Legal Challenge Dropped After Court Declares Gender Identity Laws Don’t Apply to Churches

church-hymnals-compressedDES MOINES, Iowa — A legal challenge that had been filed against the Iowa Human Rights Commission over its interpretation of local laws pertaining to gender identity has been dropped after a federal judge noted that churches are not generally considered places of public accommodation by the courts.

“This lawsuit was necessary to ensure that the state won’t try to enforce the law against churches, and we’re pleased that Iowa churches now have the reassurance and clarity that they need,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb in a statement.

U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose responded to motions from both sides of the case on Oct. 14, denying the Commission’s motion to dismiss the suit, while also denying the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ’s (FDMCC) request for an injunction.

In outlining that she did not see FDMCC as being likely to prevail in its legal challenge, she also outlined that the congregation was not likely to be required to allow males who identify as females in women’s restrooms and vice versa.

“[S]tate and federal courts have held that churches and programs they host are not places of public accommodation,” Rose wrote.

“At the hearing before the court, both the State Defendants and the City stated that Plaintiff’s restroom policy is likely permitted under the anti-discrimination laws because the policy is plainly drafted to serve a religious purpose and that all of the activities Plaintiff enumerated within its Complaint also appeared to be religious in nature,” she said. “Plaintiff has not shown that the challenged laws would ever apply to its conduct.”

As previously reported, the Commission’s initial publication issued earlier this year, entitled “Public Accommodations Provider’s Guide to Iowa Law,” noted that sometimes churches are required to follow restroom use and speech laws.“Where qualifications are not related to a bona fide religious purpose, churches are still subject to the law’s provisions (e.g. a child care facility operated at a church or a church service open to the public),” the brochure read.

  • Connect with Christian News

Therefore, out of concern that the Commission might punish churches for their restroom policies and/or for speaking about their biblical stances on gender identity, the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ filed a lawsuit over the matter.

In response, the Commission adjusted the concerning section of its brochure to provide clarification.

“Places of worship (e.g. churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.) are generally exempt from the Iowa law’s prohibition of discrimination, unless the place of worship engages in non-religious activities which are open to the public,” the new text now reads. “The law may apply to an independent day care or polling places located on the premises of the place of worship.”

But attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) said that the fix did not go far enough to provide assurances that churches would not face legal sanctions as it still applies to “non-religious activities which are open to the public.”

On Wednesday, nearly two weeks after Rose’s ruling, it announced that the organization had dismissed the suit, being satisfied with the court’s response.

“The government cannot legally censor pastors or coerce churches to use their facilities in a way that violates their religious beliefs,” ADF Senior Counsel Steve O’Ban opined. “The Iowa commission’s guidance was vague and empowered government bureaucrats far beyond what the constitution allows. The court cut off this unconstitutional power grab by clarifying that the law does not apply to churches and reassured Iowa churches that they are free from improper state interference.”


A special message from the publisher...

Dear Reader, our hearts are deeply grieved by the ongoing devastation in Iraq, and through this we have been compelled to take a stand at the gates of hell against the enemy who came to kill and destroy. Bibles for Iraq is a project to put Arabic and Kurdish audio Bibles into the hands of Iraqi and Syrian refugees—many of whom are illiterate and who have never heard the gospel.Will you stand with us and make a donation today to this important effort? Please click here to send a Bible to a refugee >>

Print Friendly
  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Gender Identity Laws don’t apply to anyone anywhere. Just the well-fed bored rich West’s warped amusement to enslave mankind by imposing falsehood and bending God’s truth and human conscience. A usual filthy business. Humanists don’t learn anything for 500 years. The West is crazy everytime they oppose Christian teachings. No submission to rich pervs, especially to the mentally ill kinds. The West needs the Holy Bible to regain sanity and conscience.

