Tag Archives: Religious Liberty

U.S. Civil Rights Commission chairman says religious liberty is just “intolerance”

Obama speaks to the Human Rights Campaign
Obama speaks to the Human Rights Campaign

The Washington Times reports on a story that shows what Democrats really think about the moral standards described in Judeo-Christian religious texts.


The chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights said that “religious freedom” and “religious liberty” have become merely “code words” for intolerance, “Christian supremacy” and committing every form of identity-politics sin, and thus they must yield before anti-discrimination laws.

The remarks, released Thursday in a report on “Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties,” is the latest example of an increasingly hostile reception in liberal circles to one of the six specified rights at the core of the First Amendment — the “free exercise” of religion.

“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, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance,” said Martin R. Castro, a Chicago Democrat named USCCR chairman by President Obama in 2011.

[…]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.

Is all moral disapproval able to be dismissed as “intolerance”? The truth is that Jews and Christians have been taught from the Bible to put the needs of children above the selfishness of adults. That is why we have rules around sexuality that confine sexuality to within a life-long, faithful, loving commitment of marriage. God decided that a man and a woman cannot have the pleasure of sex without first committing to  each other for life. That commitment is proof that obligations are more important to the man and the woman than their selfish need to have pleasure in this life.

It’s not that Jews and Christians single out homosexuals for “discrimination”. We have the exact same disapproval for no-fault divorce, premarital sex, abortion, infanticide and adultery. And we ought not be forced by government officials to celebrate (or subsidize) behaviors that go against our commitment to subjugate sexual urges to the needs of children. Anyone who understands children knows that they need a stable environment to grow up in, and access to their biological mother and father. That is the ideal situation, and that is the arrangement that we celebrate with the word “marriage”, even though we are permissive to let people live how they want.

The word marriage is very important. I would not call cohabitation “marriage”, nor would I call multi-partner relationships “marriage”, nor would I call serial promiscuity “marriage”. I would not even attend a marriage ceremony by professed Christians unless I knew that they had been chaste during their courtship. I would not attend the wedding of a person who had previously initiated a divorce, either. I don’t want to celebrate or acknowledge any relationship where recreational sex was given more weight than the needs of children for stability, and access to their mother and father. That is the real issue with religious liberty and conscience. I have a right not to endorse or participate in activities that put adult selfishness above the needs of children. And it’s my decision what I do or do not celebrate – it’s not the decision of a secular leftist bureaucrat.

Double standard

Meanwhile, pastors who oppose homosexuality in their sermons actually do face discrimination and intolerance.

Consider this article from The Stream: (H/T George)

A pastor filed suit against the Georgia Department of Public Health Wednesday, accusing the agency of religious discrimination after officials allegedly fired the man because of his sermons, which called homosexuality a sin.

Dr. Eric Walsh worked as the director of Pasadena’s public health department and served on President Barack Obama’s Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDs. The Georgia Department of Public Health then offered him the job of running a district of the state health department in 2014 .

When news broke that Walsh had been offered the job, LGBT groups expressed their outrage, largely because he had called homosexuality a sin at the church where he is an associate pastor. The LGBT community called on the department to not hire Walsh because of his “anti-gay propaganda and religious rhetoric.” Walsh also spoke against evolution, Islam and Catholicism.

The health department rescinded their offer, and Walsh filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint in 2014 alleging religious discrimination.

[…]First Liberty, a religious liberty group representing Walsh, points to a copy of an email the group obtained where a government official discusses assigning employees to listen to Walsh’s sermons on YouTube.

“OK…I have an assignment for several of us,” the email reads. “We have to listen to his sermons on You Tube tonight. If we take a couple of hours each, then we should cover our bases. I will enlist Dwana to help us. Kate is going to listen to them as well.”

First Liberty says this email, plus the unwarranted withdrawal of the offer, is serious evidence of discrimination.

“I couldn’t believe they fired me because of things I talked about in my sermons,” Walsh said in a statement. “It was devastating. I have been unable to get a job in public health since then.”

How is that not intolerance? Do you think his lawsuit has any chance of success if the government is run by people like this Civil Rights Commission chairman?

Voting matters

Back to the Civil Rights Commission chairman: How does someone with that view get appointed to such a high position? The answer is that many, many people who read the Bible and go to church thought that it would be a good idea to vote for a President who would appoint this man to his high position.

