Religious freedom is not “code for discrimination”

Religious freedom and religious liberty are not code words for discrimination, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore says.

Lori was responding to assertions made by Martin Castro, chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

“Statements painting those who support religious freedom with the broad brush of bigotry are reckless and reveal a profound disregard for the religious foundations of his own work,” said Lori in a Sept. 13 statement.

Lori, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, said the notion that people of faith are “comparable to fringe segregationists from the civil rights era” is a “shocking suggestion.”

Castro made the statements as part of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ 306-page report, “Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles With Civil Liberties.”

Originally scheduled for issuance in 2013, its release was delayed until Sept. 8 – and even then, two on the seven-member commission dissented from its findings.

In his statement, Castro said, “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.”

Elsewhere in his statement, Castro said, “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.”

It was those two claims with which Lori took greatest issue in his own statement, which never mentioned Castro by name.

“People of faith have often been the ones to carry the full promise of America to the most forgotten peripheries when other segments of society judged it too costly.

“Men and women of faith were many in number during the most powerful marches of the civil rights era,” he said.



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