“Religious Freedom” is Not About Religion. It’s About Money.

Here’s a secret that has stopped the Equality Act in its tracks in the U.S. Senate. The Republicans and religious leaders have framed the subject as one of “religious freedom,” and have won that debate since our lobbyists aren’t addressing it as it should be: religious institutions wanting special rights to discriminate. And let’s not forget the boogieman/women they use is our trans community. But why, you might wonder, does the religious right put up so much of a fight against the Equality Act?

The little dirty secret, the reason churches don’t like the Equality Act, is that it will shine a light on their finances, and what they use our tax dollars for. Simply put: they are afraid it will take money out of their coffers.

The Equality Act has the support of many of the Fortune 500, unions, civil rights organizations, and human rights groups. So what’s the hold-up?  Religious organizations, primarily the Catholic Church, Mormons and Evangelicals, are putting up a lobbying and publicity campaign against its passage under the guise of “religious freedom.” That is a red herring. However, organizations such as HRC have not called them out with a coherent message.

The Equality Act does not have any enforcement in religious practices. None of those freedom-claiming institutions would be forced to marry same sex couples. Preaching against LGBT people would still be allowed. They would still be able to use the bible, or other religious texts, as they please without changes.

Here’s what they are frightened of, and what they won’t be able to do. Many of the religious organizations have a good scheme going. The Catholic church, as well as others, have “charity organizations” which bring in big bucks: your tax dollars. Many are funded completely by taxes. To put it another way, many are funded by you, even though you don’t have a choice. The religious right uses their funding to discriminate against the very people who fund them. They even pay for lawyers to lobby against the legislation such as the Equality Act.

Among the religious charities include community centers, adoption agencies, child services, food pantries, and even counseling services that support conversion therapy.  And let’s not forget The Boy Scouts, who refused to have gay members. Many Boy Scout Troops were involved with the church.

The Equality Act will ensure that these organizations, the community centers, adoption agencies, and so on, do not discriminate. How much is that worth? With the latest Paycheck Protection Program, which is supposed to support business, the Catholic church and it’s diocese received somewhere between 1.4 billion and 3 billion dollars. That’s billions with a B, according to the Associated Press. They received this money even though they had 10 billion dollars in reserve. How many small mom & pop shops lost out on PPP so the church could fill its pockets?