By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
July 23, 2014
What’s more important to the future of America — religious liberty or individual choices about sexual behavior? President Obama clarified his answer July 21 by signing an executive order that gives a preferred legal status to employees of the federal government and government contractors who identify with or engage in homosexuality, bisexuality or transgenderism or otherwise claim a special “gender identity.”
Refusing to include a religious exemption in the order, which was heralded by gay rights groups as key to the advancement of the LGBT agenda, the White House thumbed its nose at the concerns of leaders of faith-based organizations across the nation, many of whom will be forced to choose between their freedom to hire those with like beliefs and their ability to vie for government contracts.
In fact, a letter to the president, signed by more than 150 faith leaders, points out “vital services that religious organizations provide when acting as federal contractors” including overseas relief and development services in partnership with USAID, services on contract with the Bureau of Prisons and research, technical assistance, and other services.
“Many of these religious organizations maintain employee moral conduct standards along with their requirement that staff members agree with the organizations’ religious commitments,” the letter states, further asserting that it would be “counterproductive to bar them from offering their services to the federal government simply because of their legally protected religious convictions.”
Nonetheless, President Obama’s directive adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of protected categories without any form of religious exemption.
According to the Christian Post, although the final rule that will result from the executive order has not yet been written by the Department of Labor, the legal landscape that faith-based organizations will find themselves in is murky at best and will likely lead to many court cases.
A CP web post advises churches and Christian non-profits to be aware of two key points: one, the order applies only to government contractors and sub-contractors, not recipients of government grants; and two, although there is no such exemption in the order, the president did maintain a religious hiring exemption put in place during the George W. Bush administration. How that provision will play out with the new order will likely be a question decided by the courts.
“The fact that this order, obviously written to appease LGBT forces with total disregard to Constitutional freedoms, will potentially land many God-fearing employers in court if not frighten them away from any pursuit of government contracts altogether, is disheartening at the least,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “The need to uphold a religious exemption was what kept the U.S. House from passing ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) in the first place. But our President has decided to run roughshod over our lawmakers and once again put sexual behavior above inalienable rights.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called Obama’s order “unprecedented and extreme.”
“In the name of forbidding discrimination, this order implements discrimination. With the stroke of a pen, it lends the economic power of the federal government to a deeply flawed understanding of human sexuality, to which faithful Catholics and many other people of faith will not assent,” the bishops wrote. “As a result, the order will exclude federal contractors precisely on the basis of their religious beliefs.”
The National Association of Evangelicals also spoke out against the executive order.
“Our entire society suffers when our government discriminates against religious groups and loses access to their services. Instead of bringing us together, the president’s actions today sow the seeds for continued polarization,” NAE President Leith Anderson said via a press release.
“Some may see the President’s actions as the beginning of a new era of freedom for Americans, but what we are really seeing is the smoke of Sodom,” said Rev. Creech.”