Msgr. Charles Pope: “Equality Act” Imposes Serious Threats To Religious Liberty and Other First Amendment Rights. Please Take Action Now.

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By Msgr. Charles Pope, Feb. 21, 2021

There is legislation in Congress which may be voted on as early as this week which should alarm you if you care at all about women, what is true, what is scientific and what pertains to free speech and religious liberty. It is the known as the  Equality Act . But the bill is not aimed at equality, rather, its effects will be to erode current federal law protecting religious freedom and to compel employers, schools, charities, etc. to violate their mission and identity and adopt the LGBT worldview.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has this to say of the legislation:

The Equality Act, which is being voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives soon, in many ways does the opposite and needs to be opposed. Instead of respecting differences in beliefs about marriage and sexuality, the Equality Act would discriminate against people of faith. The Equality Act would: punish faith-based organizations, such as charities and schools who serve everyone in their communities…[It would] force girls and women to compete against boys and men for limited opportunities in sports, and to share locker rooms and shower spaces with biological males who identify as women; risk mandating taxpayers to fund abortions; force people in everyday life, and especially health care workers, to support gender transition; and expand what the government considers a “public” place, forcing even some parish halls to host functions that conflict with Catholic beliefs[1]

If all this isn’t bad enough, last year the Bishops gave a more detailed critique of the legislation listing some of the following issues:

The Equality Act would impose sweeping regulations to the detriment of society as a whole. The Act’s definitions alone would remove women and girls from protected legal existence…. We treasure the First Amendment freedoms of speech, association, conscience, and religious exercise. The Equality Act puts these at risk by requiring uniform assent to new beliefs about human identity that are contrary to those held by many – believers of diverse faiths and non-believers alike.

Furthermore, the Act also fails to recognize the difference between the person – who has dignity and is entitled to recognition of it – and the actions of a person, which have ethical and social ramifications. Conflating the two will introduce a plethora of further legal complications.

 In brief, the Equality Act will:

Regulate thought, belief, and speech. We treasure the First Amendment freedoms of speech, association, conscience, and religious exercise. The Equality Act puts these at risk by requiring uniform assent to new beliefs about human identity that are contrary to those held by many – believers of diverse faiths and non-believers alike.

 Explicitly retract religious freedom. By exempting itself from the bipartisan Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 – an unprecedented move – the Equality Act represents an explicit departure from one of the founding principles of the United States, the freedom of religion.

 Hinder quality health care. Those experiencing gender dysphoria or incongruence must be treated with care and compassion and should receive from health care professionals the same quality of services and moral protection from harm that is due to everyone. The Equality Act, however, would force many health care professionals to perform certain treatments and procedures associated with “gender transition” against their best medical or ethical judgment with respect to a patient. As the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under the Obama Administration noted in 2016,2 “gender affirmation” has not been associated with greater long-term happiness. Tragically, related surgeries may exacerbate the long-term rate of suicide among those identifying as “transgender.” 3 As Pope Francis has said, “biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated.” Insisting on doing so could deter some from practicing medicine in relevant fields, and add to the strain on the available health care workforce.

 Endanger privacy. The Equality Act contains no firm criteria for “gender identity,” which creates a path for potential emotional or physical harm against individuals, particularly in highly personal sex-segregated spaces such as restrooms and locker rooms. This risk arises not only from those who experience gender incongruence, but from others who would take malicious advantage of open-door policies in these private spaces.

Threaten charitable services. The Equality Act would force a multitude of charitable services to either violate their principles or shut down. With the lack of gender criteria, shelters would be required to house vulnerable, sometimes traumatized, women with biological men. In addition, foster care and adoption agencies would be expected to place children with same-sex partners, regardless of some birth mothers’ wishes and children’s best interests. The resulting closures of such charitable services would be unconscionable – especially when the opioid crisis is leaving more and more children in need of foster care.

 Exclude people from various career paths and livelihoods. Despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018) that the state must not be hostile to religion, the Equality Act would set up for destructive litigation nationwide, entrepreneurs of faith, who serve all people but cannot express messages with which they disagree. [2]

Every now and then I hear from readers and others who wonder why the bishops don’t weigh in more on critical moral issues of our day. Well, here is an example of where they do. They should be encouraged and deserve our support.

Our nation also needs our voice and reason. Somewhere as a nation we have gotten very lost in many notions, including the lie that a boy can be a girl, or a girl can be a boy; a man can become a woman or a woman become a man. This is simply not true and a nation that cannot stand up and say male is not female is very lost and in need of prayer, fasting and action.

You may recall the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, written in 1948. In a crucial scene  in Room 101, the interrogator O’Brien tells the “thought criminal” Smith that control over physical reality is unimportant to the Party, provided the citizens of Oceania subordinate their real-world perceptions to the political will of the Party. Hence, 2 + 2 = 5. This is self-evidently false but you will either agree or suffer the consequences.

Increasingly in our times of “cancel culture” the exclusions and legal impositions by oligarchs, and government officials edges ever closer to declaring 2 + 2 = 5. Though many today say “follow the science” this is only when that is self-serving for them. If we follow the science then it is clear that abortion stops a beating human heart and that a man cannot be a woman simply by saying so or getting surgeries.

We are at a critical point in our culture. Either we are going to stand up and insist on reality or have an alternate “reality” imposed on us. Either we are going to fight for our religious liberty and freedom of speech or it will be taken from us. This is already well underway.

Lets work with our bishops as well as other allies in battling this nefarious “Equality Act.” There is little equality about it. Some are being legally raised, but many others are going to be legally crushed. Every person has a right to dignity. But not every person has a right to behave in ways that deny reality and cause terrible effects in the rest of culture. What we have here is an attempt to utterly redefine human nature. The social consequences of this are awful and government imposition of such things will only make things far worse and likely bring social unrest.

Consider writing your elected officials. The USCCB has a site to help you do that here: ACTION CENTER

Pray and fast for our Country. God bless the USA!

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