Christian Watson Criticizes Critical Race Theory

When Christian Watson, spokesperson for Color Us United, came to Trinity University to talk about critical race theory (CRT), it was evident that the event would be controversial. Color Us United is an organization that advocates for a “race-blind America.”  The audience gathered in Chapman Great Hall was composed of Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) members, a table of liberal students, and a handful of other students interested in hearing Watson’s take on CRT. When asked how he decided to come to Trinity, he replied, “It wasn’t hard at all. I was invited, and I came.” 

Watson was raised by a liberal single mother, but as he grew older, he was exposed to alternative perspectives and started attending seminars that sparked his interest. When asked how he became interested in critical race theory, Watson explained that as an African American man, he interacted with CRT in his personal life and tended to have conversations about it, which led to “a deeper intellectual interest.”  Watson says he approaches his viewpoints from the perspective of  “philosophy, reason, and debate.”

Watson’s thesis is that the so-called diversity that is popular in America does not reflect true diversity. Today’s idea of diversity is limited to identity, a superficial way to sum up an individual. Judging someone simply on external criteria, as many institutions are prone to do for diversity action programs, ultimately gives an incomplete picture of a nuanced human being. He explained that diversity is naturally all around us, in our skills, abilities, personal beliefs, and interests. “Everyone has unique abilities and certain gifts which they must identify.” The problem is that society tries to push people away from their natural gifts and make them conform to a stereotype of what they’re supposed to be and how they’re supposed to behave. Watson concluded with a statement echoing the transcendentalists of time gone by: “Knowing yourself is the most important tool that you could possibly have in this life.”  

After he finished his lecture, a question and answer session followed. As mentioned before, a group of liberal students came to question him. They asked him about the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson, to which he replied that Biden nominated her based on race alone, rather than qualification, a perfect subversion of how it should be. When questioned about police brutality against African Americans, Watson countered, “What police brutality?” He said that the idea of systematic racism in the police force was a myth contrived by the leftist media and that the police were inherently good people. Another question came up about intentional inclusivity in the workplace, and he said it was absolutely not a good idea; people should be hired based on abilities rather than identity. This all goes back to the concept of the color-blind system Watson promotes, to ultimately treat everyone equally. 

Christian Watson’s key takeaway is to judge people based on their ideas and what they have to offer, rather than based on external criteria, a lesson that the world desperately needs to hear. His personal experience as an African American in a world distorted by critical race theory drives home the true significance of his message. Watson was an excellent speaker, convicted in his beliefs, which he explained clearly and concisely. Christian Watson delivered a refreshing and thought-provoking critique of critical race theory to the Trinity University students who gathered to hear him and his ideas.

Cover photo taken by Ellis Jacoby.

University of the Incarnate Word Relaxes Mask Mandate Policies

On March 18, 2022, the University of the Incarnate Word finally allowed students and faculty to choose whether to wear a mask indoors on campus regardless of their vaccination status when the university updated its mask policy.

This updated policy gives students and faculty the ability to decide whether to wear their masks inside campus facilities. Some may see this as an issue because it could cause students to look down upon one another regarding their choice to wear or not wear a mask. 

Dr. Trey Guinn, Associate Professor and the Director of Communication Arts, highly respects the university administration’s ability to navigate the situation regarding COVID-19 protocols said that “I really have a lot of utmost respect and appreciation for administrators who are navigating unknown waters and the university’s ability to take information, process it, synthesize it, and help be guided by information coming from medical professionals and experts. I really commend and applaud.” Guinn expresses his hopes for the university moving forward. “My greatest hope is sort-of how people treat and respect one another. So, for instance, if the person next to you is wearing a mask and you are not or vice versa, how do we respond to one another? Do we still see them as our brother and our sister? Or do we now start seeing like, ‘Well, I’m this way, and you’re that way’? You know, the way sort-of people can create partisan lines around things like politics and a person’s choice to wear a mask or not wear a mask should not create partisan type lines.” Guinn concludes, “…if we are going to be in a community where some people are, and some people aren’t, that people love each other all the same.” Respecting each other’s opinions, choices, and values is prevalent in today’s society, specifically concerning COVID-19. 

