“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This phrase, quoted from our Declaration of Independence, refers to mankind (men and women), and to rights that shall be protected and never infringed upon by government. Current culture and many elected officials often promote policies that look or sound good but are truly destructive to our rights as American citizens. What is true equality? How do we defend it in our legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government? Linda’s interview with Bob Pruitt, Senior Counsel, Corporate Affairs Director at Alliance Defending Freedom, provides timely and relevant information regarding threats to our equality under the law, and resources to educate and empower you as you work towards true equality for all – whether in your business or community.
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Linda J Hansen: Thank you for joining us today. Many of us have watched in horror as we have seen our constitutional rights infringed upon by overzealous bureaucrats and oligarchs. We often feel helpless and often hopeless, but we are not. There are many ways for us to exercise our faith and freedom. In this episode we’ll be discussing various legislative and policy proposals that do or could have an enormous impact on our rights. We will provide information to help you be a better advocate for yourself, your family, your company and your community.
My guest today is Bob Pruitt. Bob serves as Senior Counsel, Corporate Affairs with Alliance Defending Freedom. Alliance Defending Freedom or ADF is the world’s largest legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, marriage and family, parental rights and the sanctity of life. ADF defends our most cherished liberties in Congress, state legislatures and courtrooms across the country all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary. ADF, Corporate Affairs educates, equips, and engages business professionals and leaders to safeguard the freedom of all people to live their faith in the workplace.
Prior to joining ADF, Bob operated a business and commercial law practice in Texas. He also served as President, General Counsel, and Board member for CalTex, a national manufacturer in the automotive aftermarket sector. Before CalTex, he was Senior Counsel for Gulf States Toyota, an independent distributor of Toyota vehicles. He began his legal career as a civil litigator in Houston, where he was a shareholder of a litigation firm. Bob is a member of the State Bar of Texas and is admitted to practice in all federal courts in Texas. Thank you for joining us, Bob. We appreciate you being here.
Bob Pruitt: Thank you, Linda. It’s a real pleasure and I’m glad to be here.
Linda: Well, it’ll be great and I know our listeners will really appreciate all of the insights you have to share. On the ADF website we are reminded that America has a rich history of business leaders running their companies consistently with their beliefs, and while the First Amendment protects our right to live and work according to our faith, our culture is changing. I know our listeners as well as ADF supporters wonder what would happen if their business was sued for operating according to their biblical principles. What employment policies do they need to have in place to bolster religious freedom or freedom of speech? What policy proposals do business owners need to be aware of? So with that I open that up to you. That’s a lot of questions all at once, but I know we’ll get started and dive into a few specific issues.
Bob: Excellent. Well, thanks again, Linda. So I can give a specific example of how our laws can impact our businesses and being a business owner, a business leader. So this goes back ten years ago, but Colorado had passed what we call a SOGI—sexual orientation gender identity—bill. So what happened was that you have Jack Phillips who is the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop. He’s been open for a quarter of a decade, excuse me, quarter of a century and he serves everyone. Everyone comes through his doors. Everyone is welcome. But he’s also a cake artist and when I say that it’s not like I would go into the kitchen and drum up some Duncan Hines and put in some milk and eggs and flour and try to make this a cake and maybe do some type of icing on it. He actually is an artist. So if you’ve seen some of his cakes, it looks like a picture that you’d put on the wall. It’s that good.
So he doesn’t create all messages. He has a strong history of refusing to create all messages. So that might be celebration of Halloween. That might be celebration of divorce. That might be something that’s anti-American. That might be something that’s Satanic and he’s refused that.
And so this goes back ten years ago when Colorado passed this law and Jack wanted to stand by his faith. You asked one of the things that a business can do. One of it is to have a statement of faith of who they are and what their beliefs are and put that in their core documents. Jack had this.
