The United States Commission on Civil Rights has released a report which is at odds with our religious liberties. The findings and recommendations came out earlier this month. An executive summary of the report is titled Peaceful Coexistence. The USCCR has found that civil rights protections ensuring nondiscrimination as embodied in the Constitution, laws, and policies are of preeminent importance. While we as Christians would agree with this, the USCCR elaborated by saying that “religious exemptions to protections of civil rights based upon classifications such …sexual orientation and gender identity, when they are permissible, significantly infringe upon… civil rights (PC, 25).
The USCCR was founded in to fight Jim Crow laws which enforced racial segregation in the 1960s. But sexual orientation and gender identity are not civil rights issues. Homosexuality and transgenderism are sin issues. Nevertheless, the report made five alarming recommendations:
- Overly-broad religious exemptions unduly burden nondiscrimination laws and policies.
- The Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects only religious practitioners’ First Amendment free exercise rights, and it does not limit others’ freedom from government-imposed religious limitations under the Establishment Clause.
- Recognition of religious exemptions to nondiscrimination laws and policies should be made in such a way that religious beliefs and not conduct are protected.
- Federal legislation should be considered in order to clarify that RFRA creates rights only for individuals and religious institutions and only to the extent that they do not unduly burden civil liberties and civil rights protections against status-based discrimination.
- States with RFRA-style laws should amend those statutes to clarify that RFRA creates First Amendment Free Exercise Clause rights only for individual and religious institutions. States with laws modeled after RFRA must guarantee that those statutes do not unduly burden civil liberties with status-based discrimination.
This report equates our support for religious liberty with hate. It is a huge threat to religious liberty. We have the right to believe, but not the right to act on those beliefs, especially when it comes to homosexuality and transgenderism. Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) spoke on the Senate floor on Thursday of last week. He said the report had a “disturbingly low view of our First Freedoms.” Note the following observations from Senator Sasse:
- Our national identity is based upon our religious freedoms.
- Our Founders believed God created people with dignity and we have rights via nature.
No king, no Congress, no Commission gives us our rights. Government is not the author or source of our freedom.
- We have rights because we’re people, created with dignity and government is our shared project to secure those rights. And so, “We the People” give the government authorities; the government doesn’t give us us rights.
- The Commission’s report is titled “Peaceful Coexistence.” But this profession of “Peaceful Coexistence” is meant to quietly euthanize “religious liberty” because Washington lawyers find it convenient to do so.
- It must never be used to chip away at our most fundamental freedom.
- It must never undermine the essence of what it means to be human.
The USCCR report undermines the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty. It claims to protect American ideals while subtly attacking them. Our ministry is against all forms of hate. However, right is right and wrong is wrong. We must not tolerate sin in our society. We must be allowed to say what God says about it. I must have the freedom to hire teachers and accept students who are not homosexuals or confused about their God-given identity. I am certain I can do this without hating people in spite of the report’s findings.