Liberty Institute attorneys respond to President Obama’s callous disregard for religious liberty . . .
“President Obama’s executive order is another example of the administration’s callous disregard for people of faith."—Matthew Kacsmaryk, Liberty Institute Deputy General Counsel
Imagine you are a small business owner who feeds your family and contributes to your community based on contract work with the federal government. Imagine you are also a person of faith, who takes seriously scriptures appearing in your Bible or Torah. Now imagine the United States government tells you to either deny an important moral tenet of your faith . . . or lose all your federal contracts.
On July 21, 2014, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that bans federal contractors, including small businesses and ministries, whose business practices and policies do not comply with the Administration’s understanding of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”
The order includes faith-based relief organizations. Though the details are still unfolding, experts predict that the executive order could ultimately impact approximately 24,000 businesses and 28 million workers.
CHOOSING YOUR FAITH OR YOUR FEDERAL CONTRACT
Liberty Institute Deputy General Counsel Matthew Kacsmaryk issued a statement in response to President Obama’s executive order.
Under the executive order, the Secretary of Labor may require submission of a Compliance Report and supporting information stating that the contractor’s “practices and policies” do not discriminate on the grounds of an undefined “sexual orientation” class or undefined “gender identity” class, and that the signer will affirmatively cooperate with implementation of the Order.
“Though its full implications are still unfolding, President Obama’s executive order is another example of the administration’s callous disregard for people of faith,” said Kacsmaryk. “From the HHS mandate to today’s executive order, the administration has consistently favored sexual revolution fundamentalism over the sincerely-held religious beliefs of Americans who simply seek to live out their faith in their day-to-day business practices.”
A troubling aspect was the refusal of the administration to consider the pleas of the faith community for commonsense religious protections.
Kacsmaryk noted, “Despite receiving myriad requests for a religious exemption—including two letters signed by over 170 leaders of Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Mormon organizations, charities, and colleges—the President refused to enact express written protections consistent with the longstanding American commitment to pluralism, diversity, and the accommodation of religious dissent.”
GOING AROUND CONGRESS, COERCING CITIZENS
The executive order comes after legislation known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) stalled in the halls of Congress. The controversial ENDA law would have mandated discrimination against those business owners who do not conform to the Administration’s understanding of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”
With this executive order, the President achieved through executive fiat what he could not achieve through the normal legislative process: enactment of ENDA protections for an undefined “sexual orientation” class and an undefined “gender identity” class without religious liberties protections for millions of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Sikhs, and other faith-based traditionalists who adhere to millennia old definitions of marriage, sexuality, and gender.
The bottom line? The order is an attack on the very heart of the American ideal of religious freedom. Said Kacsmaryk: “Faith-based contractors are left with a choice: compete for federal contracts, or follow the teachings of their faith and the dictates of conscience.”
CONFORMITY CLOAKED AS “DIVERSITY”
Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute’s National Director of Litigation said, “We once thought that the diversity of America was an asset. This order crushes diversity and seeks to drive out those who disagree with the Administration’s viewpoint on a matter that is central to religious freedom and rights of conscience.”
Kelly Shackelford, Liberty Institute President & CEO, commented:
“This is another example of the increasing willingness of the government to reach into the most private sanctuaries of a person’s life and persecute him or her for ‘wrong religious thoughts.’
“This is especially dangerous when the punishment of these ‘wrong religious thoughts’ is to attack a person’s very ability to feed their family, follow their calling, and contribute to society as a business owner or employee. It’s outrageous.”
Kacsmaryk added, “This religious intolerance will harm devout Christians, Jews, Mormons, and other faith-based traditionalists who provide exceptional social services to the federal government but dissent from the Administration’s about-face redefinition of marriage and gender identity. This executive order is inconsistent with the longstanding American commitment to pluralism, diversity, and the accommodation of religious dissent.”
A WAY TO FIGHT BACK
Liberty Institute stands ready to defend the rights of people of faith in the workplace. Our attorneys have launched legal action against a global corporation and numerous government entities for discriminating against people of faith for their religious views on issues like marriage, and we will advise and defend others targeted by unlawful religious discrimination.
“We encourage people of faith who are victims of discrimination not to simply assume they have no recourse,” said Shackelford. “Liberty Institute has seen over and over again that standing against discrimination is most often the winning position in legal disputes—and we will continue to win, to secure the legal right to religious freedom in our laws.”
Please donate now to help Liberty Institute continue our winning strategy in the battles for religious freedom in America.
Together, we can achieve victories in these and other cases as we take on opponents like the federal government, other government entities, and corporations who discriminate against people of faith.
About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.