COVID, Caesar, & Coates: Prelude to Persecution?
As of this writing, James Coates, pastor of GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Canada has been incarcerated for just over two weeks for refusal to abide by what he, his elders, and his church deem onerous government restrictions regarding his church’s gathered worship. Though its pastor remains jailed, GraceLife continues to gather and to worship, not as a political protest against its government, but in obedience to the command of her Lord.
While most Christians are encouraged by the faithfulness of Coates in defying Caesar to obey Christ, many professing believers see the matter quite differently. Such remarks as “he’s getting what he deserves for breaking the law,” or accusations that he’s “grandstanding” just to make a name for himself are not infrequent on social media posts regarding his situation.
The question, of course, is whether Coates’ decision and the government’s subsequent arrest and incarceration of him constitute persecution. His refusal to bow to the twin gods of Covid and Caesar mean, for some, that claims of persecution are invalid. After all, he has a way out. And that way out is … compromise, specifically compromise with the government that has, effectively, determined to define for Coates, his church, and others, how best to “love thy neighbor.” His failure to concur resulted in his situation.
While it is unfortunate that professing believers may not understand the persecution levied against Coates, what is perhaps more unfortunate for the faithful witness of the church is the vigor with which “Romans 13” has become weaponized among the professing. This response has become almost mantra-like during 2020 and into 2021 when any Covid-related, “what should the church do” question arises. It has been, in some quarters, employed with such reflexive regularity that an onlooker might surmise that there is nothing – not common sense, not Constitutional legitimacy, not even Scripture – which exceeds the authority of government. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto Caesar what is God’s might not be an unfair, albeit superficial, analysis. The profession by many evangelicals both to the sufficiency of Scripture and the sovereignty of God is being rendered invalid by their practice of the heterodoxy of the sufficiency and sovereignty of Caesar.
But the question remains one of persecution. If Caesar is never wrong when acting out of a presumed noble motive, and must therefore always be submitted to, and, if an example like Coates is clearly not persecution, then, what would persecution look like? Is actual martyrdom the sole evidence for hostility against the faith? Is it persecution only when stakes are being stoked with flames or heads are lopped off?
The example of Coates and others who have refused to compromise may merely be a prelude. Christians may be forced to consider the matter of up-close-and-personal persecution sooner than later. And it’s possible that an unprecedented piece of legislation now in Congress might just facilitate, even legalize, governmental hostility towards Christianity.
“We’re making laws to make the insane feel normal …
Laws are being made to criminalize righteousness.”
For perhaps the first time in American history, the august halls where statesmanship, common sense, and fidelity to the Constitution once ruled may be on the cusp of passing truly historic legislation that will redefine culture, upheave society, and represent, perhaps, a significant door to legalized hostility to those of the household of Christian faith. As a nation, we may be on the verge of watching the passage of federal legislation which will, in concrete, legal language enshrine as legally protected an ideology of pure subjectivism borne of the grotesque, intellectually void, philosophic monstrosity of postmodern secularism, a secularism that is little more than “self-ism.”
The Equality Act (H.R. 5) has been aptly described as “a grave and treasonous threat to our nation’s core values contained in our First Amendment. It has been called “the most comprehensive assault on Christianity in America ever written into law,” and “the greatest threat to religious liberty in American history.” Though professing believers may debate the legitimacy of claims of persecution prompted by Covid-era magisterial defiance, when it comes to the Equality Act, the debate will likely be highly polarizing should the warnings about its dire implications come to fruition.
What Is The Equality Act?
The short title of H.R. 5 is “To prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation and for other purposes.”
The legislation has passed the U.S. House of Representatives on February 25, 2021 with the support of every Democratic member of Congress plus three Republicans. It has moved to the Senate where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer “has utilized a special provision to push it to the floor, foregoing its referral to any committees, as is customary with most bills.”
Most specifically, the bill seeks to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by federally “prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, federally funded programs, credit and jury service.”
