Evangelist Franklin Graham warned that a proposed law supported by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public accommodations presents a “clear and present danger to religious freedom” in an op-ed accompanying the cover story of the July/August 2019 edition of Decision Magazine.
The Equality Act, which would add LGBTQ people as a protected class in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that currently bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin, passed the House in May by a vote of 236-173. All 228 of voting Democrats were in favor, joined by eight Republicans who crossed the aisle to make it a bipartisan measure.
Observers say the bill as written is unlikely to pass in the Senate, and if it did President Trump would probably veto it. But Graham, head of the humanitarian Christian ministry Samaritan’s Purse and heir to his late father leading the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, warned that America could be one election away from it becoming the law of the land.
“This legislation will have catastrophic consequences for competitive sports, along with churches and faith-based nonprofits who would lose all protections to hire people who adhere to their Biblical statements of faith,” Graham said in the flagship magazine of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association published since 1960.
“Christians will be persecuted for their sincerely held beliefs as never before,” he said. “The clear teachings of the Bible on the sins of homosexuality and abortion will no doubt be considered ‘hate speech.’ It will be a nightmare from which this nation may never recover.”
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, says two-thirds of LGBTQ Americans report having experienced discrimination in their personal lives.
The non-partisan Public Religion Research Institute says nearly seven in 10 Americans (69 percent) favor laws that would protect LGBT people from discrimination in the job market, public accommodations and housing. Two thirds (67 percent) say small business owners should not be allowed to deny services to gay or lesbian people if doing so violates their religious beliefs.
Graham, who recently joined more than 250 religious leaders – including three former presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention – in a special day of prayer for President Trump, said “zealots for ‘separation of church and state’ have led legislatures and the judiciary to suppress and deny the essential role of religion in our schools and public life.”
“The sexual revolution of the 1960s has now morphed into an open advocacy for gay, lesbian and transgender rights,” he said. “Homosexual marriage was given full federal sanction by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015.”
“The progressive left has ascended into a national political power that presents a clear and present danger to our basic religious liberties and freedoms,” Graham continued. “They despise anyone who is pro-life and mock all who hold to a Biblical worldview.”
A sidebar to the cover story written by Decision managing editor Jerry Pierce includes a bullet list of worst-case scenarios should the Equality Act be passed into law.
“The rights of parents to make choices for their children on questions of sexuality or gender, including medical treatments, would be superseded by federal civil rights codes,” the magazine warned. “The law would also strip parents of their right to raise and educate their own children if their beliefs contradict government mandates.”
“Male-bodied trans women would have rights to women’s private spaces such as bathrooms, locker rooms, prison cells, homeless shelters, women’s shelters, hospital rooms, women’s conferences, college dorms, elder care facilities and sports leagues,” the list goes on.
“Bakers, florists, photographers, videographers, web designers, wedding venue owners and public officials who believe in traditional marriage would be targeted. Faith-based adoption agencies or women’s shelters could be forced to shut down. Doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors would be coerced and threatened to abide by the new sexual orthodoxy. People who fail to use transgender pronouns could be subject to fines or firing. The new sexual orthodoxy would be mandated into curricula and would be the required norm on field trips and in dorms at schools and universities.”
Equality Act sponsor Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) said the LGBTQ community has waited nearly 250 years for full equality in the United States.
“Equal treatment under the law and a commitment to fairness and equality are founding values of our country,” said Cicilline, who is openly gay. “Discrimination of any kind is wrong and no one should ever be treated as less than equal because of who they are or who they love.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi termed the bill’s passage “a momentous step toward securing the full blessing of equality for the LGBTQ community and our country.”
“We will never rest until full equality has been achieved for the LGBTQ community,” Pelosi, (D-California), said in March.