John M. Becker

Anti-LGBT Faith Leaders Ask Obama for Special EO Exemption

Filed By John M. Becker | June 27, 2014 8:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, ENDA, ENDA executive order, religious exemption, religious freedom, religious liberty

obama-signing-letter.jpgA group of approximately 160 religious leaders sent a letter to President Obama this week asking him to include broad religious exemptions in his forthcoming executive order barring anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors -- presumably so they can continue discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the workplace.

The Advocate reports:

[T]his letter, sent June 25 and organized by the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, goes farther than those general calls, suggesting specific language which the religious groups would like to see included in Obama's executive order.

First, the letter asks the President to adopt the religious exemption language approved by the U.S. Senate when it passed ENDA in November in his forthcoming executive order.

"This is necessary so that the executive order does not have the effect of excluding faith-based organizations that exercise their constitutional and Title VII right to have religiously grounded employee belief and conduct requirements," reads the letter, before suggesting specific language for the executive order.

Lauding "religious liberty" as "our nation's first freedom," the letter goes on to suggest a non-retaliation clause also be included in the executive order, making it impossible for those LGBT people employed by religious organizations who believe they experienced discrimination in the workplace on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity to file a formal complaint or seek damages. It also indemnifies the organization from supposed retaliation from the government in the form of denying future contracts.

The groups seek language that goes even further than the gaping religious exemption in the current legislative version of ENDA: they want the President's executive order to include "language to underscore this Administration's intent to protect religious freedom in the context of any LGBT executive order."

Signatories include the directors of various religious organizations like World Vision, Accord Network, and the Center for Public Justice; representatives and individual clergypersons from various faith traditions including Pentecostalism, the Assemblies of God, and many evangelical and fundamentalist groups; and officials from Christian colleges like Moody Bible Institute, Calvin College, and Colorado Christian University, all of whom say they're signing personally, not on behalf of their institutions.

Noted homophobe Franklin Graham also signed the letter.

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