Why do they still have to hate?

Faith groups press Obama to let them discriminate

Statement by Annie Laurie Gaylor

Co-President

Freedom From Religion Foundation

The ink was scarcely dry on the infamous Supreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling — allowing bossy religious bosses the right to veto women employees’ contraceptive choices — when a number of religious representatives wrote President Barack Obama seeking yet more “religious privilege.”

In a July 1 letter, they made a particularly ugly request in seeking the privilege to discriminate against gays and lesbians when doing business with the government. An earlier letter sent to Obama on June 25 and signed by more than 150 conservative religious groups and leaders, included an election-year threat that “any executive order that does not fully protect religious freedom will face widespread opposition.”

The July 1 letter was organized by Obama insider Michael Wear, “National Faith Vote Director” of Obama’s 2012 campaign, who worked in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in Obama’s first term. (A lesson in why public officials should not court theocrats.)

Piously describing themselves as “religious and civic leaders who seek to advance the common good” and buttering Obama up for his “commitment to human dignity and justice,” these theocrats seek to advance the “common bad,” to injure human indignity and to inflict injustice in the name of religion.

The groups, while feeding mightily at the public trough, proudly and openly lobbied Obama to be excluded from his promised executive order barring discrimination against gays and lesbians by companies receiving federal contracts and funding.

Religious groups and denominations have long been the enemy of gay rights — the only organized enemy. There exists no reason other than religion to discriminate or to oppose marriage equality. The bible plainly and revoltingly states that if two men have sex with each other, “their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

Paul states that men who “burned in their lust one toward another” or women who go “against nature” are “worthy of death.” (Romans 1:26-32) While the biblical passages on homosexuality would scarcely fill a biblical page, that has not tempered their messages of bigotry, hate and vengeance.

While many more liberal denominations are rapidly reconstituting themselves to accept gays and lesbians, they, with one or two exceptions, are all Johnny-come-latelies, who shifted toward social acceptance of the LGBTQ — when it was clear they themselves would become socially unacceptable if they continued to side with homophobic fundamentalists and the Catholic hierarchy.

Nevertheless, I’m pleased to report that more than 100 liberal religious leaders signed a July 8 letter to Obama urging him not to exempt religious groups from his pending executive order.

My mother-in-law, Pat Barker, who shed fundamentalism after Dan left the ministry and who died in 2004, made a very poignant observation, so poignant that Richard Dawkins picked up on it when he wrote the introduction to Dan’s book “Godless.” Dawkins noted that Pat, when interviewed about her loss of faith, told a reporter how happy she was that “I don’t have to hate anymore.”

Imprisoned by their faith, Wear (the head of Catholic Charities), Rick Warren and many other signatories of the letter still hate and are proud of it.

They lovingly congratulate themselves on what they perceive as their protected right and duty to refuse to work alongside and hire gays and lesbians. In their upside-down logic, they believe it is religious groups that would be “ostracized” by an anti-discrimination federal rule. The June 25 letter is more direct, boasting that discrimination is a “religious freedom.”

If an entity wants to discriminate based on religious taboos, then it can, but concedes its right to do so in my name and yours, using tax dollars. They can be as hateful, discriminatory and ugly as they like, but not on the public dime.

Yes, as Mr. Wear writes, “There is no perfect solution that will make all parties completely happy.” But there is a perfect solution for bigotry: Stop funding it with tax dollars. Mr. President, don’t try to make bigots happy — do what is right.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

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