Missouri Non-Discrimination Act (MONA) introduced in Missouri House, Senate
JEFFERSON CITY – A bill that threatens the First Amendment rights of Missouri Christians has been introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate. Senate bill 711 is sponsored by Sen. Greg Razor, a Kansas City Democrat who is a homosexual. State Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, is sponsoring a House version. Known as the Missouri Non-Discrimination Act (MONA), it is a state version of the highly controversial Equality Act at the federal level.
“The federal Equality Act has been called the most dangerous threat to religious liberty in our lifetime,” warned Lee’s Summit attorney Michael Whitehead, chief legal counsel for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC). “It would add the terms ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ to federal laws governing employment and public accommodations. It masquerades as equal treatment for all, but it results in unequal treatment for people of faith like Colorado baker Jack Phillips and Washington florist Baronnelle Stutzman, Christians in business who seek to live out their faith in the marketplace. They are forced to forfeit their freedoms, to practice their faith in their business, or face crushing lawsuits, damage awards and legal fees by activists who demand that their rights and dignity must be respected and protected while the religious conscience and dignity of biblical Christians must be canceled and erased from the public square.”
MONA mimics the federal Equality Act, by adding “Sexual Orientation” and “Gender Identity” (SOGI) to the current list of protected classes like race, national origin and age. Hence, MONA is a state level SOGI law, like the Equality Act is a federal SOGI law, creating new lawsuit rights under various non-discrimination laws.
“Any version of MONA will penalize and discriminate against every day Missourians for their beliefs about marriage and biological sex,” Whitehead said. “Accepting any version of MONA, no matter what exemptions are promised to religious groups today, will open Pandora’s Box inside Missouri, unleashing ever increasing demands by sexual revolutionaries, and resulting in ever diminishing freedoms for people of biblical faith.”
MONA has been introduced in the Missouri General Assembly more than a dozen times in recent years, but has failed to garner a majority of House members. It has passed the Senate once and during the 2021 session, a handful of Republicans joined Democrat senators in passing it before it died due to a procedural motion.
The threat has caught the attention of MBC leadership. Executive Director John Yeats and the presidents of the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home (MBCH), The Baptist Homes and Healthcare (BHH) and all three universities. MONA also threatens Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The MBC’s Christian Life Commission is monitoring the legislature. MBC leaders will be meeting with lawmakers in both chambers to express concerns and will prepare to testify during committee hearings on MONA.
“In these unprecedented times, the forces that oppose biblical values are expecting to make big statutory gains in our Missouri legislature,” Yeats said. “One such bill is MONA. The reach of this bill to our care ministries (MBCH and BHH) and our universities (Hannibal-LaGrange University, Southwest Baptist University and Missouri Baptist University) is huge. MONA’s implications threaten our core convictions based on Scripture about our Creator God, family, marriage, sexuality, community, decency and religious liberty.
“Missouri Baptists have passed and Southern Baptist have adopted numerous resolutions that repudiate legislative actions such as MONA and others like it. These kinds of bills pose harmful ramifications to our children, families, communities, faith institutions and local churches. A few voices may want to gain press time with MONA, but the rest of us would like to see it quietly disposed of by the assigned committee. Representatives and Senators do a disservice to the bulk of their constituents to place protections for immoral activity on the desk of our Governor.”
If passed MONA could require faith-based schools, colleges and universities to hire homosexuals and transgendered people. The SOGI aspects will force restrooms to be accessible to male and female. Universities may be forced to provide housing or lose federal grant money needed by students.
The Baptist Homes could be forced to have transgendered people working in its facilities. The same could happen with The Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, which could lose its state contract if it refuses to allow homosexuals to be foster parents or adopt, a move that would threaten the safety of Missouri children. The MBCH is Missouri’s largest private provider of foster care.
MONA could force businesspeople like florists, bakers, artists, photographers and others who want to operate their businesses according to their faith. If they do not comply, they could face crippling fines and business closures. For example, Melissa Klein of Oregon refused to bake a wedding cake for homosexuals. They sued her, and the Oregon Human Rights Commission has ordered her to pay $135,000 in fines.
There is nothing inevitable about the spread of SOGI laws like MONA. Citizens and their elected officials are rejecting these laws throughout the country. For example, in 2014 Springfield repealed its previously enacted SOGI law. In recent years the legislatures of Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, and numerous cities—including Charlotte, N.C., and Houston, Texas —declined to pass these laws.