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“”It’s not freedom when you are advocating taking away the liberty and rights of other human beings. It is not religious, especially not “Christian,” to be intolerant and bigoted against your fellow citizens.
|—Joan E. Dowlin|
Religious freedom was originally synonymous with freedom of religion, the basic right to choose which deity (if any) to worship. However, more recently, the phrase "religious freedom" and its variation "religious liberty" have been hijacked by the Religious Right and twisted from their original meaning into disingenuous code words referring to a self-drawn license to discriminate and control other people's lives in the name of one's own preferred ceiling cat.
As a synonym for "freedom of religion"
As a political code-word
“”All of the Republican candidates for president talk endlessly about “religious freedom,” but as usual what they really mean is Christian privilege.
The phrases "religious freedom" and "religious liberty" are often invoked as a euphemism for a mandate to control the lives of others and force them to adhere to the tenets of one's own religion. The use of the phrase is a manifestation of a persecution complex, and it allows the perpetrators and advocates of intolerance and oppression to portray themselves as victims whose basic rights are violated by any movement toward equal rights for other demographics, e.g. LGBTQ people being able to marry the person of their choice or being protected from workplace discrimination, women making their own decisions on abortion, transgender people living as their identified gender, couples using birth control, unmarried people having sex, or students not being forced to undergo intelligent design lessons or participate in school prayer. In short, this use of the phrase "religious freedom" is less about advancing true freedom of religion than about undermining this very principle as it pertains to others.
In 2016, the Chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission wrote in a government report that "the phrases 'religious liberty' and 'religious freedom' will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance." In 2017 the Trump administration designed a so-called "religious liberty" executive order which, sure enough, uses this concept as a cover for further entrenching Christian privilege and the ability to discriminate against LGBTQ people, women, and children in foster care.
- How to determine if your religious liberty is being threatened in just 10 quick questions
- Religious Freedom? by M. E. Kabay, PhD, CISSP-ISSMP
- Joan E. Dowlin (07/02/2015). "The Hypocrisy of ‘Religious Freedom’". The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joan-e-dowlin/the-hypocrisy-of-religious-freedom_b_7663824.html.
- Ed Brayton (12/11/2015). "The Christian Right’s Hypocrisy on Religious Freedom". Patheos. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2015/12/11/the-christian-rights-hypocrisy-on-religious-freedom/.
- Brandon Showalter (9/9/2016). "Religious Freedom Is 'Code Word' for Bigotry, Christian Supremacy, US Civil Rights Commissioner Says". Christian Post. http://www.christianpost.com/news/religious-freedom-code-word-bigotry-christian-supremacy-us-civil-rights-commissioner-martin-castro-169370/.
- Mark A. Kellner (9/8/2016). "‘Religious freedom,’ ‘liberty’ just ‘code words’ for intolerance, U.S. Civil Rights chairman says". Washington Times. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/sep/8/religious-freedom-religious-liberty-just-code-word/.
- Charlotte England (5/4/2017). "Donald Trump's 'religious liberty' executive order rejected by 1,000 faith leaders". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-religious-liberty-executive-order-reject-national-prayer-day-1000-faith-leaders-freedom-a7716971.html.