All Around Us

All Around Us
By Rev. Martyn McGeown

Transgender Discrimination and Churches in Iowa and Massachusetts

In a recent submission to the “All Around Us” rubric (vol. 92, No. 18 [ July 2016]) I reported that across the Western world anti-discrimination laws are being amended to include protection for “transgendered” individuals, that is, for persons who “identify as” a gender different from the biological gender “assigned to them” at birth. Two U.S. states, Iowa and Massachusetts, have made the headlines recently because of a perceived threat to the religious liberty of churches.

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) recently revised its guidelines because they appeared to lack exemptions for churches. This revision was made in response to a lawsuit filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of Cornerstone World Outreach Church in Sioux City, Iowa. The offending, some say, confusing, section of ICRC’s brochure entitled, “Does the law apply to churches?” formerly read as follows, “Where qualifications are not related to a bona fide religiouspurpose, churches are still subject to the law’s provision. (e.g., a child care facility operated at a church or a church
service open to the public).”