Iowa Civil Rights Commission Bans Pastors from Preaching Sermons on Sexuality


It may now be against the law for Iowa pastors to teach on Genesis 1 that God created mankind – male and female – in His own image.

The religious liberty organization Alliance Defending Freedom, on behalf of the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ, has launched a pre-enforcement challenge to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission’s new interpretation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act, passed in 2007.

Under this new interpretation, the state may prohibit churches from making “persons of any particular sexual orientation or gender identity” feel “unwelcome, objectionable, [or] not acceptable,” according to a brochure published by the Iowa State Civil Rights Commissions.

Lawyers representing the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ worry that this broad interpretation of the Civil Rights Act could be used to silence preachers teaching from the pulpit about biblical sexuality. Comments from any church official that makes a gay or transgender person feel ‘uncomfortable’ during services or any other event open to the public may put the church in violation of the law.

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission has also determined that places of public accommodation — including churches, which are open to the public — must allow individuals to use whatever locker room, shower, or bathroom is consistent with their biological identity, regardless of their biological sex.

First Liberty Institute, another religious liberty organization, sent a letter to the Civil Rights Commission on behalf of Cornerstone World Outreach, a church in Sioux City. The letter asks the Commission to provide the church with an exemption by August 4. First Liberty Institute is willing to “pursue ‘all available legal options’” if the church is not granted the exemption.

“The state claims it has the power to regulate what the church even teaches – what they are allowed to say from the pulpit – in addition to how they operate regarding matters of gender and sexuality,” Chelsey Youman, an attorney with First Liberty Institute, said. “If the church has a doctrine or theology that is at odds with the state and they speak out about that – they can have the full weight of the law brought down against them.”

The most worrisome development is the Iowa Civil Rights Commission’s decision to subject churches to public accommodation requirements.  Though churches are exempt from requirements of the Iowa Civil Rights Act in their “bona fide religious activities,” the Commission has decided that any service or activity open to the public is a public accommodation that is not exempt from civil rights law.

Churches in Washington state should pay attention to these developments in Iowa. Religious organizations are currently exempted from Washington’s non-discrimination law, though what qualifies an organization as “religious” is murky.  If Washington’s Human Rights Commission were to follow Iowa’s lead in defining church services as public accommodations, the religious organization exemption may no longer protect a significant portion of church activities.

If pastors don’t stand up now, they may soon have to break the law in order to preach the Word.

33 replies
  1. Rebecca Elaine Lee
    Rebecca Elaine Lee says:

    Since when is preaching to be politically correct? On all things regarding Biblical issues, we MUST obey God rather than man. This includes standing for the truth in love: presenting the fact that God made one man for one woman. That is God’s law.
    It’s up to the pastors if they will choose to obey Jesus or be controlled by the fear of man. This is why believers in other countries, as well as here in America, have had to pull out of registered groups and worship unregistered by the government.
    The leaders of America have never condoned the Bible and they won’t start now. It’s up to us to stand up for the truth regardless of the cost–even if it means losing our homes, families, social status–and even our lives for Jesus sake. If we aren’t willing to do that…we’ve got some serious thinking to do!

  2. Charles Motley
    Charles Motley says:

    An agenda the homosexuals have is to adapt children, such as a man couple adapting teen age boys. They have always had on the back burner that it shouldn’t be against the law to have sex with young boys “because they can’t become pregnant”. They refer to this as “manly love”. This today may seem impossible but as the agenda rolls on and on, this will come up and likely upheld by the courts.
    We all worry about who will be elected in the executive or the legislative branch, but the JUDICIAL branch is the source of all political correctness. If a lawyer can hear, understand, and win cases, he flourishes. If a lawyer can’t succeed that way, and believes that no one else understands like he does, then he has 3 options: (1) become a judge, (2) a liberal law professor, or (3) be a politician to get his agenda across.

  3. Jim
    Jim says:

    We can no longer stand silent! A book that I recently just read was right. Small things now lead to bigger things later. How do you eat an elephant? One small bite at a time. We, the GOD fearing church, need to stand together and show GOD’S love while standing firm on his principals, morals and values.

