A pamphlet put out by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission has churches wondering if they may be forced to allow men access to women’s restrooms in places of worship.
The brochure argues that since churches are public places, they are required to comply with sexual orientation and gender identity laws.
First Liberty Institute is representing Cornerstone World Outreach, a church in Sioux City. Hiram Sasser is the group’s director of litigation.
“It (the Commission’s brochure) further compels our client to use specific pronouns when referring to certain gender identities,” he told Todd Starnes of Fox News, “and prohibits our client from even teaching its religious beliefs.
“Cornerstone World Outreach cannot be made to open its restrooms for use by individuals in accordance with their gender identities, rather than their sex assigned at birth.”
The Family Leader of Iowa is one of Family Policy Alliance’s nearly 40 state-based family policy groups. They’re concerned the free speech of pastors could be next.
“Banning what preachers can say? That kind of government intrusion into church doctrine is exactly what the Bill of Rights was written to prevent,” said Bob Vander Plaats, executive director of the group. “But when Iowa’s policy effectively becomes, ‘Call it a sin, and the government steps in,’ we no longer have a First Amendment. Even talking about God’s design for male and female might make someone feel ‘unwelcome’ and prompt government action. That’s wrong.”
Paul Weber, president and CEO of Family Policy Alliance, said it was clearly the next move by activists.
“We’ve known that this would never stop at civil unions, equal rights, or marriage,” he said. “This has always been on the agenda and churches must realize they are not immune from this fight. If they want to maintain their religious freedom, they’re going to have to stand up and say ‘enough is enough’.”