July/August 2018 Church & State Magazine - July/August 2018

Tony Perkins Named To Religious Freedom Commission

  Rokia Hassanein

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has appointed Religious Right figure Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a move many are criticizing as harmful to religious freedom.

“From my post at USCIRF, I look forward to doing all that I can to ensure that our government is the single biggest defender of religious freedom internationally,” Perkins said in a statement after his appointment.

But critics assert that Perkins is no friend of religious freedom, but rather an outright foe. As Americans United has noted multiple times, Perkins’ view on “religious freedom” is extreme because it encourages people to use their religion to harm women, LGBTQ people, religious minorities and others.

Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, called Perkins “the most recognizable anti-LGBTQ activist in America.” The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) also labeled FRC as an “anti-LGBT hate group.”

Heidi Beirich, the director of SPLC’s Intelligence Project, warned that Perkins’ appointment to the USCIRF will hurt LGBTQ people and religious minorities.

“Perkins specializes in spreading false propaganda that demonizes the LGBT community and Muslims,” Beirich said. “Perkins’ idea of ‘religious freedom’ is having the freedom to discriminate against entire groups of people he doesn’t like. His well-documented bigotry has no place in any government entity.”

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There can be no freedom for any of us in America until we are all free to live our lives without fear that we will be harmed because of who we are, what we look like or what religion we practice.

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