A new Colorado law is helping homosexual activists achieve their goal of forcing Christians to teach biblical condemnation of homosexuality only behind the closed doors of their sanctuaries.
The as-yet untested state law promotes sexual identity “perception” to the level of skin color under state discrimination laws.
Some opponents are calling it a “bona fide censorship law,” and top analysts for Focus on the Family, the Christian publishing and broadcast powerhouse, are expressing concern over the “mischief” they expect to follow the signing by Gov. Bill Ritter.
As WND reported, Ritter, a Democrat, struck gender-specific restrooms and locker rooms statewide when he signed the plan into law in May.
The law makes it illegal to deny a person access to public accommodations, including restrooms and locker rooms, based on gender identity or the “perception” of gender identity.
“Who would have believed that the Colorado state legislature and its governor would have made it fully legal for men to enter and use women’s restrooms and locker-room facilities without notice or explanation?” said James Dobson, founder of Focus.
“Henceforth, every woman and little girl will have to fear that a predator, bisexual, cross-dresser or even a homosexual or heterosexual male might walk in and relieve himself in their presence,” Dobson said.
But now an analyst for Focus, Bruce Hausknecht, has told WND there are other, significant, potential ramifications hidden in the fine print of the new law.
The law provides an exemption allowing religious groups to continue teaching, inside their doors, the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality. But the exemption itself is ultimately harmful to the church, Hausknecht contends.
“It tends to marginalize the church,” he said. “They’ll say, ‘It’s just a church.’ It will allow gay activists to continue to marginalize Christians. They’ll say, ‘Keep it within your four walls. That’s all.’”
But there’s further possible mischief that can result from a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation or “perception” when deciding “full and equal enjoyment of facilities, accommodations” and other factors, he said.
Religious publishers, he acknowledged, could be accused under the law for publishing biblical condemnation of homosexuality. Colorado Springs, where Focus in located, also is home to the huge Christian publishing operations of NavPress and the International Bible Society.
“There are those who simply by publishing Christian materials could find themselves charged with a violation of this statute,” he said.
A spokesman for Ritter did not respond to a WND request for comment.
The actual impact of the new ban on people responsible for “public accommodations” expressing beliefs that do not support homosexuality is unclear at this point, largely because charges haven’t been brought and challenges weighed regarding the law and its potential impact on First Amendment guarantees of freedom exercise of religion.
However, Hausknecht warned there is “danger” in those waters for any church that provides any service to its community.
It is possible the law’s anti-”discrimination” demands could be triggered when outside groups come in to use a church meeting room, auditorium or recreation facility. For the safety of the churches, perhaps outsiders will have to sign a document stating agreement with the church’s religious beliefs before being allowed in, he said.
The targets of complaints likely won’t be churches themselves, but more likely church schools, programs that offer services to communities and the like, critics of the law said.
“The intent of the homosexual activists who put this law in [was to] marginalize the church, keep it inside the sanctuary,” Hausknecht said.
Worse yet is that many small or medium-size churches will have to go out of their way, including halting programs, to avoid a potential conflict, because they don’t have the resources to wage a war over their beliefs, he added.
“It’s a lot easier to avoid the conflict than incur the costs of fighting,” he said.
Dobson earlier had nothing but criticism for Colorado’s elected officials.
“This is your government in action. It represents a payback to Tim Gill and two other billionaires who have essentially ‘bought’ state legislators with enormous campaign contributions. Coloradans deserve better!” Dobson said.
“And by the way, because of the way this bill is written, it is not subject to the initiative process. There is no recourse,” Dobson said.
Pastor Bob Enyart, a Denver-area activist on Christian issues, agreed with Focus’s concerns over what appears to be a newly minted state discrimination against Christian beliefs. But he went further.
“WND reported on Canada banning opposition to homosexuality; likewise, Colorado’s SB200 has ‘forbidden’ much publishing of Christian teaching on homosexuality, cohabitation, etc.,” he said.
“This censorship aspect of the law has been utterly ignored,” he said.
“The law exempts churches, but that’s not good, that’s an insult. I.E., bigotry is allowed only in churches. Whereas every other place of public accommodation including bookstores, retail & wholesale businesses, etc. cannot sell or even ‘give away’ anything that would advocate discrimination [against] gay adoption, homosexual marriage, etc.,” Enyart said.
He cited one part of the new law:
Section 8. 24-34-701. Publishing of discriminative matter forbidden. No person, being the owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent, or employee of any place of public accommodation… shall publish, issue, circulate, send, distribute, give away, or display in any way, manner, or shape or by any means or method, except as provided in this section, any communication, paper, poster, folder, manuscript, book, pamphlet, writing, print, letter, notice, or advertisement of any kind, nature, or description THAT is intended or calculated to discriminate or actually discriminates against… SEXUAL ORIENTATION, marital status… in the matter of furnishing or neglecting or refusing to furnish to them or any one of them any lodging, housing, schooling, or tuition or any accommodation, right [marriage], privilege [adoption], advantage, or convenience… on account of… SEXUAL ORIENTATION, marital status… [which] is unwelcome or objectionable or not acceptable, desired, or solicited.”
The Old Testament condemns homosexuality as an “abomination,” Enyart told WND. The New Testament includes a reference in 1st Timothy calling for the use of laws against crimes such as murder and homosexuality.
“There are free speech rights to condemn cohabitation, homosexuality, state that homosexuals should not marry, should not adopt children,” Enyart said. “It’s now illegal in Colorado for anyone involved in a facility or business of public accommodation to give any communication that would advocate discrimination based on marital status or sexual orientation.”
He said many people simply choose not to believe what’s happening.
“I have a hard time believing [it myself],” said Enyart.
He said he expects the law to be only “lightly” enforced until “it just becomes an entrenched part of our legal framework. They’re not going to go out and arrest somebody for selling a Bible at Barnes and Noble.”
But then in a few years, watch out, he said.
Enyart has printed a document he hands out that says, “This Anti-homosexual Flyer is Illegal in Colorado.” It condemns the promotion of homosexuality in no uncertain terms.
“Homosexuality should be re-criminalized in Colorado,” it states.
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