So one day a couple came in. It was a same sex couple and they wanted to have Jack create a cake for their upcoming wedding. He said, “You’re welcome to anything in my store and I’ll even give you references, but I can’t create this cake for you. That would violate my closely held beliefs.” They unfortunately sued Jack and so did a Commission on Human Rights in Colorado. [They] sued Jack as well saying that you’re discriminating against this couple based upon their sexual orientation and then gender identity. So sexual orientation—who their partner is. Gender identity—what gender do they identify with. And so in this case it was sexual orientation. This case did go all the way up to the Supreme Court and fortunately and blessedly the Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 opinion that Jack was within his rights to not create this cake and that the state of Colorado had overreached its authority in going after Jack as they did. So this does happen. It’s not theoretical. This is a live situation.
There’s another one with a lady named Barronelle Stutzman. She’s a grandmother. She’s been running her business for thirty years, I believe. It’s called Arlene’s Flowers out of the state of Washington. And again, she interacts. She has same sex folks that actually are her employees. She has, I think, a lesbian employee, a transgender employee, and so she accepts everyone. But again, she was asked to create a flower arrangement for a same sex couple and she had known the couple. She had served them before many, many times whether it was Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day and then comes up to this event and she said, “I’m sorry.” The gentleman’s name was Rob Ingersoll. She said, “I love you Rob. I’ve been serving you for many, many years, but please don’t ask me to create an arrangement that celebrates your same sex marriage.” And that case has also gone to the Supreme Court. It went back to the Washington State Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court there. We’ve had an unfavorable ruling from the state Supreme Court there so we’re asking the U.S. Supreme Court to grant review. It’s called searchiary or search. So that’s where that case is.
Linda: Yeah. Well, these are just two examples of many that have come up across the nation over the past several years and we really appreciate what ADF has done to support not only them, these high profile cases, but some of the lesser known cases that involve religious freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, all of our basic constitutional rights. So we really appreciate that work.
As we are in 2021, we are recording this in April, 2021, and there are things before the U.S. Congress now that are greatly impacting our rights, whether we are Christian or not. We look and say these affect everyone. These policies affect everyone. Whether someone is a Christian business owner or an atheist business owner, they have the right to speak freely in their workplace within appropriate bounds and we have the right to build and create their business the way they see fit. ADF is protecting that for all people and we’re really grateful for that.
One of the things that’s in the U.S. Senate right now is the Equality Act of 2021. This is concerning for Christians and non-Christians on many, many fronts. Could you explain how this can affect business owners across the nation?
Bob: Sure. Be happy to. Linda, let me quote a friend of ours, John Stonestreet, Colson Center. He says that ideas have consequences and bad ideas have victims. Let’s borrow from that to go, bad laws also have victims. This deceptively named Equality Act is going to create victims. Let me just go through some of the concerns that are there in its current status. So you mentioned that it’s before the U.S. Senate. So it’s already passed the U.S. House of Representatives and pretty much along party lines and then it’s now before the Senate. Because the Senate, with the latest Senate results in Georgia, it is a 50-50 tie with Vice President Harris having the ability and authority to cast the deciding vote if it is 50-50. So there are some concerns just right there.
Now there’s a filibuster that can be in effect and typically, when one gets down in the weeds, but typically that if you have sixty or more of the signatories agree that they want to bring this act or other acts to a close, then they can basically overrule the ability to filibuster. In this case they haven’t done that yet, but all they would need is sixty or more votes to call it to a final vote and then they would just need the majority.
So let’s talk about some of the harms that would be in play if the Equality Act passes. So first is privacy and mainly affecting well both men and women, but I’m thinking more of women and girls because by merely self-identifying, you’re a male you can have access under the act, legal access to restrooms, changing facilities, locker rooms, shower facilities. And this is not only at your Gold’s gym, at your restaurants, but this would also be at the workplace, or manufacturers that might have shower facilities. Yes, a female would only have to merely identify as a male and then be able to utilize all of the men’s restrooms, shower facilities, changing rooms, etc. And that’s very fluid and that’s one of the problems with this is that that same lady that could do that could then in turn, the next minute say, “You know what, I’m going to identify back to my female gender,” so then have access that way. So it’s extremely fluid. There are no set standards. It’s just merely self-identifying one way or the other and that could be an issue.
