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Topics in the News: Religious Freedom


Amy Klobuchar on Religious Freedom: (Families & Children Oct 10, 2019)
Churches & agencies should follow law on gay rights

Q: Evangelicals are claiming being forced to do business with gay people infringes upon their religious freedom. Isn't our religious freedom being violated by those who wish to discriminate against us?

KLOBUCHAR: First of all, our Constitution has been founded on a separation of church and state. And we can have different faiths in this country, but the law rules. And the law rules when it comes to discrimination and all kinds of other things. And I can just tell you that I will appoint Supreme Court justices that understand that.

Q: Should the federal government give funding to any religious nonprofit organizations that opposes same-sex marriage, for example, an adoption agency that won't work with LGBTQ parents?

KLOBUCHAR: I think that you have got to have agencies that follow the law. And that's one of the reasons that I want to pass the Equality Act. I think that's really important. And I also think that you've got to recognize adoption for gay families.

Click for Amy Klobuchar on other issues.   Source: CNN LGBT Town Hall 2020

Pete Buttigieg on Religious Freedom: (Principles & Values Oct 10, 2019)
Religious freedom does not mean the right to hurt others

Religious liberty is an important principle in this country, and we honor that. It's also the case that any freedom that we honor in this country has limits when it comes to harming other people. We say that the right to free speech does not include the right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater. A famous justice said my right to swing my fists ends where somebody else's nose begins. And the right to religious freedom ends where religion is being used as an excuse to harm other people.
Click for Pete Buttigieg on other issues.   Source: CNN LGBT Town Hall 2020

Michael Bennet on Religious Freedom: (Principles & Values Jun 27, 2019)
Improvement with each generation now at risk

My mom and her parents came to the United States to rebuild their shattered lives, in the only country that they could. Three hundred years before that, my parents' family came searching religious freedom here. The ability for one generation to do better than the next is now severely at risk in the United States. I believe we need to build a broad coalition of Americans to beat Donald Trump, end the corruption in Washington, and build a new era of American democracy and American opportunity.
Click for Michael Bennet on other issues.   Source: June Democratic Primary debate (second night in Miami)

Mike Pence on Religious Freedom: (Civil Rights Feb 12, 2019)
OpEd: RFRA seen as allowing discrimination against gays

[Pence's 2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act] quickly went national. It was the top story on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update." The NCAA signaled it might drop Indiana as a venue for major events, and even NASCAR said that it was "disappointed."

A beleaguered looking Pence appeared on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, trying to reassure a national audience that the bill was not about discrimination. The interview was a disaster. When Stephanopoulos asked, "Do you think it should be legal in the state of Indiana to discriminate against gays or lesbians?" Pence paused, and winced. "George." he began, then sighed.

"It's a yes or no question!" Stephanopoulos pressed. No matter how many times he was asked, Pence would not simply say that the answer was no. (Which means he probably believed the answer was yes, but at least he knew not to admit it.) One national columnist later described it as "very possibly one of the worst appearances by a governor in television history."

Click for Mike Pence on other issues.   Source: Shortest Way Home, by Pete Buttigieg, p.212

Pete Buttigieg on Religious Freedom: (Corporations Feb 12, 2019)
Companies are not persons; should not have religious rights

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act said that "a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion." But "person" was defined to include companies, building on the legal theory of the 2014 Supreme Court Hobby Lobby case, which interpreted federal law as giving corporations the same religious rights as people.

Effectively this meant that any place of business, from a restaurant to an auto shop, could refuse an LGBT individual or couple, provided its owner cited religion as the motivation for discriminating. It could even be interpreted to protect a physician denying care to a gay patient. And it would wipe out South Bend's own local ordinance, passed in 2012, which prohibited workplace discrimination against LGBT residents. Despite the name, its purpose was not to "restore" religious freedom--after all, religious freedom is already guaranteed in the Constitution. The bill's actual purpose, its sponsors would later reveal, was to legalize discrimination.

