We seem to be in an age of increasing government mandates that strike at the very core of the freedom of religion. The HHS Mandate in just one example of government mandates that disregard freedom of religion. The latest example comes from Hutchinson, Kansas, a small town northwest of Wichita. If the Hutchinson Human Relations Commission has its way, churches will be mandated to rent out their facilities for same-sex “marriage” ceremonies.
It started back in November, 2011, when a group called the Kansas Equality Commission asked Hutchinson to add the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to its non-discrimination ordinance. The Mayor asked the Hutchinson Human Relations Commission to study the idea and report back to the town within 90 days on its findings. The Human Relations Commission did study the issue and is recommending that the terms be added to the non-discrimination ordinance. In the process, it put together a document entitled an FAQ sheet. The sheet describes the practical effect of what would happen if these terms are added to the ordinance.
Some of the more chilling aspects of the change include requiring employers and places of public accommodation to allow people to use whatever restroom fits their “gender identity” at the time. The proposed changes define “gender identity” as “a gender-related identity, appearance, expression or behavior of a person, regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth.” What this means is that an employer or a business owner must allow a male to use the women’s restroom if he has the “appearance” or expresses the “behavior” of a female.
But the proposed change to the ordinance doesn’t stop there. In the FAQ sheet, the Hutchinson Human Relations Commission states, “For example, if a church has a parish hall that they rent out to the general public, they could not discriminate against a gay couple who want to rent the building for a party. If the church only rents the building to their parishioners, they can continue to do so.” The proposed change in the ordinance would mandate the churches rent out their facilities for same-sex “marriage” ceremonies or homosexual-themed parties.
Let me state this very simply – if this proposed change happens to the Hutchinson ordinance, mandating that churches rent their facilities out to people or groups that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs is patently unconstitutional. And ADF would represent any church that is faced with such overreach and unconstitutional mandate by the government.
There is a battle raging between sexual liberty and religious freedom and there are those in our government who believe that in this conflict, religious freedom should always lose. The Church must remain vigilant and stand to protect the right for it to live according to its religious beliefs. It is unconstitutional for Hutchinson or any government to mandate conduct that forces a church to act in violation of its religious beliefs. We hope that Hutchinson will see that the Constitution already mandates religious freedom and that mandate trumps the one they are proposing.