Religious Freedom and Citizen Rights

It seems nonsensical to me that we could allow religious freedom to trump a person’s right to work without being discriminated against for their gender identity or sexual orientation.

The Trump administration recently announced plans to remove protections for the LGBTQ community by adding religious exemptions to an executive order put in place in 2014 by the Obama administration. The effect of this change could enable government contractors to claim personal religious beliefs as a reason to legally fire someone based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

On one hand, the Trump administration will point to verbiage stating the rule only applies to contractors organized for a “religious purpose,” but, in another section of the language, all that a contractor may have to do in order to freely discriminate against LGBTQ workers is to claim that they are “guided by faith.”

This is simply wrong and frankly infuriating, on multiple levels. First, we know that this is a nod by the Trump administration to so called “evangelical Christians,” not to any other religion. An unintended consequence, however, could be to allow further erosion of human rights and citizen’s rights because of some company’s faith based “guidance” from any and all other religions.

Second, we all have a right in this country to freely practice the religion of our choosing, or to not practice any religion at all. That practice of religion is protected under the United States Constitution, but I believe that the constitutional protections stop at the point at which the practice of a particular religion becomes discriminatory and detrimental to others in the public, or in the workplace.

Third, this ruling is only directed at those in LGBTQ community and by those of an “evangelical faith.” Further, it is an attempt to selectively punish individuals solely based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. So, these so-called people of faith are, at best, hypocrites, since they are not going to hire and fire based on other hand-picked misguided snippets of text from the Bible, including the Ten Commandments, Proverbs, etc. For example, if a new hire looks longingly at a person of the opposite sex, while they are married, then they should have their employment terminated by this contractor “guided by faith,” correct?

The point is that this is a sham ruling that, intentionally or not, will increase discrimination towards fellow citizens and fellow humans, a very un-Christian-like behavior. I have no problem with the Christianity that I was taught growing up, which focuses on the two greatest commandments, as taught by Jesus, according to the Book of Matthew. The first deals with loving God and the second states, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Every one of us, including those that just happen to be gay, lesbian, transgender, bi-sexual, or still trying to figure their identities out, are all our neighbors, and they are all deserving of our love, and equal treatment under the law. It is time we collectively stand up to those that would spread hatred in the misguided name of religion, and to the politicians that would support them in these unconstitutional efforts.

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