The state of Massachusetts has responded to a lawsuit by recognizing that churches are free to operate based on the tenets of their faith.
The Bay State caught the attention of churches in July after the commonwealth passed an anti-discrimination law.
Part of that law is "public accomodation" for homosexuals, lesbians, and the transgendered, and a state commission announced rules in September stating that churches, too, must abide by the same requirements.
In an October story, OneNewsNow reported that Massachusetts churches were suing for the right to be churches and not be forced to abide by the liberal state's pro-LGBT policies.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney Christiana Holcomb details the potential impact of the move.
“Basically it meant that pastors and churches either had to censor what they taught about human sexuality, and open their restrooms and locker rooms and showers and changing facilities to members of the opposite biological sex, or they could face crippling fines -- and even up to a year in jail – for simply operating consistently with their faith,” Holcomb explains.
In response, ADF filed suit on behalf of five churches. The state Human Rights Commission realized, Holcomb says, that it had no legal grounds to fight the lawsuit and win, and so it backed down.
"And so it revised the gender identity guide and acknowledged that the law could not apply to church activities and events that involve religious expression, which is everything that a church does,” Holcomb points out.
In filings with the court, both state divisions acknowledged that churches are permitted to exercise religious freedom without interference from the state.
The state of Iowa also learned the same lesson this year, when ADF intervened to halt a plan to force churches to accommodate transgenders.