Wednesday, 08 May 2019

“Equality Act” Would Unleash Federal Persecution of Christians

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From the print edition of The New American:

Even a generation ago, the story of Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, would have been unthinkable. After serving his community for more than two dec-ades, he suddenly found himself on the wrong side of the law. It wasn’t for health violations, stealing, tax evasion, embezzlement, or anything else you might expect, though. Rather, Phillips was guilty of nothing more than being a Christian in the public square who takes his faith seriously. And his life was turned upside down because of it.

In July 2012, two homosexual men came in to his family-owned cake shop in Lakewood demanding that he design a custom wedding cake to celebrate their homosexual “marriage.” Being a Christian, obviously he could not use his God-given artistic talents to celebrate something God describes in the Bible as an “abomination” — much less make a mockery of marriage, which to Christians is an earthly illustration of the relationship between Christ and His Church. So Phillips politely declined to bake the cake, offering to sell the homosexual couple cakes for other occasions or anything else they may want in his store. 

The men could have simply taken their business elsewhere. But instead, they filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission alleging “discrimination” based on “sexual orientation.” And incredibly, the kangaroo “court” ordered Phillips to either bake cakes celebrating homosexual “marriage,” or quit designing any and all wedding cakes. He was also commanded to “reeducate” his employees so they would understand that he was wrong to be a Christian while operating his business. In other words, Phillips could violate his conscience and his faith — or lose his livelihood and allow his family to starve. This in a nation founded by Christians, for Christians, that offered unprecedented tolerance to those of other faiths and worldviews.         

Eventually, after years of allowing authorities to terrorize the poor Phillips family, the U.S. Supreme Court ended up ruling in his favor. But the decision was based on a narrow finding that Colorado’s “civil rights” bureaucrats were biased against religion. The court never ruled on the question of whether or not a business owner could be forced to violate his or her conscience. As if it could not get any more outrageous, Colorado authorities targeted Phillips again for refusing to design a cake celebrating a “gender transition” by a confused man who was planning to have his genitals surgically removed to better impersonate a woman. After Phillips filed a lawsuit against Colorado authorities for waging a “crusade to crush” him for his belief that an individual’s sex is “given by God and cannot be chosen or changed,” the state attorney general finally backed off.   

Still, the Phillips saga represented a turning point in American history. Not only have Americans’ once-Christian political institutions been thoroughly de-Christianized, those same institutions are now working to crush any remnants of Christianity still lingering in society. Similar laws to those that almost destroyed the Phillips family have proliferated across America. And now, the very same anti-Christian bigotry and legislation that animated the persecution of Phillips in Colorado is on the verge of being enshrined into federal statute.

The Equality Act: Criminalizing Christianity

This year, Democrats in Congress introduced LGBT “equality” legislation purporting to ban “discrimination.” Critics, though, warned that the measure would criminalize Christianity, Islam, and Judaism by forcing virtually every institution in society — including religious institutions — to hire, serve, and promote homosexuals and individuals confused about their gender. A number of analysts have warned that by enshrining “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in the statute, which would embed these concepts into the 1964 Civil Rights Act, even pedophilia and pederasty could be protected as a “sexual orientation.”   

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats already have more than enough cosponsors to pass the bill easily. And in the Senate, they are getting very close, needing just a few more cosponsors for a solid majority. Whether President Donald Trump would sign the bill if it reached his desk remains unclear. But analysts on both sides have pointed out that the president has been rather friendly to the “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender” agenda. 

Among other radical changes to federal law, the so-called Equality Act, also known as H.R. 5 in the House and S. 788 in the Senate, purports to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.” To do that, it would enshrine actual or perceived “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI) into federal statutes. That would give homosexuality, transgenderism, and other perversions of human sexuality and gender the same protections as race or sex in employment, housing, public accommodations, and more. Similar efforts are being pursued through international agreements such as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Incredibly, perhaps attempting to counteract any future court rulings on the issue, the “Equality Act” specifically states that religious freedom may not be used as a defense under the bill. And the legislation applies to churches, religious schools, religious hospitals, religious employers, gathering places, sports, all government entities, and more. Christian adoption agencies will be shut down, too, if they refuse to place children with homosexuals or individuals confused about whether they are men or women. That has already happened in states with similar legislation.

