The ‘Equality Act’ Is a Disaster for Religious Liberty — And We Could Be Facing It Very Soon

Though it has little chance of passage now, believers must prepare themselves for this bill or something like it.

By Denny Burk Published on October 29, 2018

The Associated Press reports on what the Democrats intend to do if they take back the House of Representatives this November. In short, they plan to introduce legislation that would be the biggest assault on religious liberty in our nation’s history. From the report:

Just days ahead of a midterm election they hope will deliver them a majority, House Democrats are promising to prioritize anti-discrimination legislation that would for the first time establish widespread equal rights protections for LGBTQ individuals.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently said she would introduce the Equality Act as one of her first orders of business if Democrats retake the House in November. Pelosi made the announcement at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, telling the crowd the issue of equal rights for the LGBTQ community is “personal.”

The 1964 Civil Rights Act already bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. The Equality Act, if passed, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the law and expand those protections beyond the workplace. It would outlaw gender discrimination in places like restaurants and retail shops, in seeking housing, using health care and social services, applying for a loan or participating in the jury selection process.

Under current federal law, sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected classes, but they would be if this bill were to become law.

An Act Aimed Straight at Religious People

What does this have to do with religious liberty? It is not as if there is widespread discrimination against LGBT people in public accommodations. No restaurant or business is hanging a sign that says “straights and cisgender only.” So that is not the intent of the “Equality Act.” Rather, the intent of the bill is to target the last hold-outs to the LGBT revolution — religious people. How do we know this? Because the bill takes explicit aim at religious people. From the AP report:

A provision in the bill forbids any employer or retailer from using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed in 1993, to justify withholding services based on gender or sexual orientation. The law, which received bipartisan support, barred the government from interfering with the rights of religious practitioners. But more recently the law has been used to protect the rights of business owners to refuse service based on religious beliefs. In one 2014 case, the Supreme Court found that chain craft store Hobby Lobby, founded by religious evangelicals, didn’t have to provide its employees with contraception coverage for religious reasons.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act — which used to enjoy bipartisan support — has now become the boogey man of the left. The left wants to destroy this federal law and force religious people to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage and sexuality.

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For example, if this bill were to become law, Christian business owners in the wedding industry would be forced to participate in gay weddings. Christian colleges would be forced to house students according to their gender identity. The list of religious liberty violations would be virtually endless.

Seeking Total Subjugation

The truth of the matter is that Democrats have very little chance of getting such a bill passed in the Senate, much less of getting the current president to sign it if they did. Nevertheless, this bill signals that one side of the culture war wishes the total subjugation of the other. They will run roughshod over the religious consciences of their fellow citizens. And because public opinion has shifted dramatically in favor of LGBT rights over the years, eventually this bill (or one like it) will become law.

Some years ago, Ross Douthat observed:

Unless something dramatic changes in the drift of public opinion, the future of religious liberty on these issues is going to depend in part on the magnanimity of gay marriage supporters. There is very little evidence of “magnanimity” on the part of those who support the “Equality Act.”

Yet there is very little evidence of “magnanimity” on the part of those who support the “Equality Act.” On the contrary, there is evidence that many of them would like to see traditional marriage supporters get their comeuppance. A scorched-earth policy may very well be in the offing with traditional marriage supporters getting the biggest burn. Will there be room for compromise?

Prophetic Warning

About six years ago, Robert George wrote something that has proven to be prophetic.

There is, in my opinion, no chance—no chance—of persuading champions of sexual liberation (and it should be clear by now that this is the cause they serve), that they should respect, or permit the law to respect, the conscience rights of those with whom they disagree. Look at it from their point of view: Why should we permit “full equality” to be trumped by bigotry? Why should we respect religions and religious institutions that are “incubators of homophobia”? Bigotry, religiously based or not, must be smashed and eradicated. The law should certainly not give it recognition or lend it any standing or dignity.

Can we really expect the sexual revolutionaries to be magnanimous toward those they regard as bigoted? The reintroduction of the “Equality Act” tells us that the answer is no. Why would the sexual revolutionaries make accommodations for the consciences of those they regard as bigots?

What This Means for Believers

What does all of this mean? It means that Christians and other conjugal marriage supporters need to direct great energy to obtaining every religious liberty accommodation possible while there is still time. It may be that the moment is passing us by, and that makes the matter all the more urgent.

It also means for Christians that we need to be ready for a new reality. We need to be ready to love our neighbors and our enemies and to bear witness in a culture that is increasingly hostile toward us. Private citizens may someday face fines and other penalties for their biblical beliefs about homosexuality and transgenderism. Our churches may eventually lose tax exempt status. Any number of negative outcomes are possible in the approaching conflagration.

Ours will likely be a costly love and a costly witness. But this is precisely the kind of discipleship that Jesus has called all of us to, and it will be worth it in the end (Matt. 16:25).

 

Originally published at DennyBurk.com. Used by permission.

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  • Paul

    Stuff like this is why SCOTUS matters so much. Need to maintain and maybe even increase the originalist majority.

    • The SCOTUS was designed to judge the constitutionality of federal laws and to handle disputes between the states. It was never intended to regulate states. You are promoting an oligarchy, a country ruled by nine men in black robes.

      • Paul

        Hardly. If this type of unconstitutional bill were passed and signed into law, the safeguard against such is supposed to be the courts. Without an originalist majority this type of nonsense may actually stand. For too long the courts have been packed with the living Constitution proponents, reading into the Constitution, laws and previous rulings what they wish was there and ruling as the oligarchy you describe.

  • Patmos

    What these freak show hypocrites are asking for has nothing to do with rights. Forcing someone to go against their religious belief is not a right, it’s an infringement on another person’s right.

