Main | Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Hobby Lobby Fallout: Religious Groups Demand Exemptions From Obama's Coming Executive Order On Employment

We all saw THIS coming. Via the Atlantic:
A group of faith leaders is urging the Obama administration to include a religious exemption in a forthcoming LGBT anti-discrimination action. Their call, in a letter sent to the White House Tuesday, attempts to capitalize on the Supreme Court case by arguing that it shows the administration must show more deference to the prerogatives of religion. "We are asking that an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need," the letter states.

The Hobby Lobby decision has been welcomed by religious-right groups who accuse Obama of waging a war on religion. But Tuesday's letter is different: It comes from as group of faith leaders who are generally friendly to the administration, many of whom have closely advised the White House on issues like immigration reform. The letter was organized by Michael Wear, who worked in the Obama White House and directed faith outreach for the president's 2012 campaign. Signers include two members of Catholics for Obama and three former members of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

"This is not an antagonistic letter by any means," Wear told me. But in the wake of Hobby Lobby, he said, "the administration does have a decision to make whether they want to recalibrate their approach to some of these issues." [snip] To these religious leaders, Hobby Lobby ought to prompt the White House to reexamine the way it weights religious rights against other priorities. Liberals opposed to the decision, on the other hand, argue it creates a slippery slope to more and more carve-outs from important legislation for claims based on faith. This executive order could be the next battleground for those competing points of view.
We still don't even know the actual wording of the executive order. By the way, among those "general friendly" faith leaders that signed the letter are Father Larry Snyder, the CEO of Catholic Charities, and Stephen Schneck, the head of the Institute for Religion & Democracy, which in March viciously denounced the United Methodists for refusing to ostracize clergy that conducted same-sex marriages.  Just a couple of weeks ago Schneck's group declared that the Presbyterian Church had sealed its doom by allowing pastors to conduct gay marriages. These guys are "generally friendly"?

We cannot allow another ENDA-sized loophole in this executive order or it will be useless.

Read the full letter.

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