Last Wednesday Hillary Clinton made her pitch for the Mormon vote, publishing an op ed in the Deseret News about her devotion to religious freedom. Most observers don’t immediately associate Hillary Clinton with religious freedom, or for that matter with any conceivable aspect of religion or virtue. But her specific claims deserve some response.
One preliminary point must be made. Clinton begins one of her paragraphs with “let’s be honest,” and she attacks Donald Trump’s lack of morals. Note to op-ed-writers: When drafting something that will be published under Hillary Clinton’s name, never ever use the phrase “let’s be honest” or mention anyone’s morals. The reasons are obvious.
Now, to the substance. In the first place, notice that Clinton doesn’t promise to defend Americans’ First Amendment right to free exercise of religion. That would mean she believes people of faith have the right to live out that faith in both their personal and professional lives, which she manifestly doesn’t believe. Instead, she invokes the careful phrasing always used by the President and his apparatchiks: “everyone has the right to worship however he or she sees fit.”
“Right to worship” is much narrower than “right to free exercise.” It means the right to attend church on Sunday and observe whatever quaint rituals take place inside the sanctuary, but outside in the cold light of day, all actions must conform to the government’s secular orthodoxy.
From this sleight of hand, Clinton moves on to declare her solidarity with Mormons and religious minorities everywhere. (Someone should ask her opinion of the campaign to deny Brigham Young University admission to the Big 12 conference for operating according to its religious principles.) Indeed, her history with the religious-freedom disputes of the day demonstrates that in a contest between politically incorrect people of faith and the totalitarian government, she’s on Team Totalitarian.
Jane Robbins is an attorney and a senior fellow with the American Principles Project.