About 57 pastors of color across the U.S. have signed an open letter to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary urging them to oppose the Equality Act. The committee is set to hold hearings on the Equality Act on Wednesday morning.
The letter was issued on behalf of the AND Campaign, a Christian coalition that educates and organizes Christians for civic and cultural engagement.
We are writing to express our support and appreciation for the efforts to more fully provide the LGBT community with civil and human rights protections,” the letter began. “For far too long, this community has endured mistreatment in American society, including within parts of the church. We regret and lament our collective misdeeds and omissions in that regard.
“While we maintain the historic Christian sexual ethic, we want to clearly state our support for federal protections for LGBT persons in employment, housing and the like. We’re committed to embracing and advocating for those safeguards.”
However, regarding the Equality Act, the leaders contended that the legislation falls short of “the standard necessary to cultivate a healthy pluralistic society.” While “certain provisions” are upheld, they do not believe that the Equality Act, as a whole, provides “thoughtful and civic dialogue or a transparent policy-making process.”
The pastors also noted that the legislation was “not discussed in detail” with a variety of faith leaders who will “bear the brunt of its excesses”, including people of Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, and Muslim faiths.
“We can defend the rights of the LGBT community without threatening religious communities,” they asserted.
The letter continues by highlighting that the Equality Act removes the rights for religious organizations to function in accordance to “the tenets of their faith” while permitting LGBT rights “to be used as a sword against faith institutions rather than a shield to protect the vulnerable.”
Additionally, the leaders point out how the Equality Act would likely:
- “Revoke federal security, disaster relief, and school lunch money from thousands of religious schools."
- "End federal partnerships with thousands of faith-based programs that serve the most vulnerable."
- "Revoke the Pell Grant and federal loan eligibility for tens of thousands of students that attend hundreds of religious colleges."
- "Convert houses of worship and other religious properties into public accommodations, enmeshing them in constant litigation.”
In closing, the pastors proposed The Fairness for All Act as an alternative to the Equality Act because LGBT rights and religious liberty would both be protected.
“Black and Brown Christians worked too hard for the Civil Rights Act to have it revised in ways that would take away basic rights and funding from our communities,” the pastors wrote. “The Equality Act needlessly pits the concerns of diverse communities against each other.”
“We, therefore, call upon you to support the Fairness for All Act and allow for a full debate and vote on the legislation,” the letter concluded.
Amongst the signers of the open letter included Pastor A.R. Bernard of Christian Cultural Center in NY, Pastor Charlie Dates of Progressive Baptist Church in Chicago, AND Campaign President Justin Giboney and Former NFL star Benjamin Watson.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Geoff Livingston
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.