2013 Favs: President Obama, Religious Liberty and Lying in Plain Sight

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I’m close to a breaking point vis a vis our President and his deliberate disingenuous obfuscations about the first amendment in general and religious freedom, in particular. I need to take a deep breath.

So, this will be brief.

President Obama’s statement on the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday contained this paragraph:

On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital.  How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions.  Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.  

Read that carefully. Read it three times. What is says is consistent with the drive to push religious freedom into the churches and our homes; behind closed doors, in other words, and limit it to that. It is entirely consistent with the actions this administration has taken up to now to limit the First Amendment guarantee of the Constitutional right to free exercise of religion to the institutional church, and for them only behind church doors.

He says nothing about the right to religious freedom of individual citizens or small businesses or religious groups that range from the Knights of Columbus to campus social organizations. This is in keeping with his consistent use of the phrase “freedom of worship” when he speaks of the First Amendment.

I think he’s being coy. I don’t think “Freedom of Worship” is just a pretty phrase which he uses as a synonym for religious freedom. I think he means it literally. The First Amendment, according to President Obama, seems to mean the freedom to worship in a church. Period. I think the reason why is because President Obama intends to use the power of his office to limit religious freedom for individuals and groups.

His administration has already argued that religious exemptions should only apply to ministerial staff — which is a much higher bar than just saying they only apply to the institutional church — in more than one court case.  It seems that religion, according to Obama, is a private activity that should be conducted behind closed doors.

Oddly enough, that isn’t what made me so angry. It’s the deliberate, disingenuous obfuscation. To put a different word on it, I think he’s lying, in plain sight.

I published a list of attacks on religious liberty from the USCCB here.

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