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'Dismantle Religious Freedom': Republicans Warn VA Bills Undermine Rights from Churches to Christian Schools


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ABOVE: Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia appeared on the Tuesday afternoon of CBN's Newswatch to talk about the bills and their potential impact on churches, ministries and faith-based schools. Newswatch is seen weekdays on the CBN News Channel.  For a programming schedule, click here. 

Since Democrats took over both houses of the Virginia legislature last year, they've been on a mission to pass left-wing legislation on a number of fronts. In just the first five weeks of the legislative session, they have reshaped decades of state policy. 

According to media reports, the two chambers passed a total of more than 1,400 bills combined. Last week marked the legislature's halfway point when the bills "crossover" to the other chamber.  House bills were sent to the Senate and the Senate bills were sent to the House as lawmakers work on any changes to the proposed legislation before a final vote. 

Now Virginia lawmakers are poised to pass bills that could impact how churches and other faith-based organizations operate.

Several controversial bills focus on discrimination in public places and employment based on a number of factors including gender and sexual orientation. 

Opponents say the bills infringe on the religious beliefs of churches and private faith-based schools by dictating who may attend or work there and even how their restrooms are set up. They also say the measures are aimed at punishing Christians for not observing the government's definition of sexuality.

In a speech opposing the measure, Republican state Rep. David Larock said, "Make no mistake. This bill is intended to dismantle religious freedom and to force the government to make everyone conform to its version of marriage and sexuality."

As CBN News reported earlier this month, the concern centers around several pieces of legislation regarding LGBT rights that ban discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations like restaurants. And those bills have made it through both the Virginia House and Senate.

Victoria Cobb, the president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, told CBN News her group is deeply concerned that the new legislation does not have ample exceptions for faith communities.

"Not just churches. But we're talking about Christian schools. We're talking about outreach ministries of churches like homeless shelters," Cobb said. "So we are doing everything we can to attempt to block these from passing those chambers."  

CBN has created a petition to support biblical values in Virginia. Click here to sign the #VirginiaValues petition.

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