Apr 13, 2019

Equality Act Unequally Targets Faith Community, NRB Says

by: National Religious Broadcasters

Washington, D.C. - April 13, 2019 - (God Inspires News) -- Religious liberties were under direct attack in the U.S. House of Representatives this week, according to National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), an association of Christian radio, television, and internet communicators.

In a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, testimony was taken on H.R. 5, “The Equality Act,” an unprecedented expansion of federal civil rights laws to grant protections for transgender persons. As one witness warned, as a result of H.R. 5’s limitless redefinition of “places of accommodation” to include the provision of goods, services, and programs, including online activities, “churches and houses of worship” as well as pastors would be swept within its prohibitions against discrimination. Another witness suggested that church members ask their pastors to adopt an inclusive approach to transgender issues, and to switch churches or their charitable giving if their demands were not met.

NRB’s concerns that H.R. 5 contravenes fundamental religious freedoms are further supported by the text of the bill itself. The “Equality Act” unequally discriminates against religious people and faith-based employers and ministries by explicitly prohibiting the application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in Congress and signed into law in 1993 by President Bill Clinton to restore historic protections of religious liberty against abusive government actions. RFRA was the basis of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., upholding the rights of Hobby Lobby to be exempted from the abortion and contraception-related provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

NRB strongly urges lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to reject the “Equality Act.” It is an affront to the timeless guarantees of religious freedom that the Founders embedded within the liberties of the First Amendment, and recognized by Congress when it passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993 and later amended it favorably in 2000 in the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). It is a self-evident truth that new forms of “equality” should not be legislated at the expense of historic freedoms.

Last month during its annual meeting in Anaheim, California, NRB’s Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution, “Opposing Coercive Measures Against the Freedom to Believe the Bible on Marriage, Sexuality, and Gender,” which specifically urges Congress “to reject coercive proposals like the Equality Act and rather to pass laws preventing government intolerance and discrimination against those who – with malice toward none – simply wish to adhere to biblical understandings of gender, sexuality, and marriage.” NRB’s Board of Directors is comprised of approximately 100 key leaders among Christian communicators.

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