How’s that for chutzpah? I put it that way because it reveals quite a lot about Rick Warren, and his desire to fire gay people from working for him in any capacity – and because it reveals the big difference between what he is demanding – and the usual exemptions allowed for religious groups. It’s not related to the Hobby Lobby ruling as such – but it represents a pretty shameless attempt to exploit the similarities.
Here’s why Rick Warren is, as so often, full of it. In a proposed law like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the government forces every employer to abide by the principles of equal opportunity. That’s why it can be appropriate for, say, a church or synagogue, to ask for an exemption from coercion. They’re asking to opt out of a system they are included in as Americans. But in federal contracts, an organization is first choosing to opt in for federal money, and then demanding special privileges of discrimination against another minority.
It is, in effect, asking two things: that it get a bunch of tax-payers’ money (thank you very much) and that it gets to discriminate against a minority in employment (fuck you very much). I see absolutely no reason to allow it. The federal government should represent all its citizens, gays, evangelicals, Mormons, and atheists. When it gives religious organizations money, it has every right to demand it not be used to persecute or stigmatize a minority. If those religious groups really feel it’s an integral part of Christianity to find out who’s gay and fire them (yes, that’s what sadly passes for Christianity these days), they can give up the money.
And there’s a simple matter of basic fairness here. Look at the current conditions set on federal contracts:
The existing federal contractor executive order bars federal contractors who do more than $10,000 worth of federal work in a year from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
If the federal government prevents any group – say a secular charitable organization – from discriminating against evangelical Christians, why should it allow discrimination against gay people? Why should one group be protected and another left to the tender mercies of discriminating employers? It seems to me that if the Christian right wants to re-position itself as a minority that deserves federal protection, it should also agree that other minorities qualify. And that includes gay people.