ACLU: ‘We Can No Longer Support Federal Religious Freedom Law’

Dr. Susan Berry

In an op-ed at the Washington Post, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Louise Melling writes that the organization will no longer defend the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

ACLU ‘We Can No Longer Support Federal Religious Freedom Law

With the militant LGBT rainbow flag incorporated into a map of the United States on its website, the ACLU — whose stated mission was once “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States” — now states that while the organization supported the RFRA when it was passed, “we can no longer support the law in its current form” because “it is now often used as a sword to discriminate against women, gay and transgender people and others.”

Anticipating the Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize same-sex marriage, Melling wrote: “Efforts of this nature will likely only increase should the Supreme Court rule…same-sex couples have the freedom to marry.”

Congress passed the RFRA in 1993 following the Supreme Court’s rejection of a claim under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment by two Native Americans who were fired from their jobs because they used peyote, an illegal substance, in their religious observances. Congress did not concur with the Court’s decision and passed the RFRA almost unanimously.

Melling went on to criticize the use of RFRA by the Supreme Court last year in the Hobby Lobby decision, which, she said, denied “employees insurance coverage for contraception, a benefit guaranteed by law, if those businesses object on religious grounds and there is some other means of furthering the government’s interests.”

The intolerant ACLU apparently cannot abide “religiously affiliated nonprofit organizations” whose free exercise of religion is compromised when they are forced by the government to provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs to employees through health insurance plans.

According to Melling:

They invoke the RFRA to argue not only that they should not have to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, but also that they should not even have to notify the government that they refuse to do so because, they maintain, notification would trigger the government to intervene to ensure coverage.

In the states, legislators, governors and businesses are citing state religious freedom restoration acts to justify all manner of discrimination against gay men and lesbians, including at commercial establishments. At the federal level, the Justice Department — under both the Bush and Obama administrations — has said that the government would violate the RFRA if it were to require that organizations not discriminate in hiring on religious grounds in order to receive government funding.

Melling said the ACLU cannot tolerate the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who say RFRA supports them in their refusal to provide abortions and contraceptives – which are against their faith’s doctrine – to illegal immigrant minors in their care.

And, of course, the ALCU cannot tolerate the fact that LGBT activists who ask for same-sex wedding cakes made by Christians have been told to seek them elsewhere.

“People turned away by an inn or bakery suffer the harm of being told that their kind isn’t welcome,” complained Melling. “Religious liberty doesn’t mean the right to discriminate or to impose one’s views on others.”

Melling views situations in which those who invoke the federal RFRA to protect their free exercise of faith as “abuses” if it means same-sex marriage and abortion are not accepted.

The ACLU states it will no longer support the federal RFRA, but, in fact, the organization should really say that it now only defends and protects the perceived rights of militant LGBT activists and the abortion/contraception industry who plan to put an end to the free exercise of religion in the United States.

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