Much like the Christian right always argues against a specific court ruling by railing against judicial review itself, it also argues against a specific anti-discrimination restriction by arguing against all such restrictions — but they never actually acknowledge that they’re doing so. Here’s the Family Research Council’s reaction to President Obama forbidding anti-gay discrimination in federal contracting:
Peter Sprigg, Family Research Council’s Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, released the following statement:
“President Obama has ordered employers to put aside their principles, and practices in the name of political correctness. This level of coercion is nothing less than viewpoint blackmail that bullies into silence every contractor and subcontractor who has moral objections to homosexual behavior. This order gives activists a license to challenge their employers and, expose those employers to threats of costly legal proceedings and the potential of jeopardizing future contracts.
“Religious faith is not simply a matter of intellectual affirmation but of active practice. A religious organization which is denied the power to require its employees to conduct their lives in a way consistent with the teachings of their faith is an organization which is being denied the right to exercise its religion, period. People with deeply held convictions regarding the morality of certain types of sexual behavior should not be bound by the dictates of President Obama’s agenda.
So why does this reasoning apply only to discrimination against gay people? Why aren’t they campaigning to eliminate the Civil Rights Act altogether? After all, lots of people have a “deeply held conviction” that women should not work outside the home. Doesn’t forbidding discrimination on the basis of gender “order employers to put aside their principles and practices in the name of political correctness”? Lots of people have a “deeply held conviction” based on their religious beliefs that black people are inferior and should be discriminated against. Isn’t the ban on discrimination based on race “viewpoint blackmail that bullies into silence every contractor and subcontractor” who holds such a view? After all, “religious faith is not simply a matter of intellectual affirmation but of active practice,” right? So denying racist Christians the right to discriminate must, by this “reasoning,” be a violation of their religious liberty, right?
The only answer they can offer is to try to distinguish between being gay and being black or female, but that is irrelevant. Their argument is based solely on the claim that every religious person has a right to follow through on their deeply held beliefs, not whether those beliefs are true or not. Indeed, the government cannot inquire into whether those beliefs are true in this context at all because that would be unconstitutional.
So this is just a case of special pleading — our deeply held religious beliefs must be sacrosanct and any attempt to prevent us from taking any action based on them is tyranny, while other people’s religious beliefs are entirely open to regulation.