Editor’s note: The original version of this article was published by Patheos.com. Click here to read it.
The last place you might expect to find a commission aiming to control church services is Iowa. California, sure. But not Iowa. Even so, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission is interpreting a state Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) law to censor church sermons on Christian sexual ethics when services are open to the public (…which apparently isn’t every Sunday?) and force churches to open its restroom facilities to members of the opposite sex.
According to Iowa’s unelected commission and their vague guidelines, the state’s SOGI laws apply to churches “sometimes.” Churches are susceptible to discrimination suites when open to the public or deemed not in operation for a “bona fide religious purpose.” Who determines what constitutes a “bona fide religious purpose”? My guess is the unelected commission. Convenient, no?
Ok, let’s face facts and speak plainly.
“What’s happening in Iowa is insanity. Caesar has no authority over the worship services of churches,” tweeted Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).
Right you are, Dr. Moore. It’s refreshing when sensible church leaders don’t hesitate to use tough words to call out ludicrous situations. Insanity is certainly fitting. But words alone cannot prevent the commission’s control of sermons and church facilities.
Thankfully, our lawyer friends with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) have filed a federal complaint against the state and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission to stop the insane effort to gag constitutionally protected free speech and religious liberty.
“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 in a press release. “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.”
Through the ages, the Church has witnessed Caesar’s attempts to control and censor Christ’s teachings and His faithful followers. Through it all, the Church continued to grow. It is when Christ’s followers choose to bend a knee to Caesar that the Church will cease to thrive.
Please pray for ADF as its legal counsel prepare to stand toe-to-toe with Caesar on behalf of Iowa’s churches.