One of the greatest legislative threats religious liberty has ever faced in the United States?

One of the greatest legislative threats religious liberty has ever faced in the United States? May 17, 2019


Atop London
Lady Justice atop London’s Old Bailey   (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


I received an email flyer just a short while ago from Brian S. Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage.  For some reason, I’m on their mailing list.  I don’t really follow them, but they’ve been attacked by the Southern Poverty Law Center, so I figure that they must be a reasonably good group.


I hope that neither Brian Brown nor NOM will mind my quoting from his open letter, which touches on a subject that I mentioned in my immediately preceding entry on this blog, entitled “Religious Freedom and Homosexuality”:


This week, the US House of Representatives could pass one of the greatest legislative threats we’ve ever faced, the grossly misnamed Equality Act (HR 5). . . .

How bad is HR 5, the Equality Act?

It’s the most pernicious attack we’ve ever faced. HR 5 is a sweeping assault on the religious liberty rights of people of faith while simultaneously enacting powerful special legal rights for the LGBT community. Perhaps even worse, the legislation effectively makes showing support for traditional marriage to be illegal discrimination under federal law. We’ve never seen such a sweeping, damaging proposed law.

Under the Equality Act, an individual exercising his or her constitutional right to decline to personally participate in an LGBT ceremony that violates their religious beliefs would nonetheless be open to charges of illegal discrimination. That’s because the bill declares the belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman to be a “sex stereotype” under federal law. Further, the bill makes discrimination on the basis of a sex stereotype illegal. This means that any tangible step to refuse participation in a gay ‘wedding’ would be illegal discrimination under this legislation.


Even non-religious people should be concerned at encroachments upon religious liberty or, to put it more broadly, upon freedom of conscience.


In this context, it seems appropriate, once again, to quote the famous passage from the German Lutheran pastor and theologian Martin Niemöller (1892-1984), a prisoner between 1937 and 1945 at the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps, about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, one by one, group after group.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.


Posted from London, England



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