Which Religions Voted for Obama in 2008?
Which Religions Voted for Obama in 2008?

Lots of people who claim to be religious voted for Obama, and now we know what he thinks of Bible-believing Christians.

What happened to the Christian baker who declined to celebrate redefining marriage?

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

I thought that this recent article from The Federalist was worth reading so that everyone can understand how the tolerance crowd really deals with respectful disagreement.


The employees tasked with handling the front of the shop are busy tending to consumers, so owner Jack Phillips, the kind of guy who’s more comfortable dealing with sugar paste than strangers, jumps in to help out.

We’d like you to design a cake for our wedding, the man explains, motioning to his partner at the other side of the shop.

Sorry, Phillips responds, I can’t create specialty cakes for gay weddings. If you’d like, I can sell you anything else you want — cupcakes, pastries, whatever.

Anger flushes over the would-be customer, who stands up, curses, and flips off Phillips while he heads for the door — a reaction that is well within the normal bounds of serious disagreements in American life.

Oh, but the two men could not handle disagreement like you or I could:

A half hour after Mullins and Craig storm out of Masterpiece Cakeshop, the store’s phone rings. An irate caller asked Jack if he’s the jerk who turned away the gay couple. Well, no, I just don’t design cakes for same-sex weddings; I didn’t turn away anyone, he explains.

This distinction fails to pacify the agitated man, and after offering an array of colorful suggestions, he hangs up. In the hour between the incident and closing time that Thursday night, Phillips estimates he received another six comparably incensed calls berating him for cake-denying bigotry. When he finally got home, his inbox is fuller than it’s ever been. And it’s not because locals have a sudden hankering for Funshine Cookie Pops.

[…]Jack begins his demanding work at 6 a.m. the next morning, so he can prepare for a Bible study class he hosts on Fridays. The phone is already ringing. It rings all day. All day Saturday (probably all day Sunday) and all day Monday, as well. Angry voices, swearing at him; demanding cakes; threatening him. Jack stops answering.

Then the protestors show up.

One of the disadvantages of showing off your righteous passion in a suburban parking lot in Lakewood, Colorado is that very few people can see or hear you. So the activists picketing Masterpiece that weekend were forced to pick up their rainbow flags and move to a busy intersection on nearby Wadsworth Ave — right across the street from another bakery. Actually, within the five square miles radius of Masterpiece there are a dozen places that could have accommodated the jilted couple.

Then again, this has nothing to do with a cake.

No, they didn’t want a cake, they wanted to stamp out anyone who disagreed with their lifestyle – stop them from earning a living so that they would starve. Or maybe put them in prison. And to the people on the secular left, this rage made sense. It was normal. It was justified. They didn’t protest the murder of gay people in Muslim countries, they protested being told no by a Christian man whose first priority was to keep his conscience clean according to his moral convictions.


On Monday, the TV stations showed up. By Tuesday, Jack was on local news.

[…]The first letter from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission arrived soon enough. Americans, evidently, no longer share a “common” sense about societal norms. So Mullins and Craig had lawyered up immediately — contacting the ACLU, once champions of free expression and now champions of hurt feelings.

[…]The commission was not above retroactive punishment, however. At the time, being found guilty of violating civil rights laws didn’t only mean the end of Phillips’ life’s work. The punishment for refusing to make a special cake for a gay wedding was $500 and one year in prison per charge (jail time was only later amended out of the law when general public learned about the statue).

The shop was not only ordered to alter its policy and start participating in gay weddings or else face debilitating fines, it was told to provide comprehensive staff training, ensure compliance, then file quarterly obedience reports with the government for two full years. In these reports, Phillips was to describe exactly which remedial measures the shop had taken to conform, and document the reasons any other patrons were denied service.

Colorado’s Thought Police would teach Phillips how to stop himself acting on any ideas that were heretical.

The commission could only pass quasi-criminal judgments. In the end, these charges had to be authorized by the attorney general, who was charged with executing complaints and filing formal proceedings. In this case, that person was John Suthers, a Republican. He did.

The case is now headed to the Supreme Court. The article notes that complaints filed with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission by Christians who were denied cakes by non-Christian bakers were dismissed – because the laws are only enforced against Christians. It’s very much like 1930s Nazi Germany, in that regard, with the secular leftists in place of the Nazis, of course.

