The US House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 5 – the “Equality Act.” This action was anticipated and expected. Under the Act, sexual orientation/gender identity will be recognized as a civil right, as are race, national origin, and other factors. Last year, in the 116th Congress, a version of the Equality Act passed the US House of Representatives but was not considered by the US Senate. This current version of the Equality Act will now be advanced to the US Senate, where it will be taken up for consideration.
Numerous factors of the Act as passed are cause for concern. The Act is very broad and sweeping in its coverage and will affect many areas of life in the United States, such as schools, businesses, healthcare organizations, and also churches. The very definition of how we view sexual orientation and gender identity will be challenged. In particular, there will be a definition of “equality” which is not consistent with our sincerely held religious and Biblical beliefs. Our beliefs in this area are not based on our personal or societal beliefs, but upon our interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and how we should live. Our concern with the Act is not personal, but Biblical.
There also is great concern about how the Act will affect churches. In particular, under the Act, there is no provision for a “religious exemption or exception” to the Act, and there is no clarity on whether or not churches will be defined as “places of public accommodation” under the Act. If our churches are classified as “places of public accommodation” under the Act, then they may be required to accept and follow practices of the Act which, once again, are in violation of our beliefs. There will be much more written in the media about the actual and day-to-day effects of the Act as this matter is considered, but we are certain that it will be far reaching.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
The possible passage of this Act requires us to make a call to action. We are asking our members and constituents to do the following:
1. PRAY! We consider this to be a time of great consequence in our nation, when all of society will be subject to laws which we consider to be anti-Biblical. Especially affected may be our churches and how they operate. We believe our churches are not places of public accommodation and are not even places of public gatherings, but places of public worship, where we have the right to teach and live out how we view the Bible. It is vital that everyone pray diligently that churches will receive protection from these proposed mandates.
2. ACT! We are asking that all of our members and constituents immediately contact their United States Senators regarding the proposed provisions of this Act. We are asking that you demand from your US Senators that any proposed Equality Act passed by Congress include a “religious exemption or exception” to the Act and that there be a specific provision that churches will not be defined as “places of public accommodation.”
3. SHOW KINDNESS, CIVILITY, AND SENSITIVITY. It is not our manner of living or desire to act with hostility toward any particular persons or groups. We desire to show love and concern for all persons, and especially to those who desire to worship God in spirit and in truth. That is our mission. We must always advance these attributes and will continue to do so. We simply believe that the Equality Act is an encroachment upon our right to carry out our mission. This possible encroachment could extend even to the ability of churches to employ persons who adhere to the stated beliefs of the church.
We believe that we are living in the last days and we desire to walk according to the dictates of God’s Word and His manner of living. Our prayer is that God will intervene and direct our nation in these crucial and trying times.