Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Biblical Bob is once again hopelessly confused

Bob Eschliman
Tuesday Bob Eschliman offers, at Charisma News, “Iowa Church Wins Religious Freedom Victory.” The conservative-Christian-confluence (a repeatable chemical reaction) is often remarkable to behold. Consider that Biblical Bob Eschliman has the critical thinking skills of a miniature Schnauzer coupled with the fact that conservative Christians love nothing more than to feel persecuted all of which is spectacularly bolstered by the questionable skill of selective observation. Eschliman explains:
An Iowa Church represented by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys secured a religious liberty victory last week.

A federal judge presiding over the church's lawsuit against members of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission said the case will continue and while stopping short of issuing an injunction, declared the commission doesn't have the authority to interfere in church teachings.…

U.S. District Judge Stephanie M. Rose ordered the trial to continue stating, churches have never been public accommodations subject to government regulation, and state officials have no business trying to decide which church activities are religious and which ones aren't. She determined the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ's fear of prosecution was "objectively reasonable."
Well, not exactly. Yes, this case survived a motion to dismiss but barely. The motion to dismiss was primarily (although not exclusively) based upon Article III standing. The plaintiff must sustain a real injury which would be redressed by a verdict in their favor. There were two parts to this. The church claimed that the nondiscrimination laws (state and municipal) could have the effect of censoring sermons and that the laws required the church to admit transgender people to its bathrooms (heaven forbid).

Because the laws include a religious exemption the judge dismissed as unreasonable the notion that any religious activities, including sermons, would be affected. ADF was pretty clever (sometimes they surprise me). They had the church type up proposed access rules for its bathrooms and then claim that they were afraid to post them for fear that this could be construed as a violation of the nondiscrimination laws.

The judge concluded that it was possible that a non-religious event (one open to the general public) could make the church a public accommodation for that event which could make it subject to the nondiscrimination laws. The judge further concluded that the self-censorship was, in fact, an injury. On that basis, the case survived to a trial on the merits.

However, the court failed to issue an injunction preventing the state and city from enforcing the nondiscrimination laws. The reason (emphasis added):
In sum, the Court sees nothing in Establishment Clause jurisprudence that would aid Plaintiff in obtaining injunctive relief.

Accordingly, the Court concludes that Plaintiff is not likely to succeed on the merits of its challenges to the state and municipal antidiscrimination laws under either the Free Exercise Clause or the Establishment Clause.
In other words, this exercise is a waste of time and resources so that a church can expound upon its disapproval of LGBT citizens. In addition to the legalese there just aren't very many transgender citizens and many of those who have undergone gender confirmation surgery are indistinguishable from cisgender citizens. Someone would have to be obviously gender non-conforming to be barred entry to the bathroom in question to potentially create a violation. What are the chances of one of those people attending a pot-luck dinner at the church?

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