Well, I would never respond like that to people who disagreed with my sexual orientation. My sexual orientation is chastity – no sex before marriage for any reason. I would not even kiss a girl on the lips before marriage. How would I handle someone who refused to sell me a cake? I would thank them, and find another cake. That’s what grown-ups who have self-control do when confronted with people who disagree with them. It’s called “celebrating diversity”. It’s called “tolerance”.

I don’t need pride parades or government coercing those who disagree with me. Chastity is self-evidently virtuous, because it puts self-sacrificial commitment above recreational sex. But some people are not so sure that what they are doing is morally right, and that’s why they want to involve the government to force people to celebrate them. They think that maybe if everyone agrees with them, then the majority of sinful humans can somehow overturn the moral law. Or at least make rebellion more comfortable for now. In my case, the honor of what I am doing with my sexuality is internal and self-attesting, even if the culture is against it.

Canadian court rules that Christian university cannot uphold Christian moral values

Canada Election 2015: Socialists in red, Communists in Orange, Conservatives in blue
Canada Election 2015: Socialists in red, Communists in Orange, Conservatives in blue

This article about religious liberty in Canada is from Vancouver Sun. (H/T Glenn)


Ontario’s top court has dismissed an appeal from a private Christian university that forbids sexual intimacy outside heterosexual marriage, denying its proposed law school accreditation in the province.

The ruling from the Ontario Court of Appeal on Wednesday dealt a significant blow to Trinity Western University in a legal battle which pitted freedom of religion against equality rights.

A panel of three appeal court judges found that while the university’s religious freedom had been infringed upon, the institution discriminated against the LGBTQ community.

Trinity Western — which is fighting similar cases at appeal courts in Nova Scotia and British Columbia — expressed disappointment at the ruling, saying it would be taking its fight to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Ontario case saw the Evangelical Christian institution based in Langley go up against the Law Society of Upper Canada after the regulatory body voted not to accredit the university’s planned law facility.

At the heart of the dispute was Trinity Western’s “community covenant” or code of conduct, which all students are required to agree to.

The key point about the code of conduct is that it doesn’t discriminate against any particular group, e.g. – LGBT. It also forbids excessive drinking and premarital sex by heterosexuals:

It includes requiring students to abstain from gossip, obscene language, prejudice, harassment, lying, cheating, stealing, pornography, drunkenness and sexual intimacy “that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

Now read this next part carefully. Although there was no legal support for denying a Christian university religious liberty and freedom of association, there was the hurt feelings of the LGBTQ community:

“The part of TWU’s Community Covenant in issue in this appeal is deeply discriminatory to the LGBTQ community, and it hurts,” the appeal court ruling said. “The LSUC’s decision not to accredit TWU was indeed a reasonable conclusion.”

In Canada “it hurts” means the end of human rights like religious liberty and freedom of association. Why? Because the Christian community in Canada has – for decades – voted to increase the size of government at the expense of liberty, in order to get free stuff. It doesn’t matter if the Christians who wanted a Christian university are hurt. Or that the Christian students at TWU are hurt. Only the hurt of the LGBT community matters, and their hurt changes laws, criminalizes dissent and annihilates natural rights. There are no such things as freedom of religion and freedom of conscience in Canada. There never was free speech, either. Anything that might hurt the feelings of left-wing groups has to be made criminal.

I’ll put this as plainly as anyone can: Canadian “Christians” have been voting to transfer wealth and power to a big secular government for years. They wanted government to cover health care, and now the government thinks that health care is providing free sex changes, free IVF and free abortions. Canadian “Christians” wanted their 30 pieces of silver more than they wanted the freedom to act as if the Bible was true in public. It turns out that the more wealth and power that you transfer to a secular government, the more likely they are to abuse that wealth and power in trampling out any ideology that interferes with their buying votes from their favored special interest groups.

Obama administration rejects “right of conscience” complaint from pro-life groups

Barack Obama speaking to Planned Parenthood
Barack Obama speaking to Planned Parenthood

This is from the radically leftist Los Angeles Times.

They write:

Thee Obama administration on Tuesday rejected a “right of conscience” complaint from anti-abortion groups in California who objected to the state’s requirement that health insurance plans include coverage for elective abortions.

The civil rights office at the Department of Health and Human Services said it had completed an investigation and dismissed several complaints after concluding California’s policy did not violate a decade-old rule adopted by Congress, known as the Weldon Amendment.

