Faith Based Talking Points re: Potential Trump Administration RFRA Executive Order

There are rumors flying this week that the president is planning to issue an executive order that would allow persons and organizations to exempt themselves from anti-discrimination protections based on any “sincerely held belief.” Such an order would create a license to discriminate and basically render legal protections for LGBTQ people useless. We want to share with you these faith based talking points provided by the National LGBTQ Task Force for use in sermons and discussions. (These talking points are based on a leaked draft of the anticipated executive order which at this time the administration denies plans to sign.)

Faith Based Talking Points re: Potential Trump Administration RFRA Executive Order

(Faith based language added by members of the National LGBTQ Task Force’s National Religious Leadership Roundtable)

Overview: This unnecessary executive order eviscerates former President Barack Obama’s steps to protect from employment discrimination LGBTQ Americans who either work for the federal government, or federal government contractors by redefining religious freedom to be used as a tool to cause harm to others. President Trump’s action exposes upwards of 28 million people – or about 22 percent of the total U.S. workforce – to anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace. This is immoral and a betrayal of our country’s values. Our founding principles of religious freedom were in support of religious minorities – like Muslims currently being banned from our country due to last week’s “Executive Attack.” It is appalling that it is now being perverted once more by being used to discriminate against LGBTQ people. This will create a dangerous precedent where anyone can be discriminated against as long as religious or moral convictions are cited as the reason.

Topline messaging:

  • The freedom of religion is one of our nation’s most fundamental values. That’s why it’s already protected in the U.S. Constitution and federal law. As people of faith, we cherish this fundamental value and protection knowing that it is never at odds with one’s right to equal treatment under the law.
  • Freedom of religion does not equal freedom to discriminate. Having the freedom to practice one’s religion does not give anyone a license to deny fellow Americans their constitutionally protected rights. Permitting discrimination against someone for any reason in the name of our religion or spiritual practice goes against everything that I believe and unfairly amplifies the beliefs of a handful at the expense of the majority who support equal rights for all.
  • This executive order does not increase freedom of religion; rather, it creates a License to Discriminate against LGBTQ Americans – it could cost LGBTQ people their jobs. It undoes critical progress made in recent years, and leaves LGBTQ people who are federal employees, or employees of federal contractors, newly vulnerable to workplace discrimination.
  • This move is a clear signal from the Trump White House that treating all LGBTQ people fairly and equally is not a priority for the new administration. LGBTQ employees who have devoted their careers to the federal government and other services critical to our nation are now, for the first time in years, susceptible to legal workplace discrimination. Many of these employees are also people of faith whose own religious beliefs would be trampled on by this executive order.
  • President Trump’s License to Discriminate executive order threatens the fundamental ability of LGBTQ people to make a better life for themselves and their families, put a roof over their heads, and pay their bills. This executive order is immoral and a threat to families – the bedrock of any nation – everywhere.
  • While the right to one’s religious belief is fundamental, the sanctioning of discrimination with taxpayer dollars is not. As a faith leader and as a tax payer, I refuse to sanction it without a fight.

Out-of-Touch with American Values

  • President Trump’s action to allow for discrimination against LGBTQ people is jarringly out-of-step with the beliefs and values of most Americans and most people of faith.
  • In growing numbers, Americans recognize that dignity and equality under the law and freedom of religion are not mutually exclusive:
    • Nearly 75 percent of Americans believe treating everyone fairly under the law takes precedence over one’s religious beliefs.
    • 71 percent of Americans support comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.
    • Nearly 70 percent of Americans – including 50 percent of Republicans – oppose allowing government employees to cite religious beliefs as a reason for denying services to LGBTQ people.
    • Updating our nondiscrimination laws to protect LGBTQ Americans is something a supermajority of Americans support – more than 70 percent of Americans would back such a bill, including 61 percent of Republicans
    • According to PRRI, nearly 60% of people of faith affirm LGBTQ equal protection and access under the law.
    • Two-thirds of small business owners reject the notion that businesses should be able to turn away LGBTQ people because of their religious beliefs.
    • Customers tend to agree with those small business owners: two-thirds of Americans oppose laws allowing businesses to turn away LGBTQ people based on religious beliefs.
  • Anti-LGBTQ bills – including those similar to President Trump’s License to Discriminate – have been defeated in a number of states in recent years. In many of those states, Republican governors vocally opposed discriminatory measures because of their faith and not despite it.
  • These bills failed in states because Americans increasingly refuse to accept the codification or normalization of discrimination against LGBTQ people. Americans are largely disgusted that anyone would manipulate religion or one’s faith to discriminate against someone else using tax payers dollars.
  • Anti-LGBTQ politicians who are demanding their archaic and discriminatory strategy be supported by the Trump White House are not listening to the people and are ignoring their own religious values.

Christian Talking Points from the United Church of Christ’s 2014 Resolution against Overly Broad Religious Exemption Legislation

  • At the core of Christian beliefs for the rights of all persons is Jesus’ commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). The belief that all human beings are created in the “image and likeness of God” (Genesis 1:27) has been foundational for our faith’s prophetic witness throughout its history against any laws that limit the right of anyone to participate fully in social, political and economic life.
  • As a child of God, every person is endowed with worth and dignity that human judgment cannot set aside. Denial and violation of the civil liberties of the individual and her or his right to equal protection under the law defames that worth and dignity and is, therefore, morally wrong.
  • Equal protection under the law and religious liberty are not in conflict. Full protection of the equal rights of LGBTQ Americans does not undermine the freedom of churches and other faith communities to follow their own moral and ethical teachings.

Additional Christian specific framing

  • We refuse to allow Christianity to be used as a tool of oppression. We refuse to allow Christianity to be used to justify the alienation of LGBTQ people. We condemn the legislation of Christian hegemony. Discrimination against LGBTQ people will not be done in God’s name or on our watch.  God is God and President Trump is not.

Multi-Faith Framing

  • We recognize that many Americans feel socially, politically, and economically dislocated by legislation that protects our most vulnerable people. Yet we know that justice is always rearranging us, sifting out our fears and prejudices so that only what is righteous remains. There is no spiritual catharsis found in legislating religious belief.
  • Our country proclaims that religious difference is a value. Religious Freedom bills were initially designed to protect that value. We reject any notion of religious freedom that “exempts” any person from the call to live out the tenets of love, hospitality, and justice – tenets that are deeply embedded into all faith traditions.

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