The ill-named Equality Act is making its way back through Congress this year. The act, which is being painted as a pro-LGBT law, is coming across to many people of faith as an anti-religious freedom law.
As Christian Headlines previously reported the act is seeking to make “gender identity” a covered category under the Civil Rights Act thereby overriding the protections based on biological sex. The act also moves to repeal the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, make abortion a federally protected civil right, would require the funding of abortion through Medicaid, Medicare and other sources, would encroach on parental rights to their children’s healthcare and so much more.
Here are 4 things Christians should know about the Equality Act:
1. IT ENDANGERS THE CHURCH
Among the many things the Equality Act endangers, the church is one of them. If the Equality Act passes, Churches will no longer be able to hire someone based on their beliefs. What this means is that a church could not deny hiring someone because they are an Atheist or because they live a life contradictory to the church’s beliefs.
This also means that churches, like all other institutions, will not be allowed to segregate restrooms or locker rooms based on sex, a move that could increase the risk to young girls and women in public or shared restrooms in all venues.
According to Greg Baylor of Alliance Defending Freedom, the Equality Act is also set to repeal the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, a bill that was signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton. This means that people will no longer be able to use religious free exercise as a defense for their actions. For example, if a church declines to allow a gay couple from holding their wedding in their church because it goes against your religious beliefs, the church could be subjected to legal action. According to Focus on the Family, if the Equality Act passes, the same will be true for other organizations as well, including, adoption agencies, wedding venues, florists, bakers and photographers.
2. IT ENCOURAGES THE SUPPRESSION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
According to The Hill, the Equality Act moves to elevate the protection of LGBT people over people of faith. If enacted, the Equality Act will prevent religious people from denying a service, employment, housing or public accommodations among other things, to LGBT persons, despite the fact that homosexuality contradicts their religious beliefs.
An example of this would be the well-known Masterpiece Cake Chop case. While Jack Phillips was deemed within his first amendment right of freedom of religion when he declined to make a wedding cake for an LGBT couple, the Equality Act would have deemed Phillips’ decision discriminatory.
Alliance Defending Freedom’s Sarah Kramer summed up the effects of the act on religious people by putting it simply. In a statement on the ADF website Kramer wrote, “Essentially, the Equality Act gives people of faith an ultimatum: Change your faith-based practices or face government punishment.”
She added, “This would prohibit employers, individuals who rent out apartments in their homes, preschools, and even religious schools and organizations from making choices based on basic biology, bodily privacy, and their beliefs about the nature of marriage.”
3. IT WILL OBLITERATE WOMEN’S RIGHTS
While the LGBT community might feel like there is something to celebrate with the Equality Act, feminists – both radical and liberal – are speaking out against the legislation. The Equality Act is seeking to make “gender identity” a covered category under the Civil Rights Act. By doing this, the protected category of “sex” is being eliminated. This means that all of the strides women have made in society to advance women’s rights and protections, are going out the window.
The bill seeks to amend dozens of sections in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add “including sexual orientation and gender identity,” any place the category “sex” is protected.
Essentially what this means is that scholarships for women, grants for women, business loans for women and restrooms for women among other things, could legally be awarded to or used by men. Both conservative Christian organizations and liberal radical feminist organizations are banding together in protest of this change, some even arguing that if the Equality Act passes it will “erase women.”
Radical feminist group Women’s Liberation Front came out against the act on Twitter writing, “If the #EqualityAct succeeds in making “gender identity” a protected class under federal law, it will erase the protected category of “sex,” which for decades has been the foundation for securing the rights and opportunities of women and girls in the United States. #WomenStandUp”
In an interview with Fox News, Doreen Denny, the Senior Director of Government Relations at the conservative group Concern Women for America, said, “It’s going to erase not discrimination, but it’s going to erase females because the sex of female will no longer be protected as a thing that you could claim as a separate category.”
She added, “In a bathroom, or locker room or a dressing room, any biological man at any time that wants to come in and say, ‘I’m now a woman’ could just have access to that.” Denny also touched on how this could perpetuate an already difficult topic in women’s sports.
In recent years, more and more women have been speaking out against the unfair biological advantages transgender women have when competing alongside biological women. The Equality Act will outrightly let any person who feels like a woman, compete as a woman even if they are a biological man.
4. IT WILL AFFECT YOUR KIDS
Not only will the Equality Act allow male students to enter female restrooms, but it will also hinder parents’ authority over their children.
According to the Heritage Foundation, the bill will politicize the medical industry creating conflicts with parents, doctors and the government.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) said of the Equality Act that it is “the most invasive threat to a parent’s involvement in children’s medical decisions he’s seen.” The Heritage Foundation reports that the Equality Act will force doctors to ignore parents’ wishes and give kids – no matter the age – transgender operations and puberty blockers if the child asks for it. This means that even if a parent simply wants to allow their young child to be an adult before making the life-altering decision to transition from one gender to the other, but the child asks for the procedure, then doctors must comply to the child’s wishes.
Scalise explained this to CBN News saying, “The son can actually go to a doctor without the parents’ involvement at all, even if the parents object vocally. Under this bill, the doctor has to treat the boy to ultimately transfer over to be a female.”
“I’m not talking about 18, 19, 20-year-olds – I’m talking about 11 and 12-year-olds,” he added.
According to Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), cases like this are already happening in individual states. “In Ohio, there were parents who had their parental rights taken away from them because they refused to go along with giving hormone treatments to their teenage child,” Hartzler told CBN News.
Hartzler also warned that doctors who refuse to do transgender procedures on anyone – including kids – can face legal ramifications.
While the Equality Act has yet to pass into law, it has passed the House Judiciary Committee. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the legislation on Friday.