Click for Pete Buttigieg on other issues.   Source: Shortest Way Home, by Pete Buttigieg, p.209-10

Mike Pence on Religious Freedom: (Corporations Feb 12, 2019)
Companies should have religious freedom & rights

When Mike Pence told me and a few other mayors that he was planning to sign the proposed "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" because it was "in my heart that it's the right thing to do," I believed him (Not that it was the right thing to do, of course, but that it was in his heart.)

The language of the bill seemed innocent enough: "a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion," unless there is a compelling governmental interest at stake. But "person" was defined to include companies, building on the legal theory of the 2014 Supreme Court Hobby Lobby case, which interpreted federal law as giving corporations the same religious rights as people.

Effectively this meant that any place of business, from a restaurant to an auto mechanic shop, could refuse an LGBT individual or couple, provided its owner cited religion as the motivation for discriminating. The bill's actual purpose, its sponsors would later reveal, was to legalize discrimination.

Click for Mike Pence on other issues.   Source: Shortest Way Home, by Pete Buttigieg, p.209

Kamala Harris on Religious Freedom: (Principles & Values Aug 8, 2018)
Co-sponsored Do No Harm Act: keep church and state separate

The Do No Harm Act, a bill that's designed to ensure that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) continues to provide important protections for religious exercise while clarifying that RFRA may not be used to discriminate against or otherwise harm others, was introduced in the Senate in May. Kamala Harris co-introduced the legislation.

Americans United supports the legislation. AU's President said that "the Do No Harm Act will ensure that we honor two core American values: religious freedom and the promise of equal protection under the law."

Congress enacted the federal RFRA in 1993 with the goal of protecting religious freedom, especially for religious minorities. At that time, a broad coalition of progressive & conservative groups supported the law. But since then, the federal RFRA has been misinterpreted by some courts and has become a vehicle for those who want to use religion to undermine protections for civil rights and access to health care.

Click for Kamala Harris on other issues.   Source: Church & State Magazine, AU.org, on 2020 Democratic primary

Stacey Abrams on Religious Freedom: (Civil Rights Sep 1, 2017)
No discrimination, including against LGBTQ

We must demand that our workplaces never discriminate based on a person's race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, disability, or immigration status. A proud LGBTQ* ally, Stacey co-sponsored civil rights legislation in Georgia, fought against "religious freedom" legislation, and co-signed bills to prohibit employer termination of LGBTQ* Georgians based on their status.
Click for Stacey Abrams on other issues.   Source: 2018 Georgia Gubernatorial website StaceyAbrams.com

Stacey Abrams on Religious Freedom: (Civil Rights Aug 17, 2017)
No discrimination, including against LGBTQ

We must demand that our workplaces never discriminate based on a person's race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, disability, or immigration status. A proud LGBTQ* ally, Stacey co-sponsored civil rights legislation in Georgia, fought against "religious freedom" legislation, and co-signed bills to prohibit employer termination of LGBTQ* Georgians based on their status.
Click for Stacey Abrams on other issues.   Source: 2018 Georgia Governor website StaceyAbrams.com

Tulsi Gabbard on Religious Freedom: (Foreign Policy May 27, 2017)
Against criticizing India's treatment of Muslims

Gabbard voted against HR 417, which criticized India's record on religious violence and called for specific measures to guarantee religious freedom in the country, explaining that its passage wouldn't help US-India relations. Yet two years later, Gabbard introduced a similar resolution that covered neighboring Muslim-majority Bangladesh, saying she was "particularly concerned over issues of religious freedom, and specifically, attacks against minority Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, and others."
Click for Tulsi Gabbard on other issues.   Source: Jacobin Mag., "Not your friend": 2020 presidential hopefuls

Hillary Clinton on Religious Freedom: (Principles & Values Nov 8, 2016)
They say "religious freedom" but mean "gay discrimination"

Q: Is religious liberty is at risk in the United States?

Clinton: Denounces legislative efforts in Indiana and Arkansas that supporters say protect religious expression and opponents say discriminate against gay people. Clinton called it "sad" that Indiana would approve the law, which like the 1993 version is called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Stein: Tweeted on 5/20/16: "We're seeing politicians use 'religious freedom' as a fig leaf for discrimination. We must resist their efforts to deny inclusive services."

