H.R. 5: Equality Act Passed House of Representatives Friday (05/1719)
Nearly one year after Church United Pastors and our biblically minded partners successfully halted an attempt in California to undermine the religious freedoms of churches, non-profit ministries, and Christian universities through AB 2943, a similar battle now looms in the nation’s Capitol.
At stake is the so-called “Equality Act,” federal legislation that elevates the rights of the LGBT community above the constitutionally protected freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment. Bill 5 (H.R. 5) would redefine “sex” by codifying sexual orientation and “gender identity” as a protected class in the existing Civil Rights Act, equating those behaviors with race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
The law is sweeping and would ban LGBT discrimination in arenas such as employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit and the jury system. The impact would also touch the private, public, religious, academic and government sectors. There would be NO exemptions for individual believers or faith communities.
While the title “Equality Act” sounds noble, the bill fosters inequality by discriminating against — and targeting — a specific class of Americans: churches, businesses, schools and other non-profit ministries. Sexual behavior should not be a protected civil right. Further, changing the Civil Rights Act would create a super class for anyone identifying as LGBT, usurping everyone else’s rights who are not LGBT or who disagree with the lifestyle because of deeply held religious beliefs.
Perhaps the most vulnerable community of all is “Formers” (those who no longer identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender) and others who desire to leave the LGBT lifestyle behind. Many Formers, myself included, have given our lives to Christ. We’ve been transformed from the same brokenness experienced by the women who wept over and washed Jesus’ feet. It’s the same heart and attitude that conquers evil in the heavenly realm and ushers in revival or awakening to those who need Jesus the most — and that includes LGBT individuals.
Formers, once LGBT insiders, understand the “Equality Act” discriminates against those seeking to live according to their religious convictions — particularly those who have experienced same-sex attraction. As a Super Minority, Formers do not desire to embrace LGBT culture and identity because they find that lifestyle inconsistent with their faith. The H.R. 5 bill blocks their choices and options, further marginalizing them as a people group. Former LGBT individuals have endured persecution, ridicule, and abuse for simply changing previous behaviors or lifestyles. The suggested “Equality Act” would not protect these people or others who practice a different sexual behavior than LGBT individuals.
These stories of redemption by Formers are essential in winning another significant battle to uphold biblical relationships. They worked in our stand against California’s AB 2943, and they helped convince Taiwanese voters to uphold traditional marriage last fall. I believe that’s how we can be victorious again by defeating the “Equality Act” in Congress.
Georgia’s Jeffrey McCall, a former transgender woman, shared, “As someone who used to live in and relate to the world around me as a man — and who identified as a lesbian, I am thankful I had a choice to refuse the LGBT label and get the help I needed to align myself with my Christian faith. I don’t want these rights taken away from others like me.”
“Vulnerable people deserve care,” Amanda Smith, a Missouri resident and former lesbian told Church United. “Individuals who struggle with their sexuality and self-perception around their gender deserve informed, compassionate attention of their choosing. I oppose H.R. 5 because, in the end, it would limit care and resources for people who want a particular type of assistance with these struggles. Making laws around ideologies and self-perceptions, rather than innate qualities like biological sex and race, sets a dangerous precedent. By infringing on other freedoms, particularly religious freedoms, this bill harms — even while it claims to help. I oppose this bill for the ways it would harm people whose stories are like mine and so many others I know.”
While the bill passed the House of Representatives last Friday, where Democrats hold the majority, its passage in the Republican-held Senate is doubtful. Even so, it’s imperative that Christ-followers take a stand as LGBT activists are unwavering in their commitment to make special protections the law of the land.
The Human Rights Campaign, for example, has a two-to-five-year plan, meaning that if President Trump is defeated in 2020, they plan to pass the “Equality Act” through in two years. If Trump is re-elected, the HRC is prepared to delay its push, but only until the 2024 election.
For decades, the church has been on the defensive. Church United desires to help the church to be proactive. We want to be on the offense with the grace, mercy and transformational power of Jesus Christ. This is our message.