Photo credit: AP Images

This article appears in the May 6, 2019, issue of The New American. To download the issue and continue reading this story, or to subscribe, click here.

Outside of some tiny and very narrow exemptions, churches, synagogues, and mosques will no longer be able to uphold marriage between men and women, or any moral standards on sexuality at all. Counselors of faith will be banned from helping people with unwanted same-sex attractions or gender confusion. And Christians, Muslims, and Jews will no longer be allowed to seek out counselors to help them deal with those issues. Indeed, under the measure, everyone will have to affirm the LGBT agenda, or face persecution and destruction at the hands of the federal government. Churches will lose their tax-exempt status if they do not submit. Schools will lose their accreditation if they do not bow down to Caesar’s LGBT extremism. And this is just the start.     

The “gender” madness is breathtaking. Under the legislation, virtually everywhere across the United States, men who claim they “identify” as women will be allowed to use women’s restrooms, showers, changing areas, and even bunk with women on trips, including church trips. Critics say the move would put women and girls nationwide at risk, as any man in the country could simply walk into female facilities under this bill and claim to be a “transgender” who identifies as female. Numerous incidents have already occurred, and this would open up a Pandora’s Box of mischief, critics warned.  This is already happening in government schools and some radical businesses such as Target, which continues to face a massive boycott for putting women and girls at risk. But under this bill, the policy would go national — and it would even be forced on churches, domestic-abuse shelters, Christian schools, and much more. The legislation would also make it mandatory that men who claim to identify as women be allowed to compete in women’s sports, all but ensuring that no biological woman or girl will ever win another sporting competition. Those who resist will face the wrath and unlimited funds of the federal government. 

Perhaps the most alarming development is that the sexual revolutionaries are already moving to redefine every conceivable perversion as a “sexual orientation.” In California, for example, government schools were caught teaching children about pedophilia and pederasty. When a parent asked why the school was normalizing sodomy and pedophilia to students in the classroom, Assistant Superintendent of Curricula Kerrie Torres in the Brea, California, School District dropped a bombshell. The parent asked: “Answer me why you’re teaching pedophilia in school to 9th graders?” Torres responded: “This is done because we are talking about historical perspectives of how gender relations and different types of sexual orientations have existed in history.” The flabbergasted mother expressed shock: “So sex between a man and a boy is a sexual orientation?” To which Torres replied: “It’s something that occurred in history, and so this is really important for us to include.” Establishment propaganda organs disguised as news organizations, meanwhile, are increasingly trying to redefine pedophilia and pederasty as a “sexual orientation.” LGBT movement hero Harvey Milk was known for raping minor boys, at least one of whom later committed suicide. And projecting the lines, critics worry that the Equality Act’s protections for “sexual orientation” über alles could one day force churches to hire pedophiles to run their children’s ministries, among other horrors.  

Opposition

As the LGBT juggernaut advances, trampling on the rights of Christians and people of faith in the process, a massive coalition of critics from across the political spectrum and a broad array of religious traditions is rising up to stop the Equality Act before it is too late. The nonprofit Christian legal group Liberty Counsel called the “wrongly named” Equality Act the “most extreme threat to religious freedom, free speech, privacy, and to women’s rights that has ever been proposed by Congress.” The controversial measure, the group warned, “will be used as a wrecking ball to churches, religious organizations, religious freedom, and free speech.”

Blasting the bill as the “Criminalizing Christianity Act,” former homosexual Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality warned that this was the “most dangerous legislation ever to come out of the revolutionary ‘gay’ activist movement.” He noted, citing other experts and policy analysts, that the measure could impose a nationwide transgender bathroom policy, a nationwide pronoun policy, a nationwide sex-reassignment (sex change) healthcare mandate, and much more. In short, it imposes anti-Christian morality on the entire nation using the awesome force and power of the federal government. 

Writing for Focus on the Family, a highly influential Christian ministry, Jeff Johnston warned that the legislation was “dangerous” and “would have serious harmful consequences for people of faith and families.” Christians, he said, believe what the Bible’s Book of Genesis says clearly: God created two types of humans, male and female. Christians also believe what God taught about marriage, and that children ought to have a mother and a father. “We understand that Christian teaching about marriage has profound spiritual significance, as the husband and wife relationship reflects the relationship between Christ and His Church,” Johnston explained.