  4. Pastor Richard Smith / F.A.C.C.
    Pastor Richard Smith / F.A.C.C. says:

    I have read the replies with great interest and shall add my thoughts. Forty-five years ago the Lord called me into service and I have placed His Truth above man’s foolishness. Of the replies I believe that if I am called to preach behind jail bars, I will rejoice in the Lord that He has faith in my commitment to His Truth. Those that worship under my ministry are aware that I preach the Bible in its fullness, and that one is to LOVE the SINNER……. Yet HATE the SIN.. I am proud to have been used of God, (Holy Spirit) to help lead lost souls from un-natural life styles back into His Grace. Yes, God even loves the “GAY” person, and provides a way out of their sin………… It is the sinful lie that separates humanity from Christ Jesus

    • Rebecca Elaine Lee
      Rebecca Elaine Lee says:

      Amen to this statement. I am of the same conviction: that it would be an honor to face imprisonment for the Lord’s sake if/when He calls. Inmates are the easiest to reach; I know by experience through my interaction with them.

  5. David
    David says:

    Although I do not agree with what some churches preach on this matter. I believe that’s between GOD and the person in question. However our 1st amendment gives us the right to freedom of religion and freedom of speech. I may not agree with what you have to say. I will defend your right to say it until my last breath.

  6. Dallas
    Dallas says:

    Sharing this here :

    I saw this issue come up in a few places and much like Throckmorton I assumed that this was something new. The law changed back in 2007, and the pamphlet has been circulating since 2012. Apparently in all that time there has been no action taken against a church in relation to this.

    The article is a good read, and he puts it better than I do.

  7. Allan
    Allan says:

    God can see all,This Country was founded on the freedom to worship God……May God have mercy on all who are lost ….and may they find their way to His saving grace …We must pray for all non believers…..

  8. blah
    blah says:

    If a “public accommodation” wanted to ban people from carrying firearms on the premises, they would be cheered, as the public accommodation part would be thrown out the window.

    Make no mistake. If a business owner or church, etc want me to leave my firearm at home, I will. I may not visit there again, but will abide by their wishes. However, it works both ways. At least, it should

  9. Albert jimmy rowe
    Albert jimmy rowe says:

    This subject is simple Satan wins by attacking the mind ,
    Who would ever think that the subject of male and female would ever be an issue, the Word of God is penned in a manner that a child can understand ,our adversary continues just like always trying to destroy the simplest thinks ,
    Sin is the seperator and the blood of Christ is the reconciler
    As long as he can keep the mind entangled on corruption
    He prevents men and women from seeing the TRUTH,
    Remember he is the father of the lie and deceives many, we must continue to shine line into darkness

  10. CliffyB
    CliffyB says:

    This law and all like it are clear violations of the 1st Amendment and they are the reason for the anti-establishment clause. Human Secularism has become the de facto religion of the land and its precepts are being forced on the world. In what state can you legislate “comfort?” A lot of people make me “uncomfortable.” There seems to be little objection to my comfortability. I have yet to find a way to sue someone to ensure my “comfort.” Since we supposedly live in a free society, perhaps the “uncomfortable” person should find a place more suited to “its” “comfort” zone.

    • ruth Trudeau
      ruth Trudeau says:

      They definitely should find a place to be comfortable….not force their way of life on the majority…

  11. Geoff
    Geoff says:

    We must preach the Gospel regardless of what the states or nation decree. And if we are arrested and jailed for it, we will have a jail/prison ministry. May the Lord grant us to be at peace, but if persecution reaches our doors and homes, then may the Lord grant us the patience of the saints to endure to the end.

  12. Philip Wilson
    Philip Wilson says:

    What is “assigned sex at birth?” I guess more to the point would be what is the meaning of the word assigned? Am I assigned a head, feet, arms or other body parts at birth? Who is it that does the assigning and are there state qualifications that you have to meet to become one of these assigners?

