Ronnie Floyd is Senior Pastor of Cross Church and President of the Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest Protestant denomination. — RDM
Fayetteville, Arkansas: America’s Current Religious Liberty Background
by Dr. Ronnie Floyd
December 8, 2014
Tuesday, December 9, 2014, is not just a big day for Fayetteville, Arkansas, but also for America. We believe it is America’s current religious liberty battleground.
A Brief History
Just over three months ago, the Fayetteville City Council passed what is called a civil rights ordinance, now known as Chapter 119. This ordinance granted special rights to individuals because of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. These are commonly referred to as Sexual Orientation Gender Identity (SOGI) ordinances.
A national group called the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is trying to use local city councils to advance their agenda, and they are actively working in cities across America to pass these laws. Recently, cities like Houston and San Antonio had SOGI laws passed, but those laws were not even as bad as the Fayetteville ordinance.
This Ordinance is so bad, the Chamber of Commerce and the Northwest Arkansas Editorial Board are Standing Against it
In the Sunday, December 7, 2014 edition of the Northwest Arkansas Times, there was a full-page advertisement entitled, “Vote to Repeal Ordinance 5703 Chapter 119.” This article offered seven reasons why the voters of Fayetteville should repeal Ordinance 119. Just one of the reasons they listed: “119 places Fayetteville businesses at a distinct disadvantage and has the potential to bring economic development in Fayetteville to a screeching halt.” In other words, this is bad for businesses and for the future economic development of Fayetteville.
On November 29, the Northwest Arkansas Times Editorial Board also encouraged the citizens of Fayetteville to repeal the ordinance. Their reason is summed up, “It’s a bad ordinance, no matter how well-intended it is.”
Thank you, members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Northwest Arkansas Times Editorial Board, for encouraging voters to repeal Ordinance 119.
We Believe This Ordinance Attacks the Very Foundation of Our Religious Liberties
Yes, we do believe Fayetteville, Arkansas, is America’s current religious liberty battleground. Let me give you a few brief examples of what may happen if this ordinance is not repealed:
(1) Christian small-business owners could be fined or even face jail time if they refuse services to one of this new protected ‘class’. Just like the recent episode with a baker in Colorado, if someone refused to bake a cake for a same sex wedding because it violated the business owner’s conscious or religious view, they would now be violating the law.
(2) Small business owners are faced with more regulation and less religious freedoms in the hiring and firing process than any other place in the country.
(3) Churches must allow a biological man, who identifies himself as a woman, to use the women’s restroom, and it would be an illegal act for the church to stop this use.
(4) Churches now must hire a person who is not of the same belief as the church for any job except a pastor, such as a secretary or custodian.
(5) Pastors face fines and potential jail time if they refuse to marry a gay couple. These fines could reach $8,500 in the first 30 days, and if not paid, they could be put in jail.
This is why I am urging the residents of Fayetteville to vote For Repeal 119 on December 9.
Fayetteville, Arkansas IS America’s Current Religious Liberty Battleground and it is Coming to Your Region Soon
This is the nation’s current battleground on which to stand for religious freedom. Fayetteville, please rise up and send a clear and compelling message to all those propagating this agenda – that the people of Fayetteville will stand up and protect our religious freedoms. Fayetteville is the first city to get this issue on a public ballot, and the first city with a chance to repeal this ordinance. This is the chance for Fayetteville to make a national impact by becoming the first city to reject this offensive SOGI law.
Two Final Notes of Clarity
I would like to close making two final remarks of clarity for everyone.
1. Our stance against this ordinance is not a stance against people, but against this ordinance.
2. Regardless of whether this ordinance is repealed or not, our hope is in the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus came to die for each of us, regardless of our backgrounds or present practices. We are all sinners and fall short of God’s glory. This is why Jesus died for each of us – so we could be forgiven, have purpose for life today, and spend eternity in heaven with Him one day soon.
So when the sun rises on December 10, 2014, Jesus will still be Lord over all. Our hope is only in Jesus and in His eternal Kingdom.