A judge slapped down an attempt by a Wisconsin city to force churches and other religious organizations to abide by and conform to its pro-LGBT agenda – including gender-identity and sexual orientation dictates.
“The city of De Pere, Wisconsin, adopted a ‘non-discrimination’ ordinance that designated churches [as] ‘places of public accommodation,” WND reported. “The city claimed that any time a church is open to the public – outside the role of a house of worship – it is subject to the ordinance.”
Not so fast …
Not bowing down to the city’s aggressive LGBT agenda, Brown County Judge William Atkinson awarded churches a summary judgment against the city while rejecting local official’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.
Representing several churches in the suit, Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) President Brad Dacus argued that the city was violating the United States Constitution by forcing the LGBT agenda upon them.
“This unconstitutional ordinance could not go unchallenged,” Dacus stated in a recent PJI news release. “These religious organizations stood up for their convictions and fought back against intolerant and aggressive LGBT policies. Now churches can continue to advertise, display or publish teachings and sermons on matters of sexual ethics, divorce or the biological phenomenon that persons are born either male or female – without the City’s oppressive restriction.”
For some time, churches have been subjected to the city’s problematic ordinance.
“The City’s ordinance – passed just before Thanksgiving of last year – addressed non-discrimination of gender identity and sexual orientation in housing, employment, advertising and public accommodations – without an exemption for religious organizations,” the PJI release recounted. “Before the ordinance took effect in March 2018, Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) swiftly took action and filed a complaint.”
PJI attorney Kevin Snider said the churches should not have to bow down to local officials’ dictates when they violate their faith.
“This court victory came just in time for these churches, who have treaded cautiously under the burden of this government orthodoxy,” said Snider. “Our clients and the many other religious institutions in De Pere can fulfill their religious functions and ministries this Christmas season – without fear of being brought before a tribunal due to their hiring choices or refusal to host same-sex marriages on church property.”
But the churches held strong.
“These religious organizations bravely held to the biblical beliefs that God determines gender and prohibits homosexuality,” the release continued. “These pastors – who preach from their pulpits on marriage and sexual ethics – hold their ministries to those biblical standards in areas of community outreach, employment and advertising.”
Some problematic precedents could have been permanently established – at least for the foreseeable future – if the judge went the other way.
“The City argued in their motion to dismiss PJI’s complaint that any time a church opens to the public, outside of their ‘traditional role as a house of worship,’ the City has the right to impose its own values on that church,” PJI explained in the release. “In the courtroom, De Pere’s attorneys even mentioned that actions such as a church serving as a polling place or handing out water to runners at an athletic event triggered the City’s provision. If the ordinance had survived, De Pere would be the first in America to deem churches places of public accommodation.”
Things changed for the better
Earlier this year, PJI insisted that moving forward with the ordinance would have crushed local churches’ right to teach and follow precepts about human sexuality as expressed in the Bible.
“The ordinance bars discrimination – broadly defining that term as well as public accommodation and employment decisions in ways that would severely curtail religious exercise,” the PJI legal team said, according to a February WND report. “The only exception for religious entities like the churches and radio station is for hiring people of the same religion. [This] exception is faulty, since it would ‘afford no ability to make employment decisions if a pastor, other employee, or applicant acts inconsistently with church teaching but continues to claim to be of the same faith or denomination.’”
Other major problems with enforcing the ordinance were also pointed out.
“The sweeping ordinance would also prevent public accommodations from denying use for events such as same-sex weddings or drag shows,” PJI attorneys insisted, according to WND.
At the time, Dacus also noted how employment and worship services of churches would be affected.
“If cities can tell churches who they must hire, retain or promote, and to whom their sanctuaries and other sacred grounds must be made available, and what types of viewpoints may be espoused through advertising, our religious freedom is in serious jeopardy,” Dacus explained in February. “It is alarming that the city of De Pere would not enact basic protections of religious freedom. We are very hopeful that the court will uphold the rights of these churches and this radio station.”