    • Tony

      WRONG. You claim to be Christian ? You bring in the Bible and talk about Homosexuals OK that is a sin . Trans-people are Not
      the same as that. John 14:6King James Version (KJV)
      6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto
      the Father, but by me.
      *** Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free,
      nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.***__
      I AM CREATED BY GOD > I am trans-gender and i am still a Christian.
      Judge not lest ye be judged. The Trans-gender people have been around
      since before Jesus was on earth. John 3:16 i am saved. Your Judgement
      on my is a Sin. Let those without sin cast the first stone ! _
      Matthew 7:1-3King James Version (KJV)
      7 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
      2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged:
      and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
      3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye,
      but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? and

      • Tony

        The Transgender Brain development
        How does the M to F Transgender?
        Like the normal male embryo, the Male to female Transgender brain it starts out
        female Then between the 8th and the 24th weeks, the “XY” chromosomes introduce
        testosterone hormonal changes, BUT hormonal washes as faulty. They are either
        insufficient or ill timed. When this happens, the fetus develops a male body.
        However, some of the default (original) female brain processes to remain intact.
        Thus, the brain’s gender Identity remain intact. Thus,the brain gender Identity
        remains Female. This means that Transgender males whose process of a
        masculinization was incomplete, their default female brains still function.
        The degree of arrested development can very. The original brain circuitry that
        was missed in the Masculinizing process provides a continuing Feminine influence.
        this explains why many transgender, biological males know. from as early as the
        age of 3 years old that they are actually members of the opposite gender.
        You are born with this unlike Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual). Though they too have some of the same traits.
        Gender is not sexuality but, it may effect it.*This may help F to M trans people too..
        This may not be Proof but, it is an logical answer..The Trans info may help you understand
        anyone with gender issues.. its not a proven medical or Psychological answer but,
        it is very logical one.. so to Judge a person IS NOT very CHRISTIAN LIKE is it?? do not pick and choose what of the BIBLE to believe in. you either believe the whole thing or people will question you in if you are Christian or not. I realize that is a judgement as well. The sin is homosexuality Not Gender ID. You show me where it is a sin. And to what depth of a Sin Gender ID is. I am Christian and i am not male or female. We all have the same hormones both have Estrogen and Testosterone. and to what degree does Either make you less than Christian. it is NOT a mental disease.

        • Grace Kim Kwon

          God created the gender. He prohibited even cross-dressing. Secular West is trying to control mankind by falsehood this century. The West is barbaric like the rest if it has no Christianity.

      • IzTheBiz

        Sorry, but you are decieved. There is no such thing as a transgender person. There is only a needy individual. You can deny it as much as you want, but if you want to be set free, you can get help! God loves you, but not as you THINK you are-He loves you as He has created you-Male or Female! not anything else!

  • Amos Moses

    a temporary moratorium ……… the fight has moved to Ga. ………… another pastor being demanded to turn over his sermons ….. the horses are out of the gate ……… it is not going to stop …… and it all flows back to the lawlessness of June 26, 2015, Obergefell ……….. we are under judgement ……..

    • Lydia Church

      Exactly. It is one step forward and ten backward. The NWO plan is to suffocate every individual liberty and have just one conglomerate ball of wax worshipping the statue that they erect as in Daniel 3 (one world gov., religion, economy under antichrist-see Revelation 13). Those that refuse get tossed into the furnace, but the Lord is with them, preserving them. They are just using the rainbow flag as a foundation to come after Christians. Anyone who does not align with their anti-Christian, anti-God, and anti-Bible, gay loving, sin loving, pro baby murder ‘tolerance, peace, love, harmony, and unity’ platform that embraces all religions and sinful lifestyles will be labeled a ‘bigot,’ a ‘hater,’ a ‘bully,’ and hauled off to be dealt with ‘gestapo’ style. True Christians will not deny the Lord and will remain loyal to Him despite the consequences. That is the coming storm.

  • Michael C

    As everyone’s been saying all along, churches, non-profits, religious organizations, and private clubs are explicitly exempted from civil rights laws. They have, for over half a century, been free to discriminate against whomever they please. Non-discrimination laws have only every applied to business practices. The laws have always been clear.

    This frivolous lawsuit brought against the state by Alliance Defending Freedom did nothing but cost the taxpaying citizens of Iowa their hard-earned money.

    • Gary Metzger

      Your response is ridiculous. It was the wording of the Iowa Commission itself which brought about this suit by ADF. The Iowa Commission in response to the suit CHANGED ITS ORIGINAL WORDING, so the lawsuit wasn’t frivalous no matter how you look at it.

      • Michael C

        The wording of a summary of the law (not the law itself) was misinterpreted by ADF and their clients. The wording of the summary was edited for clarity. Again, the law itself remains exactly as it has for almost a decade.

        ADF knew that the law didn’t apply to churches. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and all other non-discrimination laws have been clearly written for over fifty years. Church activities have never been interpreted as public accommodations. Church activities have always been exempt from civil rights legislation.

