In case you missed it, the pendulum just swung hard the other way, in contrast to the Obama administration’s attack on religious liberties. From the Hill:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued legal guidance Friday directing federal agencies on how to protect religious liberty in employment, contracting and programming as they execute federal laws.
The guidance follows President Trump’s May 4 executive order directing the agencies to respect and protect religious liberty and political speech, made by both individuals and organizations.
The 25-page memo maps out 20 guiding principles reminding agencies that freedom of religion is a fundamental right and that the free exercise of religion “includes the right to act or abstain from action in accordance with one’s religious beliefs.”
It states as an example that a Lutheran school may choose to employ only practicing Lutherans, only practicing Christians or only those who adhere to a code of conduct consistent with the precepts of the Lutheran community sponsoring the school.
It also said religious organizations may be exempt from following certain discrimination laws if doing so would conflict with the organization’s religious principles.
This would appear to suggest support for allowing religious organizations to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The memo claimed that the government can likely prohibit religious groups from discriminating on the basis of race but may not be able to prohibit other forms of discrimination.
Predictably, there are those who are objecting to the memo:
“This is a direct attack on women’s rights,” said Vanita Gupta, president and chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “The Trump administration is using the guise of religious liberty to carry out their ideological agenda to deprive women of basic reproductive health care.”
And civil liberties groups said there could be other effects. The principle allowing religious employers to hire only those whose conduct is consistent with their beliefs, for example, might allow a religious school to fire a teacher who had a child out of wedlock or a man who wed another man, said Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the ACLU.
Are we ever going to find a happy medium that people on both sides of the debate can live with?