Melanie Calimag Gonzalez, a Communication Arts student, concentrating in Media and Culture, expresses her thoughts on the updated mask policy. “I’m surprised that way more people took their masks off… I just hope that with this policy that COVID-19 cases don’t rise.” From the beginning of the pandemic until now, students and faculty were required to wear facial masks indoors in all campus facilities. Calimag Gonzalez says she feels a sense of nostalgia when seeing individuals not wearing masks. “It’s giving me nostalgia from before 2020 and a sense of normality that I had missed. I’m still wearing my mask because it doesn’t really bother me. I’m used to it.” Although Calimag Gonzalez will continue to wear her mask inside campus facilities, she does not want to impose on those who choose not to wear a mask. “Plus, I am still seeing people getting [COVID-19], so I don’t want to have it nor spread it. But I’m not going to fight or go off on anybody because it’s their own choice. I’m just going to respect it and continue doing what I think is good. Whether my peers wear their masks or not is their own opinion.” The sense of normalcy has been altered since the start of the pandemic, with publications with headlines reading “the new normal.” However, with this shift back to the “old normal,” students and faculty may have been feeling hesitant about their choice of whether to wear a mask.  

Since the start of the pandemic, it has been unusual to see our classmates and faculty without masks. However, hopefully with the new mask policy in place, we can start respecting one another’s opinions and know that we can only control what we do, and we can’t control how someone will react to what we do. 

Cover photo taken by Marisa Allen.

University of North Texas Protesters Cancel Event on Child Gender Transitioning

Far left activists disrupted an event put on by the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) at the University of North Texas last week on Wednesday, March 2nd. YCT invited Jeff Younger to speak on the medical gender transition of children in an event titled “Criminalize Child Transitions,” but he could barely get any words in edgewise. 

Younger, a candidate running for Texas House District 63, has attracted nationwide attention after he lost custody of his 9-year-old twins because he opposed the medical transition of one of them. His ex-wife has been pushing for the child’s gender transition since the child was 3-years-old.

The room was filled with the chants, screams, and yells of the left wing protesters who refused to let Younger speak. In attendance was about 30 supporters along with some 90 protesters, but there were hundreds more protesters outside. 

Younger tried to speak for about 45 minutes, but he was eventually escorted through mobs of protesters to a waiting vehicle outside. The left wing protesters reportedly harassed the leaving conservative students, but the protesters biggest target was Kelly Neidert. 

Kelly Neidert, the former Chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas chapter at UNT, organized the event and invited Younger to come. She was forced to hide in a closet with a police officer due to the aggressive protesters preventing her from getting into a vehicle to leave.

“Before the event, the police assessed the situation and decided that if things seemed to be getting dangerous, Jeff and I would be evacuated. When police took us out, I was separated from the police escort because some of the protestors blocked me with their signs. I missed the car that was waiting for me, so two other officers ended up helping me and tried to get me in another car. That didn’t work, so they put me in the closest building. Protestors breached that building so I was put in a janitors closet while protestors looked around for me.”

This isn’t something new for Kelly though; she has been subject to threats, doxxing, and a petition to have her expelled from the school over the past year.

UNT President Smatresk issued a statement after the event stating it was “particularly difficult for the transgender members of our community” because of “the intolerant views of a handful of campus members.” About a hundred leftist students didn’t think this was good enough, and demanded he go further in denouncing the event by protesting outside the administration building.

Protesters Attack Pro-Life Conference

Protesters stormed into the Austin Marriott South, where the Texas Right to Life’s annual Boots on the Ground Conference was being held. Texas Right to Life is non-profit advocacy and educational organization that opposes abortion, and its annual conference educates pro-life Texans and college students about various aspects of the pro-life movement such as abortion, medical ethics, and how to build a diverse pro-life community..

Texas Right to Life held its Boots on the Ground Conference on the same weekend as the Rally for Life at the State Capitol. This year marked the 49th anniversary of the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade. The conference hosted numerous speakers who spoke about topics including abortion, human trafficing, and in vitro fertilization (IVF). Attendees were there to get trained in the Pro-Life movement and energized for the rally, but they would find that those on the other side of the abortion have been energized as well. 

Protestors entered the hotel lobby just before noon, shouting, “Working women, give them hell; it is right to rebel. We will defend abortion rights; working women, rise and fight!”

The dozen protesters carried a sign reading: “Working women lead the fight; safe abortions are our right!”

One woman lit a smoke bomb and threw it down the hallway towards the rooms holding the conference. Outside, a portion of hotel property was vandalized by the protesters as well. Luckily no one was injured on either side. Austin Police Department responded quickly to the protest, but there were no additional problems after the attack on Saturday, and no arrests have been made yet. 

