Seminary president Albert Mohler is urging the Christian community not to trust the Biden Justice Department when it says it will defend the religious rights of religious schools and institutions.
The Biden Department of Justice said in a court filing this week that its interests "coincide" with those of Christian colleges and universities in a high-profile federal case that could force the schools to recognize gender identification and sexual orientation as protected classes. If the schools lose in court, they could be forced to abandon their beliefs and practices on sexuality.
"One insight into how things actually work in Washington, D.C. is that sometimes they are almost the opposite of what they appear to be," Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said on his The Briefing podcast Thursday.
Under current federal rules, religious institutions are exempt from Title IX, a 1972 law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities. It is often called the "religious exemption clause." The Biden administration interprets Title IX as also protecting sexual orientation and gender identity.
A coalition of 33 LGBT-identifying students from Christian and religious schools filed a federal lawsuit in March against the Department of Education, asking the court to declare the Title IX religious exemption clause unconstitutional.
Soon thereafter, three Christians colleges, along with the Council for Christian Colleges, sought to intervene in the case, asserting that the Biden administration won't give a full-throated defense of the exemption. But the Justice Department is opposing their intervention, saying in a court filing this week it "will represent" their interests "adequately." The DOJ even said it and the Christian institutions "share the same 'ultimate objective.'"
Mohler, though, said the Biden Justice Department should not be trusted because its defense will be half-hearted, at best.
"Why is it that the Biden administration's Justice Department would say that it is going to defend the current federal law? Why not allow the Christian colleges and their representatives to do this, to make the case?" Mohler asked. "The answer is the Justice Department is really arguing that it will take this role in defense of federal law so that it will not be defended very vigorously at all.
"... What the Justice Department is really doing is saying that it does not want to allow attorneys for the Christian colleges and universities to be able to make the case themselves," Mohler said.
Mohler noted that the Biden administration supports the Equality Act, a bill that Christian institutions argue will harm their religious liberty.
"There's very good reason to believe," he said, that the Justice Department wants to "subvert the arguments" by the Christian schools.
"The Justice Department did not want these Christian colleges to be able to make the case in the federal courts that the exemption is not only allowable, but rather it is required by the Constitution in order to honor the Constitution's explicit guarantee of religious liberty," Mohler said.
Photo courtesy: Al Mohler Facebook
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.