The Obama Administration released a concerning new report this month with recommendations that would chip away at Americans’ religious liberty.
The lengthy new report came from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Called “Peace Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties,” the report makes recommendations that it says would balance religious freedom with non-discrimination laws. However, the recommendations appear to be thinly veiled attempts to deny Americans’ their First Amendment right to religious freedom.
Commission Chairman Julian Castro wrote some very hostile words in his personal statement in the report:
“The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia or any form of intolerance. … today, as in past, religion is being used as both a weapon and a shield by those seeking to deny others equality. In our nation’s past religion has been used to justify slavery and later, Jim Crow laws.”
The report recommended that law and policy makers tailor religious exceptions “as narrowly” as possible, citing the “undue burden” that these exceptions place on “non discrimination law and policies.”
Another recommendation states: “Federal legislation should be considered to clarify that RFRA [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] creates First Amendment Free Exercise Clause rights only for individuals and religious institutions and only to the extent that they do not unduly burden civil liberties and civil rights protections against status-based discrimination.”
The commission recommends that states with RFRA-style laws do the same.
But by doing so, Americans’ First Amendment religious freedoms could be severely limited. The recommendations could force family-owned businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood and religious employers like the Little Sisters of the Poor to violate their religious beliefs by paying for abortion-causing drugs and possibly even abortions in their employee health plans.
In the name of non-discrimination, these recommendations essentially would allow for discrimination against religious individuals and groups.
Religious leaders already are speaking out against the Obama Administration and the report’s hostile words toward religious people.
Catholic Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore said he was “shocked” by the new report, CNS reports. He called Chairman Castro’s comments “reckless” and ignorant.
“He makes the shocking suggestion that Catholic, evangelical, orthodox Jewish, Mormon, and Muslim communities are comparable to fringe segregationists from the civil rights era,” the archbishop continued. “Can we imagine the civil rights movement without Rev. Martin Luther King, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel?”
Lori said such attacks on religious groups will hurt the poor and vulnerable, such as those helped by religious organizations across the country. Chairman Castro and his friends won’t be the ones to suffer, the archbishop said.
“The vast majority of those who speak up for religious liberty are merely asking for the freedom to serve others as our faith asks of us,” he continued. “We ask that the work of our institutions be carried out by people who believe in our mission and respect a Christian witness.”
The Federalist writer Nicholas Senz pointed out:
The First Amendment prohibits the government from establishing a religion. But when the federal government declares ideas that everyone held until five minutes ago, supported by reason and lived out with compassion, as de facto hateful and criminal (“first they came for the photographers and bakers…”), then the government is essentially creating a new public faith and forcing everyone to adhere to it.
… The current administration’s hostility toward Christianity is clear, and Christians must be prepared to face it.