Fear sweeps churches over bathroom policy

TRUTH BOMBS: We better start cleaning our governmental house. Our Churches are being desecrated by these liberals.

ARTICLE: A move by the state of Iowa to classify churches as “public accommodations” and require them to allow men who say they are women to use women’s restrooms is causing an “objectively reasonable” fear that they will be prosecuted, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose refused to dismiss a case brought by the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ against the state’s Civil Rights Commission, finding that the church already was self-censoring its statements because of a fear of prosecution.

“The court concludes the chilling of plaintiff’s speech constitutes an injury in fact for the purpose of standing,” she wrote.

The case is being pursued by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which said the ruling – even before the case advances further – provides “much-needed reassurance and clarification to churches.”

ADF explained the Iowa Civil Rights Commission claimed the Iowa Civil Rights Act applied to churches.

“The commission’s interpretation and application of that law could censor church statements on biblical sexuality in certain contexts and force churches to open their restrooms to members of the opposite sex under conditions that the government dictates. Fort Des Moines Church of Christ, which filed the suit through its Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, also has showers, which the law also affects,” the organization said.

“The government acts outside of its authority when it attempts to control churches. Neither the commission nor any state law has the constitutional authority to dictate how any church uses its facility or what public statements a church can make concerning sexuality,” said ADF Senior Counsel Steve O’Ban, who argued before the court on behalf of the church in August. “As the court found, government bureaucrats don’t get to decide which church activities have a religious purpose; that’s for the church to decide.”

The government had admitted in the court hearing that the church’s restroom policy “likely” is permitted under its antidiscrimination laws.

But the court warned that “such acknowledgement does not prevent the state defendants … from seeking enforcement against” the church.

“That’s why this lawsuit has been so necessary,” said ADF counsel Christiana Holcomb. “Though the state admitted to the court that the church’s shower and restroom policy isn’t subject to the law, those words alone aren’t sufficient to ensure that the state won’t try to enforce it against churches.

“Churches should be free to talk about their religious beliefs and operate their houses of worship according to their faith without fearing government punishment,” she said.

The case arose when the Iowa Civil Rights Act banned places of public accommodation from expressing their views on human sexuality if they would “directly or indirectly” make “persons of any particular … gender identity” feel “unwelcome,” ADF said.

The state claimed the authority to define “bona fide religious purposes” as well as other critical issues.

In fact, the state claimed it could enforce its agenda in a church if “the place of worship engages in non-religious activities which are open to the public.”

It cited such events as child care or a spaghetti dinner.

WND reported last week a similar case is under way in Massachusetts against a “gender identity” definition adopted in the state. The measure makes “gender identity” a special class, with more protections than ordinary citizens. Under the provision, the attorney general has claimed “houses of worship” are places of “public accommodation” and members, therefore, cannot even express ideas concerning “religious expression regarding biological sex and gender identity.”

The case was launched by the Alliance Defending Freedom after the state commission interpreted the law “to force churches to open church changing rooms, shower facilities, restrooms, and other intimate areas [to people] based on their perceived gender identity, and not their biological sex, in violation of the churches’ religious beliefs.”

Four churches are plaintiffs: Horizon Christian Fellowship, Swansea Abundant Life Assembly of God, House of Destiny Ministries and Faith Christian Fellowship of Havarhill. Several individuals also are named: George Small, David Aucoin, Esteban Carrasco and Marlene Yeo.

“The government shouldn’t encroach on the internal, religious practices of a church,” said ADF Senior Counsel O’Ban. “Neither the commission nor the attorney general has the constitutional authority to dictate how any church uses its facility or what public statements a church can make concerning a deeply held religious belief, such as on human sexuality.”

At the Volokh Conspiracy legal blog, Eugene Volokh pointed out that “churches hold events ‘open to the general public’ all the time – it’s often how they seek new converts.”

“And even church ‘secular events,’ which I take it means events that don’t involve overt worship, are generally viewed by the church as part of its ministry, and certainly as a means of the church modeling what it believes to be religiously sound behavior.”

Volokh continued: “My guess is that most churches would not turn someone away from a generally open spaghetti supper. … But some religious leaders, as well as the church employees and volunteers, may refuse to use pronouns that they believe are inconsistent with God’s plan as revealed by anatomy.”

“Under Massachusetts law, refusing to use a transgender person’s preferred pronoun would be punishable discrimination. (At least this is true of ‘he’ or ‘she’ – I saw nothing in the document about ‘ze’ and other newly made-up pronouns.) The Massachusetts document … makes that clear in the employment context, and it also makes clear that the antidiscrimination law rules apply to places of public accommodations (including churches, in ‘secular events’ ‘open to the public’) just as much as to employment.”

Volokh warned: “Indeed, a church might be liable even for statements by its congregants (and not just its volunteers, who are acting as agents) that are critical of transgender people. Tolerating such remarks is generally seen as allowing a ‘hostile environment,’ and therefore ‘harassment.’ Indeed, the statement … specifically encourages people to ‘prohibit derogatory comments or jokes about transgender persons from employees, clients, vendors and any others, and promptly investigate and discipline persons who engage in discriminatory conduct’.”
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2016/10/fear-sweeps-churches-over-bathroom-policy/#YDAw8ZmRG1ojoP1A.99

Source: Fear sweeps churches over bathroom policy

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