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WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - Major corporations are backing federal legislation to end religious freedom.
More than 400 major corporations are partnering with the pro-LGBTQ Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to promote the pro-LGBT Equality Act.
In an HRC press release dated April 27, top-ranking leaders from big businesses lent their voices to the Equality Act. For instance, IBM Chief Diversity Officer Carla Grant Pickens proclaimed, "It's time that civil rights protections be extended to LGBT+ individuals nationwide on a clear, consistent and comprehensive basis."
The Equality Act (HR 5) — as passed by the House of Representatives in February — would change federal civil rights laws to include gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes. Opponents say the bill would infringe on religious freedom by ordering faith-based schools and hospitals to comply with LGBT ideology.
The pro-LGBT measure is getting support from 420 major corporations — businesses that collectively earn trillions of dollars annually. Among the prominent companies partnering with the HRC are Amazon, Apple, Delta Air Lines, Pfizer, IBM, Google, Facebook, General Motors, MasterCard, Visa, Univision, Home Depot, Marriott and Starbucks — to name a few.
HRC President Alphonso David said in the April 27 statement, "We are seeing growing support from business leaders because they understand that the Equality Act is good for their employees, good for their businesses and good for our country."
David compared the treatment of gays and transgenders under current law to the treatment of African-Americans under Jim Crow.
Many religious organizations — including the U.S. bishops' conference — are opposing the Equality Act. The bishops' conference stated in a Feb. 23 letter, "Rather than affirm human dignity in ways that meaningfully exceed existing practical protections, the Equality Act would discriminate against people of faith."
But left-wing celebrity Catholics have supported the pro-LGBT bill, rejecting the bishops' warning about religious freedom.
According to ABC News, Sr. Simone Campbell said in March about the bishops' stance, "I found it shockingly harsh and not at all in keeping with what Jesus and the Gospels are about."
Campbell has championed Obamacare, which sought to force Catholic institutions to provide contraception to their employees, as well as the dissident group New Ways Ministry, an organization that pushes to abolish Church teaching on homosexuality.
Also commenting to ABC News was pro-gay Jesuit Fr. James Martin, who said, "The question the Church must ask itself is: When will we stand up against the real-life discrimination — the violence, harassment and bullying — that LGBTQ people encounter?"
Although the Equality Act claims to end discrimination, the measure discriminates against people of faith wishing to abide by their consciences.
The bill would codify Joe Biden's January executive order, which requires federal agencies to implement non-discrimination protections for sex and sexual orientation ostensibly found in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Biden has vowed to see it pass.
When White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked how Biden, a Catholic, squared his support of the bill with Catholic bishops and fears that it will do away with conscience protections, she answered that it is merely a "difference of opinion."
While all House Democrats voted in favor of the bill, three Republicans joined them: Reps. John Katko and Tom Reed of New York and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.
In 2019, the bill failed in the Senate, while Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a Catholic, was the sole GOP member to endorse the bill. It is not clear whether the bill will be voted down in the closely divided Senate this time.
"The bill is well-intentioned but ultimately misguided," read a USCCB statement, which added, "The Equality Act discriminates against people of faith, threatens unborn life, and undermines the common good." The USCCB fears the bill would make it "more difficult for individuals to live out their faith."
The USCCB warns it would force charities operated by the Catholic Church and other religious bodies to violate their foundational religious beliefs, threatening their closure and harming beneficiaries, for example, of homeless shelters and adoption agencies. Existing prohibitions on the use of federal taxpayer funds for abortion, said the statement, would be jeopardized and force Catholic hospitals and medical professionals to perform abortions against their consciences and expert medical opinion.
The bill would require women and girls to share locker rooms, showers, and lavatories with men and boys, and compete against men in sporting events. Medical professionals could be forced to support treatments, medication, surgery and procedures consonant with so-called "gender transition." The bill does not mention people diagnosed with gender dysphoria or undergoing surgical mutilation or hormonal treatment.
"In our lifetime, there has not been such a significant attack on religious liberty," said Pastor J.D. Greear, who presides over the Southern Baptist Convention, according to the Baptist Press.
According to the pro-abortion Women's Liberation Front, the bill makes "clear that self-declared gender identity would be sufficient to claim protected legal status."
The feminist group, which advocates for sex-specific lavatories and locker rooms and the abolition of pornography and prostitution, stated that while the bill "is being sold on promising good things for women, and on ending unfair treatment of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people," it would destroy "any accommodations for women on the basis of sex."
In a statement, Ethics and Public Policy Center president Ryan T. Anderson likened the bill to "legislative malpractice" that would turn "equality on its head." He said that the bill would transform America so much that "Pope Francis would be treated as the legal equivalent of a Jim Crow supporter."
The Heritage Foundation was also critical, stating, "The 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed state-sanctioned discrimination that caused systematic economic and material harm to Black Americans. The Equality Act is different: It forces every American to agree with controversial government-imposed ideology on sexuality or be treated as an outlaw. The Equality Act demolishes existing civil rights and constitutional freedoms."
Echoing many of the above concerns, the nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom law firm warns: "Good laws respect our constitutional freedoms; they promote justice and fairness; they benefit society as a whole; and they support the common good — not just the interests of particular groups. Bad laws create victims. They create chaos. The 'Equality' Act would be a bad law. And we must stand against it right now."
Catholic bishops have repeatedly said persons with homosexual inclinations should be met with charity rather than violent, cruel or unjust treatment. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, homosexual behavior is not only "objectively disordered" but also constitutes a "trial" for those so inclined. It reads:
They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
Some Catholic bishops appear to be bucking Catholic teachings regarding homosexuality, even to the extent of seeking to bless homosexual unions. For example, when the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) ruled against any possibility of such blessings as "illicit" and "unlawful," Bp. Georg Bätzing, who leads German bishops, blasted the CDF. In Belgium, Bp. Johan Bonny claimed that 700 people left his diocese after the release. In 2018, Cdl. Reinhard Marx insisted that homosexual unions can be "blessed" by the Church.
Several priests in the United States also expressed their dismay over the CDF document.
Additionally, a cardinal and several bishops signed on to a document titled "God is on your side: a statement from Catholic bishops on protecting LGBT Youth." It read, "All people of goodwill should help, support and defend LGBT youth" who, it claimed, "attempt suicide at much higher rates than their straight counterparts; who are often homeless because of families who reject them; who are rejected, bullied and harassed; and who are the target of violent acts at alarming rates."
The signatories were Cdl. Joseph Tobin of New Jersey, Abp. John Wester of New Mexico, retired bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Michigan, Bp. Robert McElroy of California, Bp. Edward Weisenburger of Arizona, Bp. John Stowe of Kentucky, retired bishop Denis Madden of Maryland, and Bp. Steven Biegler of Wyoming.