  13. Amber
    Amber says:

    I agree with the sentiment behind this article, but the article is incorrect. The brochure does not say that pastors can’t preach on anything that might make someone feel “unwelcome, objectionable, [or] not acceptable” as the article says. It says that “public accommodation provider” cannot make someone feel “unwelcome, objectionable, [or] not acceptable” (as subjective and as that sounds, I’m just going by what the brochure says.)

    The church isn’t a public accommodation provider unless it’s selling items or services (like running a daycare, but that is separate from a church service), or receiving money from the government. (I learned this by reading the same brochure.) The brochure has nothing to do with what pastors preach about, and nothing to do with freedom of speech.

    I encourage us all to research anything that sparks indignant outrage. Note that even this Christian website skews the facts to make it sound like pastors in Iowa can’t preach on homosexuality!

    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Read it again. From reading the brochure they link, this is what it says in response to the question “Does this law apply to churches?”: “Sometimes. Iowa law provides that these protections do not apply to religious institutions with respect to any religion-based qualifications when such qualifications are related to a bona fide religious purpose. Where qualifications are not related to a bona fide religious purpose, churches are still subject to the law’s provisions. (e.g. a child care facility operated at a church or a church service open to the public).”
      Church service open to the public is one of the examples. And of the church services I know, a sermon is included. So yes, it’s possible that the law can come after them because they made an LGBT person uncomfortable in service.
      Even if it’s not happening now, don’t think that it won’t happen. The day is fast approaching.

      • Guest
        Guest says:

        Go back and see the Bona Fide religious purpose again, they underlined it. It refers to holding a worship service.

        An example of something that would be addressed in the language regarding a “service open to the public” might be a soup kitchen or clothing bank or some other social service that is open to the public. note the lower case “s”.

        Additionally, note that if it’s only open to those who profess a faith, then it likely wouldn’t be a “public accommodation.”

        Most religious schools require a statement of faith from parents and students. That puts them squarely in the realm of religion, and thereby they are not actionable under the commission’s rules, and are allowed to teach their interpretation of scripture without any threat of legal action.

        Really, work on those reading skills. I thought Iowa was one of the few places left with decent public schools.

        • blah
          blah says:

          Most churches I know of are not only open to those of the same faith. As well, how long before that is outlawed? We already have Christian organizations on campuses being told they can’t require leaders and members to be of their faith.

          Some states are attempting to disallow those very statements of faith, as well, along with “services” which are only open to those who profess a faith. This is just an extension of those efforts

          It clearly states churches open to the public are covered. Work on your own reading skills.

          I guess, churches must require memberships to attend. Wait, then libs will just claim the membership rules violate rights….wait, they’ve done that already.

          • blah
            blah says:

            The brochure on sexual orientation and gender identity has a section titled, “Does this law apply to churches?”

            Just so liberals won’t accuse me of taking this out of context – I’m going to provide you with the entire answer:

            “Does this law apply to churches? Sometimes. Iowa law provides that these protections do not apply to religious institutions with respect to any religion-based qualifications when such qualifications are related to bona fide religious purpose. Where qualifications are not related to a bona fide religious purpose, churches are still subject to the law’s provisions. (e.g. a child care facility operated at a church or a church service open to the public.”

          • Guest
            Guest says:

            Yeah, your second post (which I can’t reply to for some reason) has the exact same thing I put in my answer. I even copied and pasted from the brochure.

            Most church services (the kinds that include worship and a sermon so we’re clear) that I know of are open to the public. Anyone’s free to attend. Other things like church board meetings are usually just for board members or official members of the church and not just a churchgoer. Those wouldn’t fall under what they’re calling church services.
            Even if it’s not referring to church services in the sense of worship and sermon, you’re also asking church provided services (like child care facilities, or soup kitchens, or the such) to stray from Biblical foundation. If it’s church based, you’re asking the church to give up their beliefs in order to follow the law.
            In which case the church has a choice to make. Follow the law of man or the law of God.
            As I said before, even if it’s not happening now, don’t think for a second it’s not coming. All it will take is a single interpretation of this brochure and the next moment sermons will have to be handed to the government for approval before being delivered. This isn’t a mass hysteria moment; this is a “get on your guard” moment.
            (Beyond the first paragraph, it wasn’t really aimed at you, blah. I just didn’t feel like making two separate posts.)

