Leah Jessen, The Daily Signal
An Iowa pastor, saying the government needs to stop “meddling in religious affairs,” is at odds with the state over a law focused on sexual orientation and gender identity that he says hinders his First Amendment right to teach on matters of sexuality.
“The state of Iowa is not the self-appointed pope of all churches,” Cary Gordon, pastor of Cornerstone World Outreach, a nondenominational church with around 900 members in Sioux City, Iowa, told The Daily Signal.
An Iowa Civil Rights Commission brochure on sexual orientation and gender identity says churches are places of public accommodation and generally are not exempt from the law, according to First Liberty Institute, a legal organization that defends religious freedom and represents Gordon’s church.
The brochure says the Iowa Civil Rights Act, Iowa Code Chapter 216, “was expanded to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes.” The change took effect in July 2007.
“It is now illegal in Iowa to discriminate against a person because of his/her sexual orientation or gender identity,” the brochure says.
Gordon told The Daily Signal:
As it reads, according to their interpretation of the Iowa code, if you discuss anything out of the Scripture that relates to sexuality or marriage … you’re not in compliance with the law and you can be sort of treated like a criminal.