Religious Refusals: The New Front in the Culture War
In the wake of the rapid transformation in American attitudes regarding LGBT people, conservatives led by right-wing Catholic organizations such as The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and The Becket Fund have shifted tactics, arguing that a wide swath of actors should be exempted from civil rights laws because of professed religious belief. Though almost all would agree that some institutions should be exempted from such laws -- churches, for example -- the "Religious Liberty" movement seeks to exempt any private actor who professes a religious belief, including corporations and individual proprietors, to deny services to LGBT people. In fact, this tactic is not new -- it was attempted unsuccessfully in the 1970s regarding desegregation, and successfully in the 1980s-90s regarding abortion. Dr. Jay Michaelson, author of the influential report "Redefining Religious Liberty: The New Front in the Culture War" will explore the legal, political, and financial aspects of this campaign and assess its prospects in light of recent court cases and new statements from Catholic leadership.
Bio: Dr. Jay Michaelson is a leading authority on the U.S. “religious exemptions” movement and the author of the 2013 report Redefining Religious Liberty: The Covert Campaign against Civil Rights (Political Research Associates). Recently vice president of the Arcus Foundation, where he coordinated the efforts of forty U.S. LGBT organizations to fight the anti-gay campaigns in Russia, Dr. Michaelson is the founder of two LGBT religious organizations whose activist work has been featured on NPR, CNN, and in the New York Times. He holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and a Ph.D. in Jewish Thought from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has held teaching positions at Boston University Law School, City College of New York, and Yale University. Dr. Michaelson’s recent book, God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality , was a Lambda Literary Award finalist and Amazon.com bestseller. Michaelson is currently a visiting researcher at Brown University and director of the Democracy Council’s LGBT Global Rights Initiative.