The letter from the “faith leaders” to Obama is full of the usual oily empty bafflegab to dress up the fact that they’re asking him to let them discriminate against a set of people for no good reason.
Americans have always disagreed on important issues, but our ability to live with our diversity is part of what makes this country great, and it continues to be essential even in this 21st century. This ability is essential in light of our national conversation on political and cultural issues related to sexuality. We have and will continue to communicate on these broader issues to our congregations, our policymakers and our nation, but we focus here on the importance of a religious exemption in your planned executive order disqualifying organizations that do not hire LGBT Americans from receiving federal contracts. This religious exemption would be comparable to what was included in the Senate version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which passed the Senate with a strong, bipartisan vote.
Without a robust religious exemption, like the provisions in the Senate-passed ENDA, this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good,national unity and religious freedom.
When you announced the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, you said the following:
… the particular faith that motivates each of us can promote a greater good for all of us. Instead of driving us apart, our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what has broken; to lift up those who have fallen on hard times.We could not agree with you more. Our identity as individuals is based first and foremost in our faith, and religious beliefs are at the foundation of some of America’s greatest charities and service organizations that do incredible good for our nation and for the world. In fact, serving the common good is one of the highest expressions of one’s religious liberty outside of worship. The hiring policies of these organizations— Christians, Jewish, Muslim and others—extend from their religious beliefs and values:the same values that motivate them to serve their neighbors in the first place.Often, in American history–and, indeed, in partnership with your Administration–government and religious organizations have worked together to better serve the nation.An executive order that does not include a religious exemption will significantly andsubstantively hamper the work of some religious organizations that are best equipped toserve in common purpose with the federal government. In a concrete way, religious organizations will lose financial funding that allows them to serve others in the national interest due to their organizational identity. When the capacity of religious organizationsis limited, the common good suffers.
Blah blah blah blah; it goes on like that for two more pages: sonorous language meant to palliate a revolting illiberal demand.
Brilliant job of encouraging people like that, Obama.