Iowa Bureaucrats Force Trans Bathrooms On Churches, Forbid Non-PC Preaching

Iowa Bureaucrats Force Trans Bathrooms On Churches, Forbid Non-PC Preaching

Do your church and pastor teach orthodox Christian doctrine about human sexuality? They'd better shut up about it, or Iowa's 'Civil Rights' Commission will fine and harass them.
Joy Pullmann
By

Iowa churches and church-run daycares must let males and females pee, dress, and shower next to each other, and pastors and Christians could be brought before extrajudicial tribunals if they “directly or indirectly” make “persons of any particular…gender identity” feel “unwelcome,” according to new regulations from Iowa’s Orwellian-named “Civil Rights Commission.”

The commission’s new regulatory guidelines pertaining to a 2007 state “sexual orientation and gender identity,” or SOGI, law also require private businesses, schools, libraries, police departments, and any private organizations that receive government funds to let men and women shower, change clothes, urinate, and defecate inside whichever formerly sex-protected facilities they choose. No sex-change or birth-certificate is necessary for biological males, for example, to gain access to formerly women-only private facilities, the commission says. Declaring oneself a certain sex is all that’s needed.

On behalf of Fort Des Moines Church of Christ, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed suit against the regulatory guidelines in federal court Monday, stating in a press release:

The speech ban could be used to gag churches from making any public comments—including from the pulpit—that could be viewed as unwelcome to persons who do not identify with their biological sex. This is because the commission says the law applies to churches during any activity that the commission deems to not have a ‘bona fide religious purpose.’ Examples the commission gave are ‘a child care facility operated at a church or a church service open to the public,’ which encompasses most events that churches hold.

The guidelines state: “if [a business or organization] offers some services, facilities, or goods to the general public, it will be treated as a public accommodation” — e.g., forced to de-sex its personal hygiene facilities. Also implied is the application of these rules to K-12 schools, public and private universities, homeschool classes, Bible studies, potlucks, bake sales, vacation Bible schools, and so forth.

Forbidden behaviors include “Harassment, intimidation, or other demonstration of hostility,” which the commission defines as “verbal, physical, or written conduct,” “repeated remarks of a demeaning nature,” “demeaning jokes, stories, or activities, and intentional use of names and pronouns inconsistent with a person’s presented gender.”

“The State of Iowa claims it has the power to regulate what churches can teach about human sexuality and how they operate their facilities. The government has absolutely no authority to force a church to violate its religious beliefs. This is a massive violation of the First Amendment,” said Chelsey Youman, a lawyer for First Liberty Institute, who sent the Iowa commission a letter on behalf of another church, Cornerstone World Outreach, insisting it retract these regulations or face a lawsuit.

The commissions’s SOGI guidelines contain “sweeping language forbidding ‘hostility’ and ‘unwelcom[ing]’ speech could be interpreted as restricting Cornerstone’s ability to teach its religious beliefs,” that letter says.

Although Iowa Code § 216.7(2)(a) provides a religious exemption, as drafted, the exemption is unconstitutional. Further, the Commission’s express intent to target churches singularly for enforcement, as stated in the Brochure, is an egregious constitutional violation. The only text in the entire Brochure that is underlined and italicized is the limitation that a bona fide religious institution must act according to a “bona fide religious purpose.” Such emphasis highlights the Commission’s intention to not only heavily scrutinize the validity and sincerity religious doctrines of our client and other religious institutions, but also the very legitimacy of the church as a religious body.  (emphasis original)

Say What We Want Or We’ll Make Your Life Hell

Simply put, this is insane. It’s totalitarian. It’s a violation of human rights and constitutional rights. It’s a repudiation of the Western system of law. This is a non-checked independent agency that accords no fundamental legal rights — which, by the way, are civil rights! — such as to a jury of one’s peers, legal representation, or presumption of innocence, that can harass, bring up before tribunals, and fine individuals upon receiving a tip-off from some aggrieved individual with unknown motives. It’s no wonder, then, that across the country these kinds of “human rights” commissions are corrupt and have a history of bigotry. For one example: “over a five-year period at least 27 Iowa landlords were allowed to make donations to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission in lieu of being brought up on charges.”

