A new report by the United States Commission on Civil Rights supports the majority on the federal commission, who say that efforts to protect religious liberty and freedom are really a way for individuals and entities to discriminate against people who don’t share their beliefs.
“The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance,” Martin Castro, chairman of the commission, said in a statement included in the 296-page report.
“Religious liberty was never intended to give one religion dominion over other religions, or a veto power over the civil rights and civil liberties of others,” Castro said. “However, today, as in the past, religion is being used as both a weapon and a shield by those seeking to deny others equality.
“In our nation’s past religion has been used to justify slavery and later, Jim Crow laws,” Castro said. “We now see ‘religious liberty’ arguments sneaking their way back into our political and constitutional discourse (just like the concept of ‘state rights’) in an effort to undermine the rights of some Americans.
“This generation of Americans must stand up and speak out to ensure that religion never again be twisted to deny others the full promise of America,” Castro said.
The report, entitled “Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties,” includes an executive summary, discussion about legal decisions and their impact, as well as findings and recommendations.