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.
The 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.
During 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.
The ACLU provided some of the same reasons to remove their support of the RFRA that has been mentioned in previous posts about this issue:
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.
Sheila Suess Kennedy at the Indianapolis Business Journal had a post about the history of religious freedom:
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.
It should be noted that my response was mailed to the address on the envelope but was returned back to me, unopened – addressee unknown. It really doesn’t help your cause if you use a fake address or refuse to be responded to using the same method you used to rant at me.
Indiana 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.
Josh Marshall over at Talkingpointsmemo.com had a great essay on the how RFRAs were perverted by the religious majority: