From the President: Equality Act Hits Religious Liberty

Express Your Concern to Senators

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During my time as president of Bob Jones University, I have rarely taken the opportunity to communicate directly with you concerning a legislative issue; however, I believe it is a necessity to contact you regarding the Equality Act (H.R. 5) that has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and will soon be debated in the U.S. Senate.

This legislation, if enacted, would deeply affect our ability to educate our students according to biblical truth.

Unlike virtually all state and local laws that forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), the Equality Act contains no exemptions for religious organizations or others exercising their religious beliefs.

In addition to the absence of any religious exemptions, the Equality Act partially repeals the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was adopted by overwhelming bipartisan majorities and signed into law by President Clinton in 1993.

Under the Equality Act, many religious colleges, such as BJU, that participate in federal grant programs would be forced to adopt SOGI ideology or else lose the federal grants currently available to their students.

It’s likely that passage and implementation of the Equality Act would mean Christian colleges would be considered a place of “public accommodation” that “provides a good, service, or program.” Under the Equality Act, Christian colleges would be forced to hire professors and accept students who are unwilling to abide by biblical sexual standards. It is possible that Christian institutions would be permitted to continue teaching the biblical ethics of human sexuality, but they most certainly would be prohibited from expecting faculty, staff and students to practice those beliefs.

This act could also affect our employee health plans, appropriately sex-separated private facilities and student housing accommodations.

The coercive nature of the Equality Act stands in stark contrast to the Constitution’s protections for religious freedom and free speech. By explicitly prohibiting use of RFRA to protect against government coercion concerning sincerely held religious beliefs, the government sends a clear message that dissenting views, including those espoused by Christian higher education institutions, do not deserve equal protection in society.

The Equality Act would enforce a single government-sanctioned ideology and punish those who do not conform. Coercing faith-based organizations and countless other citizens of good will to affirm same-sex marriage and transgenderism does not make for a more pluralistic, tolerant society; instead, it fosters contempt and mistrust between the government and those practicing their constitutional right to freely exercise their religion.

For these reasons and more, I strongly encourage you to contact both of your United States Senators to express your concern. You may call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your senator’s office. For a list of U.S. senators by state, you may access an interactive map.

Forcing anyone to choose between their religious beliefs and government retaliation is unconstitutional. Please join with me in urging your U.S. Senators to reject the Equality Act and any other proposal that inflicts similar destructive harm on our nation.


Steve Pettit traveled for many years with the Steve Pettit Evangelistic Team before becoming president of Bob Jones University. He served as president of BJU from 2014 to 2023.