The Iowa Standard reported in late August about Broadlawns Medical Center, a governmental entity, severing its agreement with Freedom Blend Coffee over the “Statement of Faith” offered on Freedom for Youth’s website.
Freedom Blend Coffee falls under the umbrella of Freedom for Youth. Freedom Blend Coffee is a Christian organization helping young adults get into the workplace. The “Statement of Faith” is expected to be signed by all adult employees, but not youth participants.
Broadlawns sent out a letter to staff explaining their decision, but the hospital was somewhat — and intentionally — vague in their reasoning.
The Iowa Standard has obtained public records surrounding the decision to cut ties with Freedom Blend Coffee and we will present a series of articles detailing the decision made by a CEO called Anthony B. Coleman and a chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer called Renee Hardman.
It appears the “controversy” started on July 28, 2022 when an individual called Dr. Dylan Lowe sent a message to Hardman. Lowe introduced himself as a former resident at Broadlawns from 2017-20 and someone who currently serves as PRN Emergency Department staff as well as as adjunct faculty to the residency program for inpatient rounds on weekends.
Lowe’s wife, who he said is working on her certified diversity professional certification and works at the Food Bank of Iowa, was at Broadlawns for an appointment when she noticed signs advertising Freedom Blend Coffee.
“She brought to my attention that some of Freedom Blend’s statements seem to be less than inclusive,” Dr. Lowe wrote. “Particularly on their website they have statements under two separate sections including their ‘Statement of Belief on Marriage and Sexuality’ as well as ‘Statement of Belief on the Sanctity of Human Life’ that seem problematic to me as a physician who takes pride in caring for each individual patient regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality.”
Lowe wrote that these statements seem to “contradict” some of the “core values” of Broadlawns and their efforts on inclusivity. He attached a link to Freedom for Youth’s “Statement of Faith.”
“I hope that we can find an alternative whose values more closely align with those of Broadlawns in the future,” Dr. Lowe wrote.
This is how the ordeal began.
It appears she forwarded the message to Coleman, who responded at midnight:
In a letter sent to staff, Broadlawns noted that Freedom for Youth’s “Statement of Faith” doesn’t align with its diversity, equity and inclusion philosophies. But it didn’t offer a greater explanation than that.
This email, which brought Hardman’s attention to Freedom Blend Coffee, clearly was rooted in the group’s beliefs about marriage and human life.
To be clear, here is what a portion about Freedom for Youth’s “Statement of Faith…”
Included in the Statement of Faith is a line that states Freedom for Youth Ministries will work to “love all people unconditionally as Christ did without regard to race, history or current condition.”
It also includes a statement on marriage and sexuality:
We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as either male or female. These two distinct, complementary sexes together reflect the image and nature of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person.
We believe that the term “marriage” has only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture (Gen. 2:18-25).
We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other (1 Cor. 6:18; 7:2-5; Heb. 13:4).
We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.
We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, or use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God (Matt. 15:18-20; 1 Cor. 6:9-10).
We recognize that we all are sinners and fall short of the glory of God. However, we believe that God offers restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ (Acts 3:19-21; Rom. 10:9-10; John 1:8).
We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity (Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31). Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual are to be repudiated and are not in accord with Scripture nor the doctrines of Freedom for Youth Ministries.
Hardman, keep in mind, has punished someone for exercising their First Amendment rights before. The West Des Moines City Councilwoman led the charge canceling the city of West Des Moines’ contract with Tom Conley’s security firm.
And as you will see in the subsequent articles in this series, Hardman is at the heart of another governmental entity punishing another organization for its First Amendment exercise.
By the end of the ordeal, Hardman wrote back to Dr. Lowe:
“Hope all is well. I wanted to see if you received a copy of the email that was signed by Dr. Coleman and myself. I did some extensive research as a result of your email and a few other data points that we took into consideration. DEI is can be (sic) hard work, but it requires that we do what is in the best interest of the entire organization. As you can well imagine – the decision has not been met with unilateral approval. This email/memo should allow us to reach closure with Freedom Blend. Once again, thank you for taking the time to reach out to me. Hope that we will get to talk sometime in the near future.”
Dr. Lowe responded:
“I did receive a copy of the email, thank you! I know the decision was likely a difficult one. While I appreciated the mission of helping local youth in our community, some of Freedom Blend’s statements were certainly a little bothersome to me. Thank you again for taking the time and putting in the effort to look into this matter.”
How did it go from one email from a doctor to the DEI chief to a governmental entity severing its contractual agreement with a ministry over the ministry’s “Statement of Faith?”
We’ll detail the journey in this series. We will publish the next part of the series shortly. And in each subsequent piece, we will link to the previous stories. Here are the first two stories we wrote about the incident: