President Obama has come under fire for forcing all federal contractors to conform to the administration’s view on sexuality through a so-called ‘anti-discrimination’ executive order.
On Monday, the US president signed the order, which prevents federal contractors from discriminating against people who identify as LGBT, but does not exempt faith-based organisations.
President Obama had received a letter signed by 14 people including a leading pastor, the executive editor of a Christian magazine and the head of a large Roman Catholic charity, urging him to exclude faith-based organisations from the order.
The letter argued that this is necessary in order to protect “religious organisations that seek to serve in accordance with their faith and values”.
The executive order adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to an order from 1965 which prohibits discrimination on non-controversial grounds.
Alliance Defending Freedom, a non-profit religious liberty organisation, called the executive order “overreaching”.
Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner said it shows that the Government is “now the primary threat to religious freedom”.
“The administration has brazenly bypassed Congress and declared that the only religious non-profit organizations it will do business with are those willing to line up with the administration’s doctrine and theology on sexual behaviour”, she said.
And the President of the National Organization for Marriage, Brian Brown, warned that the “non-discrimination rules like the order issued by President Obama can become a weapon used to punish and harass individuals and groups who support marriage as the union of one man and one woman”.
He said, “President Obama’s order has the great potential of putting employers in the position of standing up for their faith values or violating the new order.
“This will unnecessarily subject people of faith to harassing complaints and lawsuits”.
The US Supreme Court recently ruled in favour of a Christian-run business that did not want to provide health insurance covering abortion-inducing drugs.
Hobby Lobby – which has over 600 arts and crafts stores across 47 US states – said the decision allows them to continue operating “according to our principles”.
In the UK, a judge who rejected an appeal by Christian B&B owners over their double bed policy has questioned whether the law could better accommodate religious conscience.
Lady Hale, Deputy President of the Supreme Court, said the law needs to work out “how far it should allow for a ‘conscience clause'” for service providers or employees.