Word from the Center Digest: May 17, 2019
BE HONEST: IT’S NOT ABOUT EQUALITY
by Gregory Seltz
The Congress is at it again. As I’ve shared before, a tremendous challenge of our work in Washington, D.C., is trying to unpack the “political speak” of much legislation. The particular title of a piece of legislation is often designed to convey confusing, rather than clarifying, messages about what the bill is actually trying to do. Part of our job here then is to confront the marketing strategy, unpack the often-disingenuous messaging of certain policy provisions, and convey to you the operational reality that a particular bill seeks to accomplish by its implementation. And sadly, the title often conveys the exact opposite of what will happen if a bill becomes a law.
Such is the case with the so-called “Equality Act.” It’s not about “equality” at all. As Andrew Walker of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention states, “The Equality Act represents the most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed in America” (see Breakpoint’s, “The Equality Act vs. Religious Freedom: Equality for Me, but not for Thee” for more information). It will elevate gender identity and sexual orientation to civil rights protected classes, literally dismissing religious liberty objections from the public dialogue. Equality? No, that’s more like domination, suppression, and silencing. And that’s the problem. The title “Equality Act” sounds non-threatening; it seems like a “live and let live” oriented attempt to merely open up honest dialogue with mutual respect. Yet the passage of such a law would do exactly the opposite. It would not only demonize traditional, biblical morality concerning all kinds of sexual behavior, but actually make it illegal. It would force many Christian ministries to embrace all the ideas of the sexual revolution/devolution, no matter the chaos they’ve caused and continue to cause in the culture and in people’s lives, or else.
That’s one of the reasons that the LCRL is in Washington, D.C. We’re here to engage these issues at the source. We’re here to dialogue with legislators and to challenge them to be truthful and honest about what they are actually seeking to do with certain policies and laws. Religious liberty is protected by the First Amendment to our Constitution for a reason. Religious liberty, in thought, word, and deed, has been a foundational blessing to the American culture. It has contributed to the freedom and the tolerance that so many cherish today, especially among those issues that are matters of conscience or based in morality. It is ironic that such a blessing is now being turned against the very worldview that created such an environment. Efforts like the “Equality Act” seek to make biblical teachings about the moral nature of humanity, the institutional nature of the family, and the political equality that comes from being created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26) illegal by policy fiat.
In dialogues such as these, it is vital that people are honest about what they speak and what they seek. When it comes to fundamental moral issues, the state should respect differences of conscience. When it comes to issues of relationships, the state should realize that it is a guarantor of individual liberty, not the cultural arbiter of what a healthy relationship is to be. The First Amendment protects the church here, but we must continue to make our voice heard because there are many today who wish to remove those protections. And the LCRL is here to keep such important discussions up front and honest for all.
The Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz is the executive director of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty.
Wondering why the Equality Act isn’t so equal after all? Click here to learn more.
Riding in the car on the way to work? Listen to Dr. Ryan Anderson explain religious liberty and what’s at stake when it comes to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification (SOGI) laws.
must refrain from the dangerous tendency to divide America into smaller and
smaller sub-groups defined first and foremost by our grievances. We are one
nation, under God, and we are already blessed with a Constitution and First
Amendment that protects every American without criminalizing our most sincerely
held religious beliefs.” – Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family