“Government officials have no business determining which church activities are religious and which ones aren’t.”
The progressive war on Christianity has been at full throttle for quite some time, and now we are seeing it playing out in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts passed a law that “Gives transgender people the right to use restrooms or locker rooms consistent with their gender identities, and includes language to provide “legal action [against] any person whose assertion of a gender identity is for an improper purpose.”
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, of unilateral “assault weapons” ban fame, has decided that churches are included in this law and that government can dictate church actions and silence church speech when it “conflicts with the government’s view.”
A new state law that prohibits discrimination against transgender people in public restrooms is “punishing” the protected religious speech of churches and pastors, a conservative Christian organization claims in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.
Alliance Defending Freedom, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, said it sued on behalf of four Massachusetts churches to protect their right to operate their facilities “in a manner that doesn’t violate their core religious beliefs.” The lawsuit names Democratic state Attorney General Maura Healey and members of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination as defendants.
The law, which was signed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in July and went into effect in October, bars discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations. Among other things, it allows people to use the bathrooms or locker rooms that correspond with their gender identities.
Healey has found that churches are places of public accommodation.
It doesn’t stop there. According to the ADF, Healey intends to silence churches and pastors when their religious views conflict “with the government’s view.”
WCVB 5 continues:
The ADF contends in the lawsuit that churches would be forced to open changing rooms, shower facilities and restrooms based on perceived gender identity and not on biological sex. The group says because the law also prohibits covered entities from making statements intended to discriminate or to incite others to do so, Healey and the commission “also intend to force churches and pastors to refrain from religious expression regarding sexuality that conflicts with the government’s views.”
“Neither the commission nor the attorney general has the constitutional authority to dictate how any church uses its facility or what public statements a church can make concerning a deeply held religious belief, such as human sexuality,” said attorney Steve O’Ban, senior counsel for ADF.
The ADF is requesting that the “court to suspend enforcement of the law against the churches while their lawsuit proceeds. The churches suing are Horizon Christian Fellowship, in Fitchburg; Abundant Life Church, in Swansea; House of Destiny Ministries, in Southbridge; and Faith Christian Fellowship in Haverhill.”
The ADF writes of the lawsuit:
In July 2016, the Massachusetts Legislature added “gender identity” as a protected class to the commonwealth’s public accommodation laws and directed the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and then attorney general to issue regulations or guidance by Sept. 1. On that date, the commission issued its “Gender Identity Guidance,” which states that “a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the public.” Healey then issued her own “Gender Identity Guidance for Public Accommodation,” saying on her website that “houses of worship” are places of public accommodation.
“All events held at a church on its property have a religious purpose, and the government has no authority to violate the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of religion and speech,” explained ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “Government officials have no business determining which church activities are religious and which ones aren’t.”
As the ADF complaint points out, “The Legislature and MCAD failed to provide an exemption for religious institutions, nor did MCAD attempt to define the ‘secular activities’ that it believed might subject a church to the Act, other than the woefully inadequate and confusing ‘spaghetti supper’ test. Indeed, MCAD expressly stated that it would not provide an objective standard, but would review a charge ‘involving religious institutions or religious exemptions…on a case-by-case-basis.’ Thus, a pastor, other church leader, or a court must guess as to which of the church’s activities subject it to the severe sanctions of the Act, which include fines of $50,000 per violation, up to 365 days in jail, and attorneys’ fees.”
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