Appointed by President Barack Obama in 2001, Chairman Martin R. Castro of the US Commission on Civil Rights said that “religious freedom” and “religious liberty” are merely “code words” for intolerance and “Christian supremacy.” These must yield, in Castro’s mind, to anti-discrimination law.
 
Castro’s remarks are found in a report from the USCCR on “Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties.”  Some observers see this as another example of the growing hostility found among leftists to the six hallowed rights that are specified in the First Amendment of the Constitution, especially the right to the “free exercise” of religion.
 
“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, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance,” wrote Castro. “Religious liberty was never intended to give one religion dominion over other religions, or a veto power over the civil rights and civil liberties of others,” he said in the 307-page document.
 
Castro, like Obama, is a Democrat from Chicago.
 
The USCCR report asserts that granting religious exemptions to nondiscrimination laws “significantly infringe” on the civil rights of those claiming civil rights protections on the basis of “race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity.” It contends that the assertion that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993, “protects only religious practitioners’ First Amendment free exercise rights, and it does not limit others’ freedom from government-imposed religious limitations under the Establishment Clause.”
 
Castro said additionally in the report:
 
"Religious liberty was never intended to give one religion dominion over other religions, or a veto power over the civil rights and civil liberties of others. However, today, as in the past, religion is being used as both a weapon and a shield by those seeking to deny others equality. In our nation’s past religion has been used to justify slavery and later, Jim Crow laws. We now see “religious liberty” arguments sneaking their way back into our political and constitutional discourse (just like the concept of “state rights”) in an effort to undermine the rights of some Americans. This generation of Americans must stand up and speak out to ensure that religion never again be twisted to deny others the future."
 
In a speech today before the Values Voters Summit, candidate Donald Trump told evangelical Christians, "A Trump administration, our Christian heritage will be cherished, protected, defended like you have never seen before. Believe me," and added, "And that includes religious liberty."

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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