More broadly, the Equality Act makes “a stunning fifty-nine substantive changes to longstanding federal laws,” according to a resource from The Heritage Foundation. In addition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, H.R. 5 amends the Government Employees Rights Act of 1991, the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, the Fair Housing Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the Jury Selection & Services Act.
A summary of the Equality Act from GovTrack.US, a website which publishes the status of federal legislation, states:
This bill prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system. Specifically, the bill defines and includes sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation.
The bill expands the definition of public accommodations to include places or establishments that provide (1) exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays; (2) goods, services, or programs; and (3) transportation services.
The bill allows the Department of Justice to intervene in equal protection actions in federal court on account of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The bill prohibits an individual from being denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.
The likelihood of passage of the bill is debated. On the campaign trail, President Biden stated that its passage into law would be one of the top legislative priorities for his first 100 days in office. On the day of his inauguration, President Biden issued an executive order directing heads of federal agencies to “review all existing orders, regulations, guidance documents, policies, programs, or other agency actions” that would be inconsistent with the administrations SOGI anti-discrimination policy. Given the accelerated path to the Senate floor facilitated by Sen. Schumer, the priority of the bill on the liberal agenda is evident. A report from the Heritage Foundation claims that “the bill is more likely than ever to become law.” However, the website GovTrack.US offers a 22% prognosis of passage.
As can be gleaned from just the broad alterations of existing law required by the Equality Act, the impact of the bill is decidedly widespread. Where the Obergefell decision legally recognized gay marriage at the federal level, the Equality Act moves beyond even that landmark ruling. It would distinguish individuals who subjectively claim “sexual orientation or gender identity” (SOGI) as a legally protected class under federal law. By virtue of its primary alteration of the Civil Rights Act, the Equality Act would equate SOGI with race, creed, national origin, etc. It must be noted that, while Obergefell was rightly and vigorously opposed as contrary to Christianity, that decision acknowledged the objective biological categories of male and female. The Equality Act exceeds such correct and objective standards by legitimizing as a protected class those who merely and subjectively make a claim to a gender other than that which their birth or DNA reflects, and/or anyone who claims any subjectively determined category of sexual desire under the guise of “orientation.”
By virtue of the stunning breadth of impact on existing federal legislation, the Equality Act would leave almost no area of society untouched. As one observer noted, the Equality Act has “the goal … to establish transgender ideology as the new orthodoxy of our day.” Another has stated that “a legal change of this magnitude, based on subjective and transient feelings, is unprecedented … It will be the triumph of cancel culture over facts, reason, and empirical knowledge.”
What Will The Equality Act Impact?
First Amendment Freedoms
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states:
“Congress shall make no law regarding an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
The Equality Act represents a dire threat to both the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech enshrined as fundamental American freedoms. It could require the faith-based community to suppress its biblically based convictions regarding marriage, sexuality, and binary gender realities. One writer notes that “those who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman or that biological sex is immutable could, in too many circumstances, no longer be permitted to speak or act consistently with those beliefs.” This dual pronged impact, on freedom of religion and freedom of speech, is legislatively unprecedented in American history.
Furthermore, “the Equality Act could regulate speech, forcing certain beliefs and ideas out of the public square under the threat of punishment.” The Alliance Defending Freedom notes that “there would be far less room for disagreement on important topics such as marriage, human sexuality, and gender. Instead, the government could simply declare which ideas are welcome in the public square and which might be excluded. Not only that, it but it could have the power to force those who disagree with its favored ideology to pay lip service to that ideology.”
One existing case of anti-LGBTQ consent comes from Ohio in which a professor at Shawnee State University declined, on the grounds of Christian conviction, to refer to a male student as a female. While the professor initially offered simply to refer to the student by either their first or last name, to which the university originally accepted, this compromise was unacceptable to the student. The male student insisted on being called by female pronouns. The university acceded to the students demands and required the professor to comply. Refusing to comply with these demands, the professor has been punished and is at risk of losing his job.
Just within the past week, Amazon responded to its decision to remove the conservative book “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement”. The official response offered by Amazon stated that it would not sell books “that frame LGBTQ+ identity as mental illness.” In other words, the technocracy, fueled by an aggressive, subjective ideology, has thwarted first amendment rights. You will not be allowed to publish what you choose, say what you believe, or offer debate contrary to the prevailing agenda. Your silence will be gained, and your silence will tacitly be consent.
Within the recent history of evangelicalism, it must be noted that a willingness to concede to the LGBTQ agenda, even without the passage of the Equality Act, has been seen from among the most influential platforms. The politically leftward oriented social justice promoter J.D. Greear, current President of the Southern Baptist Convention, has encouraged “pronoun hospitality” and has preached that the Bible merely “whispers” about sexual sin. Max Lucado also recently offered a high profile apology for a biblical sermon he delivered that taught homosexuality was a sin.
According to the Heritage Foundation, “The Equality Act would force employers and workers to conform to new sexual norms or else lose their businesses and jobs.” The Alliance Defending Freedom states that “Government officials have repeatedly used local and state SOGI laws to target and punish small business owners.”
A Backgrounder white paper from Heritage, discussing the impact of Obergefell, states “even those who disagree with the beliefs of a baker, florist, photographer, adoption agency, or religious school that supports the historic understanding of marriage should agree that the government ought not to penalize them for running their organizations according to their moral and religious convictions. Yet this is exactly what SOGI laws do.” “SOGI laws,” the paper continues, “are not about the freedom of LGBT people to engage in certain actions, but about coercing and penalizing people who in good conscience cannot endorse those actions.”
One report speaking to the “equal employment opportunity” aspect of the Equality Act states that “employees could sue their employers if the offered health insurance does not cover ‘sex-reassignment’.” The report continues by stating that “both employees and employers could be compelled to use ‘preferred pronouns’ according to gender identity … An individual could claim a hostile work environment if he or she is referred to as ‘he’ or ‘she’.”
The Equality Act would “empower the federal government to impose civil and criminal punishments on businesses and citizens who dissent from SOGI ideology.” Section 9 of the Act attaches to the Civil Rights Act’s Title XI “which imposes penalties for criminal contempt of up to six months imprisonment, or up to $1,000 in fines” for violations.
“The Equality Act would,” according to The Heritage Foundation, “force hospitals and insurers to provide and pay for [SOGI-related] therapies against any moral or medical objections. It would politicize medicine by forcing professionals to act against their best medical judgment and provide transition-affirming therapies … forcing doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to offer drastic procedures – not in view of new scientific discoveries, but by ideological fiat.”
The recent headline garnering interaction between Sen. Rand Paul and transgender advocate Dr. Richard “Rachel” Levine during the Senate Confirmation hearing for Levine’s appointment as assistant secretary of health found Paul specifically addressing the necessity of federal funding for what amounts to genital mutilation. While the surgical process of transitioning necessarily involves such mutilation, Paul’s line of question was specifically with regards to the actions of medical professionals and children. “When asked point blank whether minors are capable of making – and should be allowed to make – life-altering decisions to change one’s sex with the support of government intervention if necessary, Levine refused to answer.” Levine’s refusal to answer indicates, at a minimum, that Equality Act proponents “are driven more by ideology than evidence.” Levine, for the unaware, happens to be not only transgender, but also the 63 year old father of two grown children.
In addition to SOGI related therapies which medical professionals would be required to administer, Liberty Counsel also states that “The ‘Equality Act’ not only threatens the free exercise of religion and free speech,” but “will force health care providers and hospitals to perform, participate in, and require taxpayer funding for abortion. It will also force faith-based pregnancy centers to promote abortion.”
