June 15, 2021

Watch: This Virginia Law Blatantly Violates Religious Freedom

Caroline Roberts

On April 11, 2020, Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam signed into law the Virginia Values Act. The bill treats sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in non-discrimination law.

Under the guise of protecting people from discrimination, the Act compels churches, religious schools, and Christian ministries to hire employees who do not share their stated beliefs on marriage, sexuality, and gender identity.

Does that seem fair to you?

Back in December, many churches, ministries, schools, and Christian-owned businesses signed an open letter addressed to Northam, detailing how the Act discriminates against them for their faith.

“The Act threatens to undermine the very mission that holds us together,” they explained.

Unfortunately, their pleas fell on deaf ears. Now, all Virginians’ freedom will suffer as the government imposes enormous pressure to compel people to conform.

Imagine that you operate a ministry, and you need to hire someone to help you run it.

Undoubtedly, you’ll be looking for someone who agrees with the values of the organization.

After all, if your ministry serves people based on those values, it’s important for both the wellness of your organization and those you serve that your employees endorse the organization’s principles.

But Virginia is now telling churches and ministries that they are expected to hire people who disagree with a ministry’s core principles on things as important as marriage, family, and sexuality. Effectively, Virginia is saying that ministries must support only the ideology and values approved by the government—even if it violates their core beliefs and mission—or else face fines up to $100,000.

This bill blatantly tramples on the freedoms of religion and conscience, violating the rights of many business owners, nonprofits, and individuals.

Take Bob Updegrove, for example. Bob is the owner of a photography studio in Virginia where he creates photos for all kinds of events, including weddings. As a creative professional, Bob expresses himself through his photography. Bob is also a Christian, so he can’t produce photos that go against his deeply held religious beliefs about marriage.

And yet, Virginia is trying to compel him to celebrate same-sex weddings, even though promoting this view goes against his conscience. That’s why Bob feels he must stand up for religious freedom by challenging Virginia’s law.

The government simply has no business telling individuals that they must support or embrace a certain view of marriage, family, and sexuality.

And when it does, you can be sure that ADF will be there to defend your religious freedom.


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We continue this month with our “A Vision for Freedom” series, highlighting ADF’s “Generational Wins” initiative. Generational Wins are significant legal and cultural victories, rooted in the truth of Scripture, that can change the trajectory of law and culture for decades. Generational Wins encapsulate five strategic goals that, with God’s help, will make a lasting impact on our country now and in the future. Click here to read about the Generational Wins we’re working to achieve together.

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