Christian Leaders Request a New Kind of Religious Exemption

Let the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby floodgates open.  

It was only a matter of time before other Christian organizations asked for religious exemptions based on issues unrelated to the Affordable Care Act. The first major exemption request comes from a group of Christian leaders who have asked President Obama for a religious exemption from a forthcoming executive order that will forbid organizations that discriminate based on sexual orientation from competing for government contracts. 

You can read the letter here.  ,

The signers of the letter include Michael Lindsay (President of Gordon College), Andy Crouch, (Executive Editor of Christianity Today), Joel Hunter (Pastor of Northland Church and a spiritual adviser to Barack Obama), Rick Warren (Pastor of Saddlebach Church), Larry Snyder (CEO of Catholic Charities), and Steven Bauman (President and CEO of World Relief).

The Boston Globe has published an article about Gordon College President Michael Lindsay’s decision to sign this letter.  The article states that Lindsay’s decision to sign the letter  “drew sharp criticism from Gordon alumni and students.” It then quotes an interview with a Gordon alum, Paul Miller, who now heads an LGBTQ organization of former Gordon students and graduates.  While I am sure members of Miller’s group are upset with Lindsay’s decision to sign this letter, I would venture to guess that the percentage of the entire Gordon alumni base that disagrees with Lindsay’s choice is rather small.

This will be the first of many such exemption requests.  We are already seeing the implications of Burwell v.Hobby Lobby.

7 thoughts on “Christian Leaders Request a New Kind of Religious Exemption

  1. “While I am sure members of Miller's group are upset with Lindsay's decision to sign this letter, I would venture to guess that the percentage of the entire Gordon alumni base that disagrees with Lindsay's choice is rather small.”

    My daughter just graduated from Gordon and was a gay advocate on campus (e.g., served on a committee looking into all of this with President Lindsay).

    That “small” in not correct. Closer to the opposite with regard to the students and a good sized chunk of the faculty. (No knowledge with regard to trustees.)

    An “aha” moment:

    The initiative (Obama, LGBT and religious exemption) was organized by Michael Wear, who worked in the Obama White House and directed faith outreach for the president's 2012 campaign.

    I found it somewhat odd that Lindsay would lend his name to this Michael Wear lead initiative. It didn't make a lot of sense to me. I poked around a bit. Michael Wear was one of Lindsay’s research fellows at Rice U (the PLATINUM Study).

    Perhaps (don't know) it's more support than endorse.

    The person that started the petition, Brian Boyd, discovered that Lindsay assumed it wouldn't go public and there's (some) evidence.

    I've decided to suspend judgment for the moment. I was pretty pissed.


  2. As a Gordon alum, I'm not thrilled that President Lindsay decided to jump into the politics and culture wars. I don't think his predecessor, Judd Carlberg, would have taken a similar step; I'd would be very interested to know if the search committee that hired Lindsay a couple of years ago anticipated he would speak out like this.

    I have started to see the early stirrings of a backlash among other alumni on social media, including a petition to have Lindsay withdraw his support. Still too early to tell how extensive protest will be, but the petition has gotten hundreds of signatures in the last few hours.


  3. I agree with John. This is a crucial juncture–government is about to take over as the moral arbiter for society.

    Anyone who opposes this takeover had better start speaking up now or be left forever holding his piece.

    [BTW, I understand the L and G, but how did we get sold the B and T?]


  4. Sure and that's a good point. But “SOMETHING” doesn't have to imply malice aforethought. It could just be coincidence, or a matter of “we were going to release this next week, but holy cow, the timing's perfect after Hobby Lobby!”


  5. Paul: I know it was planned before Hobby Lobby, but Hobby Lobby was tried in April. I am sure that they were anticipating a decision in Hobby Lobby and once that decision was made the argument of the letter became that much stronger. If I were examining this historically I would have to say SOMETHING about the fact that this letter was dated one day after the Hobby Lobby decision was handed down.


  6. John, you suggest that this letter is a consequence of Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, but while the letter was released the day after the court decision, typically such public letters take time to draft and then attract signers. It's certainly a response to the Obama administration's requirement that federal contractors not discriminate against LGBQT employees, but that executive order was announced several weeks ago.

    Obviously, both the Hobby Lobby case and the letter protesting the executive order involve similar issues, but I think it's incorrect to suggest a causal connection between them.


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