Now that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide, the focus of religious conservatives has now shifted to the issue of preserving their right to object. Their concerns consist of the thousands of faith-based charities, colleges and hospitals that want to hire, fire, serve and set policy according to their religious beliefs.
The religious liberty fight isn’t about what happens inside the sanctuary since the First Amendment protects the right to voice your beliefs. However potential conflicts could arise, over religious organizations ranging from small religious associations that rent reception hall to the public to the nation’s massive network of faith-based social service agencies that receive millions of dollars in government grants with some business in the public arena.
The Republican Party’s 2016 presidential candidates are already campaigning on the issue. U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops among other groups, want protections for individual business owners who consider it immoral to provide benefits for the same-sex spouse of an employee or cater gay weddings.
Last week in Congress, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho (both Republicans) introduced the First Amendment Defense Act, which would prohibit the federal government from taking action against an institution that opposes same-sex marriage by revoking a tax-exemption or barring them from receiving grants or contracts.
More than 70 Catholic and evangelical educators sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier this month, urging them to take action to protect conservative religious schools in case of government action to revoke the schools’ nonprofit status.
Many gay marriage advocates feel the conservative outcry over religious freedom is a cover for bias but other gay rights supporters say a balance must be struck between religious liberty and protections against discrimination for gays.
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