    This is the fruit of the reprobate mind currently spreading like a disease through so many on the left. It’s like they are living in an alternate universe, where up is down, black is white, 2+2=5, etc.

    2+2=5 is probably being generous at this point, to them it’s more like 2+2=Gorilla. It’s beyond absurd.

    And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
    Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
    Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
    Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.

    • Now, the atheists/satanists try to use this argument to self-justify as well. If you ever see that, please remind them that there can be no simultaneous protection of religion and anti-religion. They want anti-religion protected at the cost of religion.

      Tell them the law should give the devil what he is owed, which is nothing.

  • don smith

    It is nakedly unconstitutional . They know it but they want to drive the agenda. Thank God they no longer control the high court.

    • C. Valentin

      There are four staunch liberals on the Court: Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan. There are two staunch conservatives on the Court: Thomas and Alito. Roberts is more of a moderate. It’s way too soon to know how Gorsuch and Kavanaugh will turn out, though the prospects look good that they are conservative (Gorsuch more than Kavanaugh, since he’s been on the Court for a year and a half). Republicans are notorious for unwittingly putting liberals on the SCOTUS. See Earl Warren; William Brennan; Harry Blackmun; Sandra Day O’Connor; David Souter; etc., etc.

  • SophieA

    One of the greatest weaknesses of democracies is when they must choose between freedom and equality, they always choose equality to the detriment of us all.

  • r minty

    Perhaps it’s time to turn the leftist trope on its head – politely. Ask custom service providers if they service gay events and if they do so, thank them for their time and leave. They’ll have the choice of serving the 3% of the population or the 97%. There’s little chance of converting gay supporters or succeeding in a lawsuit, but cash speaks loudly

    • Sgt Carver

      Interesting idea & realistic as a personal choice but your numbers are way off if you think 97% of people would boycott those businesses.

      My country voted resoundingly for SS marriage but I doubt even the “No” side would have supported refusal of service for legal civil marriages.

      The simple solution is for those bakers, florists, etc to stop doing any weddings. No problems with the law and no discrimination accusations could be levelled.

      Of course Christian wedding planners would have problems but they could simply become “party planners” to widen their customer base and also come to an agreement with local churches that their only clients are those who have married in those churches.

      The problem is then avoided to the benefit of all.

      • DR84

        Asking wedding vendors who don’t want to act like “ssm” is marriage to just give up some or all of their business is no solution at all. There is absolutely no reason their fundamental rights of free expressions and free exercise should be curtailed just because some dopes actually believe two men can marry each other. Their silly religious beliefs should not be imposed on anyone, and even more so those that believe and act on what is actually true about marriage.

        • Sgt Carver

          Only a lackwit would try to pretend that legal civil marriages do not now exist in certain countries.

          By refusing to cater for them vendors are already giving up some of their business. My solution would allow them to limit their business, while following their moral/religious choices in a legal manner.

          And the idea that a cake or flower arrangement is free speech is tending towards the idiotic. Is the McDonalds server who adds extra pickle but no sauce also an artist?

          • DR84

            What does it matter if a “marriage license” is issued to two men? These wedding vendors have nothing to do with that.

            It is not now anywhere believed to be illegal for a wedding planner to decline to plan a “wedding” between three men, a “wedding” between man and woman swingers, or even a “wedding” between two men who do not identify as homosexual. A wedding planner or other wedding vendor can decline on conscience grounds for any of these “weddings”.

            Worse yet, a wedding vendor can also freely decline to help a man and woman celebrate their wedding on conscience grounds if they believe monogamy is oppressive.

            The only relationship that is an exception is a homosexual couple. Do you not see a problem here? A same sex couple involved in homosexuality is literally the only type of relationship these laws mandate wedding vendors provide wedding services for. The only sort of relationship of which no conscience exemptions are allowed.

            You are taking homosexual privilege for granted, as if it is normal and right.

          • Sgt Carver

            A polyamorous wedding ceremony is not the same as a legally recognised civil marriage so I’m not sure what point you are making.

            I gave a solution to an existing problem, you just seem to be attempting to shift the goalposts. So let’s cut to the chase here….

            Would my proposed solution allow those working in the wedding industry to avoid catering to SSM marriages without falling foul of the law?

          • DR84

            Dont be ridiculous, wedding vendors have nothing to do with issuing legal “marriage” licenses. It makes no difference whether or not the people who want the wedding cake, flowers, planning, etc are getting or can get a “marriage” license.

            Your proposed solution affirms homosexual supremacy. It affirms that relationships involving homosexuality are uniquely superior to all others. The one sort of relationship so “sacred” that wedding vendors cannot for any reason cannot decline to help people celebrate so long as they want to keep their business.

      • tcarey

        Actually the solution is that sodomy in the USA needs to be re-criminalized ,
        Though that will not happen anytime soon. Since most Americans are ignorant to what homosexuals actually are and why they act the way that they do. They see the negative influences of the homosexuals but they don’t associate them, one because they are ignorant of the homosexuals are and two they have been conditioned to only see the homosexual as the victim, and this is by design, so as soon as someone who knows anything about the truth about the homosexuals and says it, they are labeled a hater by conditioning and so their position is rejected not based on evidence but based on “victimhood” of the “gay”. Political correctness is the direct result of homosexuality being taken off the DSM back in 73′

  • If you believe this day is inevitable, then you might as well stop writing now and go stock up your bunker. Doomsaying is not the attitude Christians should have, for we are overcomers.

    • DR84

      We are not promised a legal system that is not overtly and intentionally hostile to our beliefs and the exercise thereof.

  • nampilot68

    They SHALL NOT win. PERIOD!!

  • BostonLiberty

    Darkness is always nearby. Eroding freedom and attacking common sense. We all know the Democrat endgame is the end of religion, pedophilia and socialist tyranny. It worked so well for Maduro, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Castro.

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