Saturday, January 14, 2012

Alliance Defense Fund Criticizes Proposed Anchorage Gay Nondiscrimination Initiative, Says It Could Undermine Religious Liberty

On January 3rd, 2012, the Catholic Anchor, which is the official newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska, reported that the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) has taken a public stand against the proposed gay nondiscrimination initiative known as the Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative to be presented on the ballot during the April 3rd municipal election, concerned that it could undermine religious liberty.

The question to appear on the ballot reads “Shall the current Municipal Code sections providing legal protections against discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, marital status, age, physical disability, and mental disability be amended to include protections on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender identity?” But the ADF has analyzed the proposal, and found it to substantially undermine religious liberty and conscious protections. In particular, the ADF believes that the current Anchorage Municipal Code does not contain an adequate religious exemption to the proposed law. Specifically, the ADF writes:

“Rather than exempting all acts of a religious organization, the exemption only applies when the challenged conduct is reasonably calculated to promote the religious principles for which it is established or maintained. This type of exemption requires courts to determine whether the challenged conduct is sufficiently connected to the organization’s religious mission.”

The ADF foresees the possibility that the initiative will impose a significant burden on all religious organizations by requiring them to predict whether a court will consider their activities to be sufficiently connected to their religious mission to qualify for the exemption. The Alliance Defense Fund is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the truth through strategy, training, funding, and direct litigation; they defend religious freedom by empowering their allies, recognizing that together we can accomplish far more than we can alone.

Taking the lead in local opposition to the initiative is the Alaska Family Council; on December 28th, its president, Jim Minnery, outlined similar concerns. While no individual church or pastor has publicly declared against the initiative yet, four churches, St. Mary's Episcopal, United Methodist, Immanuel Presbyterian and Joy Lutheran, have publicly declared themselves in support of the initiative. In addition, a group called Christians For Equality has formed to promote passage of the initiative; they contain a lengthy list of individual pastors in support.

Of course, there is a double standard employed in discussing churches who weigh in on gay rights. While Anchorage Baptist Temple, which publicly opposed Ordinance #64 in 2009, has been endlessly vilified by progressives and atheists who've urged that ABT's tax exemptions be "re-visited", no such vilification has been directed by social conservatives against the four churches which support the current initiative. No one has smeared them as being "fag churches". And no one should; the right of a church or pastor to speak out on political issues is absolute and unconditional, so long as pastors don't endorse specific candidates from the pulpit.

It's obvious that any hate and bigotry is NOT being directed by conservative Christians towards gays, but rather by progressives and atheists towards conservative Christians.

No comments:

Post a Comment