State’s Churches Must Ban Sermons on Sexual Identity; “Not A Bona Fide Religious Purpose”

Sermons on Biblical Sexual Identity Perhaps Now Illegal?

State civil rights commission says churches must censor unwelcoming sermons, open childcare to trans workers. West Virginia’s homosexual activist alliance across the state including local human rights commissions, several city councils, state manufacturing associations, hotels, restaurants and corporations are secretly plotting to deploy Orwellian restrictions on church sermons and childcare operations in every county in our state. Violate the censorship and suffer penalties.

The article below details this free speech-killing assault on religious liberty that our attorneys are already fighting against on another front. Wheeling is the next West Virginia stop on the “trans” activism train. Leftists are colluding with Ohio County elected officials to push this type of censorship and tyranny onto faithful Christians and others who dare dissent. Officials in Wheeling have been secretly planning to steal privacy and safety from its women and children like several other cities have done. These activists across the country and here in the Mountain State will not be satisfied with suing Christian businesses. Now churches must also comply.

The Wheeling human rights commission is preparing to recommend: Allowing men into public showers, changing areas and forcing local sports leagues to house males and female teens in the same rooms and even same beds, on overnight trips if a teen identifies as a member of the opposite sex. Members of the Ohio County Commission dealing with human rights were instructed to keep quiet about these plans until the new LGBT “rights” activists, including the new mayor and new city councilmen, are sworn in later in July. The city council is then expected to go full throttle to pass a sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression ordinance. This reckless social engineering endangers women and girls in private areas and removes dignity from those who have been victims of sexual assault by forcing them to accommodate possible abusers.

To stop this we need to add some staff and increase our West Virginia litigation budget. If you personally or you and or your church could add us into your regular charitable giving we have a chance to push back against this destructive tyranny of our churches. Time is running out to defend yourselves. Donations can be made easily online here: Give to Stop Sermon Censorship
Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Allied Attorney:  Christiana Holcomb

stateofwv Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a Church of Christ filed a federal lawsuit Monday against members of the Civil Rights Commission, among others, to stop the government from censoring the church’s teaching on biblical sexuality and from forcing the church to open its restrooms and showers to members of the opposite sex.

The commission is interpreting a state law to ban churches from expressing their views on human sexuality if they would “directly or indirectly” make “persons of any particular…gender identity” feel “unwelcome” in conjunction with church services, events, and other religious activities. The speech ban could be used to gag churches from making any public comments—including from the pulpit—that could be viewed as unwelcome to persons who do not identify with their biological sex. This is because the commission says the law applies to churches during any activity that the commission deems to not have a “bona fide religious purpose.” Examples the commission gave are “a child care facility operated at a church or a church service open to the public,” which encompasses most events that churches hold.

ADF attorneys representing Fort Des Moines Church of Christ in Des Moines, Iowa argue in the lawsuit that all events held at a church on its property have a bona fide religious purpose, and that the commission has no authority to violate the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of religion and speech. West Virginia’s recent assault on religious liberty by several city councils has set the table for this church censorship. West Virginia’s largest church sits square in the cross hairs since Charles Town adopted an ordinance in June threatening that congregation’s weekly ministry.

“Churches should be free to teach their religious beliefs and operate their houses of worship according to their faith without being threatened by the government. That is a foundational First Amendment principle,” said ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “Churches have always been protected from government intrusion, and they still are. They have a firmly established freedom to teach their beliefs and set internal policies that reflect their biblical teachings about marriage and human sexuality. One can hardly imagine a more obvious unconstitutional invasion of the state into the internal affairs of the church.”

The commission bases its conclusions on its interpretation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act, which also includes a facility use mandate that requires anyone subject to the law to open sensitive areas like locker rooms, showers, and restrooms to persons based on their “gender identity” rather than their biological sex.

As the complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa explains, the commission published its position in a publication titled “A Public Accommodations Provider’s Guide to Iowa Law.” In a question-and-answer section, the document asks, “Does this Law [the Iowa Civil Rights Act] Apply to Churches?” The guide answers the question by saying, “Sometimes. Iowa law provides that these protections do not apply to religious institutions with respect to any religion-based qualifications when such qualifications are related to a bona fide religious purpose. 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).” (Italics not in original.)

The lawsuit is known in legal circles as a “pre-enforcement challenge,” a lawsuit that allows citizens to challenge a law—in this case, a law that threatens First Amendment freedoms—before the government enforces it against them. For example, organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood routinely file such lawsuits against laws they oppose.

“Americans, including church leaders, have the right to challenge unjust laws. We don’t have to be punished or thrown in jail before we seek justice,” said ADF Senior Counsel Steven O’Ban. “The government should never have the unchecked power to violate foundational, constitutionally protected freedoms.”