A panel discussion sponsored by John Podesta’s Center for American Progress (CAP) on Thursday came to the conclusion that Christian conservatives use religion as a justification for their discriminatory behavior. Americans, they argue, will never enjoy full religious freedom until Christians’ claims for religious liberty are defeated.
According to Joel Gehrke at the Washington Examiner, the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the George Soros-funded Interfaith Alliance, said, “People [are] using the term ‘liberty’ when they really mean ‘my liberty, your slavery.”
Gaddy argued that the left’s view of religious liberty comes from an originalist reading of the Constitution that was universally understood in the early days of the nation. He said that, unfortunately, the American people have become “confused” and misled about the issue of religious liberty by the United States Catholic bishops.
“You have the Catholic bishops advocating for ‘religious freedom,’ which doesn’t look anything like what religious freedom is in the Constitution,” Gaddy said. “Unless we do those kind of dramatic actions [such as the ACLU suing the USCCB] in order to get us back to what the foundation of religious freedom has been all the time, it’s going to get worse and worse, with people using the term ‘liberty’ when they really mean ‘my liberty, your slavery.'”
“See, I grew up in a part of the country where we really believed in religious liberty but we really enforced bondage on everyone else, and it was because we were Christians and we had the Bible,” Gaddy said.
Similarly, ACLU senior counsel Eunice Rho continued the narrative that religious beliefs work to justify discriminatory behavior. Rho denounced attempts to pass a Religious Freedom Restoration Act in various states.
“These are very dangerous because they can allow religion to be used to harm others,” Rho said.
Gaddy likened Christian florists who refuse to provide services to gay weddings due to religious beliefs to employers who would post “whites only” signs in their storefronts.
“I don’t think we don’t want to go down that road again,” Gaddy said, and later agreed with another panel participant who said that liberals “need to start educating, and calling out, Christians for trying to exercise ‘Christian privilege.'”
Gaddy’s views are in sharp contrast to the Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP) who condemn gay rights activists’ use of the black civil rights movement to prop up gay weddings.
The Rev. William Owens, president of CAAP, organized students during the civil rights movement and marched with Martin Luther King.
As Breitbart News reported in August, Owens said the black community “knows that our civil rights were won through a strong faith in God, and most still believe that the truths of our faith say that marriage should be between a man and a woman.”
Regarding President Obama’s statement that his view of same-sex “marriage” “evolved” to allow him to support it, Owens told Breitbart News, “Obama is the most powerful man in the country, and he sent a signal that same-sex marriage is okay. Well, we don’t think it’s right, and that day was the day the dynamics changed.”
In the CAP panel discussion, however, Sally Steenland, director of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Soros-funded CAP, said, “It sets up a false equation of ‘my religious liberty versus same-sex marriage, reproductive rights’ – as if those two are inherently opposed and you’ve got to choose one versus the other. And we, as we’ll talk about later in the panel, know that’s not the case.”
As Gehrke observes, however, that claim is at odds with the position of gay activist Chai Feldblum, whom President Obama appointed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Perhaps acknowledging the inherent weakness in the argument for sexual liberty, Feldblum said in 2006, “There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win because that’s the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner.”
Gehrke notes, however, that the CAP panelists “never explained why Feldblum was wrong or articulated a judicable principle that reconciled the apparent tension between the sexual liberty of gay couples wanting to marry and the religious liberty of Christian-conservative business owners who don’t want to service their weddings.”
Using what Gehrke describes as “clichéd comparisons” between Christians who oppose gay marriage and people who oppose interracial marriage, the panelists continued their discussion.
“We don’t tolerate that type of behavior,” Human Rights Campaign’s Sarah Wurbelow said. “Serving a client through a contract is not the same thing as putting your imprimatur on it, saying, ‘I agree with this particular marriage.'”
Similarly, NARAL deputy policy council Lissy Moskowitz expressed concern about the Hobby Lobby lawsuit pending before the Supreme Court, in which the Christian business owners claim that being forced to pay for employees’ contraception violates their religious beliefs.
“That’s the concern, that if the court rules in favor of Hobby Lobby, the concern is that, well, in this context, it’s birth control, but what’s not to stop another boss from saying, ‘Well, I don’t want to cover vaccines, mental health, blood transfusions’ — I mean, the list goes on and on, and it’s really worrisome,” Moskowitz said.