It’s gone relatively unreported, but on Monday, President Obama signed yet another executive order- this time targeting the religious rights of Americans.
The new executive edict issued by Obama prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against homosexuals and those who identify as a different gender than that which they were assigned at birth.
The move is sure to delight many on the left and even some on the right; however, the executive order is sure to rile those who value the Constitution’s separation of powers as the president is supposed to serve as a law enforcer, not a lawmaker.
President Obama signed the executive order, bypassing Congress entirely, against the wishes of many religious institutions that argued that the order ought to maintain an exemption for religious institutions who have charged that the executive order could compel them to violate their religious tenets.
Obama hailed the executive order on Monday, saying,
“Thanks to your passion and advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause, our government – the government of the people, by the people and for the people – will become just a little bit fairer.”
Of course, despite the populist rhetoric of advancing the rights “of the people,” Obama’s fiat advances the agenda of homosexuals and transgenders at a cost of trampling the rights of those who wish to adhere to their religious beliefs.
Religious institutions that maintain federal contracts, such as religious universities, now must adhere to the policy of dubious legitimacy and disregard their religious beliefs in order to adopt the federal government’s agenda.
This is a problem. Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council explained in a recent interview,
“If religious organizations cannot require that their employees conduct themselves in ways consistent with the teachings of their faith – then, essentially, those organizations are unable to operate in accordance with their faith.”“This level of coercion is nothing less than viewpoint blackmail that bullies into silence every contractor and subcontractor who has moral objections to homosexual behavior,” Sprigg continued.“The mask is coming off of the homosexual movement’s agenda. They really do not believe in religious liberty. They want forced affirmation of homosexual and transgender conduct to trump every other consideration in the workplace – including religious liberty.”
Whether one agrees with fundamentalist teachings or not, there remains two large problems with the executive order:
1) The executive order is inherently illegitimate as laws governing the federal government’s relationships with federal contractors are generated from the deliberative body, not the executive branch.
2) With the recent Supreme Court ruling that held that employers are not compelled to provide contraceptives to employees if doing so violates their religious beliefs, one would think that the Obama Administration would be more sensitive to those who feel under attack by the federal government as the Obama Administration continues to try and replace religious understandings with secular, state-sanctions policies.
The Obama Administration is quite evidently committed to continuing their assault on the religious liberties of Americans. Whether one agrees with the religious doctrine of one group or another is irrelevant; the First Amendment protects a right of association as well as a right to exercise one’s religion freely.
If this “right” only extends to that of which the government approves, it is not a right at all. It’s unconscionable that as statists continue to augment the role that government plays in everyday life, they continue to set new rules by which Americans must live.