Concurring with Liberty Counsel, Heritage offers a commentary report entitled “Equality Act Is Trojan Horse For Abortion Lobby and More.” The article correctly points out that the word “abortion” is nowhere found within the text of the Equality Act, but it would nevertheless “be disastrous for all Americans who care about protecting innocent unborn life.”
The category of abortion is implicit within the Equality Act by virtue of the change of language which it requires to Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In addressing “public accommodations,” the Equality Act adds the term “sex” which is, according to a Heritage Foundation resource, defined “to mean pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals have interpreted ‘related medical condition’ to include abortion.” This means that “a health care provider [including hospitals and health insurance plans] would be discriminating on the basis of sex if they refused to perform an abortion procedure.”
Though the LGBTQ agenda is unarguably diffuse among higher academia, and with many states already utilizing SOGI-friendly curricula in lower grades, passage of the Equality Act “could lead to federal courts or future presidential administrations imposing a nationwide mandate to incorporate sexual orientation and gender identity into the curriculum in all public schools.”
According to a recent story in USA Today, the Equality Act could represent the inclusion of LGBTQ history in classroom curricula. Noting the dearth of “LGBTQ-inclusive books,” one individual remarked that “LGBTQ+ history is American history and world history. And it’s time that our education system approaches it as such by making the space and providing the resources needed for teaching the next generation a more inclusive and just version of history.” The Equality Act would provide federal legal protections for teachers to be more than just educators; it would protect them as LGBTQ activists.
One report states that the Equality Act “could pave the way for K-12 federal courts to require sexual orientation and gender-identity curricula the same way they required black history curricula.” This means that “any school, even private and parochial schools that receive federal assistance, would have to adopt transgender policies in sports and private facilities.”
Also within the realm of education is the impact of The Equality Act on athletics. The bill would deem illegal the decision of any school, college, or university to discriminate on the basis of a student’s claimed sexual orientation or their subjectively selected gender identity. Numerous cases of biological males who claim to identify as females being allowed to participate in female sports have already been spotlighted in national media. This law would mandate their right to inclusion.
As it will require throughout society, the Equality Act will require that “all single-sex spaces” be “open to both sexes.” According to one analysis, “This would create a nationwide transgender policy in single-sex facilities. It would affect everything from girls’ and women’s showers and locker rooms to women’s prisons, endangering safety and diminishing privacy.” Schools will not be exempt from this mandate.
Currently 23 states have already passed SOGI laws in their respective legislatures. But with the passage of the Equality Act, SOGI legislation would become the law of the land. Just as with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equality Act, by amending it, will give sexual orientation and gender identity federally protected status. The Civil Rights Act currently outlaws discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. The Equality Act, by adding sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes, is effectively equating discrimination on the basis of subjective feelings with genuine discrimination established by virtue of objective standards.
The Alliance Defending Freedom notes that “SOGI laws remove the equal opportunities and fair playing fields women have worked so hard to achieve.”
“These laws also violate women and girls’ privacy, safety, and dignity.” ADF cites a few examples that have already occurred. In Alaska, a women’s shelter had to litigate with the City of Anchorage that demanded “men who identify as female” be allowed to sleep “just three feet away from women who have survived sex trafficking, rape, and domestic violence.” A high school in Pennsylvania adopted an “open door” policy that permitted “boys who identify as female to use the girls’ locker rooms and restrooms.” In Georgia, “a male student who identified as ‘gender fluid’ was allowed to use the girls’ restroom, “leading to the sexual assault of a five-year-old girl.”
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal states that “All people are created equal, but Congress is considering a bill that would make some people more equal than others.” The article’s title is pointed: “The Equality Act Makes Women Unequal.”
Already noted is the educational threat represented by the Equality Act. One opponent of it has noted that “Schools will be encouraged or mandated to instruct first, second, and third graders that they can choose to be a boy or a girl, or neither, or both.”
