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Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) discusses the Equality Act.

Black leaders urge Senators to protect religious rights in controversial Equality Act

Black Christian leaders from across the nation are urging the U.S. Senate to reject the Equality Act recently passed by the House Democrats. The group is pushing the Senate to seek a compromise bill that preserves the rights of religious believers and institutions.

The Equality Act would nullify the right of Christian and other religious groups and schools to hire people according to their moral and religious beliefs and force acceptance of lifestyles contrary to their deeply held values. It would also require women’s sports teams, including at Christian K-12 schools and universities, to accept biological males into girls’ sports.

The AND Campaign sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, signed by 57 Christian leaders such as New York City megachurch pastor A.R. Bernard, President of the AND Campaign Justin E. Giboney, Esq., former NFL player Benjamin Watson, former U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson-Cook, Bishop Claude Alexander of The Park Church in North Carolina, and respected public policy strategist Barbara Williams-Skinner.

In the letter, they warned that this bill was “a danger not just to Christian institutions, but those belonging to our Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, and Muslim neighbors as well.”

The letter detailed the dangers of the Equality Act, saying:

“It would remove many of the basic rights that allow religious organizations to operate according to the tenets of their faith. It would allow LGBT rights to be used as a sword against faith institutions rather than a shield to protect the vulnerable. In addition to failing to offer religious protections to religious institutions, the Equality Act would likely:

  • Revoke federal security, disaster relief, and school lunch money from thousands of religious schools.
  • End federal partnerships with thousands of faith-based programs that serve the most vulnerable.
  • Revoke the Pell Grant and federal loan eligibility for tens of thousands of students that attend hundreds of religious colleges.
  • Convert houses of worship and other religious properties into public accommodations, enmeshing them in constant litigation.”

Signees to the letter advocated for an alternative called the Fairness for All Act, which they say would protect religious liberty as well as preserve the rights of the LGBT community, and was more a product of churches and the LGBT community coming together to find ways to “co-exist and promote tolerance.”

They went on to urge that the Fairness for All Act be given a full hearing and vote, saying, “Black and Brown Christians worked too hard for the Civil Rights Act to have it revised in ways that would take away basic rights and funding from our communities. The Equality Act needlessly pits the concerns of diverse communities against each other.”

Click here to read the full letter and see all the signees.

–Wire Services