The Religious Freedom Restoration Act Is Used to Discriminate. Let's Fix It.

This piece originally ran at Religion News Service.

When Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993, the American Civil Liberties Union supported it because we believed it would provide important protections for people to practice their faith.

Having fought for religious liberty for decades, we were troubled that the interpretation of the Constitution at the time did not sufficiently protect minority faiths. Over the years, we have used RFRA to fight for religious rights, most recently on behalf of a Sikh student, Iknoor Singh, who was barred from entering the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps unless he cut his hair, shaved his beard and removed his turban.

But today RFRA is being used as a vehicle for institutions and individuals to argue that their faith justifies myriad harms — to equality, to dignity, to health and to core American values.  For example:

  • In 2014, a federal magistrate judge cited RFRA in ruling that a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints could not be required to cooperate in an investigation of child labor law violations. (Church leaders were accused of removing children from school and forcing them to harvest pecans on a private ranch, without pay, for eight hours a day.)

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Anonymous

I'm a nonreligious person who sees something wrong with homosexual & lesbian conduct & I think that they must make it a crime to do sex changes. Even if orientation doesn’t change, it’s best for gays/lesbians to be celibate just as it’s best for a person with tobacco orientation not to smoke. If homosexuality is inborn as some scientists believe, then it would be a birth defect.

Never have I heard straights blame childhood sex abuse for reasons a man has sex with a woman and fathers children with her. Yet sometimes have heard gays and lesbians say childhood sex abuse is reason they do same sex behaviors. Sex abuse in youth can cause people to behave in ways. It’s not controversial to talk of nightmares, suicides, bed wetting often a result of sex abuse in youth. Yet when 1 talks gay/lesbian behaviors in adulthood because they learned this sexual behavior by being repeatedly molested, then gays with politically safe psychologists complain. The politically correct psychologists who deny this know it’s possible for a boy to turn out gay as a result of childhood sex abuse, yet deny what they know is true. Of course, not all who are sexually abused in youth become gay in adulthood-but the risk is higher.

Homosexual/lesbian conduct needs to be marginalized such as smoking/tobacco use is. I know my view offends homosexuals, but most smokers do not get offended by negative views of tobacco use. So homosexuals/lesbians have to hear others give negative views of their sex lives, because there is something wrong with this just as there’s something wrong with smoking.

Repair therapy for gays and lesbians who want to be straight must be available just as repair therapy must be available for a drug junky who wants to become clean. For a therapy to have best chance of success, the patient has to want it for themselves. If a person goes into therapy because he or she is pressured by peers into this, they are usu. not going to last long because they don’t sincerely want it. If a kid is a junky and he or she doesn’t want therapy to quit drugs, then it’s usu. going to fail because they don’t want it. You can not force a person into therapy minus a court order and even if you do, if they don’t sincerely want it, it’s usu. will fail. While repair therapy to treat gayism, lesbianism often fails, using what you ask, we also should not have repair therapy to treat smoking, drug junkyism, etc. because that often fails. Minors can not be forced into therapy against will-minus a court order such as requiring medicines for a minor who does not want medicines.

Yes, it should also be the right of homosexuals and lesbians not to go into repair therapy just as I support right of tobacco users not to have repair therapy to quit smoking and I support right of any lucid person to refuse medical care such as if a lucid person’s a heart attack victim and does not want open heart surgery, then it should be their right to refuse this. Yes, proof burden is on repair therapists, but if you aren’t going to have repair therapy for homsexuality/lesbianism, then you may as well not have repair therapy for drug junkyism or drunkardism, because such therapy often fails and high relapses. Is it possible for a homosexual or lesbian to change sexual behavior and sexual orientation to heterosexuality? There are gays and lesbians who sincerely believe they changed to heterosexuality and without contrary proof only they know.

Kc H.

Unbelievable. Your comment has about as much factual basis as phrenology. You are a hopeless bigot and a breathing anachronism. Please return to the Middle Ages where you belong.

Luci von Smörgås

With all the big important problems in the world, you spend your time and energy focusing on what other people do in their private lives. It is a clear indicator that these issues are important for you. I suggest that might be homosexual or trans and living in denial. If not, I suggest you re-evaluate your priorities and focus on an issue that has some bearing on doing good in the world.

