Monday, July 11, 2016

Churches Face New Scrutiny From Anti-Discrimination Laws

Todd Starnes in an analysis for recently asked the question that may soon be on the mind of many church leaders:  "Is a church a place of public accommodation and, if so,  are congregations required to follow anti-discrimination laws regarding gender and sexual orientation?"
Starnes says that's the issue raised by a brochure published by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. They contend that any church that opens its doors to the public would be required to comply with sexual orientation and gender identity laws.

It's unclear when the Commission's brochure was published, but it clearly outlines their interpretation of the 2007 Iowa Civil Rights Act,  known as Iowa Code Chapter 216. Apparently, some churches have already fallen afoul of the regulations.

First Liberty Institute is representing Cornerstone World Outreach, a Sioux City church that fears it may be in violation of the statute. Hiram Sasser, the law firm's director of litigation, said the Commission's brochure means churches would be required to let transgender individuals use the bathrooms of their choice.

"It further compels our client to use specific pronouns when referring to certain 'gender identities' 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," Sasser said. READ MORE