If a church hosts a spaghetti supper and invites the public to attend, does that church give up its religious freedom?
Let's say, for example, the church believes people should use a restroom corresponding to their God-assigned gender at birth. If that church invites non-members to eat pasta in its building, must the church allow transgender individuals to use whichever restroom they prefer?
Such questions are not just theoretical. They are at the heart of a lawsuit filed Tuesday by a handful of Massachusetts churches.
Readers must wade through a bunch of political talk, but the Boston Globe hits the high points in its coverage:
Four Massachusetts churches contend in a federal lawsuit that a new state law could force them to allow transgender people to use the church bathrooms, changing rooms, and shower facilities of their choice, violating the plaintiffs’ constitutional right to freely practice their religion.
The litigation opens a new front in a broader effort to undermine the law, which bars discrimination against transgender people in restaurants, malls, and other public accommodations.
Also Tuesday, the secretary of state confirmed that opponents had gathered enough signatures to place a repeal of the law on the ballot in 2018.
“This is bigger than bathrooms,” said Andrew Beckwith, president of the conservative Massachusetts Family Institute and a central player in the lawsuit and the repeal effort. “This law is eliminating rights that have existed for as long as this country has been in existence — fundamental rights to privacy, to modesty and safety, now constitutional rights to religious freedom.”
So where does the spaghetti supper question fit in?