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FIRST-PERSON: ENDA VS. religious liberty

DALLAS (BP)–Could the United States government think of any more ways to control businesses in this country? It is already a major owner of over 600 financial institutions, two automakers and an international insurance conglomerate.

The leading proposals to overhaul health care and revamp energy consumption will place all kinds of mandates on businesses, costing them plenty. Planned changes in tax policy, including the upcoming expiration of the Bush tax cuts, will squeeze small businesses. But Congress is considering another piece of legislation that will cost employers not just their money, but also their freedom, to hire and fire based upon their own moral convictions.

It’s called ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. If passed and signed into law, ENDA will extend special civil rights protections to homosexuals and transgenders. These privileges will be bestowed on people based solely upon their sexual preferences and inclinations.

ENDA would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to a list of characteristics an employer cannot consider in hiring, firing and promotion decisions. It expands the list that currently includes race, color, religion, sex and national origin. ENDA severely limits the ability of employers to intentionally hire people who share their values.

Supporters of ENDA contend it simply protects the rights of a minority group. But culture-watcher Robert Knight with Coral Ridge Ministries says, “It turns private sin into a public right and brings the force of government against morality itself.”

ENDA could be used to force religious organizations to hire open homosexuals. Yes, there’s currently a church exemption. We’ll see how well that works. Knight wonders, “If this law is so immoral that churches have to get an opt out, why would we impose it on everyone?”

The homosexual lobby has been trying to pass ENDA since the 1990s. It’s a prize that many believe will lead to all sorts of other changes. John Berry, head of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, admitted, “If we can get ENDA enacted and signed into law, it is only a matter of time before all the rest happens.” What’s “all the rest?” Changes like allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military. And repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Some people call ENDA a “gay jobs quota bill.” It’s to be enforced by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission whose latest nominee is Chai Feldblum, who is an open lesbian and currently a Georgetown law professor. When asked about the rights of employers to follow their religious beliefs in hiring people, she replied, “Gays win; Christians lose.”

This is not about righting economic wrongs. Homosexuals tend to be more highly educated and to have, according to some surveys, higher disposable incomes than heterosexual couples. Many companies court homosexuals for hiring. The government does not force those companies to hire Christians. Neither should it require religious and moral people to bring into their organizations workers who openly flout God’s standards.
Penna Dexter is a conservative activist and frequent panelist on the “Point of View” syndicated radio program. Her weekly commentaries air on the Bott and Moody Radio Networks.

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