Beyond the educational indoctrination of children that would likely be fomented by the Equality Act becoming law is the reinforcement of a child’s gender dysphoria. “We are essentially gaslighting children into the lie that they could be born in the wrong body,” stated one opponent of the Act. “Those in authority over the medical education system and directives to practicing physicians now recommend that all children, regardless of their age, be affirmed in their gender confusion.” “We already have physically healthy girls,” according to one report, “as young as 13 being referred for double mastectomies. This is institutionalized child abuse.”
The Heritage Foundation notes that the Act’s “politicization of medicine and education through gender ideology will undermine parental rights.” Once SOGI legislation would be mandated nationally, parents will be drastically limited in educational choices for their children.
However, beyond the educational concerns, those parents with children suffering from gender dysphoria will be effectively shut out of counseling resources other than those which would reinforce that dysphoria. “Counseling that has proven to help children suffering from gender dysphoria reconcile with their bodies will no longer be considered an acceptable approach. This means that parents will be left without therapeutic alternatives that do not cause irreversible harm to their children’s bodies.” A Heritage Foundation resource cites such a case: “A judge in Ohio terminated the rights of parents who opposed administering testosterone to their underage daughter and wanted her to go to counseling for gender dysphoria instead.”
Another significant impact of the Equality Act would be on the child welfare system. In particular, “faith-based adoption and foster care providers would risk losing federal funds if they decline to place children with same-sex couples,” according to one source. “This in turn could lead to these providers being forced to close, displacing thousands of children and further straining an already overwhelmed system.” Additionally, foster parents might also be required, under the Act, to affirm the child’s stated gender identity and would be “barred from any efforts to help a child with gender dysphoria accept his or her body.”
According to one foster parenting website, there are currently some 424,000 children in the United States in need of foster homes, with the average child’s age of 6-1/2 years . The onerous and non-traditional requirements of the Equality Act would expectedly diminish the already lagging supply of potential foster parents.
Evangelical accommodation to merely the predominant cultural narrative that is pushing SOGI principles has already been seen even prior to the passage of national legislation such as the Equality Act. In early March, the New York Times reported on one of the nation’s largest adoption and foster care agencies, Bethany Christian Services. The headline and tag line simply state: “Major Evangelical Adoption Agency Will Now Serve Gay Parents Nationwide; The decision comes as more cities and states require organizations to accept applications from L.G.B.T.Q. couples or risk losing government contracts.”
The Equality Act considers Christian ethics as hatred and bigotry. Given the expansive impact it would have in all segments of society, it is evident that Christians in society, already pressured by the now prevalent LGBTQ cultural narrative, will be compelled by force of law to comply with its demands. The Equality Act provides the federal authority and power to force that compliance.
According to one analysis, “The Equality Act treats people of faith as second-class citizens.” This is necessarily so because the Act outlaws as discrimination what Christians believe about gender, sexuality, and marriage. A University of Virginia law professor stated: “It protects the rights of one side but attempts to destroy the rights of the other side.” That “other side” is, of course, those who hold to a traditional or Christian view.
There are two particular items included within the scope of the Act’s language that are perhaps most directly detrimental to Christianity. The first, mentioned previously, is the redefinition of “public accommodations.”
An excerpt from the Equality Act:
SEC. 3. PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS.
“(2) in subsection (b)— (A) in paragraph (3), by striking “stadium” and all that follows and inserting “stadium or other place of or establishment that provides exhibition, entertainment, recreation, exercise, amusement, public gathering, or public display;”;
(B) by redesignating paragraph (4) as paragraph (6); and(C) by inserting after paragraph (3) the following:
“(4) any establishment that provides a good, service, or program, including a store, shopping center, online retailer or service provider, salon, bank, gas station, food bank, service or care center, shelter, travel agency, or funeral parlor, or establishment that provides health care, accounting, or legal services;
“(5) any train service, bus service, car service, taxi service, airline service, station, depot, or other place of or establishment that provides transportation service; and”.
(b) Prohibition On Discrimination Or Segregation Under Law.—Section 202 of such Act (42 U.S.C. 2000a–1) is amended by inserting “sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity),” before “or national origin”.
