Rick Warren Joins Leaders Seeking Religious Exemption on LGBT Order

Image: Rick Warren Joins Leaders Seeking Religious Exemption on LGBT Order

Monday, 07 Jul 2014 11:58 AM

By John Blosser

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The pastor who gave the invocation at President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration has joined with other church leaders asking that Obama make a special exemption for religious organizations in his planned executive order banning job discrimination against LGBT individuals.

The Rev. Rick Warren, senior pastor of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, where over 20,000 believers attend each week, has signed on to a letter in which religious leaders ask that Obama "include a religious exemption in your planned executive order addressing federal contractors and LGBT employment policies," The Atlantic reported.

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Further, the letter states, "Without a robust religious exemption … this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity, and religious freedom.

"We are asking that an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need."

Obama’s choice of Warren, author of the bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life," as a speaker caused a flap in 2008 because of the minister’s opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion rights, with Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights campaign, complaining in a letter to Obama at the time, "By inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans have a place at your table."

Warren was joined in the request by other powerful religious leaders, including Larry Snyder, CEO of Catholic Charities USA and Michael Wear, Obama’s 2012 National Faith Vote Director.

The executive order signed by President George W. Bush in 2002 bars federal contractors doing more than $10,000 in federal business from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, and the Obama administration has not specified whether it intends simply to add LGBT people to that list, or create a new executive order specifically aimed at LGBT discrimination, BuzzFeed reported.

Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at Catholic University, who also signed the letter, told The Atlantic, "It would be nice if we had just a little bit more leverage. I am a very strong supporter of LGBT rights, and I am really excited about the prospect of extending provisions against discrimination in federal contracts.

"But I am also aware that this is an issue that provokes real differences among some of the most important religious organizations on the front lines of providing care for the poorest and most vulnerable."

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