Iowa bureaucrats have written up a FAQ about a 2007 Iowa "public accommodations" law. This FAQ says that churches whose services are open to the public or any church services such as daycares are subject to the Iowa laws against "discrimination" on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. See the ADF brief here.
The ADF is completely right to see this as a direct, sweeping, broadside attack on the ability of churches in Iowa to preach and proclaim the truth concerning sexual orientation and gender identity. Church services are by their very nature open to the public, especially for churches that attempt to evangelize and actively desire to invite non-members to hear the gospel, and church-run facilities such as schools and daycares do usually permit non-members to use them. That does not mean that they have no distinctive religious identity nor that they do not serve, in the Commission's words, a "bona fide religious purpose."
But a failure to allow men to use women's bathrooms and any preaching of conservative norms on "sexual orientation and gender identity" might make homosexuals and transgenders feel "unwelcome" and might fail to "accommodate" them, and hence, given the Commission's interpretation, would be against the law if the church services are open to the public.
The ADF is rightly taking the fight to the other side, filing a pre-enforcement lawsuit against the Commission's "interpretation" of the 2007 public accommodations law.
Remember when we were told that the homosexual agenda wouldn't affect your church's sermon content and that you were a crazy conspiracy nut if you thought that it would? Yeah, me too.
Let me note, too, the strange, strange concept of a "bona fide religious purpose" that the Commission is trying to impose. Apparently they think of any "bona fide religious" service as akin to the meetings of the votaries of some gnostic mystery cult, from which outsiders are excluded. This takes the privatization of religion to a whole new level. Barack Obama not-so-subtly changed "freedom of religion" to "freedom of worship." Now apparently the only thing that is allowed is "freedom of top-secret worship."
One could argue that whoever wrote the FAQ is just living in such a secularist bubble as to have no idea how churches actually operate. I suppose that's possible, but even so, whoever it was apparently thinks that his idea of "no outsiders" is the only way that churches should be free to operate, without government-imposed constraints on what is said or on, for goodness' sake, bathroom use.
But I strongly suspect that the power grab was deliberate and that the person (or people) who wrote the interpretation knew full-well what new and complete control this would give the Commission over all normal church activities in all churches in Iowa.
It would be difficult to express how much praise is due to the ADF for being on top of this and for taking the initiative in opposing it. Meanwhile, churches in Iowa and everywhere else should use their freedoms right now, loud and clear. Freedoms that are not used are more likely to be lost. While you're at it, tell "Sarah" that "she" can't use the women's bathroom or go on the ladies' retreat.
If Georgi Vins and many others could go to the Gulag for preaching the Gospel without the permission of the state, if Christian martyrs could face death for their beliefs over two thousand years, we in the United States can surely preach and teach in our churches the truth of the natural law concerning men and women and take what comes.