According to new Public Religion Research Institute analysis, a clear majority of religious Americans oppose business owners using their religious beliefs to deny goods and services to LGBTQ individuals and couples. Indeed, religious freedom gives us the freedom to believe— or not— as we see fit. It does not, however, permit anyone to use religion as an excuse to discriminate.
Federal and state government officials who are considering troubling policies that would allow discrimination under the guise of religious beliefs should think twice in light of this analysis. As PRRI described it, there’s “near consensus” that business owners shouldn’t get to do this,
Unfortunately, though, it seems unlikely that those pushing to misuse religious freedom will stop. We’ll continue fighting these efforts. For instance, last week, we wrote about a leaked executive order draft that uses religion as an excuse to permit discrimination, including by for-profit corporations and taxpayer-funded organizations, against nearly everyone, including the LGBTQ community. The draft order authorizes discrimination in hiring, public services and benefits, healthcare, adoption and foster care services, education, and more. And it favors social service providers, corporations and government employees who oppose marriage equality, oppose abortion, and think gender identity is fixed before birth.
And state legislatures are also debating bills that would allow the use of religion to discriminate. Virginia lawmakers, for example, are considering SB 1324/HB 2025, a state First Amendment Defense Act and Pastor Protection Act, that would allow a range of individuals and organizations—including those that receive taxpayer funding to perform social services—to refuse, based on religion, to provide any service to LGBTQ couples and their families. And Virginia isn't alone—there are currently four similar bills in state legislatures around the country. Other state legislatures are considering bills that would allow child-placement agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people, college student groups to turn away LGBTQ students, and healthcare providers to refuse vital care to LGBTQ patients. It’s obvious from the PRRI analysis, that there’s a growing understanding of the harms that come from using religion as an excuse to discriminate. Together, we can stand up to those who would harm others in the name of religion.