It’s been called “the most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed in America.” That assessment of the Equality Act of 2019, introduced in March into both houses of Congress, came from Andrew Walker, director of research at the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).
In short, the legislation would use the force of federal law to foist strict nondiscrimination protections based on gender identity and sexual orientation into every area of American public life by amending the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act. It would also explicitly override the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act that served to further protect First Amendment religious liberties.
And it’s continuing to raise alarms among watchful eyes in the evangelical community.
“Make no mistake,” said legendary Christian family advocate James Dobson, “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. …
“[Whereas] the Civil Rights movement of the ’60s was born out of deep faith and in congruence with God’s Word, this bill tramples both underfoot.”
A host of Christian organizations and sympathetic conservative groups have raised similar concerns, with most calling on their constituents to contact their congressional delegations and voice their opposition to the bill—introduced as HR 5 in the House and S 788 in the Senate. As introduced, the House version had a record 239 co-sponsors.
Alliance Defending Freedom, Liberty Counsel, Family Research Council, ERLC, Concerned Women for America, National Religious Broadcasters and The Heritage Foundation are among the organizations that have voiced strong opposition to it.
As Walker said on the BreakPoint podcast last spring, the Equality Act would put Christians with Biblical beliefs about sex, marriage and gender “on the opposite side of federal law. … Our viewpoints on marriage and sexuality and how we define male and female” would be considered oppressive. “The Equality Act effectively turns Billy Graham into Jim Crow,” said Walker, alluding to the racial segregation laws in the old South.
As with the campaign among homosexual activists to win over the courts and public opinion on same-sex marriage, they are working overtime to win the day with the Equality Act also. The Human Rights Campaign, the world’s most influential gay lobbying group, has released a video campaign that uses celebrities such as actress Sally Field, figure skater Adam Rippon and reality TV star Karamo Brown to urge passage of the bill.
Writing in the American Thinker, writer and professor Nancy Pearcey lamented the case of Dr. Allan Josephson of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, who is fighting for his job after challenging transgender dogma. “If the deceptively named Equality Act passes,” Pearcey wrote, “this man of science won’t stand a chance. And neither will anyone else who does not pledge allegiance to the state-sanctioned sexual ideology.”
Above: Andrew Walker of the ERLC
Photo: Karen Race Photography