Trump: In June 2016, Trump delivered a message to evangelicals that if he wins the White House in November, he will fiercely defend religious freedom. In August 2015, Trump said, "There's an assault on anything having to do with Christianity. They don't want to use the word 'Christmas' anymore at department stores." t

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: 2016 AFA Action iVoterGuide on 2016 presidential hopefuls

Mike Pence on Religious Freedom: (Civil Rights Sep 19, 2016)
RFRA Fix: ensure that religious freedom doesn't discriminate

Pence made national headlines in early 2015 when he signed into law the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," which limited the legal actions that could be taken against an individual or business for asserting their religious beliefs.

The law sparked widespread outrage. Opponents contended that it would give license to religious conservatives to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. In response, several major events and corporations--including Salesforce.com and the NCAA--threatened to limit business ventures in the state or boycott it altogether.

Pence adamantly defended the RFRA legislation and refused to say whether it allowed for discrimination, which led to extensive questioning of his underlying motives. So much so that he quietly signed a subsequent piece of legislation--dubbed the "RFRA Fix"--that clarified that the law did not allow businesses to discriminate based on a customer's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Click for Mike Pence on other issues.   Source: Rollcall.com on 2016 vice-presidential hopefuls

Mike Pence on Religious Freedom: (Civil Rights Jan 12, 2016)
Civil rights must be balanced with religious freedom

Should full civil rights protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity be extended? No one should be harassed or mistreated because of who they are, who they love, or what they believe. But Hoosiers also cherish faith and the freedom to live out their faith and I will not support any bill that diminishes the religious freedom of Hoosiers or that interferes with the Constitutional rights of our citizens to live out their beliefs in worship, service or work.
Click for Mike Pence on other issues.   Source: 2016 State of the State speech to Indiana legislature

Mike Pence on Religious Freedom: (Civil Rights Sep 24, 2015)
Religious Freedom Act is not about LGBT discrimination

The most hot-button issue of all during the 2015 General Assembly, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, was signed in March. Proponents of the bill said it was designed to keep local and state laws from "substantially burdening" the deeply-held religious principles of individuals, businesses or religious institutions. Those against the bill felt it opened a Pandora's box for discrimination against minorities, especially the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) community.

"This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it," Pence said at the time. "In fact, it does not even apply to disputes between private parties unless government action is involved. For more than 20 years, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never undermined our nation's anti-discrimination laws, and it will not in Indiana."

Click for Mike Pence on other issues.   Source: Kokomo Tribune on Indiana Voting Records for bill SB101

Bernie Sanders on Religious Freedom: (Civil Rights Jul 5, 2015)
Right to love each other, regardless of sexual orientation

Q: On same-sex marriage, you have been way out in front when it comes to the rights of same-sex couples. What about the idea of taking away the tax exemption from any organizations, including religious ones, that do not recognize same-sex marriage?

SANDERS: I don't know that I would go there. Now, you know, we have religious freedom. And I respect people who have different points of view. But my view is that people have a right to love each other, regardless of one's sexual orientation. I voted against the DOMA act, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, way back in 1996 that was signed by President Clinton, because I think, if people are in love, they should be able to get married in this country in 50 states in America. And I strongly support what the Supreme Court recently said.

Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: CNN SOTU 2015 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls

Cory Booker on Religious Freedom: (Abortion Jul 1, 2014)
Fix Hobby Lobby: it's not about religious freedom

Cory Booker urged Congress today to pass a law to fight the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial ruling allowing some religious-leaning companies to refuse paying for insurance coverage for contraception under ObamaCare. Booker vowed to work with fellow Democrats in Congress to draft legislation that would "fix" the ruling.

The nation's highest court voted 5-4 on Monday that companies with religious objections can dodge the requirement to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under Obama's Affordable Care Act, saying it violates a federal law protecting religious freedom. The ruling favored art-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby, among about 50 companies to sue over the ObamaCare requirement.

