Tag Archives: RFRA

Selective Amnesia Around Religious Freedom

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official image of Ted Cruz
‘Reverend’ Senator Ted Cruz

The next act of religious conservatives against same-sex marriage, after the US Supreme Court decision, included claiming ‘religious freedom’ to justify continued opposition to it and trying to enact laws allowing them to ignore the court decision. Yet when people like me bring up the use of ‘religious freedom’ also being used to oppose the civil rights struggle for blacks back in the 60s, these same ‘Doctors of Theology’ claim amnesia and say the Bible doesn’t support racism. Their amnesia is at least disingenuous if not dishonest.

David Simms, writing at Godless in Dixie, notes:

That’s why it’s so funny (and also disheartening) to see people like Ted Cruz try to weasel their way out of explaining how their ongoing crusade against homosexuality is “totally different” than the fight against desegregation which their political forbearers waged in the not-so-distant past.

Even if Cruz believes that Falwell and Jones were relying on a “misinterpretation” of scripture to support racism, it is entirely irrelevant. What is relevant is that these people had at the time a sincerely held belief that their position was scripturally sound, in the very same way that those who want to discriminate today on the basis of “religious freedom” have a sincerely held belief that their position is scripturally sound.

The arguments are the same.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, in November of 2015, Ted Cruz held a “religious liberty” conference at…wait for it…Bob Jones University. Ted Cruz claims that there is no religious backing for the notion that interracial marriage is wrong. Yet, he hosts a religious liberty conference at the very same university which took their case all the way to the Supreme Court to insist that they have the religious liberty to ban interracial marriage.

The irony is palpable.

Religious Freedom Is Under Attack!…Again?

Back in 1983, Bob Jones University lost a court case where it claimed “religious freedom” to base racist school policy that prohibited interracial dating. The IRS decided to revoke their tax exemption because of the racism.

The US Supreme Court wrote:

“Government has a fundamental, overriding interest in eradicating racial discrimination in education . . . which substantially outweighs whatever burden denial of tax benefits places on [the University’s] exercise of their religious beliefs.”

As long as a government law or policy isn’t forcing a religious group to change its beliefs then the use of “religious freedom” to ignore the law or policy is ethically wrong.

Same-sex people getting married isn’t forcing those who dislike same-sex marriage to like that kind of marriage. You are still free to hate same-sex marriage or hate homosexuality but the tradition of rights in this country is based on a neutral or secular view point.

If you try to get laws passed to legally discriminate against gay couples or other LGBTQ people then you are trying to use the force of the state to force your religious beliefs on others. That is also ethically wrong and anti-American.

Progressive Idea To Restore Balance In Religious Freedoms

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image of a Hobby Lobby store frontThe Center for American Progress (CAP) sees the problem with religious freedom after the Hobby Lobby court decision in 2014. Religious freedom is being used as a weapon to discriminate. CAP has some ideas on how to restore the religious freedom balance. They all sound good.
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Finally, The ACLU Turns Against The RFRA

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logo for the ACLUDuring the recent firestorm over state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA) like those passed by Indiana and the use of them to discriminate against LGBT people, one of my conservative friends pointed out many liberals and the ACLU supported the federal RFRA passed in 1993. He implied they were being hypocrites. Late last week the ACLU formally repudiated its support of the RFRA.
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The Difference Between Religious Freedom And Religious Freedom

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painting of The Puritans landing in America
The Puritans

In the national debate over religious freedom and Religious Freedom Restoration Acts passed in some states, it’s important to define our terms. Religious freedom means one thing to religious conservatives and another thing for progressives who support church and state separation. I don’t know if it’s good to know the debate has been going on since the founding of this country.
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Response To My Letter Supporting Same-Sex Marriage Goes Old School – Still Draws Wrong Conclusions

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created image saying no to Religious Freedom Restoration Acts Last month, as co-chair of the Secular Coalition for Ohio, I had a letter to the editor printed in the Columbus Dispatch about the firestorm over the attempt by Indiana to discriminate against LGBTQ people by using a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Someone who opposed my letter responded to that letter by sending a typed letter to my house. Below is the letter in question and my response.
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The Majority Doesn’t Need Their Religious Freedom Restored

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screencap from Holy GrailIndiana and Arkansas have changed their state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA) to make it more explicit that it not be used by businesses to discriminate against LGBTs or others of different beliefs. RFRAs were originally created to protect minority religious beliefs from government overreach, like peyote use by Native Americans, and not to allow the majority religions to selectively honor the civil rights of others.
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