Faith leaders ask Obama to let them faith-discriminate

Well of course they have.

Just one day after the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 14 faith leaders have written a letter to President Obama, asking him to include a religious exemption in his planned executive order barring hiring discrimination based on sexual orientation by federal contractors.  

That’s Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches.

The Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein reports that a group of faith leaders — including a former staffer on President Obama’s campaign and in his Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships — have asked Obama to create a religious exemption so that “an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identities and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need.”

First of all – god damn it Obama I told you not to suck up to the god damn White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships when there shouldn’t even be such a thing because separation of church and god damn state, god damn it. It should have been shut down as soon as you got home from the inauguration, but instead you expanded it. Bad bad bad move.

Second the whole idea is beneath contempt. Not allowing “faith communities” who take money from the feds to discriminate based on sexual orientation is not doing anything at their expense. They don’t have to discriminate based on sexual orientation. They can just not do that. It doesn’t cost them anything. If they think their god wants them to be shitty based on sexual orientation they should just go away and tend to their gardens.

Without a religious exemption, they contend, “this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity and religious freedom.”

Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. It’s the other way around. It’s the discrimination that poses an unreasonable cost to the common good. As for unity – what makes them think national unity depends on being shitty based on sexual orientation?

The letter’s signatories include Joel Hunter, pastor of Northland Church who is known as a “spiritual advisor” to the president; Larry Snyder, CEO of Catholic Charities USA; Pastor Rick Warren; and Michael Wear, faith outreach director for Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and a former staffer in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Wow. All close colleagues then; all buddies of Obama – and that’s the kind of people they are. How disgusting.

Obama, even when not legally required, has a history of offering churches and religious non-profits exemptions and accommodations from the law: for example, HHS granted churches an exemption and religious non-profits an accommodation when drafting the contraception coverage benefit. In Monday’s decision, the Court suggested the accommodation made available to religious non-profits might be applicable to closely-held corporations as well.


On the hiring issue, too, Obama has deferred to the demands of religious non-profits,reneging on a campaign promise to end hiring discrimination by religious non-profits that receive federal funding to carry out their charitable activities. That reversal came under pressure from religious leaders who wanted that exemption — rooted in a 2007 Bush administration Justice Department memo — to remain in place.

Why. Why side with them? Why side with people who want to discriminate and thus against people on the sharp end of that discrimination? Why, why, why? It’s so evil.

A June 2014 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, signed by over 90 religious, civil rights, women’s, and LGBT rights groups maintained, “RFRA should not be interpreted or employed as a tool for broadly overriding statutory protections against religious discrimination or to create a broad free exercise right to receive government grants without complying with applicable regulations that protect taxpayers.” (emphasis mine)

Legally speaking, it is not clear that Monday’s decision in Hobby Lobby requires such a provision. On my bloggingheads show, University of Miami Law School First Amendment expert Carolina Mala Corbin discussed the impact of Monday’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case on LGBT rights. “Assuming the federal government passes laws that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” she said, ” you could very much expect to have corporations to object to these laws based on their religious beliefs.”

The question, Corbin added, is “whether the outcome would be the same…given that Justice Kennedy seems much more sympathetic to sexual orientation discrimination than he does toward sex discrimination.” Meaning, that is, that Justice Kennedy, the crucial swing vote, rejected religiously-based discrimination based on sexual orientation in United States v. Windsor,  in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, but sided with the majority in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, finding that the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage requirement violates a corporation’s religious rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Because…I don’t know, because civilization depends on keeping women down? I just don’t understand any of this.


  1. peterh says

    Justice Ginsberg’s comment “minefield” may become the understatement of the decade.

  2. Blanche Quizno says

    faith communities whose religious identities and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need

    How about requiring records that demonstrate that these “faith communities” actually serve ANYONE in need (and not just themselves) first? How about making these “faith communities” meet the standards required for non-profit organizations as far as what proportion of their donations are used for those in need first?

  3. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    It would almost be comic if it weren’t so horrible. The attempts by Evangelical Christians and Catholics to influence our government in their favor (and force the rest of us to live according to THEIR strictures) has been well documented for decades. At local levels, large-scale political fundraising, demanding all political players make gestures of faith and/or treat every whackaloon religious belief with kidgloves, and of course stacking the highest court with precisely the kind of Justices that would rule exactly the way we just saw. To paraphrase Dennis Green (NFL football coach) “They are who we THOUGHT THEY WERE!” The Justices and the Republican Party that has been pushing this long-term strategy since Robert Bork. I don’t know about you but in addition to the outrage I feel about the recent rulings and the makeup of the court, I’m damn-near equally annoyed that so many people are pretending that this was some kind of surprise. We see these attempted intrusions of church into the State, every goddamn day. ID in text books, school prayer, fights over Sex Ed, etc. And the Atheist Blogosphere does a great job of documenting them, raising awareness and pushing back against them. All along, most of the people-of-faith (and many agnostic/atheists too) would hand-wave away the daily fights because “oh those militant atheists just want to ridicule believers.” Now that the highest court has finally had a chance to make a ruling so large and drastic that it effects THEM, many of the same people are outraged to find that the slippery slope was not just a metaphor. In my opinion corporate interests are the God that were really served here but religion obviously played a huge and key role. File under: “who coulda predicted?, Everyone.”