Anonymous

Gay"ism"? So it's like Fasc"ism" or McCarthy"ism"? You've the right to feel as you do and hold your opinion(s) dear. That aside, it is not your, my, nor anyone's right to harm others by an action or opinion, if said viewpoint threatens to repress or impinge upon the freedom and wellbeing of another human spirit. Free speech is not the same as careless invective. And remember, the casting of stones presupposes a motive or intent, the origin of which is an admixture of ignorance and hatred. Would that we all (myself included) had the foresight to appreciate the collateral damage our pet peeves might inflict upon the sweet and good in our brothers' and sisters' lives.

Anonymous

You obviously have nothing better to do then go on these websites and flaunt your enormous ego to all who can see. I happen to be a gay man and have been gay since I started going through puberty and developed the ability to have feelings of sexual attraction. I did not choose to be gay. In the beginning, I resented myself for it. I tried to be "Straight" and it didn't click with me. I can no more "choose" to be turned on by a women then you can "choose" to be turned on by people of your same sex. I'd say walk a mile in my shoes, but for the fact that you can't do that, because BEING GAY IS NOT A CHOICE! Take some time and listen to what those around you say and think. Actually talk to someone who is gay and get their side instead of only listening to the marginalized data gathered by biased psychologists looking for something to increase their paychecks from what ever right wing party that is filling their wallets. And by the way, I am a devout christian. I am sorry that you had bad experiences in your past with those who claim to follow my faith, but we are not all like that. Consider going to a United Methodist church or a Non-Denominational church. You might find that they are completely different from what you were raised to witness.

Anonymous

About me-I'm not religious, though I did go to Christian schools when as a boy (1970s)as we had immigrated to in 1972 & my parents believed Christian schools would give better education. Turns out 1 of the priests @ our school was a gay pedofile, which was in earlier post. I am not religious because among other things, if there's a God, then why do bad things happen in world I don't care about the gay/lesbian marriage topic which law allows and admit information war by my side was lost on homosexuality, when topic mainly became about the boring gay marriage topic and only once in a while about homosexuality's risks. Truth about homosexuality's dangers don't change and truth must be told though information war is lost. Homosexual/lesbian conduct is bad for health like tobacco & needs to be treated like tobacco use by adults. If willing & knowing adults want to use tobacco or do gay/lesbian conduct, then that's their life, but it must be treated as harmful like tobacco is. I know what APA, mainstream psychologists & psychiatrists say about gay/lesbian conduct, but they are ideologues. I think that they must make it a crime to do sex changes.

I have thought about this & don't think any1 can rebut conclusion that childhood sex abuse victims of gay/lesbian pedophiles have more risk of turning out gay/lesbian by copying the conduct they learned because think you know that conduct incl. sexual conduct can be learned. Think you know it is possible for people who are victims of same sex molestation (such as victims of gay pedophile priests) to copy this sexual conduct and do gay conduct in adulthood incl. turn out to be gay pedophiles.

Satan

LGBTQ is not a disease and not a sin, Their uncommon Sexual orientation is "God given" just the same as south-paws (left handedness) or albinos which are considered demons in some parts of Africa and are murdered! In the Bible God calls for murdering homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13). This is very unfair since God created them "in his image"!
It's very interesting to note that The Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu When he discovered that his daughter was a Lesbian said that if his daughter wasn't allowed into Heaven then he would accompany her to Hell!

Anonymous

Ok...maybe "Satan" was not the best name for that comment...

Virtue Keeper

I agree with the anonymous person who believes homosexuality is essentially like an addiction. It is true, it can be altered or worsened, by things like therapy or acting upon it. Sex change is far to confusing and controversial, as well as not natural or even truly possible. It should be denied, and people should avoid being judgmental, but we should not all accept it. Also, whomever said for them to "Go back to the middle ages" is even more of a bigot, simply by being judgmental over another persons beliefs. You would like your beliefs to be respected right? So stop mocking others. I am a Christian, and I absolutely know that people who suffer from same sex attraction can deal with it, as they should rightly do.

Anonymous

The Smith case was contended as an issue identified with opportunity of religion, a privilege ensured by the first Amendment, yet it was not all that critical for its result on the benefits, however for the way that the Supreme Court changed the tenets on when a state statute will be esteemed to disregard the Constitution. http://www.flamingovideo.com/explainer-videos/

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