Sunday, March 07, 2021

Conservative publication - Misusing 'religious liberty' to justify discrimination is causing a PR crisis

It was bound to happen and personally I think it's about time. Conservative online publication Deseret News is sending out the warning alarm about the concept of "religious liberty." There is a growing belief that "religious liberty" is more about weaponizing faith to discriminate. And this belief, according to the publication, is going to lead to problems.

Amid growing calls to advance LGBTQ rights, conservative religious freedom advocates are scrambling to avoid potential fallout for people of faith. In so doing, they’ve been forced to confront an uncomfortable truth: Many Americans see faith-based protections in the public square as a bad thing. A recent survey from Public Religion Research Institute found that only 22% of U.S. adults support exempting business owners with religious objections to some LGBTQ rights from anti-discrimination rules. Twice that many Americans (44%) feel their own rights are threatened by other people’s religious liberty claims. 

 While some quoted in the article claim that opponents of the concept have been successful with connecting "religious liberty" with discrimination, others such as Tyler Deaton, an adviser to the American Unity Fund, a conservative gay rights and religious freedom advocacy group, said faith groups who demonize LGBTQ people should also share some blame for what Deseret News is calling a 'PR crisis.'

Deaton, who is gay, acknowledged that faith groups played a role in bringing about religious liberty’s current PR crisis. As support for gay rights grew in recent decades, some religious leaders vilified the gay community in hopes of protecting themselves. For example, in the lead-up to gay marriage legalization, U.S. Catholic bishops often argued that same-sex relationships damaged society as a whole. “There are people who have misused and misappropriated religious freedom to harm LGBTQ people,” Deaton said.

The article, which supports the idea of "religious liberty" and exemptions in the Equality Act, says that a solution would be for religious leaders to abandon the harsh language used against LGBTQ people and condemn past harms done against us.

Yeah, I don't think that's going to happen soon. The article omits a very important point by not pointing out how white conservative evangelical groups and personalities are specifically the ones who thrive on the "either/or" mythology of LGBTQ equality vs. faith. And if you're ignoring these groups and personalities (the Family Research Council, the Alliance Defending Freedom, Franklin Graham, etc) or even hoping that somehow they are going to change their method of vilifying LGBTQ people, then you're dreaming. 

Because it's not going to happen.