The Alliance Defending Freedom, a powerhouse of civil and religious rights advocacy, has joined other groups in denouncing the Equality Act proposed in the Democratic-majority House as a threat to faith.
“Essentially, the Equality Act gives people of faith an ultimatum: Change your faith-based practices or face government punishment,” wrote ADF’s Sarah Kramer.
WND reported it would amend the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit and the jury system.
And it would specifically prevent Christians from relying on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to uphold their religious rights.
Washington watchdog Judicial Watch has warned it would effectively eliminate single-sex “public multi-stall bathrooms, domestic violence or rape crisis shelters, drug rehabilitation centers, jails, juvenile detention facilities, homeless shelters, locker rooms or group showers.”
The Equality Act also was criticized by leaders such as James Dobson of the James Dobson Family Institute.
He warned, “Make no mistake – the so-called Equality Act is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to finish off religious liberty in America once and for all, which ought to be plainly obvious based upon a cursory reading of the First Amendment.”
Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said during congressional discussion that religious rights protected by the First Amendment never should be used as a defense in a conflict with LGBT rights.
ADF said that while “equality” may “sound nice to some ears, this bill actually poses a devastating and unprecedented threat to religious freedom and the progress that women have made toward true equal treatment in law and culture.”
“This would prohibit employers, individuals who rent out apartments in their homes, preschools, and even religious schools and organizations from making choices based on basic biology, bodily privacy, and their beliefs about the nature of marriage,” ADF said.
ADF cited cases in Alaska over a man’s use of a women’s shelter and a Pennsylvania student’s demand to use public school showers of the opposite sex.
It also, ADF contended, would destroy Title IX, which was meant to prevent discrimination against women in education, including sports.
ADF noted that at a Connecticut state track meet, two biological males identifying as girls beat out the female competitors in several events, taking first and second place.
“In fact, these males have taken medals from girls in meet after meet. As one girl said, ‘Why even try?’ In Alaska, the same happened – a biological male competed as a girl at the state championship and won,” ADF said.
The Equality Act, ADF added, also would overrule the authority of churches and religious nonprofits over employees with opposing views of marriage and morality.
And it would would threaten religious foster care and adoption agencies, and creative professionals and business owners who live and work according to their beliefs, the analysis said.
Kramer said the Equality Act would also force individuals to speak messages that violate their beliefs under the threat of punishment.
“Dr. Nicholas Meriwether was punished by Shawnee State University for declining to refer to a male student by female pronouns. He offered to refer to the student by first or last name only, in order to respect both the student and his own beliefs, but this did not satisfy the University, which still punished him.”
The Equality Act, Judicial Watch warns, provides no exemption for churches or religious groups.
“Religion is no excuse for discrimination when it comes to sexual orientation or gender identity,” Nadler declared.
Dobson said: “I wish I could say I was shocked to see the speed with which Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have brought to committee the sweet sounding but entirely treacherous Equality Act. This decision demonstrates a frightening willingness by those on the left to advance a radical social agenda at a time when our nation already faces so many other divisive challenges.
“Simply put, by creating a protected class of citizens out of the LGBT community, this bill places Christians who believe in traditional marriage at grave legal and civil jeopardy,” said Dobson.
“This bill literally sets the stage for setting up the Bible as prohibited material where it addresses homosexuality,” Liberty Counsel said.
The Heritage Foundation said employers, workers, medical professionals, parents, children, women and nonprofit organizations all would be harmed by the plan.