Civil rights chief: 'Religious freedom' code words for intolerance
What would happen if the government got out of the business of protecting the First Amendment rights of Americans and instead, decided to start attacking them?
The chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission believes that "religious freedom" and "religious liberty" don't really exist. They are "code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance,”
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
“Religious liberty was never intended to give one religion dominion over other religions, or a veto power over the civil rights and civil liberties of others,” he said in the 307-page document.
At the heart of the “Peaceful Coexistence” report is a USCCR assertion that granting religious exemptions to nondiscrimination laws “significantly infringe” on the civil rights of those claiming civil rights protections on the basis of “race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity.”
Among the document’s recommendations is the assertion that the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, “protects only religious practitioners’ First Amendment free exercise rights, and it does not limit others’ freedom from government-imposed religious limitations under the Establishment Clause.”
It’s the area of sexual orientation and gender identity where the greatest conflicts lie, and the report offered little support to those who see their work or artistic expressions — creative photography, cake decorating or flower arranging, for example — as also expressions of their religious belief about marriage being the union of one man and one woman.
Individuals in each of these fields have come under fire from state and local civil rights agencies, with cases going against professionals in New Mexico and Washington state.
USCCR member Gail Heriot, a former George Mason Law School associate dean who now teaches at the University of San Diego, dissented from the majority opinion of the commission, including Mr. Castro’s statement.
“I’m troubled by the growing attitude that somehow anti-discrimination laws trump everything. We live in a more complex world than that,” she said in a telephone interview.
Others offered a harsher judgment.
“This commission is not only out of touch with reality, but also out of touch with our Constitution,” said Mat Staver, chairman of public interest law group Liberty Counsel, based in Orlando, Florida, before going on to call the report “an anti-American, anti-Constitutional, misinformed position.”
The emphasis on civil rights over free exercise, civil liberties experts say, could also spill over into other areas, such as religious schools and colleges seeking to hire teachers that affirm the sponsor’s doctrinal positions.
According to religious liberty expert Douglas Laycock, a University of Virginia Law School professor, the USCCR offered “no coherent reason” why the federal or state versions of RFRA don’t protect faith-based organizations or businesses, “except to say that civil rights are of ‘preeminent importance.’”
Since when did "gender identity" become a protected civil right? I recall no debate in Congress. Obama issued an executive order a couple of years ago protecting "gender identity" for federal workers, but this fanatic is talking about a broad mandate to police all workplaces and facets of living.
The impact of essentially throwing the entire concept of religious liberty under the bus is truly frightening. Won't free speech get the same treatment? After all, the left could easily graft university speech codes on to anti-discrimination rules, making it a crime to "offend" anyone. From there, it's not hard to see anyone who expresses a political opinion in opposition to "anti-discrimination" law being charged with a crime.
Orwell was about 30 years early in his predictions.