The Heritage Foundation, on June 15, held a discussion entitled, “Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination.” The discussion title also happens to be the title of the new book by the three panelists who hold not only thoughtful ideas on these issues, but experience and expertise. The panelists were Dr. John Corvino, the openly gay author and chair of the philosophy department at Wayne State University along with Dr. Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation and Sherif Gregis, a Ph.D. doctoral candidate from Princeton University and author. The discussion was moderated by Jennifer Marshall of the Heritage Foundation.
One focal point shared by all sides was the fact that discussions such as these are not only the most productive means of understanding these deep moral issues, but also vital to the future of our democracy.
During the discussion, Corvino stated that although religious liberty is paramount to being an American citizen, this does have limits. He expressed a concern for preference for one religious accommodation over another. For example, a Christian’s religious accommodation to refuse a same-sex wedding outweighing a Muslim’s religious accommodation to not allow women to have driver’s licenses. [It should be noted that Muslims don’t do same-sex weddings either—ed.]He also spoke of scope and extent of an accommodation. “This doesn’t look like liberty but as if we are trying to preserve some type of privilege,” said Corvino describing the potential dangers that come from broadly based and applied religious liberty legislation.
On the opposite end, Dr. Anderson and Sherif Gregis expressed a growing concern over a culture that did not tolerate the idea that one’s morality should be upheld and respected. Gregis arguing the importance of the opportunity to live according to one’s conviction as, “a value that you don’t see until you have the opportunity to live it.” Anderson argued that the risks associated with granting too little religious liberty were far greater than the risk of granting too much. He also cautioned against creating a too broad view of discrimination citing that racial discrimination and discrimination based on sexual orientation are not only drastically different but completely unequal to one another.