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Audio: What 'religious freedom' really means to NY's anti-equality crowd

by Jeremy Hooper

As the so-called New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms and their allies at the National Organization For Marriage continue to make martyrs out of the town clerks who feel that their personal faith should be reason to deny *CIVIL* marriage licenses to same-sex couples, we keep hearing one phrase over and over again. That reliable locution: "religious freedom."

Not a surprise. "Religious freedom" is always what these opposition groups claim to be about. They say the simply want the right to live their religious beliefs in every facet of life, and that anyone who tries to deny them of this is being unfair or bigoted or [insert word that makes the long-shunned gays seem like bullies]. And they say all this while standing against a pro-equality side that is LARGELY in favor of true religious freedom in every sense of the word (e.g. the right to deny any couple a religious marriage ceremony; the right to stand on a street corner and preach hellfire; the right to gift Tom and Joe with a page from Leviticus rather than the waffle iron for which they registered; and so on and so forth).

But what does the opposition's sense of "religious freedom" really mean for those who hold pro-equality faith views? Well here, let the head of the aforementioned NYCF group, the Rev. Jason McGuire, tell you:

[SOURCE: Lima Baptist Church]

Yup, that's right: He just writes off dissenters as being "false prophets." Rev. McGuire (a state lobbyist) has taken it upon himself to decide that he speaks for God and that his dissenters speak for fallen man. That's his idea of "religious freedom": A freedom to define religion, spirituality, and faith's role in public policy for any and every one.

Now, so as to not be hypocritical, let me say that I do fully support his right to believe and preach this way. However, McGuire's version of "religious freedom" is not content with merely instructing his willful supporters to steward their faith connections in a way that let's them feel at peace with our fair and free public realm as it exists under the governing laws of man. Whereas groups like Pride in the Pulpit largely realize that their faithful views are merely moralistic opinions designed to bolster the positives of *CIVIL* fairness under the constitution, people like Rev. McGuire all too routinely act like their own theological opinions should *BE* the law. Or at the very least, they want to be shielded from any and every facet of the law that might be too LGBT-inclusive for their liking. This is where problems arise.

The truth is that "religious freedom," when used by the LGBT rights opposition, has become yet another coded phrase for a movement that thrives on the same (e.g. "pro-family"; "traditional marriage"; "values voter"; "sanctity of marriage"; etc.). It is not really "freedom" they are seeking, but rather superiority. Or at the very least, immunity from the lawful standards of a shared community. And it is not anti-religion for us to call them out of this, regardless of how much they try to flip that script as well.

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