". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Christians Forced Out of Competition for Biblical Views on Gender

November 27, 2023

Apparently, certain countries promote the freedom of religion, as long as it doesn’t involve Christian beliefs. At least that’s what two recent instances confirmed.

In October, the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) banned the Christian dance group, Praise Academy of Dance Barbados, from competition for holding a biblical view of gender. According to organizers, their performance, which challenged the transgender ideology, made “defamatory claims” and broke the rules by exceeding “the bounds of good taste.”

Their performance, which they titled, “Speak Life,” featured a girl who struggled with her gender identity. Throughout the piece, the dancers emphasized there are only two genders, featuring verses like Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” The troupe proclaimed, “It’s not a choice, you don’t get to pick. That’s the science, period!”

For 20 years, the dance group had openly performed as Christians without punishment. That changed last month, when the festival organizers decided to disqualify the team. 

According to Breitbart, “Praise Academy has raised an official complaint, arguing that the decision of the NCF [National Cultural Foundation] and NIFCA judging panel was illegal and unconstitutional,” and are considering legal action. On the other hand, a Christian school in Vermont has proceeded with legal action by suing the state.

Here in the U.S., Mid Vermont Christian School (MVCS) understands the frustration all too well. When the girls’ basketball team refused to play against an opponent that had a transgender-identifying athlete, the Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA), which represents 300 schools throughout the state, blacklisted “the school from all state-sponsored events in the state in the future, including VPA spring sports for which schools are still creating schedules.”

“We believe playing against an opponent with a biological male jeopardizes the fairness of the game and the safety of our players,” Head of School Vicky Fogg told The Epoch Times at the time. “Allowing biological males to participate in women’s sports sets a bad precedent for the future of women’s sports in general,” she insisted. Not to mention, as many critics have pointed out, the risks to female players. Just this month, a girls’ field hockey player lost several teeth and suffered serious facial injuries when a male player hit her in the face with a ball. Other high school girls, like Payton McNabb, have dealt with concussions, neck injuries, lacerations, and medical conditions from facing off with biological men. 

Like the Barbados team, Mid Vermont Christian is turning to the courts to reaffirm their right to religious liberty. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian legal advocacy group, filed a lawsuit on behalf of MVCS on November 21. The filings stated, “Simply put, the State believes sex is mutable and biological differences do not matter.” It continued, “The State is entitled to its own views, but it is not entitled, nor is it constitutional, to force private, religious schools across the state to follow that orthodoxy as a condition to participating in Vermont’s tuition program and the State’s athletic association.”

Ryan Tucker, director of the ADF Center for Christian Ministries, said, “The state’s unlawful exclusion of Mid Vermont Christian from participating in the tuition program and athletic association is the latest example of state officials trampling on constitutionally protected rights.”

Both cases, experts say, pose a threat to religious freedom. Davida Maynard-Holligan, the attorney representing Praise Academy, told The Christian Post, “The show was performed on a government-owned, tax-funded stage, and marks one of the first known instances of the Christian faith being oppressed in Barbados in public.”

She continued, “The decision to disqualify and the ruling issued discriminates against Christian beliefs on these issues and if left unchallenged, has serious ramifications for freedom of religion and expression in Barbados and across the Caribbean.” She concluded the decision “should have been left to the [island’s] Supreme Court to rule on.”

Joseph Backholm, senior fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement at Family Research Council, commented to The Washington Stand, “This is exactly what Christians should be expecting because it has been happening for thousands of years.” For Backholm, incidents like these are unsurprising as the world grows increasingly hostile to Christianity.

He continued, “The culture doesn’t have a problem with Christians because of who we worship, but because of who we refuse to worship. The most offensive thing about Christianity is the idea that there is no king but Jesus.” He gave examples of how this has played out in history, sharing that “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were told they had to worship Nebuchadnezzar also or face the consequences. The first century church was told they had to worship Caesar also or face the consequences. Today,” he added, “Christians are told to worship the rainbow gods of self-determination also or face the consequences.”

Backholm concluded that we should respond “fearlessly” and emphasized, “God is very capable of protecting us from whatever they threaten us with, and he is very capable of taking what they intend for harm and using it for good.”

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.