    • blah
      blah says:

      They did not skew the facts. They never said they COULD do it. They said the fear was a broad interpretation of it may lead to that.

      Also, the true meaning of accommodation has been twisted and distorted before. Unless, you’ve been living under a rock, you would know that.

  14. Mike Dolphgren
    Mike Dolphgren says:

    The rest of the brochure is equally offensive. Read the section on harassment and the broad things they try to say are ‘illegal’ that are in fact fully protected by the Bill of Rights and Constitution. These people seem to think they’re the gestapo with all the authority that entails. Every Christian should fight them with all their strength.

  15. William Adams
    William Adams says:

    If ever confronted with this dilemma when it comes to Preaching the Word of God , First of all I will be Praying for Wisdom and for Power from on High from God’s Holy Spirit! Secondly I would be Praying for the biggest turnout of Reporters and all the nay sayers who desire to see Men of God and the Preaching of the word of God silenced so that once the Preaching started the Holy Ghost would step in and take over with Old Fashion Convicting Power and Draw those unbelievers and Hell Bound Sinners unto himself and Save the from a Devils Hell and Start a Revival in their lives and really give them Something worth Writing about!!!! And My God can and will do just that, we just need Men of God with a backbone like a Sawlog! instead of compromising ,money hungry ,offend nobody ,motivational speakers with Lace on their britches that don’t have enough power of God on them to knock the wings off a Nat !!! God help us in these Last days to be bold as Lions and sensitive to your leadership to Proclaim what thus Saith the Lord before it’s Eternally to Late! In Jesus Christ Name I Pray ,Amen and Amen

      • John Adams
        John Adams says:

        Well Andrew Actually…Paul, Peter, John and other disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ were arrested and the church exploded with the gospel being spread. The church held a Prayer meeting and God walked Peter right out of prison…Paul & Silas sang praises and the jailor and his family got saved…. GOD is greater than Obama and all the others trying to silence Him…and His word says in this type of situation …Acts 5:29 KJV Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

      • William
        William says:

        Fantasy!!!! Fantasy???? Lol , they are still Real Men of God who will still Preach the Bible without compromise!!!! The God called Preacher CANNOT BE SILENCED NEITHER INTIMIDATED By what man can do to him. The Government or anyone else for that matter can tell the Man of God what he can or cannot Preach ,if it’s in the Bible and God puts it on his heart to Preach that Message the Sir he must PREACH IT !! AND I am not saying that it is to be done in hate or demeaning way but the truth is the truth and wisdom and discernment also comes from God but his message if needed to be Preached will be and how he desires it ,not Man! That is the difference today they are to many momma called,daddy sent peachers that Preach their agenda,their preference and their worldly views of how they perceive scripture and that is Wrong !! But you take a Real God Called Preacher one who seeks the Lord in Fervent Prayer and one who desires to see God move in a mighty way and Prays for a Heaven sent Revival in such a way that people will turn from their wicked and ungodly ways and see their selves as God sees them and REPENT FROM THEIR WAYS AND TURN TO GOD believing by Grace through Faith my friend Even the most scathing message will come across in Love and GOD will draw all men unto himself!!!! Now that’s the Power of God we need here in this Country now as we Speak … Not sermonettes telling people they are just fine just how they are !!!! No Sir we need Holy Ghost filled Preachers who will still Preach HELL IS HOT ,SINNERS MUST REPENT AND BE SAVED AND JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY WAY TO HEAVEN!! Regardless of the consequences! But don’t forget this one thing “” WE SERVE A BIG GOD”

  16. Laura
    Laura says:

    Sad. I believe the days of persecution towards Christians who preach the Gospel of Jesus in has begun in America. We must be on our knees…but no matter, the Good knews of Jesus cannot be stopped. Maybe not in a building in our fancy clothes, but in homes, on the streets. Praise be to God for the Living Word, sin won’t prevail, it is death.


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