A Resolution on Religious Freedom Without Discriminaton
There is a dangerous wave of religious liberty being used to sanction or justify discrimination across the United States and around the world. Most of this discrimination is against LGBTQ people and women with regard to health and reproductive rights. Claims of religious liberty to discriminate are a threat to the human dignity for all persons and a threat to the protection of human rights.
It is essential that people of faith recognize the human dignity of all persons and uphold the human rights of all persons and their families irrespective of their personal religious beliefs. Moreover, one would hope that religious beliefs that recognize the sacred creation and worth of all persons regardless of human differences would be the distinctive characteristics of their faith and actions.
We are grateful that the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) adopted this ruling, A Resolution on Religious Freedom Without Discrimination on June 23, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. This resolution was brought to the assembly by the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
The Christian theological basis for this ruling included the “fundamental principle of universal human dignity rests on the biblical foundation that humankind is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). From this imago Dei, we conclude that no form of discrimination is defensible on religious grounds. There can be no religious freedom without equal respect for the dignity of all persons, a dignity that is denied when services are denied. When claims of “religious freedom” become public efforts to exclude and discriminate, we are called to speak up for justice and stand with the oppressed.”
This ruling acknowledges that “Presbyterians have historically valued religious liberty and continue to support the freedom to act according to one’s religious beliefs. However, in cases involving the refusal of goods and services, false claims of “religious freedom” cause direct harm to those who are denied access. Legislating such claims as cases of protected religious freedom would undermine years of progress in state and federal civil rights and anti-discrimination law. The key distinction lies in whose choice is being limited or protected.”
So, let all of us recognize the sacred creation and human dignity of all persons by refusing to use religion to discriminate or hinder another’s human rights. We are all children of God and one human family.
Photograph: LGBTQ rights activists gather outside the Supreme Court before the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case is heard, December 5.