Five Christian churches and a Christian radio station have filed a lawsuit against the town of De Pere, Wisconsin, claiming that a recently passed LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance could force them to violate their religious beliefs.
Last November, the city enacted an ordinance that bars discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation and other social classifiers like race and gender in areas such as housing, employment and public accommodation.
As the new ordinance is set to take effect on March 1, the the churches and the radio company filed a lawsuit in Brown County Circuit Court last week seeking clarification on whether or not religious exemption would be provided to faith-based organizations that uphold traditional teachings on marriage, gender and sex.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Hope Lutheran Church, Crosspoint Church, Destiny Church, St. Mark Lutheran Church, Christ the Rock Church and Lakeshore Communications, Inc. — the parent company of the De Pere-based Q90 FM. The groups are being represented by the Pacific Justice Institute.
The organizations fear that the ordinance could force them to hire people that don’t agree with the Bible’s teachings and also fear that it could force them to promote messages and events that don’t align with their faith, such as same-sex weddings.
The lawsuit claims that the De Pere ordinance does not specifically include protections for religious organizations and that the city government has made no assurances that a religious objection will be provided for faith-based institutions.
The court document states that the ordinance doesn’t even include language on the ministerial protections recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“As a result, the ordinance is likely to be imposed on churches and other religious organizations in a manner that would mandate government orthodoxy in core religious functions, communication, and conduct,” the lawsuit states.
Even though the ordinance allows faith-based institutions to hire from within their own religion, the lawsuit contends that the ordinance “does not give a church the discretion to set other employment conditions that the City would deem discriminatory under the ordinance.”
“Moreover, the ordinance does not purport to allow a church to discharge a minister at its discretion without being subject to City review and the potential imposition of penalties,” the lawsuit adds.
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Source: Christian Post