The Corner

Religious-Freedom BIlls Don’t Permit Bigotry

A new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found that a majority of Americans oppose denying service to LGBT individuals for religious reasons, and this held true across most major religious groups other than evangelicals.

In a Salon piece this morning, columnist Nico Lang used the poll to argue against religious-freedom legislation such as the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which was introduced last Congress by Utah senator Mike Lee and Idaho congressman Raul Labrador to protect religious Americans who believe in heterosexual marriage.

But, like most culture writers who attempt to “debunk” religious liberty as a disguise for legalized discrimination, Lang fundamentally misunderstands — or, more likely, maliciously mischaracterizes — FADA and other religious-freedom protections. The first and most obvious red flag is the fact that he puts “religious freedom” in scare quotes in the title of his piece.

It only gets worse. The piece praises Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner for opposing what Lang calls “a four-page document that would have granted broad allowances to religious groups, federal agencies and virtually anyone who wishes to discriminate against the LGBT community.”

In fact, the document in question — like all religious-freedom protections — would have permitted religious organizations to operate based on their religious principles and hire according to mission. The essential details of the draft executive order were outlined well by Ryan T. Anderson at the Daily Signal late last week.

Lang’s piece and the countless others like it are insidious precisely because their misinformation is difficult for the average American to pinpoint and understand. The lies about religious freedom are so widespread that it is nearly impossible to accurately understand the goal of FADA and other such legislation.

This obfuscation of the truth has been orchestrated by the left in order to portray religious Americans as bigoted and repressive, and sway public opinion in favor of silencing religious voices and driving them out of the public square. That’s why these supposed social-justice warriors will never admit the truth: that there isn’t a single U.S. law permitting discrimination against individuals based on sexual orientation.

Rather, the laws being debated have to do with marriage. Because many religious groups believe that marriage is properly understood as a union between one man and one woman — and because the Supreme Court unilaterally determined the law of the land on marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges without allowing for the resolution of public debate on the subject — religious-liberty legislation offers First Amendment protections to those Americans who hold a different view of marriage from that of the government.

In practice, this means that a business owner can lawfully refuse to craft flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding ceremony, but she cannot refuse to sell a bouquet of flowers to a man simply because she is aware that the man is gay. The latter is not protected by U.S. law anywhere, and no court would rule in favor of a business owner who behaved in that way.

But Lang doesn’t want you to know that. Instead, progressive activists continue their malicious campaign to convince the public that “religious freedom” was invented by hateful Christians who want to justify their ill treatment of LGBT individuals. And as this latest poll shows, those left-wing arguments seem to be succeeding.

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