LGBTQ Equality

Americans United Fellow Andrew Hartzler: Aunt and former U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler wrong choice to serve on U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

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Americans United for Separation of Church and State denounced the decision of House Speaker Mike Johnson to appoint former U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri to serve on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

“U.S. commissioners appointed to protect worldwide religious freedom should advance religious freedom for all. Former U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler has a demonstrated record of doing the opposite – advancing Christian Nationalism and weaponizing religious freedom as a license to discriminate. She’s the wrong choice for this honor,” said Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United. “Hartzler can’t condemn religious freedom violations in other countries when she doesn’t support true religious freedom in her own country.

“Sadly, it’s just one more example of Speaker Johnson using his position of power to impose his personal religious beliefs on the country, and now the world. We need a national recommitment to the separation of church and state to protect our democracy and ensure freedom without favor and equality without exception for all.”

Hartzler’s nephew, AU Youth Organizing Fellow Andrew Hartzler, disappointed by appointment

Joining Laser in criticizing Hartzler’s appointment is Andrew Hartzler of Missouri, a Youth Organizing Fellow at Americans United and Vicky Hartzler’s nephew. After then-Rep. Vicky Hartzler notoriously wept on the House floor in 2022 as she protested LGBTQ+ rights and marriage equality during passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, Andrew Hartzler created a poignant, viral TikTok video that explained he’d recently come out as gay to his aunt and criticized her attempts to “force your religious beliefs onto everyone else.”

“My aunt is a Christian Nationalist who believes the government, laws, and machinery of the state should impose her version of conservative Christianity on to everyone else, regardless of their religion or lack thereof,” Andrew Hartzler said in response to Vicky Hartzler’s appointment. “In her ideal country – a Christian nation – LGBTQ+ equality, abortion rights, true religious freedom, and so much more would be impossible. There can be no religious freedom until we as a nation recommit to separating church and state.”

Americans United is a religious freedom advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, AU educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

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