The chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) released a report on Thursday stating that the words "religious freedom" and "religious liberty" have become mere code words for intolerance and Christian supremacy.
The report titled "Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties," signed by USCCR chairperson Martin R. Castro, highlighted the conflict between religious liberty and non-discrimination laws. Most of the conflicts mentioned in the report are rooted in issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
"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," said Castro in the report.
Gail Heriot, a member of the USCCR, disagreed with the majority opinion presented in Castro's report. "I'm troubled by the growing attitude that somehow anti-discrimination laws trump everything. We live in a more complex world than that," Heriot told the Washington Times.
The report asserted that religious exemptions to nondiscrimination laws are infringing on the civil rights of protected classes.
In an interview with the The Christian Post, Brian Wash, president of Civil Rights Research Center, remarked that freedom of religion and conscience are also civil rights.
The report also emphasized that the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) "protects only religious practitioners' First Amendment free exercise rights, and it does not limit others' freedom from government-imposed religious limitations under the Establishment Clause."
Douglas Laycock, a religious liberty expert and a professor at the University of Virginia Law School, said that the USCCR has not presented a valid reason why faith-based organizations or businesses cannot be protected under the RFRA.
"This report gives no reason for preferring the rights of the same-sex couple, except that a majority of the [commission] chose up sides," said Laycock to The Washington Times.
Laycock was the lead counsel for the plaintiff in the Hosanna Tabor case. The case involved a teacher who was fired by the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church after receiving a narcolepsy diagnosis. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the church in 2012 stating that anti-discrimination laws do not protect church employees involved in religious duties.