Leading evangelical figures in the US have signed a joint statement opposing proposed laws on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).
SOGI laws “threaten fundamental freedoms” for Christians and others in the country, according to the leaders who signed the statement.
The proposals could threaten freedom of speech and freedom of conscience for Christian-run institutions and businesses in the US.
The statement says SOGI laws are “unnecessary” and “threaten basic freedoms of religion, conscience, speech, and association; violate privacy rights; and expose citizens to significant legal and financial liability for practicing their beliefs in the public square”.
“We believe that it is imperative that our nation preserve the freedoms to speak, teach, and live out these truths in public life without fear of lawsuits or government censorship”, it adds.
The statement was signed by prominent leaders such as: Dr Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, D.A. Carson, President of The Gospel Coalition, and influential evangelical pastor Kevin DeYoung.
The proposals are currently under consideration in Indiana, with similar laws already in place in other states such as Arkansas and Utah.
Last year, Robert P. George, a professor at Princeton University, and Ryan T. Anderson, a social commentator and author on marriage, wrote a joint essay examining the legal and moral implications of the SOGI laws.
They said the proposals “attempt to impose, by force of law, a system of orthodoxy with respect to human sexuality: the belief that marriage is merely a union of consenting adults, regardless of biology, and that one can be male, female, none, or both, again, regardless of biology”.
“Where these types of laws have been passed, the government has penalized bakers, florists, photographers, adoption agencies, and schools because of their beliefs, faith-based or otherwise, about human sexuality”, they said.
They added that SOGI laws “would establish a legal precedent that acting upon these beliefs is bigotry”.
Individual vs State
In 2015, Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act was amended after pressure from LGBT campaigners.
The original law ensured that a person’s right to exercise their religion was not substantially burdened by the state.