If there’s any case that shows churches across the country should be vigilant in watching and preparing for threats to religious liberty, it’s a 2016 case that Alliance Defending Freedom filed in Iowa.
Yes, Iowa – right out of the heartland.
You see, Iowa has a state law that prohibits “public accommodations” from “indicating” that a person is “unwelcome” based on his or her “gender identity.”
So, you might be wondering, what does that have to do with churches in Iowa?
Well, in 2016, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission proclaimed that this state law applied to churches. That meant that churches could be forced to open their showers and restrooms to members of the opposite biological sex, and even censor their speech about human sexuality.
As you can imagine, this didn’t sit right with Fort Des Moines Church of Christ.
Fort Des Moines’ motto is to love God, love people, and serve everyone. Because of this motto, the congregation is active in the community and welcomes anyone to come to their church services to hear the good news of the Gospel.
But because the church welcomes non-members to attend its worship services and other activities, this state law could be used against it. Based on the Iowa Civil Rights Commission’s interpretation of state law, if the pastor spoke on what the Bible says about human sexuality, or if the church required people at the church to use the private facilities that line up with their biological sex, the church could be punished under the law.
In July 2016, Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of Fort Des Moines Church of Christ against this unprecedented overreach by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. Thankfully, in October 2016, a federal district court held that churches are not public accommodations subject to government control.
Threats like these are becoming more frequent. It is no longer a question of if churches will be threatened or sued for standing true to God’s Word – the question is when and where such cases will arise.
That’s why ADF created the Church Alliance, an affordable membership program that prepares, advises, and even litigates on behalf of churches as the legal culture tests the limits of religious freedom.
Members of the ADF Church Alliance receive:
Visit The Church Alliance website to learn more about how your church can become a member.
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.Continue reading