Thursday, May 22, 2008

ENDA and Religious liberty

There seems to be a lot of confusion about ENDA, the “Employer Non-Discrimination Act." ENDA makes it unlawful for an employer to “to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual… because of such individual's actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity…”

From a Christian perspective we should admit that the Bible knows nothing of modern discussions about “sexual orientation.” Leviticus 18:22, for example, discusses behavior, not sexual identity: “You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination.”

Similarly, St. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, writes in terms of behavior, “For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature,” and “men committing shameless acts with men.” You could say that sexual orientation, on the other hand, is about temptation, and temptation by itself is not necessarily sin.

Therefore, if I were the president of a Christian College, or the CEO of a Christian charity, for example, I would have no problem hiring a homosexual as long as 1) he or she sincerely agreed with our doctrinal position including the sincere belief that having sex with someone of the same sex is an abominable sin before God, and 2) he or she had a long track record of abstinence from all such activity.

The problem is that under ENDA Christian organizations would not be allowed to make these qualifications. If an otherwise qualified history teacher, for example, applied for a teaching position, the Christian organization would not be allowed to turn the applicant down even if the applicant was a practicing homosexual and a radical gay rights activist. To require Christian organizations to hire people who disagree with their doctrinal position is not freedom of religion, it is tyranny!

Later, the Act goes on to discuss exemptions:

"(a) In General- This Act shall not apply to any of the employment practices of a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society which has as its primary purpose religious ritual or worship or the teaching or spreading of religious doctrine or belief."

Under ENDA, lawyers for gay rights activists will argue that Christians Colleges and Christian schools are primarily for education of students (especially if the colleges are liberal arts colleges), and that the spreading of religious doctrine is not primary. These lawyers will argue that Christian charities are primarily about providing food and shelter or adoption, or counseling, etc., and are only secondarily about spreading Christian doctrine.

Christians will end up spending millions of dollars that could go for helping others or for education, just to defend themselves from endless lawsuits by gay activists whose hatred against Christianity knows no bounds. Many Christian organizations will simply go out of business because they can’t afford the litigation. And those who support Barack Obama are supporting this!

ENDA continues:

"(b) Certain Employees- For any religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society that is not wholly exempt under subsection (a), this Act shall not apply with respect to the employment of individuals whose primary duties consist of teaching or spreading religious doctrine or belief, religious governance, supervision of a religious order, supervision of persons teaching or spreading religious doctrine or belief, or supervision or participation in religious ritual or worship."

This means that in Christian schools, colleges, and charitable organizations, the only people ENDA exempts are those who actually teach religious doctrine or those who directly supervise them. It does not exempt teachers of English, science, history, social sciences, etc. Nor does it exempt administrators like directors or vice presidents.

So in other words, Christian Colleges, schools and charitable organizations will be forced by law to hire teachers and even upper level administrators who believe that sexual acts between people of the same sex is perfectly OK. If the homosexual employee later gets fired for promoting homosexuality, they can sue the organization for wrongful termination under ENDA. Whether they win or not, the Christian organization will spend a small fortune to defend itself and some will go out of business. And Christians who support Barack Obama are supporting this!
ENDA continues:

"Conformity to Religious Tenets- Under this Act, a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society may require that applicants for, and employees in, similar positions conform to those religious tenets that such corporation, association, institution, or society declares significant…”

This sounds like it would allow employers to enforce a code of conduct but that doesn’t really resolve the issue. If a well qualified homosexual activist applied for a vice president’s position in a Christian organization, the organization would be forced by law to hire that person even if the applicant strongly opposed the organization's position on homosexuality.

Once hired, if the new employee began advocating for homosexuality on the job and were fired, they could sue the organization. Whether they won or not, it would cost the organization a small fortune to defend themselves. And those who support Barack Obama are supporting this!

Contrary to popular belief, ENDA does not exempt religious organizations. It exempts teachers of theology and preachers but not much else. It would have been a very simple matter for the author(s) and sponsors of ENDA--as a matter of religious freedom--to simply provide complete and total exemption for all religious colleges, schools, missions and charities. In fact, if the bill had been written to provide such exemptions, I doubt that it would receive much opposition from religious groups at all. But the sponsors chose not to provide such exemptions because they do not want religious organizations to be exempt.

Make no mistake about it—ENDA is an all-out full fledged attack on American religious liberty! And Barack Obama supports ENDA.

8 comments:

L'oiseau said...

"This Act shall not apply to ANY of the employment practices of a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society which has as ITS primary purpose religious ritual or worship or the teaching or spreading of religious doctrine or belief."

Are there many Christian organizations that do not promote Christianity as their primary purpose? If so, are they really Christian organizations? Maybe they really are just schools or charities with Christian leaders. And if so, would it not be simple to change the purpose statement to something that fits within the guidelines of this bill?