The office said the provision, which protects doctors, nurses, hospitals and other healthcare providers who object to performing abortions, does not extend to health insurance firms that have no moral objection to providing abortion coverage and instead are acting on the request of religious-minded customers.

The decision upholds a move by the California Department of Managed Care, which notified seven insurance providers in 2014 that state law does not allow them to offer coverage that limits or excludes abortions for some employers.  The issue arose when faculty members at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Santa Clara University objected to this limitation in their insurance plans.

So, the religious schools and institutions cannot have plans that exclude abortion, because the Obama administration does not recognize the right of religious organizations to refuse to fund abortion. But the Obama administration does recognize the obligation of pro-life taxpayers to continue to pay the salaries and benefits of their Democrat overlords. You must pay the taxes for government, you just don’t get a say in what government does.

Alliance Defending Freedom reacted to the decision so:

Lawyers for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed one of the complaints, denounced the HHS decision.

“The Obama administration is once again making a mockery of the law,” said Casey Mattox, senior legal counsel for the alliance. “The state of California has ordered every insurer, even those insuring churches, to cover elective abortions in blatant violation of the law. We will continue to defend churches from this clear violation of the 1st Amendment and federal law and call on Congress to hold HHS accountable.”

I know that sometimes people vote for bigger government because they want a handout taken from their neighbors. But money isn’t everything – some things are more important. Like not violating the consciences of Christians. Don’t make Christianity harder for Christians to practice.

Alliance Defending Freedom files brief to defend pro-marriage Wyoming judge

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

Although you might think that Wyoming is conservative, it’s actually quite socially liberal. Check out this story from The Stream.

It says:

A beloved judge in a whisper of a town in Wyoming faces being thrown off the bench for stating she wouldn’t be able to perform same-sex weddings due to her religious beliefs.

The Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics is recommending the removal of Municipal Judge and Circuit Court Magistrate Ruth Neely. The Commission also wants her to pay up to $40,000 in fines.  This despite the fact Judge Neely is neither required to perform weddings, nor has even been asked to perform a same-sex wedding. Still, in the Commission’s view, by stating her commitment to natural marriage, she has “manifested a bias” and is permanently unfit to serve as a judge.

The troubles for Judge Neely of Pinedale, Wyoming (pop. 2030) began in 2014 after a Federal judge struck down Wyoming’s ban on same-sex marriage. When asked about the decision by a reporter for the local Pinedale Roundup, Judge Neely responded that she wouldn’t be able to perform a same-sex marriage. “When law and religion conflict, choices have to be made,” she said.

The Commission launched a formal investigation in 2015, and according to the Casper Star Tribune, accused Judge Neely of violating six rules of judicial conduct, including prejudice based on sexual orientation, acting improperly and refusing to uphold the rule of law.

According to a brief filed by her attorneys, the Commission first told Judge Neely it wouldn’t prosecute if she would agree to resign, admit wrongdoing and never again seek judicial office in Wyoming. Judge Neely refused.

Then this February, reports the Casper Star Tribune, the Commission told Judge Neely she could stay on the bench if she publicly apologized and agreed to perform same-sex marriages. The judge responded that doing so would violate her religious convictions.

The Commission then filed its recommendation to the Wyoming Supreme Court that Ruth Neely be ousted. According to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which today filed a brief on her behalf, “This would be the first time in the country that a judge was removed from office because of her religious beliefs about marriage.”

The heroic Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a brief in defense of the judge:

In a recently filed brief Judge Neely’s attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) asked the state Supreme Court to reject the Commission’s recommendation. Among the points argued by the ADF:

  • The Commission’s actions violate Judge Neely’s constitutional rights to free speech and free exercise of religion.

  • Judge Neely has discretion when exercising her authority to perform marriages and could refuse to do so for any number of reasons.

  • Judge Neely has been suspended from her role as magistrate and is not currently performing any marriages.

  • Any question over her authority to perform marriages has no bearing on her ability to perform her duties as a municipal court judge, of which there is no accusation she has violated any judicial rules.

You would think that at least in Wyoming, that a Christian would be allowed to serve in public office, but actually no. If you are a Christian or a Torah-believing Jew, then you are not allowed to be a judge in Wyoming. It’s not a good place to live for conservatives.