But under the Equality Act, the federal government “takes these basic biblical teachings and labels them ‘discriminatory,’” he continued. “It puts the full force and influence of the federal government behind enforcing this law and opposing Christian beliefs. The law is a powerful teacher, and the Equality Act would teach that Christian thinking about male-female differences, marriage, parenting, family and sexuality are rooted in prejudice — rather than in years of wisdom, reason and biblical exegesis.” The consequences of this have already proven disastrous at the state and local level. And if this bill gets passed, Christians across the nation would find themselves in the cross hairs of the massively powerful U.S. government, he warned. 

Another organization formed in response to the escalating LGBT onslaught against Christians and people of faith is the Gone 2 Far Movement. The interracial and interfaith body of clergy and laity committed to being true to biblical principles said it is “aghast” at the legislative agenda of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — and the LGBT Equality Act in particular. Dr. Randy Lancaster-Short, a black reverend with family connections to heavyweights in the original civil-rights movement who serves as the political chair for the movement, blasted the effort to equate sexual proclivities and gender confusion with the immutable characteristics such as race that were originally protected in the Civil Rights Act. Indeed, blasting the legislation as the “Pedophile Amnesty Act,” he and others have been sounding the alarm about the likelihood that protections for “sexual orientation” will eventually be extended even to “minor-attracted persons,” the new politically correct term for pedophiles and pederasts. 

In a statement to The New American, Dr. Short, who is working to make black churches aware of the legislation, noted that the Equality Act “will criminalize the Christian faith and deny religious belief as a justification for not complying with the Gay Equality Act.” By re-introducing the act, Short said, the Democrats “resumed the long march of the Homosexual Political Complex to undermine the sacred traditional values of the American Republic; destroy civil and religious liberties; collectively libel, exploit, defraud and defame protected minorities; poison and glut our legal system with oxymoronic suits; diminish our faith-based charitable and philanthropic institutions; impose frivolous and wasteful regulations on businesses; create havoc in families and schools; and crystallize unscientific sexuality theories that invent sexes other than male and female.”

In follow-up comments, Short warned that, by supporting the Equality Act, the Congressional Black Caucus had “become more dangerous to black Americans than the KKK.” Similarly, by backing the legislation, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) now poses “a greater existential threat to the survival of Blacks than the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazis, rogue cops, and assorted racial terrorists past or present,” Reverend Short warned. This bill “will criminalize the Christian faith,” he explained. “It portends as great a peril to the American family, religious liberties, small businesses, women’s rights, children’s rights, and the rights of Black Americans as the iceberg that impaled the Titanic in 1912,” he added, calling the legislation “anti-family, pro-pedophilia, and anti-Christian.”   

Even though under the narrowest of exemptions contained in the act, Catholic priests would probably not be required to “marry” homosexuals, the Catholic Church is speaking out against it too. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops warned that it would impose “sweeping regulations to the detriment of society as a whole.” “The act’s definitions alone would remove women and girls from protected legal existence,” the Catholic leaders said, warning that the bill seeks to regulate thought, belief, and speech in an “unprecedented” departure from America’s founding principles. “Furthermore, the act also fails to recognize the difference between the person — who has dignity and is entitled to recognition of it — and the actions of a person, which have ethical and social ramifications. Conflating the two will introduce a plethora of further legal complications.”

The bill is so radical and extreme that even some homosexual activists such as Gregory Angelo, former leader of the homosexual “Log Cabin Republicans,” are opposed to it. “Don’t be fooled by the name: The Equality Act is legislation that would compromise American civil rights and religious liberty as we know it,” wrote Angelo in a piece for the Washington Examiner. “All reasonable Americans, especially gay Americans who support pluralism and tolerance, should oppose it.” Among other concerns, Angelo said, he had promised people that allowing homosexual “marriage” would not affect Christians, but now, LGBT activists behind the Equality Act were going to make him a liar.

Even some pro-LGBT Democrats such as Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) have expressed opposition. Manchin said that while he supports the idea behind the statute, it does not provide “sufficient guidance to the local officials who will be responsible for implementing it, particularly with respect to students transitioning between genders in public schools.” 

The LGBT movement is demanding that he support the bill, but so far he has refused. 

