WASHINGTON (BP)–The House Education and Labor Committee passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act Oct. 18, sending to the full chamber a bill that critics say will infringe on religious freedom and help normalize homosexuality.
ENDA, as it is called, passed the committee on a 27-21 vote. If signed into law, it would place “sexual orientation” into a category similar to race, gender and age and force employers and even Christian businesses, schools and daycares to hire homosexuals. A full House vote could take place early next week.
“We have made history today by taking steps to ensure that discrimination based on sexual orientation is wrong and will not be tolerated,” U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, D.-N.J., said in a press release.
Opponents, though, say the bill itself discriminates — against people of faith.
“[S]mall businesses, schools, non-profit groups, hospitals, clinics, counseling centers, even certain religious institutions would be required to hire homosexuals…,” Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council wrote in an action alert. “An employer’s faith, moral view, the sensitivity of their work or service or the makeup of their clientele is of no consequence. Private schools, daycare centers, scouting organizations and quasi-religious organizations will not be exempt.”
The bill does exempt some religious organizations, such as churches, but experts say those exemptions are narrow.
“It would not seem that Christian schools would fall under the exemption for ENDA,” Maureen Wiebe, spokeswoman for the American Association of Christian Schools, told Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink. “So ENDA could seriously affect the hiring rights of a Christian school.”
The bill is H.R. 3685. Christian leaders are encouraging concerned individuals to contact their representative through the Capitol switchboard, 202-224-3121.
Compiled by Michael Foust, assistant editor of Baptist Press.