This past week, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), two of the nation’s foremost evangelical organizations, publicly announced they now support adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as officially protected minority classifications to the ranks of federal nondiscrimination law.
Explaining their support for the “compromise” that is dubbed “Fairness for All,” (a legislative initiative driven by the argument that religious freedom can only be achieved while also conceding “no one should face unjust discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, or gender identity”), one spokesperson who serves on the board of both the CCCU and NAE explained: “We are increasingly persuaded that the most viable political strategy is for comprehensive religious freedom protections to be combined with explicit support for basic human rights for members of the LGBT community.”
This is a fool’s errand.
First, it is legally and politically untenable to pretend you can grant minority status to any group of people and then maintain for yourself an “exemption” to deny these people the minority protections you just granted them.
If “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (a moving target and transient definition if there ever was one) are granted minority class status under federal law, what in the world makes the religious institution think that its “religious freedoms” should or will ever trump the civil rights of the protected group it just recognized?
Even Chai Feldblum of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agrees with this fact when she boasts of the “zero-sum game,” where the rights of LGBT Americans will be secured only by curtailing the rights of religious Americans. LGBT community rights “cannot be adequately advanced,” says Ms. Feldblum, “if pockets of resistance are permitted to flourish.”
And just in case anyone, such as our leaders in the NAE and CCCU, missed her point, she concludes: “No individual exceptions based on religious beliefs” should ever be allowed if they conflict with “the goal of liberty for gay people.”
Or consider Martin Castro, former chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, who said, “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination [and] Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.”
The fact that the leaders of the CCCU and NAE think “the most viable political strategy for comprehensive religious freedom protections” is capitulation and appeasement with those who are the self-described enemies of religious freedom is nothing short of astonishing. One can only think of the image of an ostrich with his head stuck in the shifting sands of his own denial; yes, secure in his own mind, but yet oblivious to the real world around him and the predators that seek to have him for lunch.
Furthermore, the statements of NAE and CCCU in support of “Fairness for All” are basically selfish and short-sighted. Their defense of First Amendment rights only argues for the protection of actual churches and Christian colleges while ignoring the millions of other Christians and private business owners such as Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop or florist Baronelle Stutzman, who happily serve all customers but should not be forced to create art, sell products or promote messages that contradict their religious convictions.
One would think that an organization such as NAE, which purports to represent all of America’s 60 million-plus evangelicals, might be more reticent to throw so many of its “lesser” brothers and sisters in Christ under the onrushing social justice warriors (SJW) bus.
Finally, the statements by CCCU and NAE are logically foolish and teleologically unmoored. And moreover, these leaders just capitulated to the terribly-flawed ontological claims of those who say our identity is nothing more than the sum total of our sexual appetites and inclinations.
They just conceded that human beings, human purpose and human rights will, henceforth, be defined by feelings and desires rather than by objective biological facts, free will and personal responsibility a position that, by definition, supplants the rights of real women and other true minorities who will now be required to forfeit their legal position, their personal privacy and even their own identity to those claiming to have equal status simply because of their dysphoric feelings.
How can the church — the Evangelical church, the Holiness church — not see the salvific tragedy in celebrating and codifying any group of people based on their desires? I thought the message of salvation and sanctification meant our identity was in our Lord and not our libido? Whatever happened to “dying to self,” being “born again,” becoming a “new creation in Christ,” and “holiness unto the Lord?”
This message from CCCU and NAE is disastrous. Not only is it legally untenable but it is blatantly unbiblical and the exact opposite of the “evangel” — the good news of gospel. This is a nail in the coffin to our religious freedom. It compromises rather than enhances our legal position. It is an insult to who we are as men and women. It is an insult to the redemptive power of Christ and it smacks of Neville Chamberlain’s celebration of “peace in our time.”
• Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, is the author of “Not A Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery 2017).