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Biden Deals Blow To Religious Liberties

 

President Biden today fired Sharon Fast Gustafson, the General Counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). First he requested her resignation. She sent this letter to him refusing to resign:

This morning, a White House official responded to this by firing her, effective 5pm today.

Notice Gustafson’s point about the work she convened to listen to religious people about their experiences dealing with perceived infringements on their religious liberties in the workplace. Why would the Biden administration want to axe these, if not to signal that defending religious liberty in the workplace does not matter to this administration?

I received a copy of that report. I can’t post the whole thing here, but it is a normal document. Here are the people who came in for the listening session, to share their experiences and concerns with EEOC officials:

It’s a wide, diverse collection of believers.

Here are excerpts from the report, of things that participants from these religious groups said concerned them:

Some who came to the listening sessions told the EEOC that their impression has been that the federal agency doesn’t care much about workplace discrimination against religious believers:

There’s a lot more there. Again, why would the Biden administration spike this stuff? The material quoted above, from the listening sessions, indicates points where religious liberty clashes with LGBT advocacy. Is the Biden administration not interested in all in religious liberty in the workplace, because at times it clashes with LGBT priorities?

EEOC Commissioner Andrea R. Lucas released this statement about the Gustafson sacking:

I find the action taken today by the White House against our independent agency to be deeply troubling, a break from long-established norms respected by presidents of both parties, an injection of partisanship where it had been absent, and telling evidence of what “unity” actually means to this President and his Administration.

In his inaugural address, the President said, “The right to dissent peaceably, within the guardrails of our Republic, is perhaps our nation’s greatest strength.” That, however, does not seem to apply to Sharon Gustafson.  And if such a principle does not apply to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—the very agency charged with preventing and remedying discrimination and retaliation—where else does it apply?   In the days leading up to the President’s decision to fire Ms. Gustafson, a report and related materials dealing with religious discrimination were removed from the EEOC’s website shortly after inauguration. Sharon Gustafson led the work group that produced that report; both she and I wrote letters that appear at the start of that report.  I argued in my letter that calls for unity “cannot come at the expense of diversity” and that we “must find a way to be unified despite strongly held disagreements, not unified through uniformity.”  I also warned that I was “deeply concerned that today, religious liberty has become a disfavored or second-class right in many areas of our society and culture.”

Sadly, today, this Administration proves my points.  The actions taken by this Administration are quite telling as to their priorities . . . and one can safely assume that combating religious discrimination—or retaliation, frankly, given Ms. Gustafson’s firing—is not one of them.  Instead, it appears that this Administration intends to achieve unity through uniformity by removing all dissenting actors, thought, and content from the federal government, the public square, and the marketplace. In the words of the Roman historian, Tacitus, “they have created a wasteland and call it peace.”
If the White House fired General Counsel Gustafson because it wanted its own person in there, that would be contestable, but not alarming. The fact that the White House has done this shortly after spiking the religious liberty work Gustafson helped lead within the EEOC is a chilling reminder of what a Democratic administration now means for vulnerable religious believers.
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