Copyright © September 9, 2015
This article presents a question on AVVO, a legal website, asked by person who practices homosexual conduct, and my answer. On September 14, 2014, I was notified that the question asker picked mine as the best answer. The following, before the article, is a copy of that notification:
The following question was asked on AVVO, a legal website on 090815:
“I am homosexual and my new pastor says that I have to turn straight to stay in my church. Can force me to it to be able to stay?
“I have gone to the same church for 11 years. I have never had a problem in my church even if I am openly gay and dress quite feminine. We have a new pastor since a year and he has tried to talk me into becoming straight since day one. Clearly, he is quite homophobic…. I have been able to laugh about if until now, but he is now trying to put pressure on my by the other pastors.
“They have never had a problem with me before. Suddenly they want me to dress differently and “become straight”.
“I am feeling harassed by my pastor and he even talked about me in church yesterday. It was clearly about me and I could feel the hostility.
“What can I do? Can I even try to do something legal against my pastor or is he protected by the law since he is God’s voice?”
My answer to the above question was as follows:
“Yours is not like the case in which the baker refused to do a wedding cake for homosexuals. That was a business. Your dispute is with a church. Businesses are not covered by the First Amendment whereas churches are. The First Amendment says:
“‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’
“One can read the history of the First Amendment at: https://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/contents/onl….
“An abbreviated version of that history is at: https://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/a….
For the history incorporated with an examination of both Christian and Secular Historical revisionism of the history of the First Amendment see https://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/god-betrayed/books/the-trail-of-blood-of-the-martyrs-of-jesus/
“I cannot fully answer your question in this forum, but I will give you an answer in a nutshell with additional resources for more detailed study.
“If your church is totally under the First Amendment (has not become a legal entity by incorporating, getting Internal Revenue Code Section 501c3 or Section 508 status, etc.), you have no legal recourse whatsoever against your church.
“On the other hand, should your church be a legal entity, she has voluntarily taken herself, for many purposes, out from under First Amendment protections. For example, your church may be held in violation of the rule which says that the 501c3 religious organization shall not violate fundamental public policy. This rule was set in place by the IRS and upheld by the United States Supreme Court as to a religious organization – a religious school named Bob Jones University. The issue involving a church has not been dealt with. What the court would do in the church religious organization setting is not certain. However, I believe that the court should enforce the “against public policy” exception as to any religious organization. After all, if a church has voluntarily agreed to 501c3 status, she has agreed, as do religious schools, charitable trusts, Planned Parenthood, the Church of Wicca, and other organizations, to abide by the rules that go along with the status. The religious organization is getting benefits, so she should be willing to abide by the give and take contract she eagerly sought. There are many arguments one can make to support upholding the rules for all 501c3 organizations, not just select organizations.
“I don’t have the room to cover all the arguments, the law, etc. in this short space. This is all covered in much detail on the website, jeraldfinney.wordpress.com. A link to the PDF of the comprehensive book on these matters is at https://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/contents/boo…. One can go to the index and look up Bob Jones University, and many other specific issues, or the Table of Contents to get general subjects such as incorporation, 501c3, etc. The online version has updates and is at: https://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/contents/boo…. The online version does not have an index.
“To look at church legal entity status one can go online to https://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/contents/boo….
“The courts have not yet addressed the question of violation of fundamental public policy in the church (religious organization) context. As I said above, the courts have no jurisdiction over the purely spiritual church (the non-legal entity) church; such a church in America may still operate according to the principles in the Bible without civil government jurisdiction and persecution.
“You will need someone to help you who is well-versed in the law should you desire to proceed legally. The res
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