Updated: Jun 1, 2021
February 26, 2021
BISHOP PETER CHRISTENSEN JOINS U.S. BISHOPS
AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS TO OPPOSE ‘EQUALITY ACT’
BOISE – Bishop Peter Christensen has joined other bishops throughout the United States in expressing opposition to legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that would trample religious freedom protections while codifying gender ideology in federal law.
By a vote of 224 to 206, the U.S. House passed the so-called “Equality Act,” which recognizes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under civil rights law and forbids discrimination on the basis of those classes in a number of areas. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it must get at least 60 votes to pass.
“Even though it is called the Equality Act, this legislation does not guarantee equality to adoption agencies, medical doctors, professional counselors, business owners and churches who may hold sincerely-held religious and moral convictions regarding the definition of gender, marriage and family,” Bishop Peter said.
The U.S. bishops’ conference opposes the legislation, saying it upholds gender ideology and the redefinition of marriage and frames gender as simply a “social construct.” Furthermore, it would “punish” religious groups opposed to these beliefs, the conference warned.
The legislation prevents religious freedom claims from being made by individuals and groups under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The landmark 1993 law has been invoked by many as a defense against various government mandates, but the Equality Act would override those religious freedom protections.
The legislation would establish new classes of protections in a broad range of areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system.
Thus, people could not be denied access to a number of public goods based on their gender identity. Under the legislation, for example, men identifying as transgender women could not be denied access to women’s bathrooms or locker rooms. Female sports could also be affected, with athletes participating on the basis of their gender identity and not their biological sex. Business owners could be required to serve same-sex weddings, regardless of their own religious beliefs.
The bishops warned that the bill could force church halls to “host functions that violate their beliefs.” Religious adoption agencies would have to match children with same-sex couples or possibly face closure. Religious adoption agencies in several states have already been shut down because of mandates that they place children with same-sex couples.
There is also concern that the legislation would expand legal protections for abortions by outlawing “pregnancy” discrimination.
Bishop Peter is encouraging those in the Diocese of Boise to contact their U.S. senators regarding the threats posed by this legislation. For more information, go to www.usccb.org/equality-act.