Michael Swartz / Jan. 22, 2021

The Prospects for Religious Liberty Under Biden

We can expect the Biden administration to be far less friendly toward this First Amendment right.

In one of his final acts as president, Donald Trump declared today, January 22, Sanctity of Human Life Day. Trump’s declaration — already archived by the federal government — stated today was a day to “celebrate the wonder of human existence and renew our resolve to build a culture of life where every person of every age is protected, valued, and cherished.”

We don’t know if this Trump proclamation can be rescinded by Joe Biden, but it led us in our humble shop to wonder how this date will be observed: as a commemoration of the sanctity of life on a date that’s otherwise a grim reminder of Roe v. Wade? Or as a glorious celebration of legalized abortion? (If the latter, brace yourself for Roe’s golden anniversary two years hence.)

While Biden is a professed Catholic — only the second such president in our nation’s history — his track record on abortion is troubling indeed. As NBC News put it, “[Biden’s] position on abortion has evolved throughout his career. Most recently, in 2019, he dropped his long-standing support of the Hyde Amendment, a decades-old policy restricting federal funding for abortions, after having faced mounting criticism. He has also vowed to codify Roe v. Wade and to fight state-level policies limiting access to abortion.” Get that? “Evolved.”

It doesn’t get a whole lot better in other realms of religious liberty. However, James Freeman of The Wall Street Journal strikes a hopeful tone, noting that the Biden administration has had a court case involving religious freedom and gender “transition” procedures dropped into its lap by a North Dakota appeals court. “[Biden] should immediately call off this federal campaign against religious liberty,” declared Freeman, “rather than forcing Tuesday’s winners to continue to slog their way through the court system against a vengeful Washington bureaucracy.”

The reality, however, is that Biden campaigned against religious rights. On the eve of the election, our Thomas Gallatin warned voters, “A vote for Biden is a vote against religious liberty and freedom of speech. It’s a vote against tolerance. It’s a vote against the core ideal of religious liberty upon which America was built.” In this case, Gallatin was decrying the Biden pledge of passing the Equal Rights Amendment in his first 100 days, creating a “right” of sexual “identity” regardless of biological sex (a.k.a. the science).

Biden has since doubled down on this threat, selecting a person born biologically male but living as a woman as the new assistant secretary for health. Dr. Rachel Levine (born Richard) is a pediatrician who was appointed to a Pennsylvania state post by a Democrat governor in 2017, six years after he “transitioned” and four years after divorcing his female wife. Once again quoting Gallatin, “This perfectly underscores the Democrats’ radical agenda, which seeks to undercut the very fabric of truth. Levine may be a skilled pediatrician, but he clearly is suffering from serious mental delusions. In the recent past, placing an individual with such a serious mental issue in such a position of authority would have been unthinkable. Yet today it is not only celebrated, but anyone who dares to object is vilified as a bigot.”

Followers of Christ believe it’s perfectly reasonable to question the mental wellbeing of those who defile their bodies while ignoring the Scriptural reference that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. That, of course, doesn’t give us license to demean or mistreat them. Corollary to that, those who believe in that manner may feel they can’t participate in the charade of allowing someone to change their gender. That’s the stance taken in the North Dakota court case alluded to above, Religious Sisters of Mercy v. Azar.

And the answer may have to be found in the courts, at least for the next two to four years. (That timeframe assumes that a potential Republican-controlled Congress would have the guts to dare President Biden to live up to his proclaimed religious beliefs.) Given that a new coalition of legal groups has made it its mission to “wage relentless legal warfare” against the racism of Critical Race Theory, perhaps we can use that model to strengthen existing groups that advocate for religious freedom as well.

Whereas the Trump administration fought for religious liberty, the Biden administration will likely fight against it. Indeed, in the upcoming months we’ll have to render unto Caesar what is his. But that doesn’t mean we have to willingly give an inch for what isn’t.

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