The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has a bad habit of changing its definition of freedom to go along with whatever’s popular at the time.
In 2015, for example, the ACLU announced that it would no longer support the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a federal law that protects free exercise of religion. If you recall, RFRA was passed during the Clinton administration in 1993, with bipartisan support. At the time, it also received full support from the ACLU, which has referenced the law to support arguments for their religious clients as recently as 2014.
So what changed?
The ACLU claimed that people of faith were using RFRA as a “license to discriminate or to impose one’s views on others.” They specifically mentioned religious employers who oppose abortion and wedding vendors who believe that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman.
Apparently, religious freedom is only worth protecting when the ACLU tolerates your religious views.
But this isn’t the only time we’ve seen the ACLU sacrifice constitutional liberties in the name of LGBT activism.
A look at the ACLU’s website reveals the organization’s stance on what it refers to as “artistic expression.” It doesn’t take long to grasp where the ACLU supposedly stands on this issue. The first two paragraphs are below.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment’s protection of speech to extend well beyond speeches and books to virtually anything that the human creative impulse can produce. The First Amendment embodies the belief that in a free and democratic society, individual adults must be free to decide for themselves what to read, write, paint, draw, compose, see, and hear.”
But that’s not all.
“Once you allow the government to censor one person, it has the power to censor you or something you like. The ACLU advocates for the principle that free expression for ourselves requires free expression for others.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Unfortunately, the ACLU seems to have some trouble putting these words into practice when it comes to expression that they don’t like.
Jack Phillips is the perfect example.
As the owner of a small-town bakery in Colorado, Jack is not in the business of turning anyone away. In fact, when two men came into his shop one summer afternoon asking Jack to create a cake for their same-sex wedding, he didn’t refuse to serve them. He simply gave them the same answer he gives when someone requests a custom cake for a Halloween or bachelor party: I’m sorry, but I can’t create something with a message that violates my beliefs, though I'd be happy to sell you anything else.
Jack believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, and pouring his creative talents into a cake for an event that goes against that belief isn’t something he can do. Shortly after, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission sued Jack for discrimination.
And guess what? The ACLU quickly joined the lawsuit to represent the same-sex couple.
Why is it that the ACLU would go after someone like Jack? After all, they profess to defend individual rights and liberties—including artistic expression—from government overreach. If the First Amendment covers “virtually anything that the human creative impulse can produce,” and individuals should be free to decide for themselves what they will create, why can’t Jack choose not to create a custom wedding cake that goes against his faith?
If the ACLU’s record is any indication, religious and artistic freedom is all well and good unless you believe that marriage is between a man and woman, or that abortion brutally ends a human life.
Unfortunately, this is a trend that we’re seeing nationwide. There seems to be widespread support for the freedom of creative professionals to live and work according to their beliefs—as long as those beliefs are considered popular or “on the right side of history.”
Alliance Defending Freedom recently visited the University of Wisconsin-Madison to get some insights from the next generation regarding whose freedoms should be protected. The results were pretty revealing—take a look.
Free Expression for Me But Not for Thee?
The ACLU said it perfectly: “Once you allow the government to censor one person, it has the power to censor you or something you like.” Yet, Christians across America are facing government censorship like never before. Many are taking a stand for their faith, but are finding themselves in need of legal help when they are targeted by the ACLU or the government and punished for their beliefs.
Your financial support makes it possible for Alliance Defending Freedom to stand with them and ensure that religious freedom has a strong legal defense.
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