NYT: How Some Presidential Hopefuls Are Twisting the First Amendment Beyond RecognitionBy Megan Clayton • November 19, 2015 • 3:06 pm
In case you missed it, Katherine Stewart’s column in Monday’s New York Times, “Ted Cruz and the Anti-Gay Pastor,” is worth a read. Having lost in the courts and in popular culture, a few extremely conservative evangelical groups have gone all in on “Religious Freedom,” their last-gasp attempt to justify discrimination. Cloaking discrimination in the Constitution is nothing new, but today’s opponents are twisting the First Amendment well past recognition. Stewart focuses on Cruz, Mike Huckabee and other aspiring presidential candidates with a disturbing willingness to embrace these extremists’ openly hateful statements.
Beyond the rally rhetoric and debate punchlines however, Stewart notes the true danger of this “Religious Freedom” movement- legislation in the states pushed by the same national groups we’ve profiled here before. Family Research Council, American Family Association, Alliance Defending Freedom and Focus on the Family are launching coordinated attacks on non-discrimination laws in state legislatures and even city council chambers (such as Houston) across the country, while simultaneously pushing for so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts.” Unlike the gridlock of Congress, many state-level legislatures are under one-party control, allowing them to rapidly pass laws that have an immediate impact on people’s lives.
As the campaign noise gets louder and louder over the next twelve months, don’t forget the policy and purpose behind the rhetoric. Religious freedom is a fundamental American right and a pillar of our government. “Religious Freedom” as pushed by the extreme groups listed above is a shameless attempt to abuse that right to legalize discrimination.