Churches in Austin, Texas may soon be forced to hire homosexual and transgender employees, including pastors, if a city ordinance is implemented.
The city says it guarantees "the opportunity for each person to obtain employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age or disability."
The Houston-based US Pastor Council and the Texas Values organization is suing the city in federal court over the code. Both groups argue that the ordinance forces churches to go against their biblical beliefs and does not include a religious exemption for churches in Austin that refuse to hire homosexual or transgender people as employees, including pastors.
Austin city officials are not backing down. They defend the ordinance which basically says churches have no right to insist their employees accept and practice a church's teachings on homosexuality.
"Nondiscrimination is a core value in Austin and we need to defend it," Austin Mayor Steve Adler told KXAN-TV.
US Pastor Council Chapter President Dave Welch warned that if the ordinance is enforced, it will be just a matter of time before all First Amendment protections collapse in the US. He told the Christian Action Network it's time for churches across the country to stand and fight.
Welch noted that Christians can't wait and watch on this issue, because this puts the church at large at a disadvantage, trying to fight back when it's already too late.
"In the past, we have too often waited and watched from the sidelines, silent," he told CAN. "We decided that that is not possible anymore, that's not acceptable."
"The bottom line is that a threat to any of our Constitutional protections is a threat to all of our constitutional rights," Welch continued.
"Forcing churches to violate core convictions is not acceptable. Once government does so, all of our Constitutional protections are essentially gone – all gone, for all of us, across all America."