So this is not only in areas we call public accommodation, but this is also in schools. So in schools that have passed SOGI laws, these have been in effect for counties in Connecticut, Georgia, and there are twenty-two different states that have passed some level of SOGI law. And what we’ve found is problems with that. So we represent Pascha Thomas and her, at the time was a fifth grader, excuse me, was a kindergartener, 5 years old and she was doing her business in the girl’s restroom because Gwinnett County had passed a SOGI law for its residents and its schools. Then a ten-year-old boy, who’s a fifth grader, also was in that restroom legally with Pascha Thomas’s kindergarten daughter and unfortunately he raped her. You might say, well, that might have happened anyway, but you’re setting this situation up because you are allowing just a young man, a boy, to be in those facilities, again by merely identifying as a female. There’s no requirement for anything more than just that.
And so there are these victims that are a part of this and again it’s not just restaurants and gyms and schools, but here’s something else. Because the Equality Act does not allow for any exceptions for churches or religious institutions or non-profit Christian organizations, this would also apply or could apply. You could maybe make a constitutional argument that it would not, but on its face it could apply to churches. So you’re thinking baptisteries; you’re thinking restrooms; you’re thinking that you’re going to be requiring pastors to have to marry same sex couples or get out of the business. Again, not that you wouldn’t have some constitutional challenges, but is that where you want to fight the battles, is in the courts?
I was mentioning Jack Phillips earlier. Ten years he’s been in litigation about this issue and we lovingly appreciate his time and commitment, but that’s a lot to ask for. What we need to do is get out the word that says, “Hey, I don’t support the Equality Act.” Whether or not your senator or you’ve got two senators, but whether or not they support it or you think they do or they don’t, you really need to get out there, because like I said before, filibuster is in play, and whether or not if they might agree, if they can agree to something else on a different bill over here, which happens all the time on compromises, you never know. We’re too close with the way the Senate is currently set up. We’re just too close to just let it happen without reaching out to your senators and contacting them.
Linda: I would just like to highlight something else there, too. Maybe you could address this but I know there’s been great concern among those who run domestic abuse shelters because the women and children who’ve been sheltered at these crisis centers, they need to have a place that is safe. Sometimes they are finding that just the presence of a man who’s identifying as a woman is very terrifying, emotionally disruptive to them, and it’s just a really hard situation for the ones who run these domestic abuse shelters.
In addition to that, I know we haven’t even touched on this yet, but the whole concept of transgender athletes in sports. I know we fought for years to get equality in women’s sports and have women have the same opportunities as men to compete and to advance in their sports. Now we have seen that high school seniors are losing their opportunity for scholarships because biological males are entering their sports teams and there is no competition. I know that ADF has also gone into that realm, not so much maybe in the Corporate Affairs Department, but ADF overall has actually tried to educate people and work towards protecting those rights for athletes, for women, across the board. Could you address that a little bit please?
Bob: Sure. Absolutely. So let’s first talk about these domestic abuse shelters. So in Anchorage, Alaska, there is a nonprofit organization called the Hope Center. This goes back a couple years, but Alaska and this town of Anchorage had passed this SOGI—sexual orientation gender identity—bill. So one evening a man who was intoxicated comes to the Hope Center. Let me back up a little bit. The Hope Center during the day is a soup kitchen open to males and females but at night it is a homeless shelter for women only. And many of these women, you can only imagine, have been abused at the hands of men and they view this to be a sanctuary for them of protection and safe and a place of hope.
So this man comes in this evening and he says that he wants to identify as a female and be able to shelter down there that evening. They said, “I’m sorry, but this is a shelter for women and we’re going to get you into a taxi, and you can get your (he had some wounds) and so we’re going to get you fixed up and here are some male shelters that you can go to.” Well, both he and the state sued this Hope Center for violation of their SOGI law. You can only imagine that these women are scared. They need a safe place to be. By merely identifying as a male, the state sued this Hope Center. That went on up and the State Supreme Court for Alaska ruled in our favor. So that was a victory and said in these types of instances that a male can’t require just based upon his own identity to have access to the shelter.
But again if we have a situation where this is law across the land then more of these situations will occur because it will embolden folks on the left to have people go out, maybe they’re on their own, but maybe they’re not. Maybe it’s a coordinated effort to try to force this issue. And so that’s certainly in play and again not a theoretical situation. That actually occurred.
