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‘Gender Identity’ Law Spells The End Of Religious Liberty In Minnesota

‘Already, at least one faith-based school is facing an employment complaint at the department of human rights because of the removal of the exemption.’


In 2023, the Minnesota Legislature and governor added a new category of so-called human rights, “gender identity,” to the Minnesota Human Rights Act. They included no corresponding religious exemption, however, demonstrating their intent to deny religious freedom to Minnesota citizens, churches, and schools and to engage in persecuting Christians and some other religious bodies. 

If the state can tell churches and schools what they cannot say or do on “gender identity,” then it can tell churches and schools what they cannot say or do on other subjects too.

In an attempt to correct this egregious law, Rep. Harry Niska, R-Ramsey, in this current session introduced an amendment to correct this violation of First Amendment rights.

“My amendment language simply restores the religious exemption in the MHRA protecting religious organizations and faith-based schools against claims of gender identity discrimination. The exemption ensures that religious organizations and faith-based schools can, among other things, hire teachers and ministers consistent with their mission and values,” Niska said of his proposed amendment. “Already, at least one faith-based school is facing an employment complaint at the department of human rights because of the removal of the exemption.” 

However, in February and then again in March of this year, the Niska amendment was voted down in House and Senate committees, leaving the nullification of religious liberty in effect.

This leaves us with concerning questions. For instance, does this new law criminalize using truthful pronouns in speaking or writing, rather than false “gender identity” pronouns? If pastors, teachers, or any other Minnesotans speak or write in opposition to the use of wrong-sex hormones, transgender surgery, or puberty blockers for minors, can they be charged with a crime under state law? If parents try to protect their minor children from such practices, can they be charged with a crime? Can their minor children be removed from their custody if parents refuse to follow such laws? And can a transgender-identifying person be denied employment by a Christian school, church, or other Christian organization, such as counseling centers, charities, or pro-life groups? 

Minnesota government has crossed the Rubicon with this law. With similar laws in the past, the state has protected religious liberty by including an exemption clause. No more. The legislature has clarified by its actions that those days are over. Democrat legislators are now working to force the acceptance of homosexuality and other such beliefs on us the same way.

What shall we do? Christians cannot comply with this law since we are to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). First, we need to pray to the one true God to remove this persecution from us and to guide us to deal with it in accordance with His will.

Second, we must lobby our legislators and governor, asking them to remove this religious persecution and to follow the U.S. Constitution. That founding document, and specifically the First Amendment, protects our God-given right to practice our Christian faith as we wish. In addition, the Declaration of Independence states that the purpose of government is to secure this and other rights for all our citizens. The Minnesota Legislature still has the opportunity to adopt a religious exemption amendment before it adjourns at the end of May.

Third, if no exemption is adopted, we should then file suit against the state to repeal this unconstitutional law. Additionally, churches should formulate a unified response among not only their own members but also like-minded congregations. It is critical to, as much as possible, coordinate with and support one another in this difficult time.

Last but not least, we will put our trust in the God of heaven and earth, being confident that He will always be with us and looking forward to the day when He welcomes us into His victorious kingdom. There we will find no more pain or sadness, for the former things will have passed away. 

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