The Ohio Pastor Protection Act is working its way through the Ohio Legislation. If passed, the bill will enhance First Amendment religious rights to Ohio pastors and churches.
The LGBT community is not hiding its push to remove all religious freedoms. As a result, several states are proposing laws to protect not just clergy, but any business owner’s religious freedom. Texas and Florida have already successfully placed similar laws on the books.
The Ohio bill states:
To amend section 3101.08 of the Revised Code to provide that an ordained or licensed minister or religious society is not required to solemnize a marriage and a religious society is not required to allow any building or property of the religious society to be used to host a marriage ceremony if the marriage does not conform to the ordained or licensed minister’s or religious society’s sincerely held religious beliefs, to provide that an ordained or licensed minister or religious society is not subject to civil or criminal liability for such a denial, and to provide that the state and political subdivisions may not penalize or withhold benefits to an ordained or licensed minister or religious society for such a denial.
LGBTQ people are clearly being targeted by this bill, and this bill would not exist prior to same-sex marriage being legal. It is remarkable that those who often argue for smaller government seek now to put forward regulations in the name of religious protections already provided by our federal and state constitutions.
Yes, until the LGBT community started relentlessly going after Christian business owners and bankrupting them, no such legislation was needed. But ever since same-sex couples have purposely targeted Christians for not wanting to participate in their ceremonies, what choice do churches have? The First Amendment does not protect bakers, florists or photographers, why should churches assume in today’s world it will still protect them?
The LGBT community rejects the Ohio bill, claiming it is unnecessary.
“HB36 is mean-spirited, unnecessary legislation,” said Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “No pastor has been forced to perform any marriage outside of his or her religious beliefs and practices. It’s disappointing to see Ohio lawmakers wasting time and resources on solving a problem that does not exist.”
However, PJMedia reports:
An LGBT organization in Ohio has announced plans to target churches if they refuse to offer their property to be used in a homosexual wedding. In opposing the Ohio Pastor Protection Act (HB-36), the group Equality Ohio announced that they would target churches, forcing them to rent church facilities to groups that oppose their beliefs.
So apparently Equality Ohio is going to prove Ohioans don’t need this bill by actually proving Ohioans do need this bill.
The author of HB-36, Representative Nino Vitale (R-Urbana), sees this as a “declaration of war.”
“If you have property rights and religious freedom, shouldn’t you have religious freedom, at least on your own property?” Vitale asked in an interview with PJ Media.
Specifically, Vitale suggested that the ACLU of Ohio, which he described as “a large cash cow organization that exists to sue people,” and which opposed the Ohio Pastor Protection Act last year, would target churches if HB-36 does not pass. “That’s what they aim to do,” he explained.
He believes their focus will be the Catholic Church.
“The Catholic Church is one of the main targets,” the representative told PJ Media. “When you’re filing a lawsuit against someone, you’re saying we disagree with what you’re doing and we want to stop you from doing it and penalize you for what you did,” he explained. “I can’t think of anybody with bigger pockets in the church communities than the Catholic Church.”
His goal is for people to live and let live.
“You all believe one thing, you all believe another. Rather than sue or fine anybody, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one,” Vitale told PJ Media. “At the very least, a pastor and church property should be able to say, ‘We have religious liberty, so we don’t want our pastor or church property to be used for something that violates our religious beliefs.'”
However, Equality Ohio had a different viewpoint.
Naturally, however, organizations like Equality Ohio respond that this is a civil rights issue. “When you operate a business and are open to the public, you must be open to everyone in the public,” the LGBT group’s testimony declared. “You are obligated to adhere to civil rights norms in the United States.”
Except churches are not businesses. They are houses of worship. Churches don’t make money by providing a service or product. They don’t charge for sitting in a pew, performing a baptism, or taking communion. Churches are supported by donations given freely by congregants who believe in the church’s teachings.
While Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger and his caucus want to see this bill passed, Gov. John Kasich is cautious. He supports a limited bill, but warns any controversial legislation like that in North Carolina and Indiana will not see his signature. It is amazing he even won the State of Ohio in 2016.
As an Ohio resident, and a member of a conservative denomination, I am very hopeful with this bill. Several of my fellow church members have been concerned about this very issue for two years. My brother-in-law, a pastor and Canadian, saw the LGBT community overtake his country and churches. He sees it as just a matter of time until it happens in America. I pray we can prove him wrong.
But that’s just my 2 cents.