(c) Rule Of Construction.—Title II of such Act (42 U.S.C. 2000a et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:
“SEC. 208. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.
“A reference in this title to an establishment— “(1) shall be construed to include an individual whose operations affect commerce and who is a provider of a good, service, or program; and “(2) shall not be construed to be limited to a physical facility or place.”
Many opponents have interpreted the Act’s redefinition of “public accommodations” to be so broad as to exclude only private homes. One has unequivocally stated that “The Equality Act will designate schools, churches, and healthcare organizations as ‘public accommodations’.”
By including church as an “establishment that provides a good, service, or program,” the Act’s anti-discriminatory authority comes into play. This would mean, for example, that sex-specific facilities within the church, such as restrooms, must be open to those claiming SOGI status. Men who think they are women can use the foyer lady’s room. But the Act would also effect the employment activity of the church. A church could not refuse to hire an individual simply on the basis of SOGI, regardless of the fact that such would violate its sincerely held beliefs. Further, churches that might routinely rent their facilities for civic or private functions may find themselves obligated by the SOGI constraints of the Equality Act.
The most direct attack by the Equality Act on Christianity comes, however, not in a redefinition of a church as a “public accommodation,” but in the Act’s express exclusion of the right of an individual to claim conscience or faith as a reason for non-compliance with the Act’s discriminatory protections. That is, a Christian baker would no longer be allowed to defend himself in court by appealing to his religious rights and liberty of conscience under the law. The conscience will, by mandate, be obligated to comply or face civil and/or criminal charges.
One resource points this out clearly. “The Equality Act would also prohibit all businesses and establishments including Christian and Jewish companies, religious institutions such as private religious schools and colleges, and churches, synagogues, and other Judeo-Christian ministry organizations from refusing to hire anyone who identifies as LGBTQ.”
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act
This anti-discrimination employment prohibition, whether on churches or Christian-owned business, is empowered by the Act’s exclusion of the right to appeal to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA).
In 1993, during the Presidency of Bill Clinton, Congress passed the RFRA into law, which Clinton signed. Ironically enough, the bill was introduced in the House by Chuck Schumer, then a Democratic Representive from New York. The same Chuck Schumer, it must be noted, is now a U.S. Senator and has, as noted earlier, expedited The Equality Act to the floor of the Senate for consideration.
The simple purpose of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was that “interests in religious freedom are protected.” The RFRA legislation, in addition to First Amendment guarantees, guarded the right for individuals, organizations, and churches to claim religious free exercise as a defense for actions that might otherwise be deemed discriminatory. Appeals to the RFRA have been featured in many high profile religious liberty cases coming before the Supreme Court, including the successful defense of Hobby Lobby litigating the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Christian small business owners refusing products or services in the wake of the Obergefell decision or those businesses refusing to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive requirements (for example, Hobby Lobby) appealed to the RFRA for legal protection. In many such cases, these appeals prevailed.
However, the Equality Act specifically excludes appeals to the RFRA. It is eviscerating the RFRA so that, when it comes to the LGBTQ SOGI agenda, it essentially becomes the Religious Freedom Revocation Act: With regards to the RFRA, the Equality Act plainly states:
“SEC. 1107. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 shall not provide a claim concerning, or a defense to a claim under, a covered title, or provide a basis for challenging the application or enforcement of a covered title.”
In simple terms, by the distinct exclusion of the RFRA, the Equality Act specifically prohibits Christian and other faith-based entities from claiming religious exemptions in order to defy the requirements of the Act. “Instead,” writes one opponent, “the Equality Act will embolden the radical LGBTQ lobby to go after Judeo-Christian institutions, ultimately forcing them to shut down and pay heavy fines if they refuse to conform to their anti-biblical agenda.”
