I was appalled when I read a column written by right-wing evangelical Dr. Michael Brown concerning the possible nomination and election of Joe Biden as the next President of the United States.
Brown writes, “Biden would make it illegal for someone to get professional counseling to deal with unwanted same-sex attractions or gender-identity confusion. And he would force schools to allow biological males to share bathrooms and locker rooms with biological females if the boys identify as girls.”
On his campaign website, Biden has a long dissertation as to the Equality Act proposal that would extend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity as non-discrimination categories. This was originally introduced in 2017 and went nowhere. The bill would have to be reintroduced during the 2021/22 session of Congress.
Brown says of Biden’s plan, “…if you affirm what the Bible says about homosexual practice and biological sex and you oppose the LGBTQ+ indoctrination of your children, you are guilty of ‘hate.’ And you will be punished by the law.”
That’s not what Biden’s position is all about. It is to make it illegal to use one’s religion to discriminate. Period.
Biden’s plan list seven points of concentration:
- Protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination.
- Support LGBTQ+ youth.
- Protect LGBTQ+ individuals from violence and work to end the epidemic of violence against the transgender community, particularly transgender women of color.
- Expand access to high-quality health care for LGBTQ+ individuals.
- Ensure fair treatment of LGBTQ+ individuals in the criminal justice system.
- Collect data necessary to fully support the LGBTQ+ community.
- Advance global LGBTQ+ rights and development.
Biden further writes:
“Religious freedom is a fundamental American value. But states have inappropriately used broad exemptions to allow businesses, medical providers, social service agencies, state and local government officials, and others to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.”
Biden’s plan would ban conversion therapy, guarantee transgender students access to bathrooms and locker rooms of their choosing, and would add a “third gender” option on government forms for non-binary individuals.
We know how people have used their religious beliefs to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community. Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 584 U.S. (2018) is a prime example on how a business can discriminate against a same-sex couple seeking a legal marriage. Many states have enacted laws allowing “religious freedom” to discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals and organizations.
Many of you know what “Religious Freedom” really means: Freedom to use “Christian values” over human values. It allows for Christian based discrimination. It is saying that a small group of right-wing Christian radicals would have power over the lives of non-Christians in dealing with human affairs fairly and justly.
Sen. Ted Kennedy pointed out in a speech to Liberty Baptist College in 1983, “Tolerance and Faith in America,” that the Founding Fathers put in the first sentence of the First Amendment both religious freedom for the individual and freedom from religion by the government. He said, “I believe there is surely such a thing as truth, but who among us can claim a monopoly on it.” It appears that the ultra-conservative Evangelical community is doing just that.
“Religious freedom ensures that you can decide whether or how to pray, that you cannot be banned from entering this country because of your religion and that no one else can use his or her religious beliefs to harm you or deny your civil rights and civil liberties.”
It is the last portion of this statement with which the religious-right has a problem. Some Evangelicals believe that their religion and only their religion is right and all others are wrong.
A 2017 Gallup poll shows that 37% of Americans are highly religious while 33% not religious at all and almost 22 percent are “Nones.” It also shows that over 51 percent of Americans are non-Protestant, a majority of Americans.
The Pew Research Center wrote in October, 2019:
“The share of U.S. adults who are white born-again or evangelical Protestants now stands at 16%, down from 19% a decade ago. The shrinking white evangelical share of the population reflects both demographic changes that have occurred in the United States (where white people constitute a declining share of the population) and broader religious changes in American society (where the share of all adults who identify with Christianity has declined).”
Shall we have conservative Christian Americans dictate what is or is not discrimination against another minority group? In 2017, Gallup estimated 4.5% of adult Americans identified as LGBTQ+.
If we are to let right-wing Evangelicals to dictate who they may discriminate against, who is next, the “Nones?” Atheists, agnostics and Secular Humanist? Hindus, Muslims, Jews?
Where and when will religious based discrimination stop?