The executive order signed by President Barack Obama on Monday was relatively narrow in scope, but wide in its implications for the future of religious freedom in this country.
The order actually alters two previous orders, which forbid discrimination in hiring decisions, to include protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers.
The order applies to federal workers and workers at firms with federal contracts.
“I firmly believe that it’s time to address this injustice for every American,” Obama said on Monday. “We’re on the right side of history.”
The order does not include a religious exemption, though many of his advisors have asked for one.
Here’s what it means today: About 30,000 companies and 28 million workers will be under the order, according to Politico.com. That’s about a fifth of the nation’s workforce.
Here’s what it means for the future: Expect activists to attempt to expand the definition of “federal contractors” to include every college, university and private school that takes federal money (such as Pell grants).
The goal is simple. Anything less than full acceptance of homosexuality will not be tolerated. All in the name of tolerance, of course.
Perhaps we should have seen this coming. There’s a “what’s good for the goose” aspect to all of it. The argument of many religious conservatives, in the late 1970s, was that laws and cultural standards should conform to the beliefs of most Americans, and not be dictated by an out-of-touch “elite” minority. That’s what the phrase “Moral Majority” tried to convey.
But morals change. What remains is the biblical principle that we are strangers in a strange land — living in occupied territory.
These days, polls show, a clear majority of Americans believe there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality — but that discrimination is a terrible thing. The federal government is setting itself up to enforce the will of this new majority.
Writing in The Federalist magazine, Joy Pullman cites the example of Gordon College, a small Christian school in Massachusetts.
“Gordon, like every other observant religious institution in the world, does not want to be forced to hire people that represent the opposite of what it stands for,” she says. “For that, it’s been pilloried in the press and persecuted by apparently every local public official who gets morally high from judging Gordon’s beliefs. ... There is far more of this ahead, for every religious school, charity, parachurch organization and even churches.”
The best response, she says, is to shun federal money — and the federal strings that always come with it. Some colleges, including Hillsdale, have already done so.
College and university accreditation, which are largely directed by the federal government, could also be used against religious schools.
“It is now excruciatingly clear we live in a time where some people who have political power are on a crusade against people who, in their view, commit moral thoughtcrime,” Pullman writes. “A religious college loses all reason for existence if it must conform to a diametrically opposite moral code.”
Congress must carve out exceptions for religious beliefs.
The Obama administration won’t do so — it doesn’t think those beliefs are legitimate.