The Norman Transcript

Religion

July 10, 2014

Anti-bias order creates rift

NORMAN — In the intensifying debate over religious liberty, President Barack Obama faces pressure from opposite flanks as he prepares to issue an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against gay and transgender people in hiring.

Many religious leaders and conservative groups want him to exempt religious organizations from the order. Liberal clergy and groups advocating on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people adamantly oppose such an exemption — and have pulled their support for a non-discrimination bill they long supported to drive the point home.

The upshot is a difficult balancing act for the White House, which says the executive order is still being drafted — nearly a month after Obama announced he would sign it. White House spokesman Josh Earnest declined to say whether a religious exemption would be included or was even being considered.

Within the past two weeks, scores of religious leaders of contrasting views have signed letters to Obama, arguing for and against an exemption.

One letter, signed by 14 faith leaders urging a “robust” exemption, was organized by Michael Wear, a Washington-based consultant who previously worked on Obama’s re-election campaign and in the White House office of faith-based initiatives.

“It’s a tough issue for the White House, and for me and many of the signers of the letter,” Wear said. “It’s about a tension between two constitutionally valid principles — protecting LGBT people from discrimination, and also protecting groups whose whole being is about religious belief.”

He said the exemption sought by the 14 signatories of his letter would not establish new prerogatives for religious organizations, but would enable them to continue long-standing hiring practices favoring people who share the employers’ faith. Among those signing were popular evangelical preacher Rick Warren, prominent megachurch pastor and Obama confidant Joel Hunter, and the Rev. Larry Snyder, CEO of Catholic Charities USA.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Religion
  • Hnsen Luger Kate Hansen still riding the Olympic cloud

    Not many people can say they actually accomplished their lifetime dreams. Even less can say they did it before turning 22....

    March 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tests of a living faith

    We recently started a study on Wednesday nights of the letter James wrote to the church. This Bible book is a practical guide to Christian living, but more than that, it really forces one to think honestly about their faith. Is your faith ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Which Bible bit is most misinterpreted?

    The Rev. Scott Gordon, Claycomo Baptist Church: Many passages vie for consideration, but the first “bit” that came to mind we find in Matthew 7:1-6 and Romans 2:1-5....

    July 24, 2014

  • CAIR-OK plans day of service

    The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) will join Mercy Youth Club and IST Youth at the fourth annual Ramadan Day of Service Saturday....

    July 18, 2014

  • Guest preacher and author to speak

    The Reverend Dr. James White will preach, as well as discuss, his new book, “Brief Christian Histories: Getting a Sense of Our Long Story,” this Sunday at First Christian Church, 220 S. Webster. White will preach at both 8:40 and 10:45 ...

    July 18, 2014

  • Life on earth is a vapor

    The last of the baby boomers turn 50 this year. This generation of Americans, born from 1946-1964, is named after the post-World War II “baby boom.” I am a baby boomer and as one of the “late boomers,” one of the last to turn 50 — ...

    July 17, 2014

  • What does a bird ‘alone on a housetop’ mean

    Reassurance of God’s mercy The Rev. Betty Hanna-Witherspoon, Ebenezer A.M.E. Church: This verse, Psalm 102:7, has a notation in the New Living Translation, “A prayer of one overwhelmed with trouble, pouring out problems before the ...

    July 17, 2014

  • Hillsboro resident’s first CD will benefit Haiti missions

    When Angie Sawyer's son passed away at age 5 she tried several ways to deal with her grief. But none of them worked, she said, until she turned to God. So to tell her story, she recently recorded her first CD, “On The Right Track.” All ...

    July 10, 2014

  • Anti-bias order creates rift

    In the intensifying debate over religious liberty, President Barack Obama faces pressure from opposite flanks as he prepares to issue an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against gay and transgender people in ...

    July 10, 2014

  • Is anything really free?

    We have just celebrated the nation’s 238th birthday. We are extremely proud of and attached to freedom. The Founding Fathers wrote into the founding documents practical truths that make those freedoms attainable. I love the fact that they ...

    July 10, 2014