Religious liberty in America, slowly eroding for years, now faces its greatest threat in a generation. The so-called ‘Equality Act’ threatens the 1st Amendment and freedom of religion on a scale we haven’t seen in decades. It forces churches, synagogues, mosques — and other religious organizations like Christian colleges and universities — to recognize “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” as legally protected classifications despite how those lifestyles might conflict with deeply held religious beliefs.
The passage of the Equality Act (H.R.5) by the House of Representatives on February 25th inches the bill closer to becoming law pending Senate approval and the near-certain signature of President Biden. It is the most dangerous piece of legislation in our lifetime concerning religious freedom.
The language of the bill passed by the House specifically prohibits the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 from providing a claim, defense, or basis for challenging the protections granted for “gender identity” or “sexual orientation.” This would deny religious organizations any moral grounds for objecting to the enforcement of these protections and would make those organizations criminally liable if they did.
What would that look like?
Imagine a church youth camp where teenage boys would normally be housed in separate sleeping quarters from teenage girls. Not under H.R.5. Any boy who “identifies as female” would be legally entitled to bunk with the girls. Or any girl who “identifies as male” would be legally entitled to bunk with the boys. According to the ‘Equality Act,’ any church that prohibits such action would be violating the individual’s civil rights and could face legal action.
Imagine a Sunday School class where 8 year old “Paul” says he is really “Paula,” and wants to wear a dress to class or use the girls’ bathroom. If that made other children feel confused or their parents uncomfortable, too bad. Any attempt by the church to deny the child’s freedom to attend the class dressed as “he” or “she” chooses (pick your pronoun), to use the restroom of “his” or “her” choice, or any attempt to counsel the child to accept their God-given gender would be a violation of the child’s civil rights and the church could be legally liable.
Seem unlikely? Hardly. Even candidate Joe Biden told attendees at a Town Hall meeting when he was campaigning that an eight-year-old child should have the freedom to determine his or her gender. Really? Most eight-year-olds can’t even determine the time of day, but somehow they are wiser than God in determining their own gender. Have we lost our minds?
Imagine that a homosexual man is not hired by a church on the grounds that his lifestyle is incompatible with the church’s Statement of Faith and Biblical beliefs. Under the Equality Act, that would be discrimination and the church could be sued and/or lose its tax-exempt status.
The scenarios are endless. And so are the ramifications for churches, synagogues, mosques and religious institutions across America if the Equality Act becomes law. Religious liberty will be thrown onto the ash heap of American history. The 1st Amendment will be gutted. Religious freedom will become a legal battle to maintain rather than a legal right to be enjoyed.
Enshrined in the first paragraph of our Declaration of Independence is the recognition that our laws and liberties are founded upon “the laws of nature and nature’s God.”
In the second paragraph is the acknowledgment that our unalienable rights come not from government but from God, our “Creator”.
In the last paragraph is the statement that our nation was born with a “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.”
But over time we have forgotten God. And worse than forgetting God is the usurping of His authority by drafting laws that dishonor Him because they conflict with His moral code. God alone determines what is right and wrong, what is true and false, and what is good and evil. And when mankind decides that he knows better than God, we invite our own national disgrace and eventual destruction.
In a free country, people have the freedom to deny God’s righteous standard. But that should not infringe upon the rights of those who wish to comply with His righteous standard.
We should love and respect all people regardless of their gender dysphoria or sexual orientation. We should want for them the same life-changing transformation that Jesus offers for all people who accept Him by faith. But we must also courageously defend religious freedom in America for all people and not cave to the “woke” culture.
After all, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).
Gary Hamrick is the Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg, Virginia. His radio broadcast “Cornerstone Connection” can be heard weekdays across the country in 27 states and the District of Columbia.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.