You also mentioned about the women’s sports. This is another grave concern of ours. So in Connecticut where they passed SOGI in the interscholastic leagues that put on these athletic events, [they] have said that it’s okay for transgender males or females to compete in the sport that they identify with. So we represent four female track athletes, all of the highest caliber, nationally recognized and they had to compete with these two boys in track events that just previously, this goes back a couple of years, that previously were on the boys team and did mediocre. They didn’t do really well. They weren’t stand outs. But when they transferred by merely saying that we want to identify as females, they were able to complete. During this time period they were able to win fifteen state championships and shatter over seventeen high school girl Connecticut records during this time. So you can just see the unfairness of it.
So we have this currently at the Federal Court of Appeals level. But again it just exemplifies the problems that we have. Now I want to make it clear, too, Linda, that our laws should protect constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of every citizen no matter who they are. Every person is created in the image of God and therefore has dignity and should be treated with respect. So we’re talking about not trying to be discriminatory, but we’re talking about biological differences here that can not only play out in unfairness, because what can happen with these females, they’re competing so that they can get scholarships, so that they can go to college. This might be their only chance and opportunity to go to college and if you’re not going to get to go to a state meet where the coaches are, where those college opportunities are, then those are going to be lost upon you only because we’re trying to help someone that has gender dysphoria to compete directly against these females. It’s horrifically unfair.
Linda: I agree and I really wanted to make sure our listeners are aware of this because you hear so much about it and, of course, as is so often the case the title of the act sounds great. (Laughs)
Bob: It sounds like mother and apple pie and baseball.
Linda: Right. Exactly. So we really have to look into the details of what this is. I think I would really encourage listeners that now more than ever you need to pay attention to what is in the fine print of various legislative proposals because there are those who are truly trying to basically upend our form of government and our culture in America. We as conservatives really want to make sure that freedom is preserved for all people. But that it is justice and fair and it provides equality of freedom for all people.
So as we have looked at this for women in various situations and people in work places that maybe do not want to provide services, like Jack Phillips with the cake or the lady with the flower bouquet, we understand. But there are other things that affect employers as we’re getting into this in terms of say the transgender movement. I know that employers have faced challenges regarding the use of pronouns.
Linda: And employers as being…face challenges in terms of what they will provide for and pay for in their health insurance policies. For a lot of employers, maybe they don’t want to pay for abortions or transgender reassignment surgery. They won’t discriminate against those who do, but they don’t necessarily want their money to pay for that because it goes against their religious beliefs. Now we have that aspect that touches employers, but also when we get into, like I said, the use of personal pronouns in the workplace and whether or not different employees are being addressed the way that they want to be addressed, maybe that day, or that week, or forever. It gets to be a very difficult issue and it’s like because one person wants one thing, the entire workplace has to change. This has to be so challenging for employers especially those with multiple locations or different departments or a truly varied workforce. Could you address that?
Bob: Sure. Be happy to, Linda. So let’s say that the Equality Act passed. We can believe all agree that there are some jobs that we want women to be involved in or we want men to be involved. I’ll give you a couple of examples. So pat downs, so whether you are a TSA agent at the airport or a police officer, if you’re a female and you need to be searched, body searched, whether it’s a pat down at the airport or maybe you’re involved in some type of altercation where you’re being arrested and need to be pat down, on those instances right now you would be able to have a female be able to do your pat down and likewise male to male for those pat downs. But if this passes, then again, someone could just maybe identify at that moment, say I know I’m a TSA agent but I want to identify as a female and I want to go pat down Miss Jones over there. That is just a situation and if you deny that employee’s right to go pat down Mrs. Jones, you’re discriminating against him based upon his gender identity. So it can be difficult.
Also with dress codes it would be difficult. So you might think, well, if you’re working at Chick-fil-A or McDonald’s or someplace, does it really matter if you have a pink polo or red polo or blue polo or whatever it is? No. But there are some jobs where it does make a difference. Let’s think of life guards for example. So you wouldn’t want someone that has a male physique and say, “Well, let’s go ahead and put him in a one piece.” Okay, they might be able to do that. Think about the reverse. So let’s say there is a female that wants to recognize herself as male, well then, she could say, “Well, I can just wear a Speedo. No, you can’t discriminate against me because there’s a male over there that’s identifying as a male, he’s wearing a Speedo. I get to wear a Speedo.”