What’s Next for Anti-Christian Inequality

While the legislation has been introduced in Congress for years, it never had a real shot at passage before. Now it does. In the House, the legislation has been cosponsored by 240 members — a rock-solid majority with more than enough to pass the bill tomorrow. In the Senate, meanwhile, S. 788 already has 46 cosponsors, including one liberal Republican, putting it perilously close to the 51 sponsors needed for a majority. What Trump might do on this remains a mystery. Considering the growing outcry, some analysts have argued that it would be hard for Trump to betray his base among Christian conservatives. But as The New American has reported, under the current administration, U.S. embassies have continued celebrating LGBT “Pride” and senior U.S. officials have even announced a push to legalize sodomy and homosexuality around the world. Even if they do not get it in the 116th Congress, the LGBT movement will be back in 2020 for another try.

Big Business is fully on board, too. Over 150 of America’s richest and most powerful mega-corporations have publicly lined up in support of the bill. According to the anti-Christian homosexual activist group known as Human Rights Campaign, which seeks to equate sodomy and homosexual activity with human rights, the corporate behemoths supporting the legislation have “combined operation in all 50 states, headquarters in 26 states, more than $3.7 trillion in revenue, and more than 8.5 million employees across the United States.” The anti-Christian corporate giants behind the movement include Amazon, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, General Electric, and many other top U.S. companies.  

At the state level, the LGBT movement has already succeeded across much of America. Almost half of states and hundreds of local governments have adopted laws enshrining “sexual orientation and gender identity” protections. These have produced what the Heritage Foundation called “disastrous” consequences for residents. “These policies are not being used to promote equality,” noted research assistant Monica Burke with the Center for Religion and Civil Society at Heritage. “Instead, they are being used as a blunt-force weapon to ban disagreement on marriage and sexuality by punishing dissenters.” She quoted one of the leading financiers of the LGBT agenda push, Tom Gill of Colorado, who vowed to “punish the wicked,” with “the wicked,” in his view, being those who believe in traditional marriage. 

Among the problems that have emerged in states where these laws exist, “Faith-based foster care and adoption agencies in Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, California, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia have been forced to shut down for operating according to their religious beliefs about marriage — further exacerbating our current foster care crisis.” Also, Catholic hospitals are being sued for refusing to surgically mutilate individuals who are confused about their gender. Teachers have been fired for refusing to use incorrect pronouns. Men are competing as women and beating all the actual women in sports. Homeless shelters for women are being sued for refusing to allow men claiming to be women to stay there. And parental rights are under attack, with “adherence to radical gender ideology” seemingly becoming “a new litmus test for parental fitness.” 

“It’s worth noting that all of this has happened without a federal sexual orientation and gender identity policy,” explained Burke. “The federal Equality Act would only make this bad situation worse. The bill would pose an existential threat not only to religious organizations from churches to schools to charities, but also to secular institutions as well — not to mention the livelihoods of individuals who do not agree with new sexual norms or gender ideology. That’s why a federal sexual orientation and gender identity law with religious exemptions is still bad policy. That strategy only protects the interests of a few and imposes a bad law on everyone else. The weaponization of sexual orientation and gender identity laws at the state and local level have made it eminently clear that a federal law would have devastating effects on the American people.”

The train has already left the station in America and across the West. And it is bad. Indeed, in Europe, pastors and evangelists are already being arrested and jailed — literally — for pointing out that the God of the Bible condemns homosexuality as sinful, and that God made people either male and female. In Sweden, authorities investigated the Bible under Swedish “hate speech” laws and determined that the Bible violates that government’s speech codes, even though it is not “practical” to ban the Bible at this point. America may not be there yet, but the Equality Act would be a giant step in that direction. 

In the end, the Equality Act is unconstitutional on its face. The federal government has no constitutional authority to force anyone — much less everyone — to bow down to its radical anti-Christian ideology. And in fact, multiple provisions of the Constitution, including the First Amendment and the 10th Amendment, specifically prohibit the sort of lunacy envisioned in this legislation. But that has rarely stopped the feds before. Americans who value liberty and Christian civilization must recognize that everything they cherish is on the line. It is time to speak out, or be crushed by the oncoming freight train. 

Photo credit: AP Images

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