Today, People For the American Way Foundation (PFAW Foundation) released a new report analyzing the Religious Right groups that are co-opting the American principle of “religious liberty” to drive anti-LGBT legislation across the country. The report, “Who Is Weaponizing Religious Liberty? It Takes a Right-Wing Village to Turn a Cherished American Principle Into a Destructive Culture-War Weapon,” details the efforts of key groups including the Family Research Council and FRC Action, Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action, the National Organization for Marriage, the Alliance Defending Freedom, Liberty Counsel, the American Family Association, the Becket Fund, and the American Principles Project.
PFAW Foundation President Michael Keegan stated:
“The discriminatory and unconstitutional anti-LGBT laws that we’re seeing across the country aren’t emerging organically; they’re part of a deliberate strategy to attack LGBT people. This report shows how national Religious Right groups are driving this state-by-state campaign, and they’re undermining real religious liberty in the process.”
The report explains:
“[The] flood of anti-LGBT and ‘religious liberty’ legislation is not the result of isolated local efforts. It is part of a larger campaign by Religious Right groups to resist and reverse advances toward equality for LGBT Americans by portraying equality as inherently incompatible with religious freedom.
“Together these organizations constitute a powerful cultural and political force that will not disappear after a few losses in the courtroom or at the ballot box. Indeed, in the wake of their marriage equality defeat at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, they have redoubled their efforts. They are eagerly creating folk heroes out of public officials and business owners who refuse to provide services to same-sex couples. And they are pushing Republican officials to enact legislation at federal as well as state levels that would further weaponize religious liberty, turning it from a shield meant to protect individual religious practice into a sword to be wielded against individuals and groups disfavored by Religious Right leaders.”
As the report notes, opposition to reproductive choice and the contraception coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act are also part of social conservatives’ “religious liberty” strategy.
People For the American Way Foundation is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.