Seth Udinski, FISM News
A new lawsuit regarding religious freedom could have crucial ramifications for the future of Christians and Christian organizations in America. An alliance of 33 university students who identify as LGBTQ and a handful of professional adults known as the Religious Exemption Accountability Project (REAP) filed a class-action lawsuit last week against the U.S. Department of Education. The lawsuit concerns the legal protection of religious institutions to exercise their religious beliefs.
REAP is accusing these universities of “discriminating” against LGBTQ students. In what appears to be a calculated move, many of the universities and seminaries targeted as “discriminators” are rooted in the evangelical Protestant tradition. The team of adults spearheading this lawsuit includes director Paul Southwick, a former attorney, Rachel Livingston, a current practicing attorney, and “Reverend” Alba Onofrio, a practicing lesbian and self-proclaimed “theologian” who specializes in “healing from religious trauma.”
Some of the institutions mentioned include Baylor University in Texas, Messiah University in Pennsylvania, Eastern University in Pennsylvania, Fuller Theological Seminary in California, Moody Bible Institute in Illinois, Liberty University in Virginia, Bob Jones University in South Carolina, and Colorado Christian University.
What crimes have these Christian colleges committed to warrant such outrage? For many, they have simply exercised some level of biblical faithfulness. Some schools prohibited students of the same gender from dating. Others blocked pro-LGBTQ internet sites from their campus computers. Some simply discouraged homosexual behavior because it is, in fact, a sinful perversion of God’s design for human flourishing. For REAP and other pro-LGBTQ organizations, this will not do.
The lawsuit is demanding the removal of protection for religious institutions to practice their religious beliefs. If REAP wins this lawsuit, it will rob Christian colleges of their constitutional right to be “Christian.” This ruling could permanently upend the nature of religious freedom in America.