This is not the first protest at a Texas Right to Life event. In 2017, communist protesters attempted to disrupt a Texas Right to Life event, but they did not physically attack attendees like they did on this occasion. 

The attack happened as thousands of Texans were marching in support of life at the State Capitol and in celebration of the victory that the Texas Heartbeat Act has been for the pro-life cause. Texas Right to Life spearheaded the effort to pass the Texas Heartbeat Act. 

The Texas Heartbeat Act has angered many abortion advocates. It bans abortions after a heartbeat is detected in the unborn child and thus prevents many abortions in Texas from legally occurring. Since it came into effect on Sept. 1, despite numerous failed attempts to have it struck down or enjoined, the Texas Heartbeat Act has saved an estimated 10,000-13,000 lives, according to Texas Right to Life. Already states like Alabama, Florida, Missouri, and Ohio are working to replicate the Texas Heartbeat Act. 

Footage taken by Texas Right to Life and used in this article with the organization’s permission.

BREAKING: Trinity University Postpones Spring Semester Until Jan. 31, 2022

While enjoying their winter break, Trinity University students received an email this morning notifying them of the new plan for returning to campus for the spring semester, which was scheduled to begin on Jan. 12, 2022. As of this morning at 11:16 am, Wed. Dec. 29, the spring semester will not begin until Jan. 31, 2022. 

In an email from Tess Coody-Anders, the Vice President for Strategic Communications and Marketing at Trinity University, students learned that the decision was made due to the “dramatic increase” of positive COVID-19 cases in the Trinity community. Throughout the winter break, students have been responsible for self-reporting any positive COVID-19 diagnoses or any close contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Trinity’s Nerve Center has taken these numbers into consideration when making this decision in an attempt to keep students, faculty, and staff safe and healthy. 

One of the concerns of the university is how contagious the Omicron variant of COVID-19 seems to be. If the virus spreads quickly among students, faculty, and staff on-campus, the university is concerned that it will be overwhelmed and not able to properly accommodate individuals who must quarantine on-campus for their own safety or the safety of their families or roommates. 

When asked to comment, Coody-Anders said that the academic calendar for the Spring 2022 semester is being adjusted and that faculty will adjust their syllabi accordingly. Students’ spring break will not be changed, postponed, or canceled. The decision to start the semester should not interfere with athletic events or activities, and the university is doing all that it can to protect students, faculty, and staff from COVID-19.

Article updated 12/20/2021 to include comments from Tess Coody-Anders, VP for Strategic Communications and Marketing at Trinity University.

Texas Heartbeat Bill Is Here to Stay

In a victory for Pro-Life groups, the Supreme Court of the United States did not strike down Texas’ Heartbeat Act (SB 8) last week. The law limits abortions to before the first heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks. While the law allows for abortion in cases when the mother’s life is in danger, it bans nearly all abortions, since 85-90% of abortions in Texas happen after the sixth week of pregnancy.

13 other states have tried to pass similar laws, but all were struck down. The new Texas law is unique because instead of putting the enforcement mechanism in the hands of the state, it instead hands it to private citizens. Anyone can now sue abortition providers if they perform an aborition after a heartbeat is detected. The woman who elects abortion is never under the danger of a lawsuit, only the abortion provider, as the law states “this … may not be construed to authorize the initiation of a cause of action against or the prosecution of a woman on whom an abortion is performed.”

The vote in the Supreme Court was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice Roberts joining the court’s three liberal members in dissent. The majority opinion was unsigned, and stated that an injunction would not be issued for the law due to the abortion providers who challenged the law not answering the “complex and novel antecedent procedural questions” the law raised. The majority states that their decision “is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’s law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law.”

Each dissenting justice filed his or her own opinion, either asking for a return to status quo ante (before the law went into effect) and to kick it back down to the lower courts to decide in the case of Roberts, or rejecting the majority’s view on the germaness of the unique procedural mechanism in the law. 

In Texas SB 8 has already caused a reaction from abortion providers. Three of the four major aborbition clinics in San Antonio have ceased providing aborbitions, and across the state others are following suit rather than risk lawsuits. 

The Court’s decision will likely lead other Republican-controlled states to try to pass similar laws, though the Biden Administration is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen. President Biden called the law an “unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights,” and that the decision required an “immediate response.” The Justice Department launched a lawsuit against Texas on Thurs.,  in an attempt to try and strike down the law, but it remains to be seen how successful it will be after the Supreme Court’s first ruling. 

