The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty has blasted the head of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) for his recent attacks on religious liberty, calling him “reckless” for labeling religious people as bigots.
In a recent report, the Obama-appointed chairman of the USCCR, Martin R. Castro, made the “shocking” suggestion that appeals to religious freedom are simply a justification for bigotry, prejudice and discrimination.
Castro declared that the phrases “religious liberty” and “religious freedom” are “code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia or any form of intolerance.”
Accusing people of faith of “hypocrisy,” Castro declared that “today, as in past, religion is being used as both a weapon and a shield by those seeking to deny others equality.”
In response to Castro’s words, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore (pictured), chairman of the Bishops’s Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty issued an official statement slamming Castro for reducing religious freedom to “nothing except hypocrisy.”
“He makes the shocking suggestion that Catholic, evangelical, orthodox Jewish, Mormon, and Muslim communities are comparable to fringe segregationists from the civil rights era,” Lori said.
These statements labeling those who support religious freedom as bigots are “reckless” and “reveal a profound disregard for the religious foundations of his own work,” he added.
The Archbishop noted that people of faith have often been behind the important causes in American history, such as “the most powerful marches of the civil rights era.” In places like St. Louis, he said, “Catholic schools were integrated seven years before the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.”
“The idea of equality, which the Chairman treats as a kind of talisman, is incomprehensible apart from the very faith that he seeks to cut off from mainstream society,” he said.
The Archbishop declared that people of faith do not seek to impose their morality on anyone, but neither can they sacrifice it in their own lives and work.
“The vast majority of those who speak up for religious liberty are merely asking for the freedom to serve others as our faith asks of us,” he said.
Lori also accused Castro of wanting to make all Americans walk in secular lockstep, observing that Castro’s statement “suggests that the USCCR does not see the United States as a pluralistic society.”
“People of faith are a source of American strength. An inclusive and religiously diverse society should make room for them,” he said.
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