Last Thursday, as the House of Representatives debated H.R. 5, the Orwellian “Equality Act,” a seemingly exasperated Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) arguably revealed the true nature of his party’s radical legislation. In response to Rep. Greg Steube’s (R-Fla.) speech quoting the Bible, Nadler declared that “what any religious tradition describes as God’s will is no concern of this Congress.”
The Equality Act would enshrine the concept of “gender identity” into federal civil rights law, mandating that Americans kowtow to biologically false transgender identities. Steube quoted the Bible to express the fact that millions of Americans object to transgender identity on religious grounds and to warn that the Equality Act constitutes rebellion against God.
“A woman must not wear men’s clothing nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this,” Steube said, quoting Deuteronomy 22:5. Christians do not believe this section of the Torah, the Old Covenant law, is binding on Christians today, but we do hold that this law expresses God’s truth and directs human beings toward the higher law of Jesus in the New Testament.
“It’s not clothing or personal style that offends God, but rather the use of one’s appearance to act out or take on a sexual identity different from the one biologically assigned by God at birth,” Steube said (he should have said “assigned at conception”).
Help us STOP Joe Biden’s radical agenda by becoming a PJ Media VIP member. Use promo code AMERICAFIRST to receive 25% off your VIP membership.
The congressman warned that “the gender confusion that exists in our culture today is a clear rejection of God’s good design” and that “whenever a nation’s laws no longer reflect the standards of God, that nation is in rebellion against him and will inevitably bear the consequences.”
Nadler could not let that stand.
“Mr. Steube, what any religious tradition describes as God’s will is no concern of this Congress,” the Democrat argued.
In comments to EWTN, Steube responded by noting that the House of Representatives itself has “In God We Trust” behind the Speaker’s rostrum.
“To say that religion has no place in this Congress when our country was founded on Judeo-Christianity, I certainly disagree with that,” Steube said. He insisted that Judeo-Christian beliefs do belong in Congress. Nadler did not respond to EWTN’s request for comment.
The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), a coalition of more than 1,500 traditional Orthodox Jewish rabbis, harshly condemned Nadler’s comment.
“Mr. Nadler has forgotten the Constitution,” CJV President Rabbi Pesach Lerner said in a scathing statement. “The Founding Fathers required Congress to avoid infringing upon the free exercise of religion, meaning it must be sensitive to what every religious tradition describes as G-d’s will. It is especially true that Congress must remain cognizant of the set of foundational moral principles – including valuing peace, human life, and individual liberty and responsibility – that America calls Judeo-Christian ethics.”
CJV joined many other organizations in opposing the Equality Act, warning that the legislation would eviscerate religious freedom and condemning the bill as “a disgraceful attack upon Jewish Biblical beliefs.”
“The Equality Act expressly declares that the Book of Genesis [see 2:24] and all of the Jewish laws pertaining to marriage as a sanctified union between man and woman… are nothing more than engagement in discriminatory stereotypes,” CJV argued in a letter to Congress.
“Mr. Nadler has unmasked the true nature of the Equality Act,” CJV Vice President Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, argued. “Far from valuing diverse opinions and beliefs, it tramples free exercise of religion and even demonizes free speech. Reading the Bible in public, per the Equality Act, could be called an exercise in bigotry and grounds for a ‘discrimination’ complaint. Without question, the true bigots here are those who support deliberate attacks upon the cherished beliefs of others.”
The Equality Act would amend federal law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, among other things. It would expand the arenas in which non-discrimination law applies and explicitly gut religious freedom protections.
In true Orwellian fashion, the Democrats have crafted an Equality Act that will promote inequality, enabling the government to privilege LGBT ideology over the Americans who disagree, for religious or other reasons. The Equality Act opens the door to a host of governmental actions to stifle dissent and enforce orthodoxy on LGBT issues, particularly the divisive claims of transgender activism.
Nadler’s statement that “what any religious tradition describes as God’s will is no concern of this Congress” is utterly preposterous in the light of American history.
While many historians dispute the claim that America was founded as a Judeo-Christian nation, the Declaration of Independence mentions God no fewer than four times, explicitly grounding America’s right to independence from Britain in “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Contrary to claims that America’s founding was Deist, the Declaration refers to God as “the Supreme Judge of the world” and expresses confidence in “the protection of divine Providence.”
While the Constitution does not mention God, the central foundation of American government arguably boils down to one sentence from the Declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (emphasis added).
The Founders crafted America’s government on a foundation of Roman law, Greek philosophy, and the Judeo-Christian moral tradition tracing through figures such as Thomas Aquinas and John Locke. Not only does the name of God stand proudly behind the Speaker’s rostrum, but the House of Representatives also features reliefs of lawgivers such as Moses, Maimonides, Justinian, Saint Louis, and William Blackstone.
Yet Nadler’s attempted scrubbing of American history is arguably far less dangerous than what his statement reveals about Democrats’ attitude to religious freedom.
The First Amendment explicitly guarantees the right to “free exercise of religion” and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) strengthened that essential right — with strong bipartisan support and the signature of President Bill Clinton. Yet the Equality Act explicitly hobbles RFRA for any claims involving discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This isn’t just a conservative talking-point against the Democratic bill — it’s in the plain text of the legislation!
“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 2000bb et seq.) shall not provide a claim concerning, or a defense to a claim under, a covered title, or provide a basis for challenging the application or enforcement of a covered title,” the bill says.
In other words, the “Equality” Act explicitly carves out an exemption from the right of religious freedom — an exemption that only applies to claims of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Nadler’s statement that “God’s will is no concern of this Congress” provides a glimpse of the Equality Act’s enormous attack on religious freedom. Although Congress is forbidden from establishing a religion, and even more so from applying the Christian Bible, the Torah, or the Quran in American law in the fashion of a theocracy, the authority of American government traces back to the idea that the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God have endowed Americans with fundamental rights that government is compelled to respect.
Central to those rights is religious freedom, and the Equality Act explicitly undermines it. By attempting to exclude God from the discussion, Nadler is demonstrating how the Equality Act will silence Americans of faith who disagree with LGBT orthodoxy.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.