You can just see that there are certain situations where it’s just not reasonable to put that kind of restriction on businesses or on companies or on organizations. We mentioned before about the privacy. So if you’re an employer and have private separate spaces— bathrooms, locker rooms, etc.—you have to open those up. So for, again, people merely identifying as the opposite sex, you have to have those facilities available.
Let’s also talk about health plans. So there’s certainly a difference. I think we could all agree if a female has cancerous breast tissue, that she most likely is going to be able to have a mastectomy. So we’re very aware of that situation. But this would allow a healthy female who wants to become male to have health plans for mastectomies for her to transition from female to male. Puberty blockers, other types of medication that would…and hormone and hormone therapy that would be in your health plans. Also there’s language in the Equality Act that would also provide for abortifacients or abortion pills. It would have to be on health plans as well because you couldn’t discriminate based upon the type of medical treatment that you’re receiving. So those are obviously some additional concerns there.
Another concern that many people may not think about is that we have in our workforce through the small business administration and other federal programs help for minorities and women-owned businesses as we well should to level the playing field. But if I’m male and I only need to merely identify as a female, than I can open myself up to the lower interest loans. The percentage of contracts for women-owned businesses, I can as a biological male open myself and avail myself all those opportunities that we had for women so we could help them level the playing field in the corporate scenario. So there are those problems.
In addition there’s training. So if we have, and we certainly should have, sexual harassment training, that’s required and we should have that. There needs to be a stronger awareness about that. But if the training also then requires businesses, whether they’re faith-based or not, to also provide training that says, that at least questions, whether or not a marriage ought to constitute between a biological male and a biological female, or that God made men and women in His image and He made them male and female. But you’d have to provide training that would say, that would put that on its ear. Again we’re not talking about trying to respect somebody but we are talking about having to be forced to provide training that would certainly be an opposite to these business owners and business leaders’ beliefs.
Linda: And you brought up a good point that by expressing opposition to the Equality Act it does no way represent disrespect towards people, even transgender people or people who identify as the opposite sex. We believe that every person is to be valued and respected and have the rights of all Americans, but those rights should not trample other’s rights and create a situation where these rights are not free for all. That brings up a good point. I know I was reading a fact sheet from the Heritage Foundation on the Equality Act and they had a fact sheet that had eleven myths about HR-5 the Equality Act of 2021. People can find that at Heritage Foundation. But myth #3 stated the Equality Act does not expand the scope of federal civil rights laws. So we’re looking at this. People think, “Oh, you would have to be for the Equality Act. If you’re not you must be a bigot.” (Laughing) However, it doesn’t even expand rights for people especially in regard to the civil rights, the constitutional rights. It just changes things so much and it really does impact the workplace, schools, even our homes in many situations. One thing we didn’t touch on in terms of the workplace is all of these different scenarios that you discussed. They all have a price tag to them.
Bob: It’s very true.
Linda: If an employer has to start training differently. If they have to start defending themselves in court, if they have to have extra meetings, this all affects the bottom line and that’s tough too. So there’s always a price tag. You mentioned about how ideas have consequences and bad ideas have victims and a lot of times these companies are the victims of these bad ideas, not to mention the thousands of individuals who have their rights trampled, shall I say, by these overzealous laws.
Bob: Right. Right. Let me talk a little bit about the expansion of current rights. So the Civil Rights Act of 1964, you may recall from our high school government class, protects individuals for race, creed, color, sex—at the time just a binary male/female question— and religion. So that has been incorporated into what we call Title VII. That’s the employment, federal employment statute that applies across the board, but it applies to employers that have fifteen or more employees, by and large. Under the Equality Act, it expands that definition of sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity so that it’s all areas of what they call public accommodation. So this would include any areas, I’m reading from the statute here, “but that any establishment that provides a good service or program would apply this Title IX type of treatment.” So let’s say you are a small business and you had ten employees. You’ve had ten employees forever. You’d be subject to this Equality Act. Size would make a difference with respect to expansion under the Equality Act.
