Over the last several weeks, we’ve been talking about the problems that sexual orientation and gender identity laws (SOGI) create for Kansans. We’ve looked at the implications SOGIs have for businesses and schools – now we’ll look at the implications they have for churches and for those sitting in the pews.
As an attorney for the city of Overland Park pointed out, the only real push back to SOGI laws comes from the faith community. In fact, this attorney suggested that the city council needed to figure out how to “get over” religious objections to a SOGI ordinance. Having this sentiment spoken openly by a city official in a public meeting is an extremely disturbing, though not shocking, development. The free exercise of religion is our first listed freedom in the Bill of Rights and is one of the oldest and dearly loved freedoms in American culture. It should be a right that we all work to defend because it is the foundation of all of our other rights.
The once hidden agenda to overcome and violate religious beliefs is increasingly obvious. Even more now than ever, there is a clear conflict between religious freedom, free thought, and the LGBTQ agenda. LGBTQ+ activist demand that everyone agrees with their belief system. It is not even enough to just passively accept their beliefs; they want everyone to celebrate their lifestyle or else be pushed out of society.
Many people have sought to “compromise” by adding religious exemptions for churches to the SOGI ordinances. Exempting select groups from SOGIs runs into problems for several reasons:
- Legally meaningless. Adding these exemptions to SOGIs is legally meaningless because churches should already be protected from city governments coopting their beliefs under federal caselaw and other state law. However, some states are already working to undermine basic religious protections for churches as we saw in California last year where legislation was moving to stop anyone from teaching Biblical truth about sexuality or even selling books that teach this message. This proves we shouldn’t rest on the assumption that churches and pastors will be protected in years to come, however, simply exempting them from SOGIs adds no meaningful protections from laws like the one that almost passed in California.
- Requires other religious groups to defend their rights. These laws often do nothing to protect religious schools or organizations. While some laws include religious organizations and schools, others leave these groups completely vulnerable to being forced to defend in court their right to live out their faith.
- Does not defend church goers. The biggest problem these exemptions present is that they do nothing to help those of you sitting in the pews. Your pastor can preach until he is blue in the face about God’s design for marriage and for males and females, but under SOGI laws you are restricted from living out that belief in many ways beyond the walls of your church. It is inconsistent for religious groups to advocate for exemptions for themselves but leave those listening to their teaching without a way to live consistently with those beliefs.
- Does not appease activists. When compromise language protecting religious freedom has been introduced or has passed, LGBTQ activists have almost immediately begun to undo the language through lawsuits or through legislative means.
While well-meaning folks across the country want to introduce compromise language as a way of appeasing LGBTQ activists and attempt to protect the church, it does little, to nothing, to actually address the concerns that SOGIs present to people of faith. The freedom to think, believe, and speak is too important to compromise as our opponents are always looking for a way to “get over” our beliefs.
Standing for the freedom to believe,
Brittany Jones, Esq.
Director of Advocacy