140 Religious Leaders Petition For Exemption From Obama’s Pending LGBT Executive Order

IRFA letter on anti-discrimination in the workplace

On June 25 a group of about 140 religious leaders and advocates for religious freedom sent a letter to President Barack Obama to try and secure an exemption for faith-based groups in a pending executive order which aims to protect LGBT government contract workers from discrimination.

Barack obamaOrganized by the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, the letter does not endorse the pending order as the best way to curtail work discrimination. It also recommends the religious freedom protections that the Senate accepted in November 2013’s Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) bill, but requests additional protections.  

Although the House announced it would not vote on the legislation, the June 25 letter suggests that Obama adopt some of the religious exemption language from the bill.

The letter states that religious organizations that contract with the government to provide such services as overseas relief and development with USAID:

"Often are the best-qualified applicants for federal contracts or subcontracts. It would be counterproductive to bar them from offering their services to the federal government simply because of their legally protected religious convictions; it would be wrong to require them to violate those legally protected convictions in order to be eligible to receive federal contracts. Their exclusion from federal contracting would be diametrically opposed to the Administration's commitment to having 'all hands on deck' in the fight against poverty and other dire social problems."

However, a growing coalition of critics is urging Obama to drop the practice of allowing religious groups to hire and fire based on a person’s faith when they receive federal money, saying Obama is reneging on a promise he made in 2008. Obama, who originally campaigned against the Bush-era discrimination policy, said in 2008:

“If you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them — or against the people you hire — on the basis of their religion."

Some of the religious leaders who signed the letter include: Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Christian Hispanic Leadership Conference and Hispanic Evangelical Association; Joel Hunter, senior pastor of Northland-A Church Distributed; Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse and The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; and George Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

Additionally, the letter was signed – personally,rather than on behalf of their organizations – by the presidents of numerous Christian colleges, including Colorado Christian University, Houghton College, Biola University, Calvin College, Moody Bible Institute, and Denver Seminary.


  1. pete n sfo says

    You know, these folks are very determined to prevent federal funding for constitutionally protected rights like abortion…

    So why would they really think that gay people would accept federal funding that supports their religious discrimination?

    Religion is a pernicious, culturally accepted, danger in a modern society.

  2. says

    There is no such thing as “religious exemption” nor should there ever be. Religious fanatics like this are sick. They are also bigoted.

  3. jonnathewoodswoman says

    More special rights for the priviliged christians. Take federal money and live by the rules like everyone else, bigots.

  4. Jere says

    It is ludicrous to pass ANY law that prevents discrimination and at the same time include exemption to a group of people so they can continue to discriminate. That’s ridiculous!
    We are also growing tired of the decades of “bullies” that are now claiming to be the “victims”. They don’t see the irony, do they?

  5. Joe in Ct says

    Federal tax dollars should never be used to promote a religion or even the charitable activities of a religious group. Those groups can incorporate separate entities that can follow the laws and receive Federal funding. Bigotry-based or Bible-based it’s still discrimination and it should not be Federally funded.

  6. AdamTh says

    If you exempt groups that are responsible for creating 90% of the discrimination, why bother with a non-discrimination order/policy?

  7. simon says

    What a bunch of evil human beings. It it were Apple or Microsoft, they would endorse the EO wholeheartedly while touting their own records in this area. These Neanderthals instead think they have the god-given right to do what they have been doing.

  8. says

    So, anybody else would not be allowed to discriminate, you know the ones with no intention of discriminating, for example the majority; but poor little Christians would still be permitted to take prejudicial actions against the homos because Jesus.

  9. jjose712 says

    For a group that always claim privilege when talks about gay rights they like the privileges themselves (only to show their bigotry)

  10. Robert M. says

    What I find fascinating is that what these “religious leaders” don’t seem to get by making such a petition is that they are presenting themselves, not as seeking religious freedom (as they believe), but instead are making themselves look like bigots seeking special rights to discriminate (which they are)…

  11. KC says

    Fine, give them their “exemption.” as long as it doesn’t come with the current tax exemption they enjoy so much at our expense.

  12. Glyndon in PHX says

    If they want the protections of the Senate bill, they need to get the House to pass it.

  13. Gay Guy says

    How dare they even ask for such a thing while accepting federal monies! This utterance should be illegal until one refuses federal money.

    Once they turn down federal money they have free-speech rights. However, you take the money you need to tow the line.

  14. says

    The executive order should be based on the Civil Rights Act, which included protections for people concerning their race or sex, and there wasn’t any special religious exemptions in there. To put anything else is not equal, just codifies bigotry.

  15. BobN says

    The last, last, LAST groups who deserve exemptions (if anyone does) is the evangelical Christian organizations providing HIV and health care services in Africa, where they have spread their anti-gay poison.