Gov. Ted Kulongoski, D-Ore.
A legislative plan to “eliminate attitudes” opposing homosexuality is moving forward in Oregon, even though opponents claim it threatens churches and establishes pagan morality as a benchmark for their operations.
Senate Bill 2, already endorsed by the state Senate and favored by Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a Democrat, now heads to the floor of the state House following a 5-1 committee endorsement.
It is expected to be voted on within the next week.
In the House Rules Committee, an amendment was offered that would have provided an exemption for Christian churches and Christian groups in the proposal to grant broad new powers to the homosexual community by designating them as members of a protected minority class.
However, the amendment was rejected in favor of a plan to continue to allow homosexuals to demand Christian churches hire them when there are job openings – among other issues.
“This is still an intrusion of the state into religious liberty, and makes [Christian organizations] subject to state control,” David Crowe, of Restore America, told WND.
“It favors the homosexual community and puts the church in a defensive posture, having to defend itself and its beliefs, policies, doctrines and employment,” he said.
The Oregon Family Council had proposed an amendment derived from similar legislative plans in other states where homosexual community members have been granted special rights, but it was rejected.
“This is very objectionable. It reveals that this is an agenda. They couldn’t care less about what the people of Oregon think,” said Crowe.
His organization’s petition to encourage legislators to oppose the plan already has 6,000 signatures and is growing at the rate of about 1,000 per day.
“We’re going to tell the world what is being dictated (to Christians and Christian churches) in Oregon,” Crowe said.
He said the attitude on the part of lawmakers was typified by a comment from state Rep. Peter Buckley, from Ashland, who didn’t want to provide “more exemptions,” likening the situation to “past racist employment motives.”
It used to be signs that said “No Irish need apply,” he suggested. “Only now it’s like, ‘No gays or lesbians need apply for jobs.’”
Buckley insists the church must employ homosexuals, said Crowe.
“He has no regard, no understanding whatsoever of the religious community at all, and certainly no respect for the U.S. Constitution,” Crowe explained. “He says he’s going to summarily override anything in the Constitution. He believes we ought to be forced to hire homosexuals. They come to the door, we ought to hire them.”
He said the homosexual-rights promoters are becoming self-righteous in their attitudes, saying, “We’re against any kind of discrimination and certainly this kind as well.”
Churches, meanwhile, are being portrayed as impeding “what is really good.”
The entire issue, however, is built on false pretenses, Crowe said, because the need for such legislation can only be substantiated if there is a significant problem with discrimination against homosexuals.
In Oregon, while about 170 cases have been reported since 2000, a state agency confirmed the validity of only a handful of cases.
“The substance is not there,” Crowe said.
He also said the legislators supporting the plan need to look at the document and ask some questions, including, what is the definition of sexual orientation and is that a state of mind; will pedophiles be protected under the legislation; and what sexual acts will become protected.
But the proposal leaves churches unprotected in their religious beliefs and actions that derive from those beliefs, he said. It states churches are exempted “only if the employment, housing or the use of facilities is closely connected with or related to the primary purposes of the church or institution. …”
Then the issue is left to the state courts to determine any relationship to “the primary purposes of the church.”
One letter to the editor apparently spoke for many Christians in Oregon. “Oregon Senate Bill 2 … elevates immoral behavior to acceptance and approval. Will polygamy be granted civil rights status next?” wrote Mike Knutz of McMinnville.
“The bill restricts religious freedom. … It denies religious liberty to business owners. … And the bill goes even further to establish ‘a program of public education calculated to eliminate attitudes upon which practices of discrimination because of sexual orientation are based,’” he wrote.
“People who view homosexual conduct as wrong, sinful and or unhealthy will see their tax dollars at work against their own moral code.”
Crowe said the results of the bill would be to “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.”
“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.”
Nearly 500 Christian pastors, including one leader representing the 30,000 people in his organization’s many churches, have opposed the proposal but have been fighting an uphill battle in a legislature dominated by Democrats.
Crowe called the plan “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.’”
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