“Fairness for All” is Fair for None
Christians are commanded to worship the Lord by obeying Him so that in, “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” . In the professional world Christians try their best to live according to their convictions and avoid, “all appearance of evil” . This belief has led several Christian business owners (bakers, florists, photographers, venue owners, etc.) to decline participating in same-sex marriage events such as weddings so that they don’t appear to be condoning something sinful.
In response, a well-intentioned Congressman has introduced the Fairness for All Act, a response to the Equality for All Act that passed the House of Representatives last year. This bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of “sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity,” but provides an exception for religious beliefs for some religious institutions and small businesses (less than 15 employees). Although the stated purpose of this bill is to promote the “free exercise of religion,” it threatens to do the opposite.
The bill creates two classes of businesses and non-profit organizations, some bound by the new protected class and some exempted from the requirements for providing services for this new legally defined protected class. This double standard will never endure long-term legal scrutiny.
The bill also assumes services are denied because of discrimination against individuals who are LGBT. That is usually not the case. Same-sex marriage events are simply not services which these businesses provide. For example, a wedding photographer should not be compelled to photograph a ceremony which he or she does not consider to be a wedding anymore than compelling them to photograph a sporting event. They should have the freedom to define the scope of their professional business.
The First Amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Now, let us apply that to the Fairness for All Act and ask a question: is one truly free to exercise their religion if they are forced to do so within the confines of a standard that is defined by government officials? Furthermore, this legislation could lead to the elevation of the LGBTQ community to an equally protected status with those who have historically been brutally discriminated against based on obvious, unchangeable characteristics, like race.
This sentiment is hardly unique, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has released a statement criticizing the Fairness for All Act for creating the opportunity for the LGBTQ community to achieve protected status. Advocates of the LBGTQ community are already pushing for heightened protection, decrying the Act because “by singling out LGBTQ people for lesser protections than other characteristics under federal law – such as race, ethnicity, and religion – the new legislation signals that LGBTQ people are less worthy of protection…”
Ultimately, this will start us down the path of defining our way out of religious protection. If this ground is conceded, it will push religious liberty further toward obliteration. Now is the time to make a stand and to hold firmly to the fact that the government has no right to infringe on religious freedom.
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1 Corinthians 10:31 1 Thessalonians 5:22 “H. R. 5331,” Congress.gov (December 6, 2019), https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/5331/text?r=1&s=1 Mark Silk, “Fairness for All: Caught between gender equality and religious liberty,” Religion News Service (January 13, 2020), https://religionnews.com/2020/01/13/caught-between-gender-equality-and-religious-liberty/ Tom Strode, “Fairness for All Act draws opposition from both sides,” Baptist Press (December 13, 2019), http://www.bpnews.net/54056/fairness-for-all-act-draws-opposition-from-both-sides Ian S. Thompson, “Three Ways the “Fairness for All Act” Doesn’t Protect LGBTQ People from Discrimination,” ACLU (December 9, 2019), https://www.aclu.org/news/lgbt-rights/three-ways-the-fairness-for-all-act-doesnt-protect-lgbtq-people-from-discrimination/