Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) and the1st Amendment


Last week I heard about the Minnesota Human Rights Act for the first time. A little research tells me that it has been around since 1967 and is a human rights law. In 1993 it added sexual orientation to the list of groups(race, color, creed) that could not be discriminated against when it comes to employment and housing. There was no exemption for churches and church schools to discriminate except in the case of gender identity.

For 30 years all was going along fine with this specific separation of church and state. When a new, separate definition of gender identity was passed into law by the legislative majority last year, there was no religious exemption added. Many faith-based organizations petitioned the legislature to reinstate the religious exemption but on March 18, 2024 the motion to amend the law to include the religious exemption was voted down. Because the law is a clear violation of every citizen of the USA it will undoubtedly be overturned as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

However, can/should a Christian stand up for the rights the citizenship in their country/empire give them? I would like to cite the examples of St. Paul in the book of Acts that make me believe that yes we should.

From his actions, as recorded in the book of Acts, we learn something about Paul and his view of government—that he repeatedly displayed a strong insistence that his legal rights as a citizen be recognized and respected, and objected to government usurpations and violations of those rights (Acts 16:16-40; 22:22-29;


Now, it is important to know that Paul (and Silas, too) was a Roman citizen, a privilege at the time enjoyed by only about 5-10% of the population in the vast Roman Empire. Among the rights of a citizen were freedom from beatings without trial, the right to be tried before the emperor rather than in a local court of law, and the right to not be executed by crucifixion. When the magistrates sent orders for Paul and Silas to be released, ‘having learned their lesson,’ they supposed, these men refused release, until the magistrates spoke to them personally. Paul’s message to them: “We are Roman citizens, and you have beaten us and jailed us without cause.” The magistrates were fear struck upon learning that they had violated the sacred civil rights of two Roman citizens, an action which could have subjected the rulers to severe personal penalties, perhaps up to and including execution. Profuse apologies followed, and a request that the abused men quietly leave the city.

So then, Paul as one who had certain definite civil rights, repeatedly invoked them and demanded that they be recognized by the governing authorities.

It is not wrong, indeed it is right and necessary, that we Christian citizens of the United States insist and demand that our Constitutional rights be recognized and respected, and that any and all infringements be removed immediately. As has been famously said, “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” that is, vigilance against those who would seek to take that liberty away.

It might be good to remember that very likely St. Paul was beheaded to end his life by the Roman government. Standing up for what the Word of God says and your rights as a citizen can end your life when evil men are “reigning” temporarily. As has been said in the past could happen in our days also: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”