Amy Coney Barrett’s Nomination Could Be the Final Blow to Real Freedom of Religion

| Reproaction

By: Shireen Shakouri

The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court was a long time coming. Many activists and advocates – myself included – thought she’d be the pick back in 2018 to fill retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat, though we were instead met with the nightmare of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. [1]

The idea that Barrett would be chosen wasn’t empty prophesy, but a deep understanding of the Christian conservative movement’s modus operandi over the last several decades. They have been:

  1. Positioning themselves as victims in a culture war that they are losing because of the unpopularity of their views, but arguing is in fact a malicious stifling of those largely-harmful views. [2]
  2. Coopting feminism, human rights, religious freedom, and other pursuits of justice to advance an agenda that chips away at all the goals of those movements. [3]
  3. Lying, cheating, and conducting all manner of unethical power-grabs to impose their agendas on a disinterested and often reluctant public. [4]

For years, Reproaction has been tracking the phony claims of ‘censorship’ by pro-life and conservative groups, and the near-constant portrayal of conservatives as the underdog battling an all-powerful left that supposedly hates them just because they’re ‘good’ Christians.

We’ve also broken down how it’s impossible to be a feminist while advocating against bodily autonomy and abortion.

We’ve tracked unethical, sneaky tactics and power-grabs intended to subvert the will of the people, democratic processes, and societal well-being.

We’ve outlined how Christian fundamentalism has taken over the political right and is the backbone of the ‘pro-life’ movement, which casts Christianity as the only religion worth allowing constitutional protection, cultural and moral legitimacy, and respect of its adherents.

In short: we’ve been preparing for this moment. That doesn’t make it any easier to swallow, or to fight against, but we will. I suggest reading all of the linked pieces above, as well as “Amy Coney Barrett is the Perfect Victim for Christian Right” from New York Magazine, all of which help give an understanding of what we’re up against, and a path for how to beat it moving forward. [5]

Consider the 2018 Supreme Court case of NIFLA v. Becerra, in which anti-abortion fake clinics sued against a common sense, fairly mild California law that would have imposed easily-navigable regulations on fake clinics. The big-money, high-influence ‘pro-life’ establishment sued on the basis of freedom of religion and freedom of speech, saying that their ability to practice their Christian faith was being hampered, as well as their ability to exercise free speech – essentially, saying that lying to clients of their supposed medical establishments was Constitutionally protected. [6] The court at that time, still with Kennedy on the bench, declined to rule on that point. But the newly remade court with Kavanaugh and possibly Barrett will see questions like this differently, with potentially dire consequences. Will anti-LGBTQ ‘conversion therapy’ programs be ruled constitutionally protected free speech and free religious practice, because far-right Christian groups say it’s within their sacred duty? Will the ‘Muslim ban’ upheld in Trump v. Hawaii (also when Kennedy was still on the court) be imposed even further? Who will be allowed actual freedom of religion under this new court? It’s plain to see that tyranny of one religion means others are neglected, suppressed, and when brought to extremes: banned.

So read up, get educated, and help inform your friends, family, and community members – especially if you’re involved in faith groups. What’s needed now is for people of faith in particular to come together and speak out: What Amy Coney Barrett and others are advocating for is not religious freedom and tolerance, but written-in-law supremacy of their faith over all others, disguised as adherence to the Constitution’s establishment clause and originalism. We can fight it only if we understand it as such.


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