        If ADF and their clients only cared about the wording of the non-binding summary of the law, why didn’t they drop the suit when the summary was clarified?

        • Lydia Church

          To anyone who wants to impose gender laws on others:
          1. It is not discrimination against lgbt, it is righteousness and safety.
          2. It is the lgbt that is discriminating against Christians, not vice versa. We are the only ones they are coming after, not muslim establishments that are also against gay laws.
          3. It is a private domain, (the true church is private) and WE decide our rules, not outside parties.
          4. If outside parties want to impose their interpretation of the law or their ways on others and cry wolf if some don’t let them, then it must work both ways. In the same way, anyone can storm into a gay college club or other gay association assembly place, and as a Christian become president and impose all our ways on you, or as an attendee sue you for not complying, and when you cry foul ball we will just accuse you of discriminating against us. Yes, it is the same thing. It is your ways versus our ways in how the law is interpreted. Normally there was no issue and each did in their domain as they wished and left others alone, until Obama unleashed the monster that rears its ugly head now at every Christian business, etc. Well no matter what the law says, we will not comply, we refuse because we will obey God’s laws above all else. And nothing is going to change that.

          • Michael C

            As I said above, churches, non-profits, religious organizations, and private clubs are explicitly exempted from civil rights laws.

          • Amos Moses

            Still trying to soft-pedal the reality of the agenda by lying to folks ……. the goal is the destruction of the church and ultimately society ……….

          • MelissaCyn15

            I hope not. I am transgender and a Christian. I do not want to destroy the church…or anyone for that matter.

          • Amos Moses

            No such thing …… “I am transgender and a Christian” …… you might be a sinner and a christian ….. but there is no sin-modifier to christian ……… and your intent has nothing to do with it ……. by the fact it is being promoted destroys society and the church ………..

          • MelissaCyn15

            Michael…these folks have such a paranoia that everyone is out to burn their Bibles that there is really no reasoning with them. You are, apparently, very well-informed on the facts of this case and did an excellent job of explaining it. Problem is you have to have someone willing to listen.

          • LadyInChrist♥BlessedBeTheLord

            Amen.

  • Emmanuel

    I love separation of Church and State. The state can excuse sin but a holy and God fearing church will not.

  • Tony

    You bring in the Bible and talk about Homosexuals OK that is a sin . Trans-people are Not
    the same as that. John 14:6King James Version (KJV)
    6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto
    the Father, but by me.
    *** Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free,
    nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.***__
    I AM CREATED BY GOD > I am trans-gender and i am still a Christian.
    Judge not lest ye be judged. The Trans-gender people have been around
    since before Jesus was on earth. John 3:16 i am saved. Your Judgement
    on my is a Sin. Let those without sin cast the first stone ! _
    Matthew 7:1-3King James Version (KJV)
    7 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
    2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged:
    and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
    3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye,
    but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?,,,

    • Tony

      Gender is NOT sexual preference. The Transgender Brain development
      How does the M to F Transgender?
      Like the normal male embryo, the Male to female Transgender brain it starts out
      female Then between the 8th and the 24th weeks, the “XY” chromosomes introduce
      testosterone hormonal changes, BUT hormonal washes as faulty. They are either
      insufficient or ill timed. When this happens, the fetus develops a male body.
      However, some of the default (original) female brain processes to remain intact.
      Thus, the brain’s gender Identity remain intact. Thus,the brain gender Identity
      remains Female. This means that Transgender males whose process of a
      masculinization was incomplete, their default female brains still function.
      The degree of arrested development can very. The original brain circuitry that
      was missed in the Masculinizing process provides a continuing Feminine influence.
      this explains why many transgender, biological males know. from as early as the
      age of 3 years old that they are actually members of the opposite gender.
      You are born with this unlike Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual). Though they too have some of the same traits.
      Gender is not sexuality but, it may effect it.*This may help F to M trans people too..
      This may not be Proof but, it is an logical answer..The Trans info may help you understand
      anyone with gender issues.. its not a proven medical or Psychological answer but,
      it is very logical one.. Judge NOT lest Ye be Judged. If you claim Christianity you should know this or do you pick and choose what to believe?

  • IzTheBiz

    Communist China and soviet Russia also tried to neutralise the genders. It goes with the territory! A totalitarian society needs conformity. Traditional Gender, and traditional family structures disrupt that conformity! The state wants itself worshipped. A family is a separate identity to the state, therefore it needs to be gotten rid of, or neutralised!