Chris­tian pastors urge ‘bath­room bill’ pas­sage

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Chuck Lin­dell clin­dell@states­man.com

Cast­ing the fight over trans­gen­der bath­room use as spir­i­tual war­fare for the na­tion’s soul, con­ser­va­tive Chris­tian pastors ral­lied Thurs­day morn­ing at the Capi­tol, press­ing House Repub­li­can lead­ers to pass leg­is­la­tion they said would pro­tect pri­vacy and safety.

The crowd of about 200 pastors and sup­port­ers broke into fre­quent chants of “Let the House vote,” crit­i­ciz­ing House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San An­to­nio, and Rep. By­ron Cook, R-Corsicana, the chair­man of the House State Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, for block­ing leg­is­la­tion that would pro­hibit trans­gen­der-friendly re­strooms and chang­ing rooms.

“The way that God made us, he made us male and he made us fe­male. There is no in be­tween,” said Jan­ice Flow­ers of the Faith Out­reach Center in San An­to­nio. “Why have we mud­died the waters of our ba­sic and fun­da­men­tal knowl­edge with the po­lit­i­cally cor­rect an­swer rather than the truth?”

“We are en­gaged in a spir­i­tual war­fare here,” said Pas­tor Stephen Bro­den of Dal­las. “We are in the throes of a de­lib­er­ate at­tempt to try to strip our na­tion from its Judeo-Chris­tian her­itage to the em­brace­ment of doc­trines of demons: so­cial­ism, com­mu­nism, Marx­ism, Dar­win­ism, sec­u­lar hu­man­ism.”

Rev. Dave Welch, head of the Texas Pas­tor Coun­cil and or­ga­nizer of Thurs­day’s event, noted that an in­ter­faith group of re­li­gious lead­ers stood on the same spot two days ear­lier to de­cry the leg­is­la­tion as hate­ful.

“The thing that dis­tin­guishes this group from others who claim to be clergy is this group ac­tu­ally be­lieves that the Bi­ble is true — the whole Bi­ble is true,” Welch said. “And there­fore we don’t have the lat­i­tude of making up our own moral value sys­tem.”

Later Thurs­day, par­ents and their trans­gen­der chil­dren met in the Capi­tol to de­nounce the “bath­room bills” as reck­less, dan­ger­ous and un-Amer­i­can.

Chelsa Mor­ri­son, mother of a trans­gen­der daugh­ter, 9-year-old Mar­i­lyn, said she wanted to tell Gov. Greg Ab­bott and Lt. Gov. Dan Pa­trick that their sup­port for the bills opened al­ready vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren to ad­di­tional bul­ly­ing and iso­la­tion.

“The fact we’re still hav­ing to stand here and beg­ging you to pro­tect our chil­dren should be crim­i­nal,” Mor­ri­son said. “My daugh­ter is not a pawn in your game. None of our kids are. Do right by our kids, do right by our Tex­ans, and stop this non­sense now.”

Chad Grif­fin, pres­i­dent of the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign, which spon­sored the round-ta­ble dis­cus­sion and news con­fer­ence with Equal­ity Texas, said his­tory will harshly judge Ab­bott and Pa­trick for push­ing leg­is­la­tion he called dis­crim­i­na­tory and dan­ger­ous.

“It’s not too late to end this ex­cur­sion into the pol­i­tics of hate,” Grif­fin said.

Also Thurs­day, the list of cor­po­ra­tions op­pos­ing the trans­gen­der bath­room bills grew longer — in­clud­ing Pep­siCo, Frito-Lay, Uber, Lyft, Pay­Pal and Neiman Mar­cus. Big Oil and lead­ing tech com­pa­nies have also announced op­po­si­tion.

“No in­dus­try will re­main un­touched by the un­nec­es­sary harm that dis­crim­i­na­tory laws will do to our com­pet­i­tive­ness, to our abil­ity to at­tract tal­ent, and to our em­ploy­ees and their fam­i­lies,” lead­ers of the com­pa­nies told Ab­bott by let­ter.

At the morn­ing rally of pastors, sev­eral speak­ers crit­i­cized cor­po­ra­tions and the Texas As­so­ci­a­tion of Busi­ness for their op­po­si­tion.

“Texas is not for sale. De­cency is not for sale. The rights of our women and chil­dren are not for sale. Pri­vacy is not for sale,” Pas­tor Her­nan Cas­tano of Hous­ton said.

“When did it be­come OK for the busi­ness lobby of Texas to dic­tate our Chris­tian val­ues and to de­clare that per­cep­tion is the rule of the day?” said Trayce Brad­ford of the Texas Ea­gle Fo­rum. “Well, they may want to live in a fan­tasy land, but we live in the real world. We moms, we women that live in this real world will pro­tect our sons and daugh­ters.”

RI­CARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

Charles Flow­ers prays as he speaks Thurs­day at the Capi­tol dur­ing a rally by the Texas Pas­tor Coun­cil in sup­port of state leg­is­la­tion re­strict­ing the use of pub­lic re­strooms by trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als. The rally drew 200 peo­ple.

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