‘Human Rights’ Include Religious Freedom

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The concept of human rights has been misused lately to silence traditional understandings of marriage and family. The most recent example of this misappropriation is the District of Columbia’s attack on the religious freedom of religious schools and organizations, argues Kathryn Lopez at National Review Online.

“In just a few years we’ve gone from ‘live and let live’ rhetoric to mandated action,” Lopez writes. “This isn’t freedom.”

Lopez, who is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a member of The Cardinal Newman Society’s board of directors, urges Americans to stand up for religious freedom, especially in situations where the ideology of human rights is inaccurately applied.

She cites the two controversial bills recently passed by the District of Columbia City Council and signed into law by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. The first bill, the Human Rights Amendment Act, repeals religious freedom protections and compels Catholic schools to sponsor homosexual advocacy clubs and events. The second, the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act, prevents religious employers from disciplining employees for “reproductive health” decisions that may violate standards of conduct.

Lopez quotes Newman Society President Patrick Reilly:

It’s ludicrous to call this ‘human rights,’ when the primary effect of both laws is to deny the fundamental right of conscience according to one’s religious beliefs. These laws would punish D.C. citizens for living and teaching their own faith, in schools and programs that are clearly religious in purpose and inspiration.

“It’s an example of government mandating a ‘new normal’ at the expense of religious freedom,” Lopez continues. If that is the case, she asks, “What is freedom? What is our commitment to it? Does asexual-revolutionary ideology trump it? That’s the debate we’re not having, as words are manipulated.”

“[T]he bullying, the silencing, and the assaults on conscience should not be tolerated,” Lopez concludes. “With each one of these cases, we take one more step toward determining whether we will remain a beacon of freedom and human rights or not.”

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