    To be clear- this isn’t aimed at anyone here, just a rant based on all my FB friends who suddenly have discovered the importance of Secularism after years of responding to the everyday battles (textbooks, school prayer etc.) with “oh what’s the big deal?”

  4. says

    One interesting question is how the Hobby Lobby decision will interact with SCOTUS’s refusal to take on Spencer v. World Vision, letting stand a 9th Circuit decision that World Vision could fire non-Christians (or at least non-Christians as they define them). World Vision’s mission wasn’t religious, but it was a religious organization, so the 9th Circuit said the firings were okay. Since closely held for-profits can now be considered religious organizations, they should be able to fire on the basis of religion at will. Which, of course, allows for firing sexually active homosexuals, if your religious forbids it. Seems to me that the petitioners are merely being polite by asking for an exemption. If Pres. Obama doesn’t grant an exemption, then they can sue for it and stand a more than reasonable chance of being successful.

  5. quixote says

    Hoo-boy. LGBT includes some men. Y’know. Real people. What to do? What to do?

  6. Blanche Quizno says

    Something that has bothered Protestants no end is that, aside from those few years when Puritan Oliver Cromwell was acting King of England (okay, “Lord Protector” – as if that was fooling anyone) and canceled Christmas (among other heavy-handed policies that made him one of the most hated rulers ever), and those years when Puritans ran the New World colonies as strict theocracies (replete with strict dress codes and forced church attendance and spies and informants and whippings and brandings and hangings and all those other expressions of Christian love), they haven’t had the power to run things the way the Catholic Church did for all those centuries. Even the Anglican church gets “official” status and all the privileges that come with that, but the rest?? NOTHING!!

    It gnaws. This deplorable state of affairs.

    When you’re only answerable to God Almighty – and on your own terms at that – once your “jesus” has forgiven you for everything you wish, where do mere mortals get off thinking they can hold you accountable through secular law?? Your “heavenly law” has absolved you, as a good Christian, of all wrongdoing, so that means you’re off the hook! How DARE they??

    Christians and their businesses have always fancied that they are above the law and answerable only to their own “divinely inspired” leaders (if that). That’s why the Catholics insist it’s perfectly proper for them to deal with the criminals within their ranks (like those rank pedophiles) without needing to involve the secular justice system, and whatever the Church decides, that’s all that ever needs to be done. However inadequate or even making-things-worse-for-everyone their decisions and actions turn out to be.

    Christians have always felt *special*, that laws were for OTHER people, not them. Christians should be exempt from pesky laws and free to be as mean and ugly and sneering and brutal as they wish, because God is so very happy with them. And if you non-Christians don’t appreciate Christians’ specialness, well, that’s just because you’re demon-possessed or something. And should be punished.

    It’s sort of like how the military runs its own private justice system (no civilians need be involved). Onward, Christians soldiers!

  7. thephilosophicalprimate says

    This letter is a request to the President. If he were actually a president worthy of my respect (which he has mostly not been), he would reply to this letter with a single word: “No.”

    I really, really want to see that. White House letterhead at the top:

    “From the desk of the President of the United States
    Re: your recent request


    Barack H. Obama”

    But, of course, he is not that president. That is, not the president he should be.

  8. Jeff Engel says

    There’s this horrible, creepy compulsion going through at least the whole Clinton and Obama presidential administrations to bend over backwards to try to accommodate people who hate them, who will always hate them, who never relent from venting that hatred, and who despise everyone who supports them – at the cost of everyone who does support them, or at least marks them as far and away the less bad of realistic choices. Always, always.

    It’s infuriating in its effects – we’ve had five and a half more years of something that’s been not unlike another Bush administration in warfare and the growth of the surveillance state, with only some modest, halting steps forward on health care access and LGBT rights – under a president who could not be more damned by the right if he’d slashed the military by 75%, brought it all home, and somehow pushed through single payer health coverage, a $10/hour minimum wage, an ERA covering women and LGBT citizens, fair and sweeping immigration reform, serious multilateral environmental impact reform, tax and campaign finance reform, and the full-blooded defense and extension of the Voting Rights Act.

    What will it take to convince them that all they get seeking bipartisanship with a far right party is the alienation of their base and an administration the legacy of which is never better than “things could have gotten worse faster in some ways otherwise”?

  9. says

    quixote, they’ve got that covered – gay men aren’t ‘real’ men, so their loss of rights won’t affect any Actual People. You know, the kind who have penes for doing sex to sluts and whores with, or the kind with offshore tax havens, boards of directors, and ‘religious beliefs’.

    As Jesus said in the famous Sermon, ‘blessed are the pious corporate entities, for they shall be empowered to fuck over anyone they like.

    Some liberal whackadoodle just suppressed that important line.

  10. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Humanism needs to be classified as a ‘real’ religion in the US.

    Of course, neither the government, nor the big religions, want that to happen, because it would impose on their privilege.

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