A handful of Christian organizations in Virginia are suing the state’s attorney general over the violation of religious liberty imposed by the recently passed Virginia Values Act and its companion bill, HB 1429.
According to PJ Media, several Christian ministries, Christian schools, a Christian network of pregnancy centers, and two wedding photographers are suing Attorney General Mark Herring over the new laws that they claim force “people of faith to adopt a particular government ideology under threat of punishment.”
Back in April, the state’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam signed into law the Virginia Values Act (SB 868), compelling churches, Christian schools, and other ministries to hire employees who do not align with their stated beliefs on marriage, sexuality, and gender identity. Under HB 1429, such ministries are now required to pay for so-called “gender transition” surgery in employee health care plans.
Both laws went into effect on July 1.
“The faith of many Americans inspires them to act for the good of their neighbors and also requires them to abide by its teachings,” said Denise Harle, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the law firm representing the Christian ministries.
“Our clients offer spiritual guidance, education, pregnancy support, and athletic opportunities to their communities because of the religious beliefs that motivate them. But Virginia’s new law forces these ministries to abandon and adjust their convictions or pay crippling fines—in direct violation of the Virginia Constitution and other state laws,” Harle added. “Such government hostility toward people of faith has no place in a free society.”
The ADF is representing Calvary Road Christian School in Alexandria, Grace Christian School in Staunton, Community Christian Academy in Charlottesville, and Care Net, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that supports a network of 1,100 pregnancy centers, churches, and other ministry organizations.
Calvary Road Baptist Church, which operates Calvary Road Christian School, “believes that the Bible is the Word of God, divinely revealed and without error,” ADF explains in the lawsuit.
“Calvary Road believes that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female, and that these two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. Calvary Road believes that rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person,” ADF goes on. “Calvary Road believes that marriage has only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture, and that God commands that sexual intimacy occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other.”
“To preserve its function and integrity, Calvary Road believes that all employees and volunteers must agree to and abide by its beliefs on marriage, sexuality, and gender,” ADF continues. “Calvary Road maintains separate facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms for males and females. Access to private facilities is limited to those of the same biological sex in accordance with Calvary Road’s teaching on sexuality.”
“Calvary Road welcomes workers of any race, color, ethnicity, and national origin in any of its ministries, so long as the potential workers share Calvary Road’s religious values and doctrinal beliefs,” but it simply cannot employ individuals who diverge from its core beliefs.
We have already seen tremendous victory for religious liberty, especially with Jack Phillips’ Supreme Court decision in 2018. Pray that God would have mercy on this land and protect His servants from such wicked laws.
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