Equality Act

Equality Act
Equality Act

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A Time to Stand: Resisting a Dangerous Law

Part 1 of an investigative series by Calvary Chapel Magazine on the pending Equality Act
By Christmas Beeler

The pending Equality Act is one of the most discriminatory bills ever written against religious freedom in U.S. history, and it could become law at any time. Already passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and having received its hearing in the Senate, it’s only one step away from being voted into law by the Senate.

Called a “dangerous piece of legislation” by evangelical Christian leaders and legal experts, the Equality Act (HR 5) was passed by the House of Representatives on February 25 and could be voted on in the Senate very soon. Consequently, Christian leaders are urging all believers to contact their senators and ask them to vote against this violation of their religious freedoms.

They warn that the Equality Act, touted as a means of bringing equal rights to those in the LGBT+ lifestyle, actually removes rights for believers, women, and children in multiple aspects, including:

• requiring churches to hire those in alternate lifestyles and to remove gender-specific areas (such as male/female bathrooms) or lose their tax-exempt status and/or face criminal charges;
• forbidding pastors and Christian counselors to share biblical truth with those who struggle with gender confusion and seek out such help;
• shutting down Christian adoption agencies (by forcing them to place children with gay couples);
• forcing pro-life, crisis pregnancy centers to advocate for abortion;
• mandating that medical providers perform abortions regardless of their conscience;
• removing the line between men’s and women’s sports (essentially eliminating women’s sports, as most women cannot compete equally with biological males in athletic events);
• and removing the legal protections of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which protects U.S. citizens to exercise their faith without government interference.

“The Equality Act puts the rights of the LGBT+ above our religious freedom rights … and forces churches to affirm the LGBTQ lifestyle,” explained Tracy Gray, associate pastor at Horizon Christian Fellowship, a Calvary Chapel affiliate, in Indianapolis. He clarified, “Nobody (in our ministry) wants to see anyone discriminated against, regardless of their lifestyle. As believers, we are called to love everybody. What is at issue is how you define discrimination. In their minds, if you do not affirm their view of what a male or a female is, then you are discriminating. Which is not true. We are exercising our religious freedom.” Tracy explained, “That’s what is really at stake here, what is going away—our religious freedom. The ability to lovingly and respectfully disagree with the culture and express ourselves in our religious views of what the Bible says.” As Genesis 5:2a states, God created them male and female.

How Is It Dangerous?

Churches, Christians, children, and women could suffer. Mat Staver, attorney with the Liberty Counsel, stated, “This Act is devastating to churches and religious schools from Pre-K and daycare, through college. Noncompliance to any aspect of HR 5 could result in private lawsuits from the Department of Justice, the State, and local levels of government … This particular law expands the federal government’s reach into every corner of our lives. I believe every single person in America will be impacted by it.” The wording in the law is “incredibly expansive. It will force the LGBTQ lifestyle into every area of our lives by force of law.”

One appalling implication would be the enabling of pedophiles to work with children. Legally, Mat explained, including “Q in the Senate version of this Act stands for Queer. We all know what lesbian, gay, and bisexual and trans stands for. But the Q is everything in addition to that. It represents the entire universe of sexual paraphilias (there are 500+)—including pedophilia. It’s massive in terms of what it will do. Not only does it apply to employment, but who teaches and cares for your children (including pedophiles); but it also requires churches to allow men to use women’s restrooms, locker rooms, and private rooms. Let’s say you took the youth on a camping trip. You could not have separate tents for the boys and the girls, or even a separate tent to accommodate an LGBT student. Or you would be in danger of criminal charges.”

No Protection

And, if a person sought to protest any of these forced accommodations due to their faith, they would have no legal protection. “It revokes the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” Mat Staver pointed out, so that believers, “churches and schools will not be able to have a defense.” Cases that were won under the Religious Freedom act, including Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor who fought against having to pay for abortions, would be revoked. A small business owner would not be allowed to refuse to provide services in support of the LGBTQ lifestyle, no matter what their conscience or faith dictated.

Another Christian attorney, Ryan Tucker of Alliance Defending Freedom, agrees. The Equality Act “has embedded within it a statement that you cannot use the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a defense to this law. The very best defense that people of faith would have, if [accused] of violation of this bill, would be taken away. To me, it just tosses out religion on its face. It will have an extremely damaging impact on the Church.”

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 states: “The framers of the Constitution, recognizing free exercise of religion as an inalienable right, secured its protection in the First Amendment to the Constitution; (2) laws "neutral" toward religion may burden religious exercise as surely as laws intended to interfere with religious exercise; (3) governments should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling justification” (HR 1308, 1993). This protection, the attorneys explain, would be gone.

Could It Really Pass?

While a similar bill passed through the House in 2015 but died in the Senate, this season is very different. Attorney Ryan Tucker pointed out that President Joe Biden—who has already signed more Executive Orders into law than any U.S. President before him (48 as of April 8)—has vowed that the Equality Act will become law within his first 100 days of office. Since he was inaugurated January 20, the 100-day deadline is April 30.

Now the bill could hit the Senate floor any time. Some assume that a filibuster could stop the Equality Act, but Attorney Mat Staver pointed out that there are ways around this. “In the Senate, you need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster; the Democrats know they don’t have 60 votes, so I suspect they will try to slip it in under a majority vote rule—such as [attaching it to] a spending bill. Then you just need a majority of whoever is present on the floor.” As outlandish as that seems, it is a definite possibility, Mat Staver said, and congressional leaders of faith are watching out for it. “What they have tried to do in the past is keep a session open that day until the late hours of the night or early morning, have a small group of people on the floor, and someone will say, ‘I move HR 5 for a voice vote.’ If there is no objection, then it goes to the majority of whoever is on the floor with no recording [of how each person voted]. Republican senators I’ve talked to are guarding the floor. If they object, [the Equality Act] would have to go through a full vote procedure.”

Christians Speak Out

Leaders are calling on the Church across America to speak up while they still can. In a recent public letter, Franklin Graham wrote, “The Equality Act will use the force of law across all 50 states to threaten the right of Christian and other religious ministries to hire people of shared faith to pursue a shared mission. Can you imagine a Christian organization being forced to hire people who have no passion for its beliefs, teachings, and mission—or who might even be hostile toward its deeply held beliefs?”

Pastor Tracy of Horizon related that he has seen people come out of the LGBTQ lifestyle and find freedom in Christ. He urged: “Now is not the time for us believers to stick our heads in the sand. We must let our voices be heard while we still can. We must stand for truth, because it’s God’s truth that sets people free.”

What You Can Do:

Email your U.S. Senators (senate.gov)

Contact the White House (whitehouse.gov)

Call the U.S. Capitol at 202-224-3121

 

All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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