Religious exemptions are a loophole for bigotry

You had to know this was coming. Republicans in Tennessee were outraged that federal law prohibited discrimination.

In December, the Greenville-based Holston sued the Biden administration for regulations that prohibit discrimination in programs funded by U.S. Health and Human Services grants “on the basis of religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and same-sex marriage status,” saying it violates its First Amendment rights.

So they did something. They passed a law to give religious adoption agencies a loophole, a law specifically designed to allow them to discriminate against same-sex couples. It was easy. Enabling bigotry against the people straight people dislike seems to be popular.

The lawsuit comes nearly two years to the date that Gov. Bill Lee signed into law a measure that allows religious adoption agencies to deny service to same-sex couples. The law allows adoption agencies to refuse to participate in a child placement if doing so would “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”

But here it comes: that law is a blunt instrument that can be used against anyone. So a taxpayer-funded religious adoption agency used the new law as an excuse to deny a heterosexual couple the opportunity to adopt because…they were Jewish.

“The Tennessee Constitution, like the U.S. Constitution, promises religious freedom and equality for everyone. Tennessee is reneging on that promise by allowing a taxpayer-funded agency to discriminate against Liz and Gabe Rutan-Ram because they are Jews,” Alex J. Luchenitser, associate vice president and associate legal director at Americans United, said in a news release.

“Public funds should never be used for religious discrimination,” Luchenitser told Knox News. “The law should never create obstacles that keep loving parents from taking care of children who need a home. That should certainly never occur because of religious discrimination.”

End all religious exemptions in the law, please. They are going to be abused by the biggest dumb-asses in the country.


  1. mamba says

    Oh it’s VERY easy to have this law repealed!

    Just have a single CHRISTIAN couple have their adoption denied by someone claiming that THEIR religious or moral views show that the Christian’s religion would damage the child’s upbringing through negative indoctrination, and hence they are using the law to morally deny the adoption as per their established right to protect the child.

    That law would be repealed within a month tops as the lawmakers flip the out, losing their minds as THEY become the victims. ‘Cause as we all know, only Christian victims matter when it comes to religious discrimination action to governments lately.

  2. imback says

    Hear, hear! Respecting an establishment of religion is supposedly unconstitutional in American law.

  3. Howard Brazee says

    People are claiming religious exemption to kill people by not wearing face masks.

    That indicates that any action could be “religious” without any connection to any religion, as long as they call it that.

  4. christoph says

    I’m wondering if this was done deliberately by the adoption service to show how stupid that law is.

  5. robro says

    That may be small potatoes. SCOTUS has agreed to review cases about affirmative action admissions policies from Harvard and UNC.

  6. raven says

    You know that if this adoption agency will discriminate against Jews, they will also discriminate against Nones and Atheists. As well as Pagans and all other nonxian religions.

    If they are fundies, they may well discriminate against Mainline Protestants and Catholics as well.

    AFAICT, the worst parents in the USA to send children for adoption would be…fundie xians. The group whose three main sacraments are hate, lies, and hypocrisy. The fundies also score high in any social problem you care to look at. They are currently killing themselves by the tens of thousands since they are the core of the antivaxxers.

    BTW, the main issue here isn’t that they are hate filled oogedy boogedy xians. They are that. It’s that they receive taxpayer money to do so.

  7. Doc Bill says

    In Texas you can claim “sincerely held religious beliefs” without any doctrine. In my experience, most “christians” fall into the non-denominational Bible church category; just a guy with a Bible and a 501-c. No doctrine. No creed. Just a bunch of unconnected religio-babble. So, they can be for or against anything under the Sun.

    They are a thin-skinned bunch, too. Recently, idiotic congressman Dan Crenshaw inarticulately compared Jesus to Superman that prompted a question from a young woman at a meet-and-greet event. Crenshaw came unglued and shouted, “You will not question my faith!” The young woman didn’t say anything at all about his faith, just his gaffe. She certainly hit a nerve, though.

  8. says

    Why an exemption for “sincerely held” beliefs? Since when has sincerity held any force in the law? Who is to determine sincerity, and how? Can the Court or the Legislature see into someone’s heart?

    Why privilege sincerity? Aren’t hypocrites voters and taxpayers too? If you ask any of the professedly sincere, then they will assure you that the vast majority of the people are hypocrites. Ask two professedly sincere, but of slightly different professed sincerities, and they may very well call each other insincere.

    I sincerely believe that sincerity is a mask for hypocrisy. I therefore demand that all my professed beliefs, however hypocritical, be privileged as sincere. My beliefs are hypocritical, but my demand that they be privileged as sincere is sincere.

  9. raven says

    @7 Doc Bill

    One-third of US Catholics believe in transubstantiation – Pew … › … › Catholicism

    Aug 5, 2019 — Most Catholics who believe that the bread and wine are symbolic do not know that the church holds that transubstantiation occurs.

    The fundies aren’t any different than any other xian sect.

    The vast majority of xians have no idea what the dogmas and doctrines of their church are and if they do know, they may or may not believe them.;
    To take just one example, most Catholics have no idea what Transubstantiation, a key Catholic doctrine, actually is.

    All xians are cafeteria xians anyway.
    They also change their beliefs by the hour and can change them again a week later.
    Those eternal truths change rapidly in Real Time.

  10. robro says

    This may seem off topic but it relates to why certain classes of people who have been victimized by the main stream (white) society for generations need special consideration. The NY Times reports on a study indicating that Cash Aid to Poor Mothers Improves Brain Function in Babies. This study was for one year and doesn’t represent a huge shift, but it certainly points to the possibility that improved conditions for some who are systematically marginalized could benefit us all. I don’t know why this is so difficult to grasp for the entrenched white majority population but apparently they feel cheated…poor dears.

  11. robro says

    raven @ #9 — “All xians are cafeteria xians anyway.” Goes without saying given that there isn’t one Christianity…not in the Bible, never in the real world. Nor is there one Judaism. They are a stew of disparate and often contradictory narratives that attempt to provide a context for belief in the fantastic. Unfortunately I don’t think we’ll ever convince sufficient numbers of people of this obvious fact to move beyond it.

  12. Pierce R. Butler says

    raven @ # 6: If they are fundies, they may well discriminate against Mainline Protestants and Catholics as well.

    Already happening: just ask Aimee Maddonna.

  13. says

    Nathaniel @8:

    “Sincerely held beliefs” is adopted from thirty years of litigation over conscientious objectors getting drafted, precisely because many draft boards (and military personnel officials — mostly civilian, I should add, although a repulsive proportion were commissioned officers{note 1}) and from the flag-salute cases (Barnette and Gobitis). This was, in part, because some of those officials could not/would not recognize non-Abrahamic religious backgrounds as legitimate, while simultaneously denying that some Abrahamic religious backgrounds (e.g. the Society of Friends a/k/a Quakers) did hold such beliefs.{note 2} Other aspects of religious/government overlaps have slowly adopted that language ever since.

    Rather ironically, in a practical sense it also operated to prevent day-of-draft-notice “conversos” from avoiding the draft by claiming some kind of religious exemption. Any comparison to “deathbed conversion/forgiveness” is best pondered over a few beers.

    {note 1} That repulsive proportion being “any,” indicating that the officers in question had failed to read the document they swore to support and defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

    {note 2} The arrogant SOBs who proclaim(ed) “There are no atheists in foxholes” had never been in one, had no understanding that GI Joe really didn’t care what enabled him to survive. Primarily because their parents were prominent enough to keep them out of the infantry in general and the front lines specifically.