The Equal Rights Amendment and the Threat to Churches

The Family Foundation of Virginia is asking all pastors to join an informational phone call Tuesday, January 8, at 1:30pm regarding legislation that could very well limit our religious freedoms in Virginia.

Letter from the Family Foundation:
As you may be aware, there is a piece of legislation that will be considered by the Virginia General Assembly this coming session known as “The Equal Rights Amendment” (ERA). Despite its innocuous name, it can be argued that this bill is the most dangerous proposal taken up by The General Assembly in decades. It certainly presents a unique threat to churches and ministry associations. 

In addition to expansion of the horrific procedure of abortion, “co-ed” prisons where assignment would be based on “self-identified” gender, and the blending of gender identity into constitutionally-protected classes, this bill would target any church that has a policy or denominational doctrine that the government deems “exclusionary” or “prejudiced”. If that church/association is determined to be in violation of ERA, it would most likely lose its tax-exempt status. An example of a “prejudiced practice” under the guidelines of this legislation would be any church or denomination having policies prohibiting female pastors. Those churches would be targeted for revocation of their tax-exempt status.

Regardless of whether any pastor shares their theological interpretation of scripture, the most important point to note is that the government would be forcing adherence to their worldly policy in direct conflict with the tenets of faith of the church. If the church stands on their religious freedom. they would be penalized by the commonwealth and federal government. It is likely that the penalty would be extended to any ministry that refuses to hire or ordain gay clergy, that preaches homosexuality as sin, and that refuses to hire non-Christians for church staff positions or for employment in church-sponsored schools. There was certainly legislation offered during the last session that could be accurately described as hostile toward ministry but this proposal sets a new bar in government aggression toward the church.

The pro-ERA factions (Planned Parenthood, LGBTQ activists, Atheists groups, etc.) are organized and well-financed. They have been lobbying lawmakers aggressively since last legislative session.

This coming Tuesday, January 8th at 1:30PM, The Family Foundation will be hosting an urgent conference call for pastors where our policy team will review the proposed ERA legislation and the specific threats to ministry. The call will be hosted by Dr. Will Langford (Senior Pastor of Great Bridge Baptist Church, Chesapeake). 

Call Details:Tuesday, January 8th1:30pm – 2:00pm (Pastors will be able to ask questions at the conclusion of the presentation time-permitting)Call-In Number: (804) 258-9684

I want to also make note of our “Pastors at The Capitol” event taking place on the opening day of legislative session, Wednesday, January 9th: This gathering is even more critical as we consider the pending legislation. We understand the demands on ministry schedules so we don’t offer this appeal lightly. But is vital that legislators see pastors in the gallery of the chambers and in their offices sharing their thoughts and concerns in regard to their churches and communities. The ERA Supporters are planning a large “protest” at The Capitol on opening day. 

It is imperative that ministry leaders understand this proposed legislation and the threats to their churches. My prayers continue to be with The Bridge Network and your profound impact for Christ in Hampton Roads.
In His Service,  

Gene D. Painter
Director of Ministry Relations
The Family Foundation of Virginia
919 E. Main Street, Suite 1110Richmond, VA 23219
757-343-5294 (Mobile)
804-343-0010 (Richmond Office)