Last month, a federal district court denied a request by College of the Ozarks, a Christian college in Missouri that prides itself on upholding biblical values, to halt a Biden administration directive to designate dormitories according to gender identity rather than biological sex, but the school has now appealed that ruling to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“It’s entirely inappropriate — as well as unconstitutional — for the government to force private religious schools to open girls’ dorm rooms to males or vice-versa,” said Julie Marie Blake, a lawyer for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing College of the Ozarks.
“President Biden is punishing religious schools, organizations, and churches simply because of their beliefs about marriage and biological sex. Schools like the College of the Ozarks are free to follow the faith tradition they represent,” she added.
The college’s lawsuit argues that the HUD memorandum says “agencies participating in the Fair Housing Act Assistance Program must either administer a law that explicitly prohibits discrimination because of gender identity and sexual orientation or must apply its fair housing law in a manner consistent with Bostock.”
This is a reference to the 2020 Supreme Court ruling Bostock v. Clayton County, which determined that an employee cannot be terminated on the basis of sexual orientation as per the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Lawyers for the Justice Department who have defended the HUD directive say that the College of the Ozarks is using arguments that were rejected by the SCOTUS in the Bostock ruling.
DOJ attorney James Luh says that the school must demonstrate that the anti-discrimination policy poses a greater degree of harm, and that they have not cited a real complaint.
However, College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis said in response to the federal district judge’s dismissal of its case last month, “The Biden Administration’s policy forces College of the Ozarks to decide between defending its religious liberty from government overreach or violating our core beliefs.”
The decision that the federal government is trying to force the College of the Ozarks to make is one that millions of Americans of faith may soon enough also find themselves forced to make — if they have not done so already.
The landmark Supreme Court ruling Obergefell vs. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage across the United States, was a watershed moment for our nation, pitting ancient biblical beliefs against a new sexual and gender orthodoxy that views its right of universal acceptance as being above all others, including the right to religious freedom and the right to free speech.
In the years that have followed, people like baker Jack Davis and florist Barronelle Stutzman, who refused to provide services to same-sex weddings on the basis of their faith, and teacher Tanner Cross, who pushed back against a school policy requiring him to refer to students by their preferred pronouns, which violated his own deeply held Christian beliefs, are only a few examples of those whose rights to adhere to their religious beliefs are being sorely undermined in an effort to promote the rights of those with alternative lifestyles or identities.
How many others have quietly chosen to forsake their beliefs so as not to rock the boat?
Those standing with Davis, Stutzman, Cross, the College of the Ozarks, and others may seem like a very small army, but it only took one immensely faithful Hebrew boy to stand up to the giant Goliath. Our nation was founded by men and women who were also willing to stand up to the giant of the British Empire, driven only by their belief in Divine Providence and steadfast commitment to liberty.
It is time to decide if we will stand with them against the towering influence of gender ideology for the cause of our biblical beliefs and religious freedom or if we will flee like the soldiers who saw only the giant’s size.