Officials admit discrimination can't be one of Virginia's values

Officials admit discrimination can't be one of Virginia's values

Officials admit discrimination can't be one of Virginia's values

Religious groups in the state are free to operate according to their beliefs.

The acknowledgement comes after settlement of a lawsuit that Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys filed in September 2020 on behalf of two Virginia churches, three Christian schools, and a pregnancy center network.

Theriot, Kevin (ADF) Theriot

"We just got a favorable settlement that was filed with the court on Friday," ADF attorney Kevin Theriot relays. "Now our clients and other ministries in Virginia can make sure that they are living according to their beliefs."

The plaintiffs argued that the Virginia Values Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, specifically when it comes to housing, employment, public places and credit applications, forced nonprofit ministries to abandon their core convictions in hiring and other policies or face fines up to $100,000 for each violation.

The act compelled churches, religious schools, and Christian ministries to hire employees regardless of their beliefs on marriage, sexuality, and gender identity. ADF said the law even banned religious entities from publishing their biblical beliefs on these topics.

Meanwhile, a companion law required the ministries and others like them to include in employee healthcare plans coverage for "sex reassignment" and "gender affirming" surgeries that run contrary to their beliefs. It also prohibited the ministries from offering sex-specific Bible studies and youth activities.

Theriot says no one should live in fear of unjust government punishment, which is what was going on here with the Virginia Values Act.

"This kind of thing is going on all over the country, where ministries and churches are being subjected to laws that undermine the very mission that holds these groups together," he notes. "If they don't take a stand, then governments and government officials are able to get away with that."

In light of the settlement, ADF attorneys filed a dismissal of the case with the Loudoun County Circuit Court.

The attorney encourages anyone whose ability to administer their ministry in a way that is consistent with their beliefs is threatened to reach out to ADF or a similar organization for assistance.