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US Civil Rights Commission: non-discrimination laws take precedence over religious liberty

September 08, 2016

Non-discrimination laws "are of preeminent importance in American jurisprudence," and should not be subject to religious exemptions, the US Commission on Civil Rights has argued in a new report. 

“Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, when they are permissible, significantly infringe upon these civil rights," the Commission said in a report on the tensions between non-discrimination laws and religious liberties. The report called for strict limits on the exemptions accorded to religious institutions.

Martin Castro, the chairman of the Commission, was even more dismissive of the claims of religious liberty. In a statement accompanying the release of the new report, he said: “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, or any form of intolerance.” 

 
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  • Posted by: WNS3234 - Sep. 09, 2016 5:36 PM ET USA

    Methinks it is time to raise hell about this. We do hear echoes of Reformation era England and the ensuing conflicts provide material for though. Nonetheless, if we shine that same "light" of reasoning on Mr. Castro's remarks, they are no less egregious. Timidity is no virtue.

  • Posted by: hrott4832 - Sep. 09, 2016 10:17 AM ET USA

    Point one: what does the Commission's phrase: "when they are permissible" mean? When does that apply and for whom? Concerning the entire point, do I understand that this US Commission on Civil Rights is dismissing all Religious Freedom rights? Catholics can not accept any "marriage" that is between two men or two women. Will we be prosecuted under the law now if a Priest refuses to marry a same-sex couple?

  • Posted by: brenda22890 - Sep. 09, 2016 9:53 AM ET USA

    We should all be reading (or re-reading) accounts of the "reformation" in England - - and getting ready. I wonder how many of us will reject becoming apostate.

  • Posted by: Jim.K - Sep. 08, 2016 10:10 PM ET USA

    So, if that is the case, the Muslims and the Quakers should not have been exempted from Obamacare, and the Jews should have to serve pork in their hospitals and other facilities! Or is it just the Catholics and other Christians that need to change their religious teachings to accommodate these government whims? How Ridiculous!

  • Posted by: leeanne50 - Sep. 08, 2016 7:21 PM ET USA

    Evidently some forms of discrimination are perfectly acceptable to this person. Perhaps Mr. Castro needs to read some early American history. After all being free to express and live personal religious beliefs is one of the driving forces that sent the first settlers to this country.

  • Posted by: Pete - Sep. 08, 2016 6:31 PM ET USA

    I'm not sure there are ANY "charitable" words to describe this nonsense. Calling "Religious Liberty" and "Religious Freedom" "CODE WORDS" for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, etc. is beyond the absurd. This is merely another Liberal attack on Religion and the TRUTH!