State Representative Sandy Salmon (R-Janesville)
Photo credit: Iowa House Republicans

DES MOINES, Iowa – A religious liberty bill, HF 2130, considered in an Iowa House subcommittee, was considered “too broad” to recommended for passage.

The bill expanded how “bona fide religious purpose” in Iowa law is defined. 

The bill says “bona fide religious purpose” means “any lawful purpose that furthers a sincerely held religious belief, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief, and without regard to the correctness, validity, or plausibility of the religious belief.”

It states that what is considered a “bona fide religious purpose” shall be interpreted broadly and any ambiguities resolved in favor of a bona fide religious institution.

In the past, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission has attempted to define what a “bona fide religious purpose” is. State Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville, the sponsor of the bill, said they should not dictate what is and what is not that is.

“There was a lawsuit a few years ago where a Des Moines church sued because the Civil Rights Commission was trying to dictate church policies and the commission backed down. This needs to be made clear so that the Civil Rights Commission does not interfere in church policies,” she told Caffeinated Thoughts.

The subcommittee which heard this bill on Tuesday consisted of State Reps. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, Stan Gustafson, R-Cumming, and Mary Lynn Wolfe, D-Clinton.

State Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee who handled this bill, told Caffeinated Thoughts he heard from church leadership that they thought the bill was too broad and could cause problems.

“We need to define this in code, but we are not there yet,” he said.

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  1. I feel compelled, once again, to correct the record. Rep. Salmon’s assertion that the civil rights commission attempted to dictate church policies is mistaken and a misinformed representation of what occurred. The civil rights commission has never attempted to instruct any religious organization as to the legality of their beliefs, nor did it assert such a right. In fact, once that misinformation was corrected, the church that sued dismissed its lawsuit.

    1. A half truth. There was a definite problem in the language they used providing guidance for public accommodation when it comes to transgendered persons.

      That was the basis of the lawsuit, which was preemptive.

      The commission then walked it back.

      Had they not done that then the lawsuit would have proceeded.

      1. So anyway, when you “correct the record” be sure to give all of the information including when the commission screwed up in its original interpretation of the law.

  2. I led the commission at the time. The brochure, which had been in existence since before 2012, was poorly written. But the commission had never, ever, attempted to impose the statutory prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity against a church, and it had no intention of doing so. In fact, as I recall, the one time in 10 years that someone attempted to file a complaint against a church, it was never even opened and no one was ever notified of the complaint. That is fact. The half-truth is the claim otherwise, based on a poorly worded brochure. The commission did not “back down.” It corrected the poor wording. The judge agreed with the commission that it had never attempted to enforce the statute against a church, and after the judge made that ruling, ADF dismissed its suit. It is unfortunate that the brochure was confusing and someone felt compelled to sue over it rather than point it out to the commission so it could be corrected. But that wouldn’t have made headlines, I guess.

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