Evangelical preacher Franklin Graham was not among those welcoming Monday’s US Supreme Court ruling on LGBTQ employment rights.
In case you missed it, the court ruled by 6-3 that Title VII in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covered sexuality and gender identity. In short, you cannot be fired simply for being gay or trans.
Graham, told the New York Times, “No question it is going to make it harder to defend our religious freedom, as far as an organization being able to hire people of like mind. I find this to be a very sad day. I don’t know how this is going to protect us.”
In a lengthy Facebook post, which has prompted more than 43k comments, Graham elaborated further.
“Today the U.S. Supreme Court enacted a new law that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the 1964 Civil Rights Act as “protected classes” … I believe this decision erodes religious freedoms across this country.
“People of sincere faith who stand on God’s Word as their foundation for life should never be forced by the government to compromise their religious beliefs. Christian organizations should never be forced to hire people who do not align with their biblical beliefs and should not be prevented from terminating a person whose lifestyle and beliefs undermine the ministry’s purpose and goals.”
Graham is known for not welcoming LGBTQ employees. A temporary field hospital his organization, Samaritan’s Purse, recently oversaw in New York City’s Central Park to help cope with COVID-19 patients asked staff to sign a “Statement of Faith.” This included agreeing with the statement, “we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female.”
“As a Bible-believing follower of Jesus Christ, my rights should be protected,” Graham continued on Facebook. “Even if my sincerely held religious beliefs might be the minority, I still have a right to hold them. The same holds true for a Christian organization. These are the freedoms our nation was founded on.”
“The Supreme Court does not override and will never overturn the Word of God. One day we will all have to stand before God, the Righteous Judge, whose decisions are not based on politics or the whims of culture. His laws are true and are the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
Monday’s ruling was authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch. The conservative Trump appointee was among the judges who agreed that existing civil rights protections extended to gay and trans people. The three SCOTUS judges to vote against the ruling were Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.
Graham’s comments overlook the fact that in his Supreme Court ruling, Gorsuch notes, “worries about how Title VII may intersect with religious liberties are nothing new; they even predate the statute’s passage. As a result of its deliberations in adopting the law, Congress included an express statutory exception for religious organizations.”
This allows some religious organizations (i.e churches, faith schools, etc) to still claim exemptions, but not businesses such as those included in the cases brought before the court. The validity of these exemptions will likely be explored in future court cases.