Young America’s Foundation Holds 43rd National Conservative Student Conference in Houston

Over 500 college students at the Marquis Marriott in Downtown Houston, TX enjoyed a week filled with a star-studded list of speakers and interaction with like-minded peers at the Young America’s Foundation’s (YAF) 43rd National Conservative Student Conference. The conference was held from Aug. 2 to Aug. 7, 2021.

The conference was held in Houston as opposed to its usual location in Washington, D.C., due to the mask mandate in the Nation’s capital. Houston was ideal because it served as a central location that allowed students from all over the country to attend.

The event began with Ben Shapiro, who gave his first in-person speech since the pandemic began, and then spanned a whole five days of speakers and socializing. The list of speakers included Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Chip Roy (TX-21), Rep. Byron Donalds (FL-19), Rep. Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), Rep. Kevin Brady (TX-08), and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton among many others.  

Students were also able to listen to in-depth lectures on hot button issues from experts like James Lindsey on Critical Race Theory, Dr. Ryan Anderson on the Transgender Movement, Veronica Arnold Smither on Abortion, Declan Ganley on Crony Corporatism, and Dr. Burt Folsom on Free Markets and Race. 

Jules Accomazzo, a freshman at Grand Canyon University who attended the conference, thought that the conference was a positive experience. 

“My first YAF conference was very different than I imagined. It was more intense than I thought it would be, but overall it was a good experience that pushed me out of my comfort zone. My favorite part of YAF was “networking” with other students. I enjoyed connecting with people and making friends with like-minded views across the country!” 

On Tuesday night, more than a hundred students walked through Downtown Houston on a sightseeing tour of the many prominent monuments and buildings Downtown Houston has in store. 

Former Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker, now President of YAF, was a constant presence at the event, taking pictures with students, eating meals with them, and running a 5K on Friday morning with a small but determined group of students. 

José Quijada, an immigrant from Venezuela who now attends Lone Star College, also enjoyed his time at the conference. 

 “It was an amazing experience! Like nothing I have ever done before. People were professional and friendly, which made it super easy to make new friends. Seeing Ben Shapiro for the first time was great! But I will say being able to be with like-minded people for a week was AWESOME. Love[ed] the experience and will do it again.”

YAF’s next conference is September 24th at their headquarters in Reston, Virginia. Titled “Road to Freedom Seminar: Secrets to Advancing Free Markets Over Wokeness,” speakers will include Rachel Bovard, Andrew F. Puzder, and Governor Walker. 

Cover image used with permission of Young America’s Foundation.

Trinity University Reinstates Masks and Other COVID-19 Safety Procedures

Article updated on 8/5/2021 at 10:45pm CT. We included new information from an email sent to students earlier this morning.

Trinity University detailed its COVID-19 safety measures for the upcoming semester in an email sent to all students on July 30. While over 80% of students and faculty will be fully vaccinated by the beginning of the semester and had few COVID-19 cases during the spring semester in 2021, Trinity University decided to impose further restrictions on students, faculty, and staff. These new restrictions are due to the impact of the Delta variant and for Trinity “to promote a healthy and safe semester as we return to in-person learning and living.”

New restrictions include: 

  • the wearing of “well-fitting masks… by both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings at all times” and the wearing of masks outside if one finds himself in a setting in which he is in a crowded space or cannot social distance
  • The testing of all students and staff regardless of vaccination status upon returning to campus
  • Weekly testing of all unvaccinated students and staff
  • A green badge from the ProtecTU Daily Health Check for all students, faculty, and staff for entry into public spaces or classrooms
  • Completion of the vaccination status form to be let onto campus and register for classes

Trinity stated in the email that it would re-evaluate these protocols come mid-September, but the university left the possibility of stricter protocols open. This may only be the beginning of stricter COVID-19 regulations due to the Delta variant.

Tess Coody-Anders, VP For Strategic Communications and Marketing at Trinity University, informed The Tower that the university currently stands at an 86% vaccination rate that continues to climb. However, these vaccinations do not entirely protect them from getting infected and carrying the “same viral load as unvaccinated persons.”

When asked about whose guidance they are following for these protocols and if they are imposing a mask mandate, Coody-Anders said that Trinity “will follow CDC guidance as we have throughout the pandemic and return to universal mask wearing for all” and that after a few weeks of testing unvaccinated individuals they will “re-evaluate the need for the vaccinated to wear masks.” Trinity University will also be checking statements and figures provided by the South Texas Regional Advisory Council to understand better how COVID-19 is affecting San Antonio.

