A Call to Restore Religious Exemption to Minnesota Law

Recent events in the Minnesota legislature have raised some questions about religious freedom and human rights with regards to hiring practices for religious organizations. You can read our statement on these events and find links to sign a petition and contact your legislators below. 

The existing and proposed legislation are part of a multifaceted, nuanced conversation extending from gender identity to religious freedom. As an organization which holds conversations about complex issues, we appreciate the need to engage this nuance. We have worked to share the need for nuance through numerous conversations defining and clarifying a traditional biblical sexual ethic while helping evangelical Christian ministries find ways to approach LGBT community members with love and care. 

We also believe there is a need for religious organizations to have the freedom to hire based on their beliefs. The U.S. Constitution continues to protect these rights. This allows religious organizations to hire those who share the faith that informs both their love for others and their beliefs about human identity and behavior. 

Through the conversation, we know it is possible to faithfully honor God and radically love people. We encourage fellow Christians to continue showing extravagant love, compassionate care, and inclusive welcome to all fellow humans created in the image of God.  


The following statement by Transform Minnesota has been endorsed by numerous evangelical pastors.

As a regional association of evangelical churches, Transform Minnesota calls for the restoration of religious exemption to the MN Human Rights Act. 

The Christian ministries and churches in the evangelical network are committed to showing love and dignity to all humans, welcoming tens of thousands of Minnesotans into our communities regardless of status or identity. Together we extend that love by caring for thousands more every year, operating food shelves, providing housing, giving financial assistance, welcoming immigrants, assisting single mothers and children, operating childcare centers and schools, and much more to aid our fellow citizens.  

We do so because we answer to a divine authority who instructs us to treat all persons with love and dignity, to be inclusive, and to care for the most vulnerable. Given that freedom of religion and liberty of conscience are foundational freedoms from which all other freedoms flow, the First Amendment in our US Constitution, and multiple Supreme Court rulings, make clear that government must respect the autonomy of religious organizations relating to doctrine, polity, and ministerial employment.  

Considering this, US and Minnesota laws routinely include broad exemptions for religious organizations to employ clergy and other workers who share in their foundational beliefs and teachings. This is commonly referred to as a religious exemption in non-discriminatory laws. These are essential because the faith that informs our love for others also informs our beliefs about human identity and behavior and are inseparable. 

The MN Human Rights Act appropriately seeks to prevent unjust discrimination against protected classes of people. However, the Act was amended in 2023, removing the protection for religious employers from claims against discrimination in hiring practices based on gender identity and expression, decisions that are rightly the domain of religious institutions, not the state. We strongly disagree with MN House and Senate committees that have failed to pass a corrective amendment that would have restored this religious exemption, and we urge the full House and Senate to still do so. This basic religious freedom is essential in a pluralistic and inclusive society. 

Many Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other religious groups have deeply held beliefs about the nature of human identity and gender, and they should have autonomy in their governance decisions and be able to hire both clergy and teachers consistent with their mission and values. As it currently stands, Minnesota law is in conflict with federal law and well-established court decisions that expressly grant these protections to religious organizations.  

We are asking that the religious exemption be restored to the MN Human Rights Act. Likewise, we ask fellow Christians to continue showing extravagant love, compassionate care, and inclusive welcome to all fellow humans created in the image of God. 


Read and sign the petition here. 

Send an action alert to your legislators here. 

View a PDF of the official statement with endorsements here.

Read our Board-adopted Belief about Human Sexuality here. 

April 4, 2024