Martin R. Castro, a Chicago Democrat and Obama appointee as chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, believes “religious freedom” and “religious liberty” are nothing more than “code words” for discrimination and intolerance.
In a 307-page report titled “Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties,” Castro writes, “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.”
“Religious liberty was never intended to give one religion dominion over other religions, or a veto power over the civil rights and civil liberties of others,” Castro adds. In other words, “peaceful coexistence” is only possible when “supremacist” Christians abandon their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.
However, not everyone on the commission sees eye-to-eye with Castro. Some are quite concerned with the progressive mentality that anti-discrimination laws supersede constitutional rights.
Committee member and George Mason Law School Associate Dean Gail Heriot told The Washington Times, “I’m troubled by the growing attitude that somehow anti-discrimination laws trump everything. We live in a more complex world than that.”
Another, lawyer Mat Staver, criticized the report as being anti-American, saying, “This commission is not only out of touch with reality, but also out of touch with our Constitution.”
Castro’s report directly targets the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, and it makes clear the argument that a person’s civil rights are of “preeminent importance” above another’s religious liberty which has many lawyers scratching their heads. Some are accusing the Obama appointee of recruiting a majority of the commission to side with him in the name of identity politics rather than making compelling arguments.
The Washington Times concludes with a quote from University of Illinois law school professor Robin Fretwell Wilson, which should be taken as a warning for the future of freedom as viewed from the perspective of progressive America:
“There is no fair way to say that the concerns of the LGBT community are ‘preeminent’ over those of religious believers. Religious liberty will become code for discrimination and intolerance if opponents of nondiscrimination laws continue to claim the right, in the name of religious freedom, to block LGBT persons from enjoying protections that the rest of us take for granted. … We need thoughtful legislators to craft new thoughtful approaches to keeping the religious bakers in the business without saying gays can be turned away.”