EQUALITY = LEGAL PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS?
Progressives are constantly seeking ways to silence Bible-believing Christians. Their most recent is “The Equality Act,” which was passed by Congress with the help of eight Republican congressmen. According to James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, this Act will “spell disaster for Americans…[for it] is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to finish off religious liberty in America once and for all,… and places Christians who believe in traditional marriage at grave legal and civil jeopardy.”[i]
If it is passed by the Senate, the Equality Act will amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 by adding to the categories protected by anti-discrimination laws “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI). This new social category of LGBTQ rights would join categories such as race and religion, under the assumption that one’s subjectively defined sexual identity is as fundamental and as unchangeable as racial identity.
Such a law would ban sex discrimination in public accommodations, which are redefined to include retailers, banks, transportation, jury service, children’s education, Christian colleges and universities, federal programs, and credit and health care services. The religious component is staggering. It includes the proviso that no one may use the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to maintain religious and theological convictions that might keep them from coming into conformity with the Equality Act in any aspect of their interaction in public life. The RFRA was signed into law by President Clinton on November 16, 1993, to “ensure that interests in religious freedom are protected” by law.
How culture moves! Andrew T. Walker, senior fellow in Christian ethics at the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, calls the Equality Act “the most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed in America…. Its sweeping effects on religious liberty, free speech, and freedom of conscience would be both historic and also chilling.”[ii] If it passes, America will never be the same. We were assured many years ago that homosexuals merely wanted the freedom to follow their own desires, but the pressure intends to make Christians the shunned minority.
By excluding any religious consideration of sexual morality, the federal Equality Act imposes on an entire culture the unhealthy lifestyle of homosexual and transgender sexuality.
We must not be fooled. The term “Equality Act” is a clever use of language. Pro-gay politician Stacey Abrams is the grand marshal of the 2019 Atlanta Pride Parade. She is a master of clever language. Abrams states about the conservative governor who beat her in the last election: “We have an administration that is making life difficult for families wishing to adopt and patriots wishing to serve…and we have a man in Georgia’s governor’s mansion who still wants to sign discrimination into law.”[iii] Who wants to be in favor of discrimination? No one, of course. But Abrams is manipulating language. Everyone admires families who adopt and we all admire our patriotic military heroes. But can same-sex parents really give children a firm start in life with the complete absence of either a mother or a father? Does the presence of transgender and homosexual soldiers create no problems at all in the cohesion of a unit? Though we all want to avoid discrimination, good laws always discriminate against unlawful actions and, by necessity, against those who take part in such actions.
Could such a horrendous bill possibly pass the Senate? Nancy Pelosi’s prediction for the House has already come true: “we most certainly will pass it overwhelmingly in the House.”[iv] She did, with the help of 8 Republicans! Will the Senate stand firm? The Left has for some time eliminated any reference to God when taking political oaths and in their deepening promotion of abortion at any stage in pregnancy, they have eliminated any idea of a divine source of life. Startling as it may be, deceitful language has won the day among many witless and culturally naïve citizens, including, apparently, some House Republicans! According to the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) “nationally, support for a bill like the Equality Act topped 70%, which includes a majority of Democrats,” along with many Republicans, and Independents. “In addition, there is strong business support for non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people.….160 major companies with operations in all 50 states.”[v]
Just what can we expect?
- Christian adoption agencies who refuse to send children to same-sex homes will be shut down.
- Christian colleges will be obliged to accept LGBTQ students and provide them with their desired dormitory arrangements, otherwise government funds will be refused and the schools’ degrees and diplomas will not be accepted.
- Christian businesses will be closed down.
- Christian doctors will be fired from their posts in conforming hospitals.
- Christian school teachers will be forced to comply with imposed curriculum and gender pronoun rules which are an attack not only on the English language, but on the biblical sexual binary.
These, and many other unimaginable consequences will quickly play out in our culture if this bill passes. In short, the Christian position, especially on gender and life issues, will be rejected as morally repugnant and Christians will be criminally prosecuted for hatred and bigotry. Even silence will be no protection. Already, according to the New York City Human Rights Commission, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity and gender expression in the workplace, in public spaces and in housing. The commission released a list of thirty-one terms of gender expression and pronouns that business owners must use with their employees, tenants, customers, or clients. Businesses that violate this new law by not using these homosexual and transgender terms will be subject to fines up to $250,000.
The Equality Act seeks to transform American culture by eliminating the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution and by giving the LGBTQ community a free pass to control citizens’ lives with no concern for their earnestly held religious beliefs. Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel believes that the bill is nothing less than “a Trojan Horse used by the LGBT community to force acceptance of its agenda on society…This bill pushes the LGBT agenda on all people, and targets Christianity in every area of life–including the church.”[vi]
What must Christians do?
First, we must not take this eventuality lightly. We cannot retreat into a rose-colored Christian bubble. We must develop strong constitutional and civil arguments for the defense of religious freedom, for the sake of our children, our families and our communities. The Apostle Paul made free use of his Roman passport, even forcing city officials in Philippi to apologize publicly for the illegal arrest and beating of Paul and Silas. We Christians today have wonderful organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council, which are standing up in our courtrooms defending the constitutional rights of Christians. We must pray for them and support them and others like them, such as Christian Concern in the UK.
Second, we must show our culture, beginning with our friends and neighbors, that the spirit behind the Equality Act is just as religious as the Christianity it rejects. It represents the binary-denying Oneism that will not tolerate the Bible’s Twoist distinctions. The philosophy that upholds the Equality act affirms with great faith and no logical proof that human beings can create their own definition of marriage and their own sexual identity purely from their own thoughts as “free beings.” Where do they get such ability to think, to enjoy life, to make hypotheses? Why should we believe their ideas over against anyone else’s? Their view of sexuality has actually been the view of pagan religion throughout history. (See my article Androgyny: The Pagan Sexual Ideal.) There is nothing new under the sun, and everything is religious.
Third, we must do two things at once: ask God to make us courageous enough to accept whatever persecution comes our way. It should never take us by surprise, since Christ promised us that we, like our Master, will suffer. When Paul was converted, he was not only given a mandate to go to the Gentiles; he was told “how much he would suffer” for the sake of Christ. We must stand against an increasingly hostile culture. Yet we also take our stand while preaching the gospel of the Creator who became flesh to take on himself the sins of the world. This gracious God alone can make sense of life. Only he loves his rebellious creatures enough to die for them in the person of his Son. Only as we submit to God’s creational laws and receive his act of gracious salvation will we one day enjoy a life in which evil is defeated and we will live, perfected and delighted, in the company of the personal God, Father, Son and Spirit, in a transformed heaven and earth.
[i]Michael Haverluck, “Religious rights must bow to LGBT,” GOPUSA (April 5, 2019).
[iii]Greg Bluestein, “Abrams to be grand marshal in Atlanta Pride Parade,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution(6/7/19).
[vi]Haverluck, “Religious rights must bow.”