Coody-Anders also informed The Tower that Trinity University is “fully committed to providing students in-person learning” but did not say whether or not the university is planning on potentially going partially or fully online again this semester.

However, Coody-Anders was unable to answer many, perhaps just as important, questions at this time. Of the questions asked, she did not provide answers to the following questions: 

  • If the university has expanded mental health services to accommodate students struggling due to the impact of COVID-19
  • If the university received feedback from students before finalizing the COVID-19 safety procedures
  • Whether students can have off-campus guests in their dorm rooms
  • Whether students can have guests who live in other residence halls in their dorm rooms (this was forbidden in Fall 2020 and for the beginning of Spring 2021)
  • Under what circumstances the university will remove the mask mandate
  • Whether students are able to report one another for not following these rules, as they did during the last school year
  • Why Trinity requires students to report their vaccine status if the vaccine is not required
  • What will happen to professors who do not enforce or check whether or not their students completed the Daily Health Check and got a green badge
  • What will happen to students if they are unable to display a green badge due to not having an electronic device on their person
  • Whether Trinity University believes these new rules are an infringement on the liberties of students, staff, and faculty?

Trinity University and Coody-Anders did try to make it clear that the administration at Trinity does care about its students and wants them to have as close to a normal semester as possible. However, the university has created many unanswered questions, and students are looking for answers that the university can not give at this time.

Update 8/5/2021: Trinity University sent a follow-up email to students on Aug. 5 to clarify some of the new COVID-19 procedures. The email stated that on-campus meetings will be limited to 50 persons for indoor settings and 250 for outdoor events. Off-campus guests and visitors will not be allowed on campus. Furthermore, residence hall dorm rooms will be restricted to 4 people maximum, and masks must be worn while guests are over. They reiterated that these rules will be reconsidered in mid-September.

The Darsch Report: July 26 to August 1

Bexar County Mental Health

On Mon. July 26, Bexar County officials announced that a pilot program that brings mental health professionals together with Bexar County sheriff’s deputies will expand less than a year after its formation.

    In October, the Bexar County Commissioner’s Office allocated $1.5 million toward the Specialized Multidisciplinary Alternate Response Team (SMART). Under SMART, dispatchers who identify a mental health call send a clinician and trained paramedic to the scene. Deputies will respond to the scene if they’re needed, but the goal is to keep people suffering from mental health crises out of jail.

Initially, the group was operating on a limited basis, but they will now operate for longer hours after refining the process.

    Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar stated that the program has “surpassed expectations” and that “working with our other partners, it just fell together.”

The full briefing can be watched here.

Texas Bans Mask Mandates

    On Thurs., July 29, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order prohibiting local governments and state agencies from mandating vaccines, saying that protection against the virus should be a matter of personal responsibility, not forced by a government mandate.

    “To further ensure that no governmental entity can mandate masks, the following requirement shall continue to apply: No governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear a face-covering or to mandate that other person wear a covering,” the executive order read.

    Local government entities that institute mask mandates may be fined up to $1,000.

    The order also specifies that government entities cannot “compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.”

Governmental agencies, public entities, and private entities that receive public funding cannot require people to provide proof of vaccination as a condition of receiving services.

The order, however, does not stop nursing homes or living facilities from requiring residents to be inoculated.

Abbott defended the move in a statement, arguing, “Today’s executive order will provide clarity and uniformity in the Lone Star State’s continued fight against COVID-19. The new Executive Order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates.”

Biden, Congress Allow Eviction Moratorium to Lapse

A nationwide moratorium on residential evictions expired on Saturday, July 31, after a last-minute effort by the Biden administration to win an extension failed, putting hundreds of thousands of tenants at risk of losing shelter, while tens of billions in federal funding intended to pay their back rent sit untapped.

    Unable to fight the Supreme Court on further extending the moratorium, the Biden Administration gave the responsibility to Congress on Thursday. However, after an unsuccessful rally by Democrats on Friday, the House of Representatives went into Recess and could not draft any quick legislation.

    The Senate, meanwhile, has been focusing its efforts on finishing the bipartisan infrastructure plan.

    Efforts to bring relief to renters and homeowners have been further struggling. To date, only $3 billion of the $47 billion Emergency Rental Assistance program has been disbursed.

“Really, we only learned about this yesterday,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had publicly and privately urged senior Biden Administration officials to deal with the problem themselves.

Many Democrats are still voicing anger and frustration, though, with Democratic leadership.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said Sunday, Aug. 1, that Democrats have to “call a spade a spade” after the deadline expired.

“We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have a majority,” Ocasio-Cortez said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the chair of the Financial Services Committee, said Saturday on CNN: “We thought that the White House was in charge.”

“We are only hours away from a fully preventable housing crisis,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) during a floor speech in a rare Saturday session as senators labored over an infrastructure package.

“We have the tools, and we have the funding,” Warren said. “What we need is the time.”

US Economy

The stock market did not do well over the past week. The Dow Jones decreased to 34,935.47 on Friday, decreasing by -126.08 points, or -0.36 percent over its July 23 close of 35,061.55. The S&P 500 increased by -16.53 points or -0.37 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by -1.11 percent.

DOJ vs. Texas

    The U.S. Justice Department, on Friday, July 30, filed a lawsuit against Texas and Gov. Greg Abbott over an order the Republican governor signed barring ground transportation of migrants who could be carrying COVID-19.  

In a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District in El Paso, the Justice Department said Abbott’s order interferes with the federal government’s ability to deal with immigration.

“In our constitutional system, a State has no right to regulate the federal government’s operations,” the DOJ argued in a motion asking the judge to block Abbott’s order, adding “this restriction on the transportation of noncitizens would severely disrupt federal immigration operations.”

Governor Abbott argued that the order was necessary to counter the rise in illegal immigration under the Biden administration and to help stop the spread of COVID-19 across the US Southern border, going so far as to accuse the Biden administration of being complicit in the spread of COVID-19 across the southern border.

“The Biden administration is knowingly admitting hundreds of thousands of unauthorized migrants, many of whom the federal government knows full well have COVID-19,” Abbott said in response to Garland’s lawsuit. 

He also said he would not back down because his “duty remains to the people of Texas, and [he has] no intention of abdicating that.”

San Antonio Urgent Care Reaching Capacity

In San Antonio, both hospitals and local clinics are feeling the effects of increasing COVID-19 cases, with some local urgent care clinics reaching near capacity.

    “We are up about 30% in terms of patient visits from the last week of June, first week of July,” said Dr. David Gude, Texas MedClinic chief operating officer, and practicing physician.

Gude said they are seeing more COVID-19 patients, more COVID-19 testing, and even an increase in vaccinations.

The wait times on their website show just how busy they are.

“We’ve never let go of social distancing. So we either get people into an exam room, or if we’re full, we may ask them to wait in the car, or we may ask them to come back in an hour so,” Gude said.

Gude said staff members are also feeling the pressure. According to Gude, one staff member recently told him it felt like he is “going through the stages of grief right now.”

“He can’t believe that we’re back at the point that we were at. We were just at this point a few months ago and certainly last year,” Gude said.

IRS Grants Tax-Exempt Status to Christians Engaged

On July 7, 2021, Christians Engaged released a statement that the IRS had reversed its decision not to grant the organization 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. On May 18, 2021, the IRS denied Christians Engaged nonprofit status because “the bible [sic] teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates.” 

Christians Engaged is an organization that “provides nonpartisan religious and civic education, focusing on encouraging and educating Christians to be civically engaged as a part of their religious practice,” according to a statement released by First Liberty, which appealed to the IRS on behalf of Christians Engaged. 

501(c)(3) organizations are required not to be affiliated with any political party or overtly political. They cannot urge their members to support or oppose legislation, nor can they use a substantial portion of their funds for lobbying purposes. 501(c)(3) organizations also cannot endorse or publicly oppose any political candidate. However, according to the IRS guidelines, 501(c)(3), nonprofits can take a stand on divisive issues, so long as they do not use their stance on particular issues to endorse or oppose candidates.

In May, Christians Engaged was denied 501(c)(3) status because it allegedly “instruct[s] individuals on issues that are prominent in political campaigns and instruct them in what the Bible says about the issue and how they should vote. These issues include the sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, and biblical justice,” according to a letter sent to Christians Engaged from the IRS. The IRS claimed that these issues are “associated with political party platforms.” Thus Christians Engaged is ineligible for nonprofit tax status. 

However, the IRS reversed its decision in July after First Liberty appealed on behalf of Christians Engaged. 

In a statement thanking First Liberty and various congressmen and senators who supported Christians Engaged, founder Bunni Pounds said that “This is a victory not only for Christians Engaged but for every Christian organization around America that teaches the Bible and cares about the future of our great nation.”