Booker is running for re-election this year against Republican challenger Jeff Bell, who--like other GOP leaders--praised Monday's ruling.

Click for Cory Booker on other issues.   Source: Newark Star-Ledger on 2014 New Jersey Senate race

Hillary Clinton on Religious Freedom: (Principles & Values Jun 10, 2014)
Religious freedom is a human right unto itself

Some Muslim-majority nations have resolutions that threatened freedom of expression in the name of preventing "defamation of religion." I thought we could break the impasse by recognizing that tolerance and freedom are values that need protecting. We needed a partner. We found the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Its chair agreed to work with me on a new resolution at the Human Rights Council that would take a strong stand for freedom of expression and worship and against discrimination and violence based on religion or belief.

Religious freedom is a human right unto itself, and it is wrapped up with other rights, including the right of people to think what they want, say what they think, associate with others, and assemble peacefully without the state looking over their shoulders. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes clear that each of us is born free to practice any religion.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Hard Choices, by Hillary Clinton, p.574

Mike Pence on Religious Freedom: (Principles & Values Jan 26, 2014)
Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects religion

Hoosiers deserve to know that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act enhances protections for every church, non-profit religious organization or society, religious school, rabbi, priest, preacher, minister or pastor in the review of government action where their religious liberty is infringed. The law also enhances protection in religious liberty cases for groups of individuals and businesses in conscience decisions that do not involve provision of goods and services, employment and housing.
Click for Mike Pence on other issues.   Source: Indianapolis Star on 2016 Indiana gubernatorial race

Mike Pence on Religious Freedom: (Principles & Values Jan 2, 2014)
Indiana & U.S. Constitutions guarantee religious freedom

Gov. Mike Pence has signed into law a measure aimed at removing fears that the state's new "religious freedom" law would allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Excerpts from his full statement:

The freedom of religion for every Hoosier is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States and in the Indiana Constitution, which reads, 'No law shall, in any case whatever, control the free exercise and enjoyment of religious opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience.'

Click for Mike Pence on other issues.   Source: Indianapolis Star on 2016 Indiana gubernatorial race

Hillary Clinton on Religious Freedom: (Foreign Policy Aug 1, 2012)
All countries should recognize non-state-run religions

Secretary of State Clinton addressed the importance of safeguarding international religious freedom. "Free exercise of religion is the first freedom enshrined in our First Amendment, along with the freedoms to speak and associate. Because where religious freedom exists, so do the others," said Clinton.

"Like all human beings and all human rights, they are our birthright by the mere fact of us being who we are--thinking, acting human beings--men and women alike. They are not granted to us by any government. Rather, it is the responsibility of government to protect them."

Clinton went on to identify two types of religious persecution she said is pervasive in intolerant countries. The first, secular government's refusal to recognize non-state-run religions, is epitomized by China appointing its own Catholic bishops and refusing to recognize bishops appointed by the Vatican. The second is a government's refusal to defuse religious tensions within its own borders, such as in Burma.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Catholic News Service, "Safeguarding religious freedom"

Hillary Clinton on Religious Freedom: (Foreign Policy Aug 1, 2012)
Egypt's Muslim government should recognize Coptic Christians

There are two reasons governments that acknowledge religious intolerance in their countries allow it to continue, said Clinton. Such governments claim it is the will of the majority in their country, or religious freedom is a luxury their country cannot yet afford.

Clinton called that rationale the "tyranny of the majority" and explained the necessity of human rights protections in constitutions. Democracy, she explained, cannot exist without religious freedom. "Genuine democracies use principles to guide power and to protect the rights of citizens equally," said Clinton.

One area struggling with the question of democracy is Egypt and its new Muslim Brotherhood-run government. Coptic Christians, which make up 10 percent of the nation's population, fear implementation of Shariah, or Islamic law. Clinton, who had recently visited Egypt, said President Mohammed Morsi has promised to place women and Christians in high-ranking government positions.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Catholic News Service, "Safeguarding religious freedom"

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