Lovers of Religious Liberty Will Find Scant Comfort in the New Democratic Party Platform

Or in Hillary Clinton's shifting views on the issue.

By Mark Kellner Published on July 26, 2016

On religious liberty the Democrats and their presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, have ventured far from where they were in November 1993.

Then President Bill Clinton heartily endorsed and signed into law the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by a simple voice vote in the House and a 97-3 roll call vote in the Senate. Both of those chambers, by the way, had solid Democratic majorities at the time.

Before signing the legislation, President Clinton said, “Our laws and institutions should not impede or hinder but rather should protect and preserve fundamental religious liberties.”

Times, apparently, have changed: On July 25, 2016, Hillary Clinton told leading gay issues magazine The Advocate she opposed laws protecting the free exercise of individual religious conscience: “The concerted effort underway in a number of states to discriminate against LGBT people under the guise of protecting religious freedom is something very different. It’s insincere and insidious. And we shouldn’t let it stand,” she said.

“We support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate.” 2016 Democratic Party Platform.

In saying this, Clinton is echoing the official 2016 Democratic Party platform. The document, approved by the group’s platform committee on July 8-9, 2016, and published July 21, reads in part: “We will oppose all state efforts to discriminate against LGBT individuals, including legislation that restricts the right to access public spaces. We support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate.” (2016 Democratic Party Platform, page 19.)

For Democrats, that’s about the only mention of “religious freedom” in their platform. Unlike the party’s 2012 document, which apparently excised any mention of the Deity, the 2016 version mentions “God” three times, but each in the context of individuals’ “God-given potential.”

Six of the seven mentions of “religion” in the full 2016 platform merely include the word in a list of characteristics over which Democrats reject discrimination. No mention of any positive role religion plays in society is made in the document.

The 2016 Democratic Party platform makes no mention of the First Amendment, and thus avoids discussing the First Amendment Defense Act, co-sponsored by two Republican lawmakers: Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee, and Idaho’s Rep. Raúl Labrador. FADA, as the bill is known, merely blocks federal actions against individuals and institutions on the basis of their religious beliefs about marriage. Critics claim this offers a “cover” for discrimination against homosexuals, while supporters of the bill says it would protect those who hold any faith-related view of marriage.

Clinton, again speaking to The Advocate, blasted the notion of FADA being signed into law, which GOP nominee Donald J. Trump has said he would do.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable,” Clinton said of Trump’s promise. “Allowing people to use their personal religious beliefs as grounds for discrimination against LGBT people in the public sphere goes against everything we stand for. And I know a lot of deeply religious people who agree with me.”

According to Religion News Service reporter Kimberly Winston, the 2016 Democratic platform also contains strong language in support of “access to … safe and legal abortion,” along with a pledge to overturn the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of the procedure. Winston also reported that the 2016 platform omits support for any exemption allowing physicians and others to refuse to perform or assist in an abortion if doing so would go against their religious beliefs. The 2012 Democratic platform contained such an affirmation for a conscience exemption.

Hillary Drifts

Earlier in her career, Hillary Clinton’s view of religious freedom was far more inclusive of those who might disagree with redefining marriage or other social issues. Speaking before a dinner sponsored by the International Religious Liberty Association in April 2005, Clinton, then the junior United States Senator from New York, specifically praised the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which sponsors the IRLA, for its work in defending religious freedom.

The then-Senator also said part of America’s greatness came because “we’ve always cherished that space between economic activity, public governmental activity — that space where most of life takes place, the space of family, the space of faith, the space of associations, the space of religion and speech.”

“As we hold up the importance of religious liberty, we have to take both words in that phrase to heart: religion and liberty,” she said at the time.

In her more recent interviews, Clinton hasn’t explained what caused the change of heart about protecting the religious expression of those who disagree on issues such as the definition of marriage. But in advance of her acceptance speech Thursday night, it is clear she is lining up with the stated position of the Democratic party.


Mark A. Kellner, a journalist in Salt Lake City, Utah, has written about issues of faith and freedom for The Washington Times, the Deseret News and Religion News Service.

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  • Gary

    Liberals fully support bltgqfsp, and they demand that everyone else do likewise, or at least pretend to, or face legal penalty. They have redefined morality so that it prohibits rejection of sexual perversion. If they get their way, it will become impossible for a Christian to work for the government, or in a business that requires a business license. And they want all businesses to be licensed. The only reason they don’t prohibit discrimination in social situations is because they have yet to find a way to do that. But I’m sure they are trying.

  • Paige Turner

    Ironically, the “Christian” left supports Hillary wholeheartedly. Without fail they side with the anti-religion side.

    • Moby999

      There is no anti-religious side. There is, however, an anti lying and whining because you cannot force your ignorance on others side.REAL Christians are sick of the fakes who say What Would Jesus Do then do the exact opposite.

      • Michael Bagnall

        Perhaps these REAL Christians should read the Bible before they condemn others and perhaps need the words of St Paul when he writes the things that I want to do I do not do, but the things I do not want to do I keep on doing. Which means, we are all sinners who are by nature drawn to evil…hence the need for Christ and His forgiveness. Yes we strive to be Christlike, but all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So the REAL Christians should do what Christians do and recognize that Christianity is not about being perfect but recognizing our imperfection and seeking forgiveness and amendment of life

    • Moby999

      By the way, religion and Christianity are NOT the same thing. And in most cases, they are mutually exclusive.