People can be accused and subject to this extralegal pestilence merely upon the basis of someone else’s feelings about being “unwelcome” or “demeaned,” not any tangible harm. In other words, the basis for prosecution can be completely irrational and subjective. This establishes an individual’s feelings as the sole criteria by which to judge the rightness or wrongness of another person’s actions. In other words, this process constitutes being subject to a judge and jury of one individual. The standard for “convicting” the charged, according to the commission itself, is “preponderance of evidence, i.e. more likely than not,” not the more stringent legal standard of “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

People can also be strung up in the Iowa ‘Civil Rights’ Commission for crimespeak, er, expressing 10,000-year-old understandings of the human person that have been dominant among the human race since time immemorial and are common to the orthodox beliefs of every single major world religion. Targets can be forced to undergo social re-education, post public notices of their “shameful” proclivity towards saying what they think, lose contracts and state licenses, and pay punitive fines. In other words, it’s a state-authorized and -executed shakedown. A grumpy person points and sobs on a stand, and another person has to pay $100,000. How in the blazes is this allowed in the United States of America?

This Is Zero-Sum Social System

Many Americans want to believe that if we just give the loud, crabby LGBT people what they want, they will finally be happy and stop screaming at the rest of us. That is, in fact, what the LGBT lobby promised until very recently. “We just want tolerance,” they said. It is now either apparent that they were lying, or that their definition of “tolerance” is far different than that of the average American’s (or both).

In fact, “tolerance” is not the only weasel word the dominant LGBT lobby (because not all gay Americans hate the First Amendment, although you wouldn’t know it from reading most media sources) has used to knife well-meaning Americans in the back. Another word they, and the Left in general, trades upon is “rights.” From the country’s founding, Americans have talked about rights: natural rights, constitutional rights. So we’re used to this language, and to thinking well of it.

But the Left has taken this word, gutted its meaning, and inserted another meaning in its place, while pretending nothing has happened, that their use of this word is the same as it’s always been. It’s been an effective rhetorical trick, not least because most Americans have not been taught to be logical and precise thinkers, nor do they know much about the philosophy that many, especially millennials, now espouse blindly. Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were the first liberals to give highly visible articulations of the Left’s ideas about rights, which is diametrically opposed to those that created our country and are thus secured in our Constitution.

Their idea of rights was not of rights rooted in truths that transcend feelings, or of rights that restrain government and your fellow man from exploiting you, but of “positive rights” that require government to coerce people into action in service of collectivism. Even Roosevelt, however, maintained a belief in “freedom of speech and expression” and “freedom of every person to worship God in his own way.” Yet his concurrent beliefs in the right of government to compel you into economic activity and to eliminate everyone’s fearful feelings (yes, really: he said humans have a right to “freedom from fear,” essentially endorsing unlimited government) have ultimately come to wage open war on the original and fundamental rights to speak and worship.

The American philosopher John Rawls developed the Left’s understanding of rights into the academic version of what today’s neo-Jacobins seek to actualize. He insisted people could not be free if other people refused to make them feel nice. It’s written in a lot more gobbledygook, but that’s the gist. He did so because he sought to establish a system of justice without resorting to either truth claims or nihilism. What a liberating society his ideas have inaugurated, eh? It’s almost like relativism breeds injustice!

The important thing to understand is that these two visions of rights are ultimately irreconcilable. They cannot coexist. We must uphold one, or the other. Either every man should be free to think, speak, and act in accord with his conscience, or must be censored, shunned, and mentally manipulated according to the thought system of whoever has power. We must once again decide where we stand. The rabid wing of LGBT activism is forcing us to do so. A refusal to decisively answer this question authorizes soft, if not eventually hard, tyranny over fellow American citizens.

Banning Speech Indicates Fear of Opposing Arguments

The most interesting thing to me about this conflict is the speech-haters’ backhanded endorsement of their opponents’ ideas. By demanding that government use its police and tax powers to intimidate and punish their political opponents, they’re demonstrating a remarkable lack of confidence in their ideas. It suggests that, deep down, they agree with their opponents, or at least think their opponents have the stronger argument.

If “love wins,” why does love look a lot like fear? If “love wins,” why is it so tyrannical and intolerant? Why does it require hounding a gay professor out of tenure at a public university, telling a woman who feels triggered in de-sexed locker rooms she’s so ugly she deserved rape as a child, scream down a trio of liberal women (and myriad other speakers) talking gently about bathroom safety, issue death threats to the children of political opponents, tank tiny pizza parlors and flower shops, hound businessmen out of a job for expressing his views through a simple political donation, and force adult sexualization on kindergarteners?

Maybe the ideas and love of those who oppose the militant LGBT agenda is stronger than the ideas and love of those running it. If you think that’s wrong, try letting the ideas and lifestyles you think are superior compete with their opponents on an equal field. If you’re right, you should win. If you’re going to win, why are you so defensive?

Joy Pullmann is managing editor of The Federalist and author of "The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids," out from Encounter Books this spring. Get it on Amazon.

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