It should be noted that little analysis, beyond that of the revocation of the RFRA, is extant regarding the long-standing legal principle referred to as the “ministerial exception” and how the Equality Act might affect it. Ministerial exception, according to the American Bar organization, “allows religious institutions of all kinds to be able to choose who their ministers are, even if in making such choices, federal laws are violated.” This means that federal legislation intended to preclude discrimination, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, may, in fact, be violated. Numerous cases in state and federal courts have sought to bring discrimination charges against churches, including cases on the basis of race, age, and gender, in which the principle of ministerial exception was upheld. The Equality Act does not speak directly to the ministerial exception and its impact may not be known until a legal precedence is established to clarify it one way or the other.
Summary of Potential Impact To Churches & Christians
Liberty Counsel, a religious liberty legal organization that engages in litigation on matters of concern to evangelical Christians, publishes information regarding the Equality Act and its potential impact on the church and on Christians. One chart on Liberty’s website lists the following:
- “Churches would be forced to host same-sex ceremonies.
- Churches will lose tax-exempt status for noncompliance.
- Colleges will lose accreditation for noncompliance.
- Noncompliant colleges will be ineligible to receive student loans, causing most religious schools to compromise their core mission or close.
- If churches or religious organizations take overnight trips, including sports or mission trips, they cannot segregate rooms by biological gender.
- Biological men will have access to bathrooms, showers, and nursing-mother rooms at any time, and stay as long as they please.
- Churches would be forced to hire staff involved in LGBT conduct, even positions of authority in affiliated daycare classes and give them complete access to all children in the restrooms.
- Cross-dressers could demand that they be greeters, ushers, Sunday School teachers, and more.
- Even the smallest slight would give someone the legal right to sue the church. For example, if a person assumed they were turned down for a staff position because of a LGBT lifestyle, they could sue the church for damages, even if that was not the reason they were denied for the job!
In summary, Liberty Counsel maintains that the Equality Act “is a bill that pushes the LGBT agenda on all peoples and targets Christianity in every area of life – including the church. There will be an increase of instances where Christians and others are being punished unless they violate their beliefs in order to comply with such a law.” Most clearly and bluntly, the firm warns: “This bill literally sets the stage for banning the Bible.”
What about pedophilia?
One of the glaring voids of the Equality Act may be noticed in what it omits. This sweeping federal legislation which would equate the subjective category of SOGI with such objective categories as race, age, or national origin for the purposes of criminalizing discrimination does not, in fact, define SOGI. Specifically, the Equality Act does not define what it means by “sexual orientation.” The necessary implication is that one’s orientation is decidedly subjective, and that though that subjective orientation may change based on mood or feelings day to day, the claimed orientation may not be used as a basis for discrimination. One’s subjective SOGI self-identification is not only immutable, it would be criminal to challenge it.
So what could be included under the undefined category of “sexual orientation?” According to aboutpedophilia.com, “A pedophile is a person who has a sustained sexual orientation toward children, generally aged 13 or younger.” While the Equality Act makes no mention of pedophilia, by virtue of its lack of definition for sexual orientation, it seems more than likely that future efforts at protecting child predators would appeal to the Equality Act should it be made the law of the land.
With regards to pedophilia, one legal website states the following:
Remember PPP Money? One Other Possibility for the Equality Act and the Church
The Paycheck Protection Program was a nearly $1 trillion business loan program established by the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act intended to help businesses maintain payroll during the economic impact of the Coronavirus. According to a July 2020 article in Newsweek, over $7 billion of this federal stimulus money went to churches and faith-based organizations. Scores of churches received “forgivable loans” ranging from $100,000 to $5 million for the purpose of employee compensation.
When the stimulus act was passed, vigorous debate occurred within evangelical circles regarding whether churches should take advantage of the “forgivable loans” from the government. On the one side were those who argued that by taking the funds, the government and the church would be clouding the distinction, the separation, of church and state. It could lead, many thought, to some manner of undue and unwanted government intrusion within the church by virtue of the government’s financial interest. It was further argued that the exercise of true faith would preclude any church from considering such an offer because the Lord who builds His church also certainly sustains it.
