What the consequences are if a preacher speaks of God as “the father”

By Wallace Kaufman

Newport, OR – Iowa explains its law on public accommodation applies to churches and censors religious speech in church sermons open to the public. (Does any church exclude the public?) As just one of several examples of illegal action the Iowa public advisory has a section entitled:


“intentional use of names and pronouns inconsistent with a person’s presented gender.”

Here’s the explanation:

“DOES THIS LAW APPLY TO CHURCHES ? Sometimes. Iowa law provides that these protections do not apply to religious institutions with respect to any religion-based qualifications when such qualifications are related to a bona fide religious purpose. Where qualifications are not related to a bona fide religious purpose, churches are still subject to the law’s provisions. (e.g. a child care facility operated at a church or a church service open to the public).”

So, we learn that Iowa’s public officials do not believe caring for children in a church facility is a religious purpose. Even a church service open to the public is not “a bona fide religious purpose.” Not even related to such a purpose.

Think just briefly about the difficulties of such an attempt to legislate public sensitivity, and one might realize that the language police are on very thin ice. (Would a dip in cold water sober them?)

The advisory does not say what the consequences are if a preacher speaks of God as “the father” or “he”, or for that matter, “she”. One has to wonder why the advisory did not ask, “Does this law apply to churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques?”

(Incidentally, does anyone know what “presented gender” is? Perhaps I should not ask.)