Three Christian schools and a Christian network of pregnancy centers are suing Attorney General Mark Herring (D-Va.) in order to prevent Virginia from implementing two pro-LGBT laws that force "people of faith to adopt a particular government ideology under threat of punishment." The two laws purport to prevent "discrimination" against LGBT people but, in reality, they force Christian ministries to choose between violating their sincerely held religious beliefs or paying hefty fines, as much as $100,000 per offense.
The so-called Virginia Values Act (S.B. 868), which Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) signed on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday) in the middle of a pandemic, compels churches, religious schools, and Christian ministries to hire employees who do not share their stated beliefs on marriage, sexuality, and gender identity. A companion law (H.B. 1429) requires ministries and others like them to pay for transgender surgery in employee health care plans, a procedure that violates these ministries' convictions.
"The faith of many Americans inspires them to act for the good of their neighbors and also requires them to abide by its teachings," Denise Harle, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the law firm representing the Christian ministries, said in a statement. "Our clients offer spiritual guidance, education, pregnancy support, and athletic opportunities to their communities because of the religious beliefs that motivate them. But Virginia's new law forces these ministries to abandon and adjust their convictions or pay crippling fines—in direct violation of the Virginia Constitution and other state laws."
"Such government hostility toward people of faith has no place in a free society," Harle argued.
The ministries filed a pre-enforcement challenge, a lawsuit designed to convince a court to prevent the government from implementing an unconstitutional law.
In the lawsuit, ADF is representing Calvary Road Christian School in Alexandria (preschool through 6th grade, 250 students), Grace Christian School in Staunton (preschool through 12th grade, 320 students), Community Christian Academy in Charlottesville (K-9, 50 students), and Care Net, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that supports a network of 1,100 pregnancy centers, churches, and other ministry organizations and has approximately 22,000 volunteers.