Reconciling Non-Discrimination Principles with Civil Liberties | Thomas M. Messner at the Heritage Foundation

Thomas M. Messner at the Heritage Foundation: As the Commission considers the growing problem of conflicts between nondiscrimination policies and the free exercise of religious and moral conscience, the Commission should recall that, in America, “liberty should be the starting point, not a begrudged afterthought, in every context of law and public policy.”[14] In addition to honoring fundamental principles of freedom, protecting the free exercise of religious and moral conscience is one of the “most effective and principled ways to promote social peace and civic fraternity,” especially in pluralistic societies, such as ours, “where consensus is elusive.”[15] In contrast, “when nondiscrimination policies are misused as instruments for the intolerant suppression of religious speech and traditional religious beliefs, then the pluralism so vital to sustaining our political and religious freedoms will no longer exist.”[16]