"Conformity to Religious Tenets- Under this Act, a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society may require that applicants for, and employees in, similar positions conform to those religious tenets that such corporation, association, institution, or society declares significant…”

YOU: This sounds like it would allow employers to enforce a code of conduct but that doesn’t really resolve the issue."

ME: Yes, it does in fact sound exactly like employers would be allowed to enforce a code of conduct. Nothing in your hypothetical is backed with facts.

I thought the addition of the Manager's Amendment was a good thing, also. It allowed for even non-denominational Christian schools that aren't even affiliated with a particular church to be exempt. http://www.speaker.gov/legislation?id=0121


I think this discussion is a very complicated one, as I have a few homosexual friends. Christians in the past few decades have really wanted to turn their moral perceptions into politics as far as homosexuality goes, however our culture permits homosexual activity, so Christians have been seen to be discriminating against gays.

Therefore, the homosexual community decided to "fight back" as it were and attempt to pass legislation that follows their moral perceptions which has led to even more complications.

We keep fighting between the two groups and demanding that our way is the right way and that we should control the government until we are where we are now. Either one group or the other will be discriminated against, and who is to blame?

L'oiseau said...

So, why do I care about non-discrimination against homosexuals? Because I care about non-discrimination against Christians! If homosexuals are allowed to be discriminated against, then why would Christians one day not be exempt from discrimination?

Kevin said...

It seems that homosexuals would be afforded greater protection under the law then people who may choose to be promiscuous or divorce their spouses arbitrarily or in order to have a relationship with another person. In these cases it's very likely that a Christian organization would have difficulty retaining that person, particularly if they were completely unrepentant of their actions since this would likely contradict their principles. If the person was heterosexual the organization could fire them because of their actions... if they are homosexual... or claim to be... the organization may not have the same freedom to hold to its convictions.

Kevin said...

L'oiseau... are you also in support of lifting the draconian discrimination laws against polygamists? Some would argue that we discriminate against pedophiles and that pedophilia is a natural thing for some people?

The point is not to equate homosexuality to pedophilia... but to point out that discrimination is a part of common and necessary part of life.

L'oiseau said...

And my point is that there are certain things that our culture feels are wrong (pedophiles, murder, polygamy) and certain things that it doesn't (homosexuality, Christianity). I think it is wise to pick our battles and make sure no one can pin our arguments right back on us later.

It's hard for me because, I obviously view homosexuality as a sin, but I don't feel that I can force non-Christians to behave as Christians should either. Therefore I have to try and look at it purely politically and what would be best for the Christian community in general would be to not allow discrimination in secular organizations of both movements.

As for homosexuals wanting to work in Christian environments, I would say that's going to be about as common (and cruel) as Christians wanting to work in gay organizations just to cause dissent and possibly make lawsuits happen. If homosexuals insist on doing this, we can threaten to do it right back, I suppose. See how the shoe would fit on the other foot.

Dennis said...

l'oiseau,

That little phrase "has as its primary purpose..." is a gold mine for lawyers!

Take, for example, the Christian libreral arts college I worked at before my present job. That college could theoretically change their mission statement to read "our primary purpose is to teach religous doctrine and belief"

It wouldn't matter! Some slick lawyer would argue 1) that they have never been a Bible College or Seminary, 2) they have always been a liberal arts college which primarily teaches history, English, Science, the arts, etc.,
3) Very few of their faculty are ordained and 4) the vast majority of them have advanced degrees, not from seminaries, but from state universities.

Therefore, the lawyer would argue, in spite of what their purpose statement says, their actual mission is to educate students in liberal arts, not to teach doctrine.

The lawyer would probably win the case even though a Christan worldview is the foundation of everything they believe, teach and stand for (and even if the lawery did not win his case, the college could potentially spend hundreds of thousands trying to defend itself).

That scenario will be repeated in Christian schools, colleges and charities all over the country.

And if gay rights activists were really interested in tolerance and freedom of religion, all they would have to do is push for a minor change in ENDA to provide complete and total exemption for ALL religions organizations (which, after all, is only a very, very tiny sliver of the employment opportunities available in America.

But they won't do that precisely because this is not about equal opportunity in employment (they already have that for the most part).

It is about intollerance and bigotry toward anyone who disagrees with them.

Dennis said...

And Barack Obama support it!

L'oiseau said...

I fully respect your opinion here. I think the majority of the gay community would look down on this kind of activity by the gay activists though, should it happen at all. I don't feel that it is quite so dire, but I could be wrong.

And I do feel that, for many gays, there still is discrimination in the workplace that should be "tended to". I'm glad we talked this through. :)