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2019-AUG: Trump Admin.
proposes to facilitate religious
discrimination by federal contractors:
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2019-AUG-15: Proposed new rule would facilitate discrimination based on religious beliefs against individuals:

The U.S. Federal Government's Executive Order #11246 was last amended by the Obama Administration. It allowedd the federal government enter contracts with churches even if the latter discriminate against employees or members on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity. or any other similar factor.

The Labor Department under President Trump has proposed to amend the Order so that additional groups could discriminate against the LGBT community and other individuals and groups on the basis of religion; namely:

"employers that are organized for a religious purpose, hold themselves out to the public as carrying out a religious purpose, and engage in exercise of religion consistent with, and in furtherance of, a religious purpose." 1

This would allow other organizations -- in addition to churches -- to discriminate while contracting with the federal government, including many foster care groups, homeless shelters, etc. Some of these are Christian-based and only hire employees who meet the group's religious beliefs. Some refuse to deal with LGBT clients and customers. It would also allow the government to enter into contracts with retail astablishments like Masterpiece Cakeshop which refused to bake wedding cakes for same-sex couples, or Hobby Lobby who refused to include drugs in their employee's medical plan that could induce an abortion. Presumably, the orgainizaitons could refuse to include contraceptive supplies in those plans and still be free to enter contracts with the government.

The proposed amendment states that:

"Recent Supreme Court decisions have addressed the freedoms and anti-discrimination protections that must be afforded [to] religion-exercising organizations and individuals under the U.S. Constitution and federal law. ... Although these decisions are not specific to the federal government’s regulation of contractors, they have reminded the federal government of its duty to protect religious exercise -- and not to impede it." 1

In the past, religious freedom has included freedom of religious belief, assembly, speech, writing, etc. With the Labor Department's proposal, it would be extended to protect religiously inspired actions that are intended to discriminate against others. This "religious exercise" includes the freedom to discriminate against any group on religious grounds, like the LGBT community, divorced persons, Agnostics, Atheists, non-Christians, NOTA's (those NOT Affiliated with a religious group a.k.a. nones), etc.

Some conservative Christian groups were pleased with the proposed amendment:

  • Mike Berry, chief of staff for First Liberty Institute said:

    "Without these conscience protections, religious organizations risk facing discrimination for making employment decisions that are consistent with their beliefs. ... We are grateful to the Trump administration for once again working to protect religious liberty for all Americans." 1

  • Gregory S. Baylor, senior counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom, said the proposed rule protects organizations' religious freedom to discriminate so that they:

    "... don’t disappear when a university, charity, or international nongovernmental organization enters into a contract with the federal government." 1

On the other hand, Ian Thompson, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union said that the proposed rule would:

"License discrimination in the name of religion. ... Once again, the Trump administration is shamefully working to license taxpayer-funded discrimination in the name of religion. Nearly one-quarter of the employees in the U.S. work for an employer that has a contract with the federal government.

We will work to stop this rule that seeks to undermine our civil rights protections and encourages discrimination in the workplace." 1

One might ask how would Jesus treat individuals and leaders of organizations that want to discriminate against others. Consider Matthew 7:12 in the New International Version of the Bible -- the Sheep and Goats passage. Jesus is quoted as saying:

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."

Then there is the Sheep and Goats passage in Matthew 25: 31-46 which quotes Jesus as describing the Final Judgement in which people are assigned either to Heaven or Hell after death. Those who have been helpful to people in need are sent to Heaven; the rest to Hell. Those who refuse help -- including those who discriminate against others -- will go to Hell, to be punished for eternity. 2

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Michael Foiust, "New Trump Rule Would Protect Religious Freedoms of Federal Contractors," Christian Headlines, 2019-AUG-15, at: www.christianheadlines.com/
  2. "Matthew 25:31-46," New International Version, at: https://www.biblegateway.com/

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