Let’s talk about a couple of other areas where it impacts it. We call this area “medical rights of conscience” and that’s pretty much a fancy way of saying that we don’t want to be requiring anybody to do anything that’s against their closely held beliefs. But for medical providers—so doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors—they would be, for example under the Equality Act, perhaps required to prescribe puberty blockers, cross sex hormones, mastectomies for healthy females to become males, those type of situations that they would be required to because they couldn’t discriminate based upon someone’s SOGI status.
Another one and this is … we represented a counselor in New York and in New York in New York City they had a SOGI law in place. They went further and they said as a counselor you could not provide, and in our case the gentleman was Jewish, but you couldn’t provide a faith-based counseling alternative for someone that has gender dysphoria. That was a law and we got them to back down off that but basically if something like the Equality Act passes those providers would not be able to provide faith-based counseling for a gender dsyphoria type of situation.
It can also impact parental rights. So something like this passes, then does the parent have the right to say, “Johnny, I know that you want to become Janie, but you’re going to have to wait until you’re eighteen.” Well, this can put that on its ear and say, no, the child has the right to take these medications, these hormone blockers, sexual transfer treatments and surgeries as just a human being even though they might be a child. So those are at play as well.
And then recently here, based upon President Biden’s executive order, that there’s a suit now, but the situation is that they want to deny federal financial aid to student’s at faith-based colleges and universities unless these schools abandon their policies and practices reflecting their sincerely held beliefs. As so you can just imagine the impact for colleges and universities—Catholic, Christian, Mormon—that believe that marriage is between a male and a female, that believe that God created us male and female, and that’s how he has a covenant for marriage between a man and a woman. Those types of policies and procedures or that they have a separate sex dorm facility or separate sex locker rooms and showers, that unless the university stripped all those out that those students would not be able to get Pell Grants and other federal aid that helps them get their degree. And so… amazed the impact that this can have.
Linda: Well, and you mentioned that it isn’t just Christians who are being discriminated against here in terms of being able to live out your closely held beliefs. So we are just grateful for the work that ADF does in this. And you mentioned children in schools who may want a sex reassignment surgery. I know that I’ve heard of parents who have been threatened with their parental rights being taken away. They’ve been harassed by the school district. Things like this. I don’t have the exact cases right at my fingertips at the moment. But I know I’ve read about these types of situations. Maybe you can address that. But a lot of times these schools, if a child talks about identifying as an opposite sex, they will not even tell the parents. They won’t tell the parents that they are actually treating Johnny like Janie. (Chuckling) It creates a whole separate problem, I should say, for parental oversight and parental communication with their children and being able to guide them as they go through the tumultuous seasons of growing up. This is really just disastrous I think for the family.
Bob: It is. We’ll talk about two examples of that. And so the one is the situation where you have a child, a minor that wants to identify and have the treatment and surgeries. There have been instances in states where they’ve upheld the child’s “rights” to be able to identify as a different gender and take treatment and pills and medication for the gender that they decide, and so the impact, an emotional impact to that. There are several stories that I’ve read over the last several months. It talked about these students who were in that situation and they had this sex changing operation and the medication and all that. They got to a point where they were like, “I made a huge mistake.” Maybe they found faith but several of the stories that I talked about weren’t about a faith-based situation. They just came to the realization. One lady I particularly recall, she was twenty-two years old, so she has her whole life ahead of her. Because she was supported by her gender dysphoria at a younger age, she made life altering and life changing decisions that I don’t know if necessarily she’s in the greatest position to be able to be making. If the elephant in the room is that you can’t talk against that, you can’t advocate for parental rights to be able to know or give consent, then you’re going to have problems.
Another one that comes into play with the Equality Act is for foster care agencies. You can imagine—Christian, Catholic and others, Jewish—that they believe marriage again is between a biological man and a biological female. They would be required to place children in same sex or transgender sex couples and if they didn’t then they couldn’t participate in that program. And there’s a case called Fulton that’s right before the Supreme Court now that that’s the situation. The city of Philadelphia says, “I know Catholic organization you’ve done a fantastic job. You’ve been able to work out even with today’s societal issues on this issue; you’ve been able to work it out with your other organizations and you guys have worked it out, but we’re going to force you to either drop your policy and be able, regardless of the SOGI status, to place these kids in these homes or you’re going to have to get out of it as an organization to be doing that. What a travesty that could be. But that’s another impact that we have to talk about.
