to re-open houses of worship for in-person religious services, despite the continued coronavirus pandemic? This question has sparked controversy and significant accompanying safety concerns against an ever-changing array of government orders and religious liberty lawsuits. How and when will in-person religious gatherings be safe again? Should houses of worship wait indefinitely to conduct in-person worship services? Or should they reengage with religious services – now, and perhaps step by step with specific safety measures?
On August 20, 2015, former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law the “Youth Mental Health Protection Act”, the stated purpose of which is to "protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth from sexual orientation change efforts [SOCE], also known as conversion therapy.” The law, now codified at 405 ILCS 48/1, et seq. “Act”, provides that “[u]nder no circumstances shall a mental health provider engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a person under the age of 18.” The fact that a provider may believe that such efforts are therapeutic, helpful to a patient, and otherwise good is of no legal consequence.
On August 9, 2019, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill amending the State's School Code, including the provisions related to the Textbook Block Grant Program, which governs State Board of Education-funded grants to public school districts and "State-recognized, non-public schools" for the purchase of selected textbooks. This amendment contains significant implications for parents, school administrators, and others operating within private and public school contexts, both in terms of the required instructional content and broader policy implications of government grant programs. Indeed, it raises the question of what risks come with accepting government grants and other government involvement in school education - now or later.