|This photo of a church that merged due to
shrinking local population may be joined by others
if Iowa gets its way.
One Iowan Law Would Muzzle Churches Who Make People Uncomfortable
Churches Sue to Retain the Free Speech of Pastors and Others
OneNewsNow reported in an 18 July 2016 article that two Iowa churches have teamed with Alliance Defending Freedom to stand against an Iowa law that would curtail the freedoms of speech and religion of Iowans.
“Churches in the Hawkeye State took notice when the Iowa Civil Rights Commission released a controversial brochure describing public accommodation rights for homosexuals and transgenders under the state’s Civil Rights Act.
In particular, a portion of the brochure declares that churches are exempt from discriminating against homosexuals only if they are engaging in a ‘bona fide religious purpose.’
But what is a ‘bona fide religious purpose’ according to the commission? And does the commission have the legal right to define that term?
In a press release, however, ADF says the public accommodation law suggests a church could face legal action if it makes homosexuals or transgenders feel “unwelcome.” ADF fears that law could be used to stop church pastors – even from the pulpit – from condemning homosexuality.
Citing an earlier Register story, ONN noted that a homosexual activist and a law professor both suggest that Iowa churches are legally bound to follow the public accomodation law, even for “bona fide” churches services.”
The Des Moines Register Confirms the Details of the Suit
In an 8 July 2016 article, the Desmoines Register reported (with emphasis added by myself):
“An Iowa Civil Rights Commission brochure that some churches interpreted to mean they must abide by transgender bathroom rules and muzzle ministers who may want to preach against transgender or gay individuals has been changed, the commission said Friday.
The commission said Friday it revised the ‘Revised Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Public Accommodations Brochure’ to make it clear places of worship are generally exempt from Iowa’s antidiscrimination law except when they’re open for voting, providing a day care facility or other non-religious activities. It also said it regretted any confusion the brochure may have caused.
The previous brochure suggested the law applies to church services that are open to the public in a question and answer section, titled ‘Does this law apply to churches?’
‘Sometimes … Where qualifications are not related to a bona fide religious purpose, churches are still subject to the law’s provisions. (e.g. a child care facility operated at a church or a church service open to the public),’ it read.
The new brochure replaced that section with the following language: ‘Places of worship (e.g. churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.) are generally exempt from the Iowa law’s prohibition of discrimination, unless the place of worship engages in non-religious activities which are open to the public … the law may apply to an independent day care or polling places located on the premises of the place of worship.’
Funds Set Aside for Safer Play Areas are Denied to a Missouri Church
Equal Under the Law Does Not Seem to be in Missouri
A 25 July 2016 OneNewsNow article comments on the case argued by Missouri lawyers who suppose that the state has the right to discriminate against people of faith and religious organizations. Specifically, the state argues that they should allowed to deny …
” … funds for safer playground surface materials to a faith-based Christian church school because it is religious. Erik Stanley of Alliance Defending Freedom says state officials, in a written brief, told the U.S. Supreme Court that its constitution requires discrimination against people of faith.
‘It just proves that this is unconstitutional for a state to really discriminate against a church solely based on its religious status,’ he adds.
Stanley says the state is relying upon its constitution’s Blaine Amendment, an antiquated law that originally was used to discriminate against Catholic schools.
‘One of the points that we’ve been making in this case is that no state constitution can violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. … Missouri [can rely] upon its state constitution … as long as it also doesn’t violate the First Amendment – but in this case it does.’
In an earlier legal brief, ADF argued Missouri’s position on the matter ‘violates the United States Constitution’s free exercise and equal protection guarantees.’ “
Considering the wide (and righteous) application of the 14th Amendment, it is odd that this law still stands and allows discrimination against Christians.