BLOGHere's Why 4 Churches Are Fighting a New Massachusetts Law

By Sarah Kramer Posted on: | October 13, 2016

You might have heard of our case in Iowa where we are defending a church against a state law that would force churches to be silent about biblical sexuality and to open their showers and restrooms to members of the opposite sex.

If you’re thinking this must be an isolated incident, think again.

Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit this week on behalf of four Massachusetts churches and their pastors to stop the state attorney general and human rights commission from forcing churches to choose between their faith and jail time. According to the commission, churches that host events the commission views as “secular”—like spaghetti suppers—cannot teach their beliefs about human sexuality or have changing areas and restrooms designated for biological men and biological women.

Churches should never be punished by the government simply for teaching and operating according to their faith. That’s why ADF is defending these churches.

There are a lot of mischaracterizations about these types of cases in the media, and we want to address some frequent questions that we hear:


When you open your business to the public, doesn’t that mean you have to serve everyone?

Churches are not businesses. They are private houses of worship. The public is welcome to attend church services and events as a guest, but must be respectful of the beliefs and policies of that church. Likewise, the state of Massachusetts must respect both a church’s First Amendment right to establish polices that reflect and reinforce its faith, as well as its duty to protect the privacy of those who walk through their doors.

How can you file a lawsuit when legal action has not yet been taken against these churches?

No one has to wait to be thrown in jail before challenging unjust laws. Our country has a rich history of allowing individuals and groups to challenge unjust laws before they are enforced. Pre-enforcement challenges – that is, a challenge to a law before the government can use it to violate civil liberties – have been used by people and groups from both sides of the aisle for decades. These types of challenges help to keep the government in check and prevent it from violating basic rights. 

Isn’t this just a way for the churches to discriminate?

Not at all. These churches welcome and serve all people, but they are simply defending their Constitutional right to operate according to their beliefs – the very beliefs that make the church what it is.


If the government can tell churches what they can and cannot believe, there is nothing stopping them from telling you what you can and cannot believe. This case has major implications for religious freedom and free speech in our country.


Protect Your Church from Government Overreach

While you can’t ever fully ensure that you won’t be involved in a lawsuit, there are ways to help protect and prepare your ministry. Download our FREE legal guide for churches, Christian schools, and Christian ministries here to learn more. 

Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

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