Yesterday, the president of Bob Jones University, Steve Pettit, used his position to speak out against the Equality Act, which makes it only the most recent example of a BJU administrator arguing that bigotry must be maintained for the sake of Christianity.
The House has already passed the legislation preventing anti-LGBTQ discrimination in areas like employment, housing, education, and more. The Senate is currently weighing the bill but it’s unlikely to pass given that the filibuster remains in place and you’ll have a hard time finding 10 Republican senators who support civil rights.
Still, Pettit argued this legislation would be a disaster:
… Under the Equality Act, many religious colleges, such as BJU, that participate in federal grant programs would be forced to adopt [sexual orientation and gender identity] ideology or else lose the federal grants currently available to their students.
It’s likely that passage and implementation of the Equality Act would mean Christian colleges would be considered a place of “public accommodation” that “provides a good, service, or program.” Under the Equality Act, Christian colleges would be forced to hire professors and accept students who are unwilling to abide by biblical sexual standards. It is possible that Christian institutions would be permitted to continue teaching the biblical ethics of human sexuality, but they most certainly would be prohibited from expecting faculty, staff and students to practice those beliefs.
This act could also affect our employee health plans, appropriately sex-separated private facilities and student housing accommodations.
He’s lying because he’s a conservative Christian and lying about LGBTQ issues is part of their faith.
The key point of contention here is that the Equality Act would override the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which says the government must have a really really good reason to get in the way of someone’s religious practices. Therefore the assumption is that removing RFRA would give the government the ability to trample over religious beliefs. That’s just not true in a any meaningful way. The overarching principle here is that public money shouldn’t be used to discriminate against LGBTQ people. It’s that simple.
In recent years, RFRA has been wildly abused by religious groups treating a birthday candle like a five-alarm fire. But getting rid of RFRA has religious conservatives assuming the worst — and then fundraising like hell off of it, if my inbox is any indication.
But no one’s forcing private religious schools to hire people who disagree with them. No one’s stopping them from requiring staffers and students to sign statements of faith. No one’s going to churches to tell people what they can and cannot believe. Conservative Christians are spreading lies about how their churches would be forced to accommodate same-sex weddings they oppose — but that’s also a lie. Only places that are made open to the public would be subject to anti-discrimination rules. Churches will still be allowed to promote hate and bigotry all they want.
Anyway, what’s especially galling about Pettit’s opposition to the bill is that BJU has a unique history of opposing civil rights and it’s obvious they’ve learned absolutely nothing over the years.
Bob Jones University didn’t accept Black students until the 1970s.
They famously banned interracial dating until 2000 because “it breaks down the barriers God has established.”
The didn’t observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day until 2017.
Their entire reputation revolves around bigotry, and here’s Pettit doing it all over again, using the same kind of rhetoric as the school’s namesake.
(Image via Shutterstock)