April 7, 2005


Time for a Prayer Circle: Clinton and Kerry launch an unlikely crusade for religious freedom at work (Kristen Lombardi, April 1st, 2005, Village Voice)

A new bill co-sponsored by senators Hillary Clinton and John Kerry would seem, on the surface, the perfect chance to carry out the Democratic Party's fresh-minted strategy of getting religion. Supporters of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act say it would guarantee the right to religious expression on the job—whether that means a Sikh wearing a turban or an Orthodox Jew honoring the Sabbath. Its backers include a 40-strong coalition of leading clerics representing nearly every denomination—from Jewish to Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, and Seventh-Day Adventist.

Sounds straightforward, right?

The problem for Clinton and Kerry—two of the Democratic Party's biggest names and its most likely presidential candidates—is that a broad swath of their left-wing base thinks the bill is a backdoor means to curb individual rights, and has come out hard against it. Heavyweights like the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, and the Human Rights Campaign contend that, in practice, "workplace religious freedom" could allow a nurse to refuse to give the morning-after pill to a rape victim. Or it could allow a school counselor to proselytize on "sins of the homosexual lifestyle" to a gay teen.

"None of us say we don't want religious freedom," says Rachel Laser, of the National Women's Law Center, which opposes the bill.

Of course you don't say it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 7, 2005 6:12 AM

Kinda hard to get religious at a Convention of the Atheists.

Posted by: AllenS at April 7, 2005 8:58 AM

The pitfalls to this are really so minor that they can be easily corrected. A Catholic hospital should not be required to engage provide any form of ABC contrary to its faith. A public hospital should not be permitted to withhold any legal treatment from its patients. If Nurse A or Doctor A won't do it for religious reasons, get Nurse B or Doctor B.

One would hope that the school counselor in a Christian school, a Catholic school or a cheder would remind his charges of the sinful nature of the homosexual lifestyle. The enforcement of traditional religious norms is why parents send their kids to religious schools. As for the public school counselor, he has a different set of restrictions which can be tailored to fit the needs of the community. His comments in Provo need not be the same as his comments in San Francisco.

Allen, atheism is just as much a religion as theism and just as dependent upon faith.

Posted by: at April 7, 2005 9:06 AM

But there is a lot of hostility on the Left to 'faith-based' groups (Catholic hospitals, religious charities, etc.) that have strict rules for employees and restrictions on hiring. CA is fighting about that now, and who would be surprised if the MA Supreme Court told the legislature to fix the problem. While the differences among the states are clear, the mission of the ACLU is to federalize everything so that the standards of SF become imposed on the entire nation.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 7, 2005 11:01 AM


That may be the ACLU's mission but it is the rest of ours to say 'No.'

When the Left decides to take away what are obviously individual liberties and matters of personal conscience, they run afoul of the independent nature of the vast majority of Americans. It alienates the vast middle of Americans as much if not more than some of the loopier actions of religious conservatives. Americans respect freedom of conscience almost instinctively, whether that is the conscience of the woman who wants access to birth control or the nurse who won't give it to her for religious reasons.

Posted by: bart at April 7, 2005 11:12 AM

This is just another Leftist attempt to give the Federal Judiciary more power to get involved in personal disputes. A couple of weeks ago, when the Repulicans did the same sort of thing, it was the worst possible thing they've ever done.

And of course, they are generously granting "rights" to one group of people at the expense of other groups of people, which only makes any tensions worse. Micromanaging those rights by adding specific exemptions only encourages more groups to demand their own exemptions. The best solution is for Kerry and Rodham and all the rest of the Leftists to just butt out.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 7, 2005 11:42 AM

The Soviet Constitution of 1936

Article 124. In order to ensure to citizens freedom of conscience, the church in the U.S.S.R. is separated from the state, and the school from the church. Freedom of religious worship and freedom of antireligious propaganda is recognized for all citizens.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at April 7, 2005 11:44 AM

If Republicans stumble, these guys could pick up support through their little games.

Getting the ACLU to come out against you is a good red state strategy. I doubt it will lose blues states.

Can you say Sistah Souljah?

Posted by: BB at April 7, 2005 12:22 PM

That's nice, doing it for jobs. How about the schools?

Posted by: Ptah at April 7, 2005 5:02 PM