Religious Freedom Gestapo: The Trump administration has created a new office of religious freedom to protect conservative Christian bigots.
Earlier today the Trump administration announced a new unit of the federal government: the conscience and religious freedom division of the office for civil rights at the Department of Health and Human Services.
According to reports, the new division within the Department of Health and Human Services will be devoted to “conscience and religious freedom.”
Translation: the new Religious Freedom Gestapo will protect conservative Christians in the medical profession who refuse to do their job for religious reasons. The new office will protect those who choose to discriminate against women, LGBT people, and any others who offend their religious sensibilities.
Politico reports that the “overhaul of the HHS civil rights office” is “part of a broader plan to protect health workers who don’t want to perform abortions, treat transgender patients seeking to transition or provide other services for which they have religious or moral objections.”
As one might imagine, the new Religious Freedom Gestapo has been denounced by multiple groups, for good reasons. For example:
Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America issued a statement slamming the Trump administration:
This announcement marks the Trump administration’s latest step toward turning the Department of Health and Human Services into a place where backwards ideology rules, and science, ethics, and concern for the well-being of all Americans are non-existent.
Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said:
Religious liberty doesn’t include a right to be exempt from laws protecting our health or barring discrimination.
Denying patients health care is not liberty. Choosing your patients based on their gender or gender expression is not freedom. Should the administration choose to move forward to implement a discriminatory policy, we will see them in court.
This is the use of religion to hurt people because you disapprove of who they are. Any rule that grants a license to discriminate would be a disgrace and a mockery of the principal of religious freedom we all cherish.
Alison Gill, legal and policy director for American Atheists, said:
The Trump administration seems to define religious freedom as the ability to freely discriminate against LGBTQ people and women. I have no doubt that changing this rule will cost people their lives. Medical evidence, not religious dogma, should be deciding medical care.
These changes fly in the face of established law and court precedent. This new office and the proposed rule don’t protect religious freedom. They merely elevate one particular set of religious views—namely that LGBTQ people are sinful and that abortion is immoral—above all others, and weaponize it against vulnerable people.
The Office for Civil Rights should try focusing on protecting civil rights instead of wasting time and money to undermine them.
Bottom line: Using the new Religious Freedom Gestapo, the Trump administration will protect Christian bigots who refuse to treat LGBT people, women, or anybody else they find offensive. This right to discriminate will empower religious conservatives to abuse and damage real people, while putting the health and welfare of patients in jeopardy.
And our slow march towards a Christian theocracy continues.