Ever since the now infamous Hobby Lobby decision came down, which allows privately held companies to refuse to compensate employees with insurance coverage that includes contraception which the owners incorrectly believe causes abortion, the religious right has been emboldened in their quest to write a special set of rules for themselves, and they immediately saw a parallel to gay rights. As we have discussed recently, they don’t believe in religious freedom for everyone, but rather in “Judeo-Christian supremacy,” the idea that people can worship as they please, as long as society is structured according to the religious right’s demands.
The latest assault comes in the form of a bill filed in both houses of Congress, entitled The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2014. Whenever a conservative uses a word like “inclusion,” be sure that the meaning is the exact opposite:
Legislation introduced to Congress would allow religious adoption and foster care providers to deny services to same-sex couples, single parents, and people of other faiths.
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) announced the introduction of The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2014 last week. They said the legislation would ensure faith-based agencies could continue to provide services without violating their sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.
Nineteen states now allow same-sex couples to legally marry.
“Faith-based charities and organizations do an amazing job of administering adoption, foster care and a host of other services. Limiting their work because someone might disagree with what they believe only ends up hurting the families they could be bringing together,” Enzi said in a statement.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has endorsed the bill. The three chairmen of the organization said the legislation would remedy the “unjust discrimination” that Catholic organizations face in states that have legalized same-sex marriages.
Readers will remember that the Catholic Church routinely claims that branches of Catholic Charities have been “forced” out of business by marriage equality and nondiscrimination laws, when the simple truth is that they are being asked to abide by the same rules as everyone else. This, for Catholic Charities and for the rest of the religious right, is no good. They would prefer that society roll out a red carpet for them, acknowledging their superior beliefs and ways of life.
The Human Rights Campaign explains the ramifications of the bill, were it to pass:
“It’s increasingly clear that, post-Hobby Lobby, some in positions of power believe that religious freedom should only belong to a few. If this bill passes, an Evangelical straight couple, a single father, or a committed and loving gay and lesbian couple could find their path to adoption blocked for no reasonable reason other than naked discrimination,” Ellen Kahn of the Human Rights Campaign remarked.
“Taxpayer funds should not be used to discriminate, and too many children need loving families right now for our elected officials to be playing these kinds dangerous political games. This bill has nothing to do with faith, and it must be condemned.”
Kahn makes a good point, and one that the religious right doesn’t seem to be able to get its head around. You see, while they throw Hail Mary passes all over the country trying to protect their ability to discriminate against people they simply don’t like, the country continues to move left on social issues, moving toward a greater and greater societal embrace of LGBT people. Moreover, there are those out there with radically different beliefs who see these “religious freedom” laws and recognize that what’s good for the goose is what’s good for the gander.
Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association hate group is currently attempting to make the case that the religious freedom clause in the Constitution was never meant to protect any religion but Christianity (Sorry, Jews!). Writing for Matt Barber’s website, Fischer explains:
I have contended for years that the First Amendment, as given by the Founders, provides religious liberty protections for Christianity only. Most attorney types, befuddled by years of untethered Supreme Court activism, think it covers any and all religions you can name.
The results of this expansive but badly misguided understanding of the First Amendment have not been too costly to this point. But with Islam growing in America like a noxious weed, some of the more troublesome aspects of this distorted view of religious liberty are becoming evident, when it comes to things like school curricula, halal food, and Christian evangelism at Muslim street fairs.
These problems have been brought into stark relief now by Satanists, who are pressing for exactly the same kind of religious liberty protections the Supreme Court just recognized for Hobby Lobby.
Just as the Court ruled that Hobby Lobby cannot be forced to violate its religious principles by being compelled to pay for abortifacients, so the Detroit chapter of The Satanic Temple is arguing that Satan’s disciples cannot be coerced into complying with informed consent laws when they seek abortion services.
Since their religion argues for absolute, unrestrained, no-holds barred freedom of human will, they contend that Satanists cannot be forced to read literature that explains fetal development and abortion risks.
And Bryan is serious when he says that only Christians are entitled to such protections:
Now if the word “religion” in the First Amendment was intended by the Founders to refer to any belief system in a supernatural power, then the Satanists are absolutely right. They have just as much a First Amendment claim as anybody else.
But if by the word “religion” the Founders meant Christianity, then they don’t. And Muslims don’t either.
Bryan Fischer and Matt Barber and Peter LaBarbera can run around like Victoria Jackson starring in the musical version of Chicken Little all they want, wailing about the “gaystapo” and “homofascism,” but it’s clear, based on actions, who the supremacists really are here. Those like Fischer and the men who authored this bill believe that they’re much more American than you. They’ll allow you to stay here — maybe — but only as long as you bow down to their supremacist views.
As I said, the bad news for them is that, despite their foot-stomping and whining, the country continues to move left on these issues. I think they ought to be careful what kind of “religious freedom” laws they get put on the books, or those laws are likely to come back and bite them one day.