      • CFitzRN

        “In most cases”? How do you figure that?

    • When the laws in this country conflict with your personal religious beliefs, guess which one wins? This isn’t a theocracy. Surely you have no problem with “We don’t serve your kind here” being illegal?

      • Nancy Knowles

        So, for sake of argument, let’s say that you’re homosexual and a baker of cakes. Your bakery is situated on main street. A Christian comes to you and say he would like to order a cake for a pro-traditional marriage (male/female exclusively) reception he is holding. On the cake he wants the following words: “Marriage is between one man and one woman”. His order is deeply offensive to you and your conscience. What to do you do?

        • This is off topic. That’s not parallel to the situation in the news. The parallel would be: gay baker who refuses to bake a cake for a straight wedding. Show me this case in the news, and I’ll be on your side: this is wrong.

        • Philmonomer

          It is also isn’t parallel because the government would never compel someone to write a specific thing on a cake (it would violate your right to free speech).

  • Really

    We won’t find it in either party. sad

  • Kristen P

    …yet she supports UN Resolution 16/18

  • Allan Barger

    If by “religious liberty” you mean the right to impose your religious views on others by denying goods and services to them from public (not religious) businesses, then yes. She and the Democratic Party oppose that. And good for them.

  • Unlike the party’s 2012 document, which apparently excised any mention of the Deity, the 2016 version mentions “God” three times, but each in the context of individuals’ “God-given potential.”

    Is this surprising? The Constitution prohibits any religious test for public office. We’re trying to fill the office of president, not pope.

  • BUGGY447

    Mr. Kellner apparently has a problem understanding Democrats are not obliged to follow christian conservative ideology. That’s why we are Democrats. If conservatives want their christian conservative ideology implemented, they will have to both find a candidate worthy of the popular vote, and enough voters willing to be ruled under a christian conservative Theocracy.

    • Nancy Knowles

      No. There is something even more fundamental YOU do not understand. Religious freedom is not some platform in any party’s political agenda. It is an absolute RIGHT guaranteed in the first amendment of our constitution and it will not be infringed. You don’t get to decide which type of religion gets to enjoy this freedom. Democrats, like everyone else, are obligated to follow the constitution and respect the historical precedent set by our founding fathers, particularly Jefferson and Madison. Your straw man construct in which you feign that we want a “christian conservative Theocracy” is ludicrous on its face. Not only do we want, but we demand and shall enjoy, our religion and “the free exercise thereof.” Neither Democrats or any other Marxist avatar is going to take that away from us. As Jefferson and Madison designed, the state will not establish any religion and will take an accomodationist stance toward religion. Unfortunately, your irreligious and destructive social beliefs and behaviors put you at more odds with our religion and, understandably, make you our natural enemy. Well, you can keep pressing all you want but there will come a tipping point that we will settle the problem of your insidious infringement once and for all. Until then, you would do well to enroll in a civics course somewhere and learn something about American history. Maybe you’ll find out how and why this nation became the greatest on earth before you do any further damage to it.

      • CFitzRN

        BOOM. Buggy447 got schooled!

      • Mike Tyson II

        Nancy Knowles blew you out of the water, Now let the Trump train continue to roll over the infidels, lol.

  • believer

    It is more than a serious threat to religious liberty. What is happening now will have eternal consequences. This generation is much more news savvy. We no longer allow the media to skew our view of national politics – they are losing their voice. Instead, we see firsthand the perpetual deceit emanating from the Clinton campaign. For example, the nuance mocking of Christians throughout the dnc was on full blast and true Christians are not wavered by false accusations of hate and bigotry as Villaraigosa mockingly hails Clinton “the Good Shepherd,” a title Jesus gave to Himself in John 10:11-14.

    The fact that the government hijacked the first divine law of Christianity, Genesis 2:18-25, and changed it and said if Christians do not accept the new false doctrine and abandon their faith, they are using their religion to discriminate and they will be labeled hateful and discriminatory, is the greatest lie ever told since Adam and Eve’s fall from grace. True Christians know that the scripture cannot be changed. So tt’s not surprising that Hillary Clinton would promote this falsehood since she is the queen of lies.

    So anti-Christian Hillary Clinton and her fake Christian connivers can slither around, shake their fists and roar false accusations of hate and bigotry at true Christians, but we see through their lies and we will not be deceived into acceptance of the same-sex orthodoxy religion no matter how many names you call us. We love God, and no one can tell us who we can’t love. We know the true shepherd and He knows us and no, Hillary Clinton cannot tell Christians that they can’t love God.

    She is the shepherd of anyone stupid enough to fall into the trap of believing her lies in accepting the false doctrinal same-sex orthodoxy religion. And they are reeling them in left and right. It’s actually kinda scary to watch it unfold before our very eyes. So a message to believers: hold on tight to your faith and pray that no one is deceived by all the falsehoods slithering your way.

  • HickTick

    No true Christian could ever vote for Hillary ., nothing else to say ,. We will vote in November .

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