Linda: That’s really good that you brought that up. And our time is running short. I know that we’ve spent the bulk of the conversation on the Equality Act. I know that we could touch on hundreds of other topics that impact our freedoms. One that I’d like to touch on quickly before we close is what’s happening with the ADF case with the Thomas Moore Law Center. Maybe if you could just give people a brief overview, and of course they can get more information at the website: adflegal.org, but I’d like to let them know what this means. This is something that a lot of business owners and people who care about donating to causes they believe in whether they’re faith-based or not, this is an important case.
Bob: Exactly. The state of California issued a law back several years ago that said that if you wanted to donate to a nonprofit organization, those nonprofit organizations were required to submit their donor list to the state. There are several instances during the time when this happened where this information was leaked. Some might say it was intentionally leaked. Some might say it was accidentally leaked. But both sides agree the information was leaked. So it wasn’t able to remain private. This is an issue. You brought it up where not only does ADF support this, but typically on the other side of the courtroom is the ACLU and they also and other groups all support this because there needs to be in America an opportunity to be able to donate to the nonprofit organization of your choice without having that information disclosed. Again whether that’s accidentally or on purpose, but have that information disclosed.
So we’re looking at a situation where it was just argued last week before the Supreme Court where they’re going to get to rule. So we should have a ruling no later than July from this court and this session that says whether or not California has a right to require those nonprofit organizations, again some faith-based, some not faith-based. But I think that’s particularly difficult in today’s cancel culture society that merely by identifying with one group or another, you can be a bigot. You can be a homophobe. You can be a transphobe and everything else. They can make it and take actions against you just based upon your beliefs. So I think in America we want to be able to support everyone’s beliefs, but not to the point where you are having to disclose, “Hey, I support the ABC organization or the DEF organization.” And everybody is going to know that. Also in today’s informational society, that information once it’s disclosed, it’s all over the internet. So you might say it will just impact California, but as we know with the internet, it’s going to go from everywhere from Florida to Asia to Russia and anywhere between because now we’re in the internet age. So that’s another huge issue. Again, we should have a ruling from the Supreme Court by July this year.
Linda: Um Hmm. That would be great. And like you said, people on basically all sides of the fence could appreciate this because the privacy of the donors to be able to support the causes in which they believe is important and is a protection for them to not have their homes, their businesses, picketed or violence upon them or even just harassment. This is a real important case. So I’m really glad that ADF is there.
Well, before we close I do want to just alert people again to the wonderful resource that you have on the website. It is called Faith in the Workplace: Legal Protections for Christians Who own or Lead a Business. I know that for any listeners who may not be Christian these principles will apply as well, but it’s about living out your faith and exercising your constitutional freedoms within the workplace. It’s a very exhaustive, free e-booklet. It has thirty-five pages to it. It is chock full of information. I was wondering if you’d like say just a little bit about this resource that you provide for free for employers and any others who might be interested.
Bob: Absolutely. Thank you. So this Faith in the Workplace guide is created for employers that want to have some level of faith or some level of discussion at their business. So it provides a layman’s examples the view from a legal perspective, and then we’ll actually give you opportunities and examples of what to have. I mentioned before having a statement of faith if you’re a faith-based organization. You don’t necessarily be a Christian organization, like a Christian bookstore, but if you’re in a manufacturing or you’re in the service industry and you want to be known for your Christian faith, you can do that. You can have Bible studies at your workplace. You can have a prayer meeting. You can have communion. You can have chapel service. There are certain restrictions. One of them, a big one, being that those opportunities be voluntary and the second would be try to have those on off hours, meaning before work, during a lunch break, or after work. There are more details behind that, but those are good restrictions.
But this guide that you said does have an appendix, actual examples that you can borrow. You can cut and paste. There are no copyright laws that will be breeched here. You have those opportunities and you can basically take what’s there as a template and then insert your beliefs. You can be of the Muslim faith and you can utilize that to have Muslim opportunities or Jewish opportunities or Hindu, Buddhism, Christian, any of those faiths. You have the right to be able to express that in the workplace. Again there are some parameters but the book discusses what those parameters are.
