Kentucky Baptist leaders across the state have joined the chorus of Southern Baptists and other conservative organizations voicing opposition to the Equality Act, a bill termed as a federal LGBTQ rights bill.
Last week the House of Representatives passed legislation that religious and faith-based organizations consider dangerous because it overrides religious liberty protections granted in 1993. “More broadly, they fear that both law and secular culture are on a path to equating traditional religious teachings about sexuality to racism,” wrote Jonathan Rauch in an op-ed article in the Washington Post.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where its fate is unclear. When House Democrats introduced the bill, President Joe Biden reiterated his support, urging Congress to “swiftly pass this historic legislation.”
Todd Gray, executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, said the Equality Act label “creates a false impression with its name. It’s touted as a bill to oppose discrimination, but if it is successful, faith-based organizations could be punished because of their long-held and biblically-based convictions.
“This bill will dramatically advance the LGBTQ agenda in this country, and will pose a serious threat to faith-based organizations by mandating how they operate,” he added.
“The Bible is clear on gender identity and sexual orientation in Gen. 1:27, ‘God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.’ The current bill will ignore that truth and redefine the definition of sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity which will result in religious freedom being in peril because the government will redefine human sexuality rather than relying on biblical truths,” Gray said.
”We cannot forsake the doctrines in the Bible related to marriage and sexuality, but this toxic bill will try to do just that — and that is why we must pray that it does not become law,” said Gray.
Lynn Traylor, associational mission strategist of the Liberty Association of Baptists, is serving his second term as a trustee of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He points out that the ERLC “has provided very helpful information in explaining the huge problems in the so-called Equality Act.
“This legislation (H.R.5) seeks to expand the definition of ‘sex’ to include ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ and would revise every title of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add these categories as new protected classes in the federal code,” Traylor said. “It inappropriately names sexual and gender identity as a civil right, and most alarming, it removes those provisions of the Religious Freedom Act which protects religious groups and institutions to exercise freedom of conscience and teachings if they are in opposition to any part of H.R.5.”
Traylor noted that faith-based child welfare organizations, such as Sunrise Children’s Services, would be “forced to abandon their deeply-held religious beliefs or be shut down by the state. If passed, H.R.5 would punish faith-based charities for their core religious beliefs about human dignity and marriage and would undermine decades of civil rights protections for women and girls. Single-gender spaces, such as locker rooms or shelters housing women and girls, would no longer be protected by law.”
Traylor applauded the diligence of the ERLC in its efforts opposing this legislation.
“Our ERLC has been working hard to defeat this bill, partnering with more than 85 faith-based nonprofits, religious entities and institutions of higher education to highlight the dangers of H.R.5, expressing our concerns with members of Congress and the administration through coalition letters and countless meetings with members, administration officials and their staff.”
Wes Fowler, pastor of First Baptist Church in Mayfield and president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, encourages those who follow Jesus to adamantly oppose this bill.
“Because followers of Jesus should desire equality for everyone, and the Equality Act does anything but promote equality! In fact, the Equality Act clearly discriminates against people of faith (many faiths), people who are pro-life and women,” Fowler said.
“The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects a Christian’s right not only to believe what the Bible teaches but to act on those beliefs as well,” he added. “The Equality Act denies this right. Do we really want faith-based charities, foster agencies and hospitals forced to act against their religious beliefs? Do we really want pro-life nurses and doctors forced to murder unborn babies? Do we really want females forced to share a locker room with biological males? In my view, the answer is unequivocally no,” Fowler said.
“To be clear, the Equality Act is not about equality, and it does not promote equality. Rather, it’s about an agenda being forced upon those who sincerely and respectfully disagree. Followers of Jesus should certainly desire equality for everyone, but they should adamantly oppose the ironically-named Equality Act,” Fowler said.