Gary Johnson Continues Ideological Assault on Religious Liberty

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Not even those who claim to love liberty the most are standing by religious freedom today.

In a recent interview with the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson derided federal laws protecting religious freedom, saying that it is the federal government’s job to prevent discrimination.

When asked if groups that have moral and religious reservations about participating in same-sex wedding ceremonies could be exempted from anti-discrimination laws, Johnson quickly answered in the negative.

“Look. Here’s the issue. You’ve narrowly defined this. But if we allow for discrimination — if we pass a law that allows for discrimination on the basis of religion — literally, we’re gonna open up a can of worms when it come stop discrimination of all forms ,” the Libertarian said. “The problem is I don’t think you can cut out a little chunk there. I think what you’re going to end up doing is open up a plethora of discrimination that you never believed could exist.”

“I just see religious freedom, as a category, of just being a black hole,” Johnson added.

As a Libertarian, Johnson is running on a message of fiscal discipline, nonintervention in foreign affairs, and “social tolerance.” He claims that he and his running mate “really don’t give a damn as long as you don’t force your social-whatever-it-is onto anybody else.”

His support of federal nondiscrimination laws flies in the face of this declaration of “social tolerance.” Quite frankly, Johnson’s opposition to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and other similar legislation is utterly intolerant.

Johnson, and the leftists he sides with, advocate nothing less than using the brute force of government to coerce religious Americans into violating their consciences. There is no difference between Johnson’s actual policy views and the policies of the last eight years — a Johnson administration would merely carry on the never-ending assault on religious liberty that’s defined the Obama years.

When Johnson says he supports “non-discrimination laws,” voters ought to keep in mind exactly what these laws are meant to do. In California, such laws are threatening Christian schools. In Oregon, business owners are forced to violate their consciences or pay exorbitant fines.

The laws Johnson and the LGBT movement are pushing for are not meant to promote social tolerance. These laws are meant to keep faith in a box.

Johnson and the Libertarian Party claim to love the U.S. Constitution and the Founding Fathers. But this kind of government interference with faith is the exact opposite of what they intended for this country.

In a letter to a fellow soldier in the early days of the Revolutionary War, George Washington wrote, “While we are contending for our own liberty, we should be very cautious not to violate the rights of conscience in others, ever considering that God alone is the judge of the hearts of men, and to him only in this case they are answerable.”

James Madison wrote in defense of religious liberty, too, saying: “The religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate.”

Unlike the men who founded this republic, Gary Johnson does not want to protect Americans’ conscience rights. He wants to stifle them.

Michael Lucchese works for the American Principles Project.