Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) warned Friday that the Equality Act poses a threat to religious liberty in the United States and will effectively force Americans to keep their faith quiet.
Speaking on the topic of religious liberty at CPAC 2021 in Orlando, Florida, Lankford began by mentioning the amendment he introduced to the Senate Budget Resolution earlier this month that would limit federal COVID-19 relief funds for states or localities that discriminate against houses of worship and other faith-based organizations.
“Here’s one of the many things that make our nation so special,” Lankford said. “In America, every person has the right to have any faith of their choosing or to have no faith at all, and you are still a great American.”
“You don’t have to take off your faith when you leave your house. You don’t have to take off your faith when you leave church. In fact, I would remind this group if you don’t practice your faith every day, you really don’t have a faith, you just have a religious hobby. Your faith should have an impact on you.”
After extolling the First Amendment for giving Americans the ability to choose any faith, Lankford warned of the threat he believes some on the Left pose to such freedom.
“The in-group in society doesn’t get to define who can and cannot have faith, what their faith would look like in public or in private,” he continued. “Left-wing politicians can’t push faith out of public view because they don’t like it. We have a First Amendment. We don’t have to submit to the in-crowd’s secular humanism.”
“The problem is not everyone believes that,” that said Lankford, singling out California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden’s nominee to be secretary of Health and Human Services.
“He sued the Trump administration a hundred times and he led the lawsuit against people of faith, like the Little Sisters of the Poor, forcing them to choose between shutting down their ministry to elderly poor or to violate their religious beliefs,” Lankford said. “He worked to manage the faith of Californians.”
Lankford then took aim at what he described as “the ironically named Equality Act,” under which, he claimed, “people of faith cannot say you have faith.”
The Equality Act, a contentious legislative package, passed the House of Representatives on Thursday.
Proponents of the bill argue it is a necessary amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act that would protect citizens from discrimination regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Critics, by contrast, have warned that the legislation would endanger the rights of religious Americans in favor of the LGBT community by putting them in situations that would force them to choose the law or their faith.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) delivered a speech against the Equality Act on Thursday at the Capitol, saying in part:
This body being led by Democrats is trampling the rights of the people in the name of ‘equality,’ in the false name of ‘equality.’ Our federalist system allows us to agree to disagree, and we should be able to do that. But if this Democratic Congress, and if the Democratic leadership, and if this White House continues to trample the rights of the people of the United States, then it is they who will be destroying this Union.
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