SOGI Laws Are Coming for Religious Communities
At a recent city council meeting in Meridian, Idaho, citizens debated and passed a Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) ordinance, which prohibits businesses and organizations from discriminating on such issues. The question many are asking is how such a red city could pass any SOGI ordinance at all?
Reading through the debate, the best “arguments” for SOGI centered on emotion and intimidation. For emotional appeal, we had people like Ryan Elsbury, a student at the College of Idaho, describing what was on the line with the new SOGI ordinance:
“Everyone in this room cannot deny that...people who are of the LGBTQ community have significantly higher suicide rates...We should have any measurement in our power to make sure our friends, our family, our neighbors are not killing themselves.” (As if psychiatrists do not say that gender dysphoria itself, not marketplace discrimination, causes suicidal pathology).
For the intimidation side, we had Kathy Griesmyer of the ACLU, a heavily endowed leftist organization using its legitimate history as a civil rights organization to attack conservative communities.
“Everybody has a gender identity and a sexual orientation and what this ordinance does is puts some common-sense laws on the books that makes sure people know that they can be free from fear of discrimination.”
These testimonies, among others, swayed the hapless city council members, who spend most of their time passing utility development plans or platting work. The normal 90-day process to hold the hearing was expedited to 21 days, and passed. This case should serve as a warning to Christian communities nationally: that the LGBT lobby has a new strategy with SOGI that will soon make them a doormat to the left side of history.
Where SOGI is planted, those bold enough to continue in their faith face martyrdom—economic or worse. A Christian cakebaker, willing to serve anyone in love, but no one in ways that violate his faith, has been bankrupted, harassed, and faced years of public exposure in state and federal courts, only to be persecuted again when it all ended. Christian florists, photographers, adoption agencies, and others working in the sphere of public accommodations, will face a similar fate.
Looking at the grim landscape, it seems wishful to call religious exercise a “right” that cannot be taken away. For SOGI laws have shown that they threaten the center of God’s kingdom: the life of repentance.
Christians are taught that they will encounter sinners every day. Conscience will demand that they, in humility, call their brothers to repentance through the Gospel. Scripture clearly applies this to homosexuality as well. The free exercise of religion allows Christians to widely interpret what calling for repentance, and repenting, looks like.
Under the arbitrary dictates of SOGI, Christians no longer have the blessing to make public judgements in line with the Bible in ways they see fit. When they do, they are likely to get accused of discrimination—something far too subjective and difficult to verify in a court of law. The freedom to make judgments, absent vague and tyrannical concepts of discrimination, is precisely what Christians give up when these laws are passed. And to think this all ends with LGBT issues is naive and misguided.
“Religious exercise” has always meant the action of calling for, and living, a life of repentant faith. The two are as connected as Christ and His Church. Yet city hall to city hall, little is mentioned of what such laws could really entail for Christians. SOGI is sweeping the country, and even in the cherry red city of Meridian, there is not enough backlash to turn the tide. And if the left continues to succeed in these impositions, ignorance will surely have been our true folly.