State of Iowa Says Churches Must Let Men Use the Women’s Bathroom

The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a pre-emptive strike against the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. The Commission has issued guidelines on its views of sexual orientation and gender identity. You can see a PDF of the guide here. Of note, the Commission requires that churches allow men to use the women’s restroom if a “church service [is] open to the public.” Got that?

Here’s the whole of what the Commission says about its position:


Sometimes. Iowa law provides that these protections do not apply to religious institutions with respect to any religion-based qualifications when such qualifications are related to a bona fide religious purpose. Where qualifications are not related to a bona fide religious purpose, churches are still subject to the law’s provisions. (e.g. a child care facility operated at a church or a church service open to the public).

(Emphasis in the original.)

Who is to say what is and is not a “bona fide religious purpose”? In Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Supreme Court held that churches get to decide who is and is not a minister. It would seem churches should get to decide what is and is not a bona fide religious purpose of their organization.

Christians have to contend with the Great Commission, which is Christ’s command to share the gospel. They have to open their church services to the public. Many churches go above and beyond and do things like day care services as a form of ministry. In every aspect it is a bona fide religious purpose, but the Iowa Civil Rights Commission’s statement seems to disagree.

There have not, thus far, been any churches punished under this. But we can all see the way the wind is blowing here. In Washington State now, Christian pharmacists are required to provide abortifacient drugs. There are exceptions, but faith is specifically not a recognized exception.

The left is more and more hostile towards people of faith. It is only a matter of time before they demand, as the Iowa Civil Rights Commission is suggesting, that church services be members only or else.

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Erick Erickson

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