DES MOINES, Iowa — Fort Des Moines Church of Christ is suing the Iowa Civil Rights Commission because it feels its rights are being threatened.
“We believe that every church should be free to both teach its religious beliefs and use its house of worship in a way that`s consistent with those religious beliefs,” says Attorney Christina Holcomb.
The church is being represented by the national organization, Alliance Defending Freedom.
In the suit, it claims the Iowa Civil Rights Commission is forcing churches to censor its teachings on biblical sexuality and force churches to open it’s restrooms and showers to members of the opposite sex.
Lawyers for the church claim anything the church does should fall under a bona fide religious purpose, making it exempt.
“According to again this unelected commission in the state of Iowa, if a church holds a worship service open to the public, according to the commission that`s not a bonafide religious purpose,” says Holcomb. “Again, it`s just an unconstitutional, unprecedented, intrusion of the state into the church.”
However, not everyone agrees.
“We were really surprised this church is suing the Iowa Civil Rights Commission for doing its job,” says One Iowa Director Donna Red Wing. “We’ve had these protections since 2007, we were a little concerned. Here in Iowa we try and be reasonable and this doesn’t feel reasonable at all.”
One Iowa, the state’s leading LGBTQ organization, says the law is the law.
“When a church is involved in a bonafide religious activity they can do what they need to do, they can believe whatever they want but when they offer any kind of public accommodation, they can`t break the law,” says Red Wing.
The lawsuit named specifically each member of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, as well as Attorney General Tom Miller and the City of Des Moines.
Alliance Defending Freedom says this suit is considered a “pre-enforcement challenge” where an organization can be pro-active about a law before it’s actually enforced.