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Obama’s latest executive order contains a contract on the religious.

By 7.23.14

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Eliminating freedom by fiat, President Obama signed an executive order this week mandating that all federal contractors conform to his conception of gay rights. Any company or organization that dissents from his view can now be stripped of its contract.

“We’re going to prohibit all companies that receive a contract from the federal government from discriminating against their LGBT employees,” he said. “America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people.”

The Left is particularly happy that Obama has stuck his executive pen in the eyes of the religious. His order contains no exemption for religiously affiliated organizations, even though some of his liberal political allies urged him to include one. Obama has lived up to the counsel of the New York Times, which advocated coercion for the religious under the order: “Mr. Obama’s resolve is being tested. There is no good reason to give religious employers a special privilege to inflict undeserved pain by, for example, refusing to hire someone to work on a government-backed project just because she happens to be a lesbian, or firing a capable employee who marries someone of the same sex.”

Religious leaders sympathetic to Obama wrote him a letter earlier in the month, warning that the absence of an exemption would deprive the poor and needy of services from many religious groups. “An executive order that does not include a religious exemption will significantly and substantively hamper the work of some religious organizations that are best equipped to serve in common purpose with the federal government,” the letter read. “When the capacity of religious organizations is limited, the common good suffers.”

But Obama’s dogmatic liberalism overrides such considerations. He is willing to cut off federal contracts to these groups for the sake of an ideological litmus test. Whether or not a group is worthy enough to receive federal dollars to serve the poor now turns on how it feels about Obama’s gay-rights agenda. The traditionally religious need no longer apply. The federal government under Obama, in its vast moral enlightenment, doesn’t want to be corrupted by association with groups such as the Little Sisters of the Poor.

The full weight of the federal government is now on the side of a particular point of view and not even a sound one. Obama’s executive order is one more attempt to separate the religious in general and Christians in particular from their own government and establish a secularist monopoly over public life. In the name of eliminating discrimination, Obama is advancing the most corrosive form of it, driving venerable organizations to the margins of public life. To Obama, the transgendered are more critical to the common good than the traditionally religious. It is open season on those who don’t subscribe to the decadent trends of the moment.

He extols “diversity” but demands conformity and can’t rest until the religious have lost their faith in deference to modern liberalism. Withholding federal government contracts from them until they bless his view of gay rights should be seen as secularist bullying of the worst kind. He is using the power and purse strings of the state to turn the religious away from God.

He says the federal government should not “subsidize” groups not supportive of “LGBT” rights, as if the money for federal government contracts belongs to him. Many of the tax dollars to which he refers comes from the very religious he is targeting. Why should they have to subsidize assaults upon their freedom? Why should they be treated as second-class citizens, losing bids because they don’t support the ideological whims of an arrogant president?

Obama’s executive order represents the tyranny of the minority—a liberal elite which seeks to secularize everything, including religion itself. This elite hopes to propagandize the public so thoroughly that violations of religious freedom become commonplace. And to a certain extent, this elite has succeeded, evident in the ho-hum reaction to the executive order. The secularists have progressed to the point where the possibility of a company losing a federal contract over a lack of enthusiasm for transgender rights is taken in stride.

But the cracks on the liberal side—as seen in the letter to Obama from his allies suggesting he slow down—indicate that the battle is still on. As organizations lose contracts for opposing gay marriage and the public is deprived of the services of well-established religious groups, the executive order will come to be seen not as a blow for freedom but as a punishment for the principled.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author of No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.