The Pen

Boards to Endorse Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity as “Basic Human Rights” in Exchange for Religious Freedom

[World Magazine] Two major evangelical organizations have formally endorsed principles that would add sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) to federal nondiscrimination law. 

The boards of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) quietly passed similar motions in recent months, advancing a multiyear effort they say is necessary to preserve religious freedom. 

“As Christian higher educators, we are increasingly persuaded that the most viable political strategy is for comprehensive religious freedom protections to be combined with explicit support for basic human rights for members of the LGBT community,” Houghton College President Shirley Mullen—one of several people who sit on both boards—wrote in a position paper provided to NAE board members. 

CCCU President Shirley Hoogstra announced her board’s vote to member presidents in August, but did not publicly announce the move. 

The NAE motion—obtained by WORLD—unanimously passed in October. It’s titled “Fairness for All” and calls on Congress to consider federal legislation consistent with three principles: 

• We believe that God created human beings in his image as male or female and that sexual relations be reserved for the marriage of one man and one woman.
• We support long-standing civil rights laws and First Amendment guarantees that protect free religious exercise.
• No one should face violence, harassment, or unjust discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

“Fairness for All” is a concept based on the “Utah Compromise”—a SOGI law with religious exemptions. The 2015 legislation remains the only statewide SOGI law enacted over the last seven years. 

[Editor’s Note: Article written by J. C. Derrick and originally published at World Magazine]