In one survey by the Evangelical Council For Financial Accountability, it was determine that some 60% of responding churches had participated in the PPP loan program. Again, the estimates of total PPP loans to churches exceed $7 billion. The obvious question looms. Given the vigor with which the current government is pursuing the godless LGBTQ agenda, does it seem unlikely that, at some point, in order to enforce compliance with a law such as the Equality Act, the ideologues in Washington would not begin enforcement within the ecclesiastical arena by approaching those churches which had willingly accepted federal funding? Have these churches, in retrospect, been groomed for such compliance?
“There is no verse which would tell you that you need to be some kind of Christian jellyfish on these kind of public issues. You should stand up and you should speak the truth in love … Intervene. Speak up. Be salt and light. Now is the time to do it. Not later. Now.” Owen Strachan
Make no mistake. The enemy has an agenda. If you have been unable to discern the malevolent agenda in something like the incarceration of a pastor who refuses to shutter his church under the demands of Covid and Caesar, then you may well be blind to the nefarious agenda facing Christianity in this postmodern world.
The enemy wants to shutter the true church and silence the genuine gospel. Paradoxically, he has, in many cases, been able to accomplish this not by direct and violent attacks on the church, but by putting the fear of Covid in the place of the fear of God and, perhaps, bolstering the previously unknown evangelical doctrine of self-preservation under the conscience-quelling guise of Romans 13 and/or the Second Great Commandment. But should the Equality Act pass, it may just be that many Christians who appealed to Romans 13 for protection from Covid will not go there for protection against the SOGI tyranny which this Act would unleash on society. Indeed, for the genuine believer, it would then be egregious sin to “submit to the governing authorities.” Let’s pray that the enemy has not so groomed the church with Romans 13 or with love of neighbor because of Covid that those defenses would hold in the coming era of SOGI compliance.
But, by all means, the enemy wants God’s truth falsified, compromised, and obscured. Compromised truth is error, and culturally compliant churches are allies in in his wicked agenda. But do not be deceived. Do not be lulled into complacency. If you are a professor of Christianity, but not a genuine possessor of faith, repent. Eventually the label “Christian,” regardless of how theologically liberal, socially progressive, or politically compliant, will bring hostility. It will bring persecution. Our Lord has forewarned us of this certainty and when genuine, incarcerated, perhaps even head-lopping, persecution ensues, the faithful will remain because His gospel and His reign will not fail. The Lord is most certainly pruning His church. He is clarifying the true from the superficial. And He is distinguishing His bride in holiness.
What is vividly evident in the divine providence which has allowed the Equality Act to come to the brink of national law is that whether the Act passes or not, God is passing judgment on this nation. With the passage of this Act, the nation will be not only giving hearty approval, but legal protection, to those who practice “such things [that are] worthy of death (Rom. 1:32). This is the last level of the progression of judgment which God describes for us in Romans chapter one. When God gives an individual over to a debased mind, he is giving them over to the sin of irrationality. It is the very depth of depravity, a mind which cannot think, cannot reason. When He gives an entire nation over, it is dire in the most severe manner possible.
With the Equality Act, we would, as a nation, be elevating those with debased minds. We would be protecting them with the force of federal law, lauding them as noble examples of a mindless, subjective, postmodern ideology, and, in effect, be thus ensuring the judgment of God upon them individually and upon ourselves collectively. As a nation, if God so determines to give us over to the implications of the Equality Act, it will mean nothing short of severe, national, divine judgment.
As Owen Strachan has said, “Too many Christians are sitting on their hands or are scared or, understandably, are wondering when they should pick the moment to speak up and stand up for the truth. Friends, please hear me,” he says, “with all Christian charity. Now is the time to do this. The hour is drawing very late in this society, in this republic. If you have the ability to speak up … if you still have that freedom, you should use it.”
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