“At stake in the SOGI dispute are the local, state, and federal laws governing whether religious institutions or businesses owned by people of faith must serve LGBT individuals despite their convictions on sexuality and gender.”
Compromises designed to safeguard both religious freedoms and LGBT rights won’t fly among many of America’s most influential conservative Christians.
Leaders from nearly 90 evangelical seminaries, publications, ministries, and churches—as well as Catholic and Orthodox clergy—signed a statement last month rejecting any legal efforts to protect sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).
“[We] believe that proposed SOGI laws, including those narrowly crafted, threaten fundamental freedoms,” they wrote as part of the “Preserve Freedom, Reject Coercion” campaign, hosted by the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.
The declaration follows months of conversations among Christian college leaders around the Fairness for All strategy, which would bring religious leaders and LGBT advocates together to try to secure satisfactory legal protections for both. Parties from each side of the conversation are convening this weekend for a conference at Yale University.
As CT reported, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) spearheaded discussion of a potential nationwide Fairness for All law—modeled after a well-regarded compromise enacted in Utah in 2015—among its members and partners.
Advocates of the Fairness for All approach argue that evangelicals and other faith groups end up with greater protections when actively involved in crafting legislation; if left up to the courts to weigh the rights of either side, Christian-run institutions and businesses—from churches to bakers—risk more severe restrictions.
Presidents and professors from 16 CCCU member schools and affiliates are among the signatories declaring that “any ostensible protections for religious liberty appended to such laws are inherently inadequate and unstable.”
The list also includes The Gospel Coalition president D. A. Carson, Focus on the Family president Jim Daly, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School president David S. Dockery, and First Things editor R. R. Reno. Several major Southern Baptist leaders also signed on: Russell Moore, Al Mohler, Fred Luter, and Paige Patterson.
In the wake of the “Preserve Freedom” statement, Shapri LoMaglio, the CCCU’s vice president for government and external relations, said:
We are continuing to explore Fairness for All as well as all legislative and legal options that could help secure long-term, comprehensive, and robust religious liberty protections for our institutions. We are committed to identifying the best solution to accomplish these goals, not a particular solution.
At stake in the SOGI dispute are the local, state, and federal laws governing whether religious institutions or businesses owned by people of faith must serve LGBT individuals despite their convictions on sexuality and gender.