Linda: Well, this is a great resource. Along those lines, I’ve talked to so many employers across the nation over the years regarding educating employees about the public policy issues that affect their jobs. That’s really why I started Prosperity 101. But some employers especially now are a little hesitant. They think, “Oh, will I be stepping out of line? Will people try to cancel me? Will I be boycotted? But there is so much that we can do to actually speak truth. When we’re talking about constitutional freedoms or our basic rights even within talking about say like the Equality Act, employers have the right, and I believe the stewardship responsibility, to actually educate their employees about all of the different issues that will affect their employment. It will affect the bottom line of the company and the ability to pay a paycheck. It will affect the culture of the company. It will affect their jobs. I just feel like that’s a responsibility that employers have, but in our culture now fear has sometimes taken over as there’s been such an effort to silence them. But they can speak about all of these issues. What would you recommend to employers who may have been afraid to even bring any of this up to employees? What would you say is their first step?
Bob: Sure. I would first look at the resource Faith in the Workplace guide because it goes through examples that you can say, “That would apply to me.” There are in it certain stories of actually individual business owners that what their situation was and how they stood up for their faith. That would be my first step, is to say, “Do I want to step in this direction?”
As I’ve traveled pre-Covid across the country and had very different meetings and conferences and conventions, I spoke to many, many Christian employers. They didn’t know their rights. They thought, “I can’t have a Bible study. I’d be sued.” or “Isn’t that illegal? I can’t do that.” But you can do that. So this book is just a good first step.
And let’s say you want to go next, then I would have a statement of faith in your corporate materials, so it just basically ascribes, “Hey, we’re going to make some decisions that are based upon our faith.” And when we want to do that we want to be able to show our employees and our vendors and our competitors, our clients, that this is what we’re about. I think that what they’ll find is that that is more embraced, that they’re at least standing up for something they believe in and they are taking those steps to do that. I think that even if someone may not agree with biblical principles or the Christian worldview, I think they will appreciate if you’re following biblical ideas in your core values, for example, that they’ll appreciate your being compassionate. They’ll appreciate that you have integrity, that you really want teamwork. They’ll appreciate those principles whether they will recognize or understand that those are biblical principles or not. They may not, but they certainly will appreciate if you’re going to say up front, you’re going to be open and honest with all your communications, whether it’s to employees or vendors or clients, and that that’s the stance you are going to take.
Linda: Right. Well and it really gets into treating others as we would want to be treated, which is the Golden Rule. But I’ll put in a shameless plug right now, too, for my book Prosperity 101: Job Security Through Business Prosperity: The Essential Guide to Understanding How Policy Affects Your Paycheck. That is a simple resource to help employers to share with their employees regarding how various economic policies affect their ability to provide jobs. And it really helps employees or any reader to understand some of the basic principles of our government and how it affects the workplace. So between Faith in the Workplace and that, I think it would be a great dual resource for our employers and we just really appreciate that this is out there for them.
So if employers would like to contact you, maybe some of them have some legal situations that are concerning them or they just want more information, how would they contact you?
Bob: So at adflegal.org, there is a corporate affairs landing page and that’s actually where you can get the free resource which is the Faith in the Workplace guide you mentioned. But there’s also an opportunity to contact us, I think it’s at firstname.lastname@example.org, and so that way one of our attorneys or staff will be able to address their needs and their concerns.
Linda: Well, that’s really great. So adflegal.org and whether you are a business owner, maybe you’re an employee, maybe you are thinking about opening a business, wherever you are in this spectrum, I know that there is something at adflegal.org that will speak to you. That website does include their corporate affairs department, but it really gets into all of the aspects that ADF covers and really promotes within our cultures. So, thank you, Bob, for your work with Alliance Defending Freedom. Thank you to everyone there because we know you are defending freedom for all people, all genders, all races, all faiths, and we really appreciate that you are upholding those American values and those biblical values within our nation and our world. So, thank you.
Bob: Thank you, Linda. I really appreciate the opportunity. It’s my pleasure.