A new agenda proposed to the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden by the country’s leading gay and transgender rights organization poses a serious threat to religious freedom, especially that of Christian colleges and universities, Southern Baptist leaders have warned.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) civil rights organization – issued Nov. 11 a document of more than 85 policy recommendations, all that can be implemented by the new administration without congressional approval.
HRC’s proposals offer “serious challenges to religious liberty, a biblical understanding of human sexuality, and ultimately the common good of our society,” two writers for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Commission (ERLC) said in a Nov. 25 article.
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said in a Nov. 18 post HRC’s “Blueprint for Positive Change 2020” includes “perhaps some of the most alarming demands that threaten religious liberty.”
Both articles cited as especially menacing a recommendation to the Department of Education regarding accreditation of religious colleges and universities that HRC said “discriminate or that do not meet science based curricula standards.”
In the proposal, HRC called for the department to issue a rule that makes clear a provision that “requires accreditation agencies to ‘respect the stated mission’ of religious institutions, does not require the accreditation of religious institutions that do not meet neutral accreditation standards including nondiscrimination policies and scientific curriculum requirements.”
Writing at the ERLC’s website, Casey Hough and Josh Wester said the proposed policy for the Department of Education “is nothing but a thinly veiled attack on religious colleges and universities that refuse to bow the knee to the sexual revolution.”
Hough is the lead pastor of Copperfield Church in Houston, Texas, and Wester is the ERLC’s chair of research in Christian ethics.
The HRC blueprint is a call for a Biden administration to reverse some of the policies implemented since 2017 under President Donald Trump, whose White House acted to roll back various regulations issued by President Barack Obama’s administration.
Mohler called the recommendation regarding school accreditation an “atomic bomb.”
HRC is urging the Biden administration “to deny accreditation – or, at the very least, to facilitative the denial of accreditation – to Christian institutions, Christian colleges and universities, and, for that matter, any other religious institution or school that does not meet the demands of the LGBTQ orthodoxy,” he said. “This would mean abandoning biblical standards for teaching, hiring, admissions, housing, and student life. It would mean that Christian schools are no longer Christian.”
Such a policy goes beyond efforts to deprive religious institutions “that will not surrender to the LGBTQ movement” of federal funding and student aid, Mohler said.
Colleges and universities that lose accreditation, he wrote, “would not be permitted to participate in the GI Bill; students would not be allowed to transfer their credits nor would they be allowed to apply for graduate study at other institutions.”
The HRC recommendation “is an undisguised attempt to shut down any semblance of a Christian college or university that would possess the audacity to operate from a Christian worldview,” Mohler said.
HRC’s recommendations to Biden also included:
- The consistent implementation throughout all federal agencies of the Supreme Court’s decision in June that found non-discrimination protections in federal workplace law cover “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”
- The appointment of openly LGBTQ Supreme Court justices, federal judges, ambassadors and other executive branch officials.
- The repeal of the prohibition on people who identify as transgender from serving in the military.
- The establishment of an inter-agency working group to combat violence against individuals identifying as transgender.
- A ban on the provision of conversion therapy, which it describes as a “fraudulent business practice.”
- The formation of a multi-agency working group to guard LGBTQ rights internationally.
Writing for the ERLC, Hough and Wester said, “It is difficult to imagine a presentation of gender and sexuality that is more at odds with the biblical understanding of these issues than that within the HRC’s blueprint. … [I]t is impossible to reconcile a Christian worldview with many of these policy initiatives.”
Christians should be the first to show love to LGBTQ people, but “love for [LGBTQ] people cannot include the affirmation of a lifestyle that is contrary to God’s will for His creation,” they wrote.
“Ultimately, the policies in the HRC document that promote the LGBTQ lifestyle will not result in more flourishing – neither for individuals nor society,” Hough and Wester said. “Instead, they will result in restrictions on religious liberty and the promotion of sexual identities that are both contrary to God’s will and harmful to those who adopt them.
Upon the agenda’s release, HRC President Alphonso David described Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as “pro-equality champions.”
“The Biden-Harris administration has the opportunity to not only put our democracy back on track but deliver real positive change for LGBTQ people’s daily lives,” David said in a written statement.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)