Religious Liberty

Where the Parties Stand

Democratic Party Platform

  • “We will reject the Trump Administration’s use of broad religious exemptions to allow businesses, medical providers, social service agencies, and others to discriminate.” (Page 48)
  • Democrats will increase the government’s authority to “initiate directed investigations into civil rights violations, violations of the rights of people with disabilities, and violations against LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender women of color.” (Page 16)
  • “Federal contractors should be required to develop and disclose plans to recruit and promote people of color, women, LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, and veterans—and be held accountable for delivering.” (Page 16)
  • “We condemn the Trump Administration’s discriminatory actions against the LGBTQ+ community, including the dangerous and unethical regulations allowing doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies to discriminate against patients based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.” Democrats will reverse those rules and “restore nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people… in health insurance, including coverage of all medically necessary care for gender transition.” (Page 16)
  • “Democrats applaud this year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that made clear that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity violates the law…” “We will … outlaw discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in housing, public accommodations, access to credit, education, jury service, and federal programs. We will work to ensure LGBTQ+ people are not discriminated against when seeking to adopt or foster children, protect LGBTQ+ children from bullying and assault, and guarantee transgender students’ access to facilities based on their gender identity. Democrats will ensure federally funded programs for older adults are inclusive for LGBTQ+ seniors.” (Page 42)
  • “Democrats celebrate America’s history of religious pluralism and tolerance… as well as the paramount importance of maintaining the separation between church and state…” (Page 48)
  • “We will ban racial and religious profiling in law enforcement.” (Page 36)
  • Silent on the role of God in government.

Republican Party Platform

  • “We strongly support the freedom of Americans to act in accordance with their religious beliefs, not only in their houses of worship, but also in their everyday lives.” (Page 12)
  • “We pledge to defend the religious beliefs and rights of conscience of all Americans and to safeguard religious institutions against government control.” (Page 11)
  • “Traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society and has for millennia been entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values.” (Page 11)
  • “We support the right of the people to conduct their businesses in accordance with their religious beliefs and condemn public officials who have proposed boycotts against businesses that support traditional marriage.” (Page 12)
  • “We support the public display of the Ten Commandments as a reflection of our history and our country’s Judeo- Christian heritage.” (Page 12)
  • “Republicans believe the federal government, specifically the IRS, is constitutionally prohibited from policing or censoring speech based on religious convictions or beliefs, and therefore we urge the repeal of the Johnson Amendment.” (Page 11)
  • “We condemn the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges…. ” (Page 11)
  • “We support the rights of conscience of military chaplains of all faiths to practice their faith free from political interference...” (Page 43)

What the Bible Says

Jesus taught that we should “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). The Old Testament also makes clear that the things of God take precedence when in conflict. Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den when he would not pray to his earthly royal master, Darius the Mede. Exodus 20 makes clear that we should have no other gods before our God. Therefore, “rendering unto Caesar” does not mean government should ban crosses, the Ten Commandments, prayers, or religious speech from the public square.

Government is ordained of God (Romans 13:1-7), but government cannot become God. We can see the sad history of governments (Soviet Russia, Communist China) that have taken away religious freedom. We can also see the injustice of governments (Muslim world) that extend religious liberty to one group but deny it to others.

The Bible teaches the concept of the “freedom of religion” in many passages. Jesus did not force His beliefs on others. The rich young ruler walks away grieving (Matthew 19:16-23) because he chose not to follow Jesus. Later, Jesus expresses His lament that the people of Jerusalem were not willing to follow Him (Matthew 23:37).

Religious liberty is also rooted in that fact that we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and thus have been given the ability to make moral choices. We are free to choose God or other religions or reject them all.

We don’t want a government that demands religious devotion, nor do we want a government that persecutes religious activity. We want a government that will accommodate religion and allow us to practice what we believe: that the Holy Spirit (not the government) changes hearts (John 6:63) and that we are born again and are saved by grace (John 3:5-7) (Ephesians 2:8-9).

"They said, 'Caesar's.' Then he said to them, 'Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.'" (Matthew 22:21 ESV).

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