Labor Dept.: ‘Religious Beliefs’ Appropriate In Hiring And Firing Practices (Video)

How would you like to be denied a job because you’re Muslim, or Jewish, or an atheist?

What about if you’re LGBTQ?

What if you’re an unmarried pregnant woman?

These questions are, of course, rhetorical. Denying an individual employment based on her or his religion–or lack thereof–race, sex, sexual identity, ethnicity, etcetera, is illegal.

Or is it?

This is the United States of America under the administration of Donald J. Trump.

Nothing should surprise us anymore.

And here’s one more thing.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration proposed a new rule allowing businesses with federal contracts to discriminate against their workers based on LGBTQ status, sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, and other characteristics.

According to the U.S. Labor Department’s 46-page draft rule, a range of “religious organizations”—corporations, schools, and societies—can legally refuse someone employment as long as the organization claims “religious purposes.”

The White House does not limit the provision solely to religious purposes, however, stating:

“The contractor must be organized for a religious purpose, meaning that it was conceived with a self-identified religious purpose. This need not be the contractor’s only purpose. A religious purpose can be shown by articles of incorporation or other founding documents, but that is not the only type of evidence that can be used.”

The National Center for Transgender Equality identified the slippery slope in the statement:

“[The rule could allow] firing or refusing to hire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It could also lead to federal contractors refusing to hire women or unmarried workers who are pregnant or parents, or even discrimination on the basis of race.”

For example, so long as a business cites religious objections, it would now well within its right to fire an employee because he or she is gay.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tweeted:

Since there is no federal law protecting LGBTQ workers, suing for discrimination may not be a viable option.

Since extra-marital sex offends some religious stances, denying pregnant unwed women employment is perfectly acceptable under this proposal.

According to the draft due to be published in the Federal Register, the proposal could impact up to 420,000 contractors.

It adds:

“While only a subset of contractors and would-be contractors may wish to seek this exemption, the Supreme Court, Congress, and the President have each affirmed the importance of protecting religious liberty for those organizations who wish to exercise it.”

The Atlantic reported, “[A]t least some portion of federal contracts are awarded to religious groups—roughly 2,000 across the federal government each year, according to recent congressional testimony.”

The Labor Department contends the proposal will save contractors and taxpayers money since it will no longer need to fend off costly discrimination lawsuits.

Patricia Shiu, who oversaw the federal contracting office under President Barack Obama, told Vox, “The new rule would gut anti-discrimination protections in a ‘major and transformational way.'”

With the current administration coddling the so-called “Christian” right, this type of maneuver is not new.

Its first year in office, the Trump administration issued a rule permitting employers—not just “religious” ones—to deny insurance coverage for birth control if contraception violated those employers’ religious beliefs.

Religion has also been weaponized repeatedly as a justification for discrimination against LGBTQ individuals.

The ACLU told Mother Jones about four pending court cases as of this March in which churches and Christian schools terminated pregnant, unmarried employees.

This news comes the same week Planned Parenthood announced the White House compelled it to decline Title X funding intended to provide healthcare to over a million low-income women lest it be subjected to the administration’s “domestic gag rule,” wherein healthcare providers receiving funds for counseling patients about reproductive options that may include abortion will lose that funding if the word “abortion” is even used.

Republicans love to tout the so-called spread of Islamic extremist Sharia law among its justifications for a “war on terror.”

But what about Christian Sharia law, the belief that our nation’s laws should be based on Christian doctrine?

It’s exactly what the religious right expected to get when it threw its wholehearted support behind the mendacious thrice-married philanderer Donald J. Trump for president and his “Christian” running mate, Michael Pence.

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Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.