Liberal people of faith are fighting to freely practice their beliefs and practices, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, a new report from Columbia Law School’s Law, Rights, and Religion Project says.
The report, Whose Faith Matters? The Fight for Religious Liberty Beyond the Christian Right, argues that despite the widely accepted narrative, Christian conservatives are not dedicated to protecting religious liberty but their work in this area has “resulted in the rapid erosion rather than protection of this right, as policymakers have enshrined particular theological beliefs into U.S. law and policy while erasing or even denigrating other religious traditions.”
Examples of people from unorthodox faith traditions fighting for religious liberty include humanitarian aid workers who are being prosecuted by the federal government for providing food, water, and other aid to migrants in southern Arizona, allegedly in violation of U.S. immigration and other laws, and who have defended their actions as an exercise of their religious liberty.
In another case, “Mary Doe,” has argued that her religious belief in bodily autonomy should permit her to access abortion services without having to undergo a state-mandated ultrasound and 72-hour waiting period, and; Safehouse and the Church of Safe Injection, interfaith religious nonprofits, are seeking to open supervised injection sites for drug users — even though federal drug laws may prohibit such sites — as part of their religious mission.
“I think the biggest overall takeaway is just to stop seeing religious liberty as a conservative value, as something that really only matters to conservatives and is really only relevant to this narrow band of claims related to LGBTQ rights and abortion,” Elizabeth Reiner Platt, director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia Law School and lead author of the report told Vice in a recent interview.
“A results analysis reveals pretty clearly that the tendency, and what will happen the most, is religion and the idea of religious freedom will be misused to maintain traditional power structures, not to advance social progress,” Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State told the outlet. “We’ve seen religion used to justify slavery, religion used to fight civil rights, religion used to keep women down, and now religion used to turn back the clock on LGBTQ equality.”
“The battle over ‘religious liberty’ in the U.S. is far more complex than many journalists, advocates, and politicians would have you believe. Far from abandoning this fundamental right, people of faith outside the conservative movement have taken up the fight for religious freedom in a wide variety of contexts,” the report adds.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair