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Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski
A plan being shoved down a fast track in the Oregon Legislature would give homosexuals a vast range of new state laws they could use to impose their moral perspective on Christians across the state, according to opponents who fear for their speech and religious expression rights.
Senate Bill 2, on its face, is written to enshrine in state law special protections for homosexuals by classifying them as a protected civil rights group. But hundreds of pastors – whose churches include tens of thousands of evangelical Christians – are horrified by what they see advancing virtually without opposition.
“Senate Bill 2, in the Oregon House of Representatives, if passed, will limit your free speech rights and rights of conscience; require public schools to teach that homosexual/lesbian/bisexual behavior is ‘okay’ and ‘moral’; impact your rights as a business owner; and put judges in authority on certain church matters,” according to David Crowe, of the Christian ministry called Restore America.
“This bill is arrogantly, defiantly and deceptively crafted to accomplish a lot more than what it is saying,” he told WND. “It definitely adds sexual orientation to the list of protected civil rights groups.
“But there is verbiage in the bill and the verbiage has to do with the primary purpose of a church. They’re seeking really to gain a foothold for homosexuals into the Christian church with the court’s approval,” he said.
“It’s more than the nose of the camel, they want the whole camel in the tent to ruminate around however they would like,” he said. “The word we’ve gotten from attorneys is that of all the bills around the country this is the worst,” Crowe said.
“The bottom line this is a total effort by the left to subvert our morality, our Judeo-Christian morality and impose on us a morality they consider superior. What it is really is challenging everything we as Christians stand for.”
The bill would affect churches even though it has a so-called church exemption, he said, because it would require every church operation that isn’t directly in support of its primary mission goal to be subject to mandatory homosexual hiring requirements and other restrictions.
And it would leave the determination of what is in support of a church’s primary mission to be determined by a secular judge. It is possible, for example, that a lesbian could sue a church if not hired to be a pastor’s secretary.
For Christian business owners, it would require them to hire and promote homosexuals irrespective of the religious beliefs the owner might hold — or whether the employee agrees with the products, in a Christian bookstore for example.
For parents, it means their children in public schools would be subject to the state-sponsored and state-required indoctrination that the homosexual lifestyle choice is moral – even if the parents hold religious beliefs that contradict that.
“The law – and this is onerous – has a clause that talks about developing a program of education to change our attitudes,” Crowe said. “To change our attitudes? Is it the government’s business to change attitudes? But that’s precisely what’s in the bill.”
“They want to put into law [their] view of morality, and that’s a small minority view of morality. They are seeking to impose that on the rest of us,” he said.
Nearly 500 Christian pastors from across the state recently gathered with representatives of the Legislature to express their opposition to the proposal, and afterwards issued a statement that the law, if approved, would be “the most sweeping and culturally devastating law in Oregon history, establishing pagan morality under the guise of a ‘civil right,’ and imposing it upon all Oregonians under the cover of ‘law.'”
Crowe noted that of the 14 states that have added “sexual orientation” to their protected classes, all except Senate Bill 2 provide clear protection for churches. “Not one includes wording that allows courts to determine the ‘primary purpose’ of a church, but SB 2 does,” he noted.
“The majority of our legislators have chosen to believe the lie that those who engage in homosexual activity cannot help themselves, and that they are being unjustly and wrongly discriminated against, when in fact, neither is true,” Crowe said.
The proposal “clearly opens the door to liberal judges to redefine and decide the ‘primary purpose’ of a church, and violates the rights of everyone,” said Crowe, who recommends people sign a petition to encourage legislators to oppose the plan.
The governor had appointed a commission to study the issue, but included only representatives of liberal or “gay” churches, leaving members of 2,500 Bible-believing and teaching churches unrepresented on the panel, he said.
Individual leaders from Christian organizations already have begun contacting not only their lawmakers, but Gov. Ted Kulongoski too.
A letter from Vernon M. Marks, superintendent of the Oregon Assemblies of God churches, told Kulongoski that the more than 30,000 members of those churches are urging the rejection of the plan.
His letter told the governor the bills will:
- Violate the very moral and ethical foundations of our culture.
- Restrict the rights of our citizens to make moral distinctions and to speak freely.
- Disregard fundamental biblical guidelines for the sanctity of traditional family.
- Promote dysfunctional family structures that will rob the next generation.
- Ignore the overwhelming vote of Oregonians to preserve traditional marriage.
- Discriminate against parents raising mentally and physically challenged adult children.
- Provide special rights for a few and ignore the civil rights of the majority of Oregonians.
- Discriminate against parental moral values and convictions.
- Promote behaviors that clearly violate common sense and social stability.
- Will create a huge strain on Oregonians economically.
- Will elevate the already taxed judicial system in dealing with lawsuits over these issues.
- Infringe on the constitutional protection of the free exercise of religion.
John Fortmeyer, publisher of the Christian News Northwest reported that the Legislature has given the appearance of allowing public input, but it doesn’t appear to impact any decisions.
Nick Graham of the Oregon Family Council told him a March hearing on the plan lasted seven hours and had 126 people register to oppose it. Sixty-five supported it.
“We had fantastic testimony in opposition, such as from legal firms and executive pastors,” Graham said. “But to no avail, that evening, the bill was passed out of committee and sent to the floor of the Senate … We were given the appearance of public input, but ultimately it meant nothing.”
“Also, PRAY!” said a message from Marks to the church group’s pastors. “This is possibly the most dangerous piece of legislation to come from Oregon’s legislature.”
The Constitution Party said the plan is a “recipe for civil war.”
“Everyone should read this legislation. It clearly gives those who choose non-traditional sexual behavior preference over those with traditional moral values,” said state Chairman Jack Brown. “This legislation will lock religious people inside their church buildings and let perversion occupy the rest of the landscape!”
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