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Thank you❤️

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Dear Ms. Harris:

You are the executive director of the organization named Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism. I am a Democrat, a Biden voter, a retired attorney and a gay man.

I have been married to my partner of 42 years for 20 years now, thanks to Canada's brave stand against the religious intolerance that, when all is said and done, has been almost exclusively responsible for marginalizing gay people and making them at best second class citizens since (pages through the Bible) at least Old Testament times.

As someone whose sexuality could subject me to the worst forms of intolerance even today in certain parts of the world and to anti-gay bigotry in some parts of the United States, I took FAIR's name to heart when I decided to follow the organization's activities and support it in my comments on social media and within my social circle. It now seems that I was badly mistaken.

In early December, FAIR platformed a member of its advisory board, Professor Robert P. George of Princeton University, on the occasion of his receipt of the Religious Freedom Institute’s 2023 Defender of Religious Freedom Award. In so doing, FAIR also platformed the National Catholic Register and its story about the award that included the text of the Professor's acceptance speech.

When I read Professor George's remarks, I was appalled to find an unapologetic and strident defense of a toxic form of Christian religious "freedom." It is an Orwellian concept of freedom in that adherents to that particular faith are adamant that their religious freedom will be impermissibly abridged if the state does not honor their right to discriminate against gay and lesbian Americans even in purely secular settings.

It should be noted that other American Christian denominations that cherish the same religious texts as Professor George do not practice intolerance towards gay people. The Protestant Evangelical wedding planner worships the same God as the Episcopalian baker, but the Evangelical planner will refuse to work for a gay couple because their upcoming marriage is religiously abhorrent to her while the Episcopalian baker will gladly create their wedding cake.

Professor George not only attacked marriage equality on purely religious grounds, he proudly advanced the outrageous notion that a church that owns and operates institutions with purely secular purposes that do business with members of the general public such as "schools, hospitals, food pantries, shelters, adoption agencies, rehab centers, or what have you," [1] has the legal right to refuse to serve gays and lesbians if doing business with them would offend church teachings.

As is usually the case with advocates for these reactionary religious faiths, Professor George had the audacity to speak from the perspective of victims of religious persecution even while arguing for an aggressive, religiously motivated assault on the rights of fellow Americans.

I consider this to be a form of domestic religious imperialism in which certain churches and members of those denominations in effect colonize the business sector and then apply exclusionary sectarian purity tests to limit gay people's freedom to engage in ordinary secular business transactions in the public sphere on the same basis as non-gays.

The Foundation Against INTOLERANCE and Racism owes its supporters and the public an explanation for endorsing a particularly intolerant notion of so-called religious freedom. It is espoused by the same Trumpist far right that brought about an end to federally protected abortion in this nation and that seeks to end same-sex marriage.

Does FAIR advocate reverting to the "separate but equal" standard for segregating people in the public sphere? If a church-run Christian adoption agency refused to place a baby with a Jewish couple who were otherwise fully qualified on the grounds that church teachings require children to be raised by Christians, would FAIR defend the practice on religious freedom principles? Suppose the objection wasn’t the religion but the race of the prospective adoptive parents? After all, a century ago and for hundreds of years before that many Christian faiths churches had robust defenses of segregation and even slavery based on deeply-held religious beliefs. Which side of freedom is FAIR on, and why?

It has been over a month since I sent the Foundation Against INTOLERANCE and Racism a letter objecting to the organization's hypocritical indifference to religiously motivated intolerance against gay people. I have yet to receive a response. Is FAIR going to stonewall in the face of well-founded criticism the way the bad actors it targets sometimes do?

[1] George, Robert P. "Championing Religious Freedom: ‘We Must Preserve Our Unity’ Going Beyond Political Disputes." National Catholic Register. 4 November 2023. https://www.ncregister.com/commentaries/championing-religious-freedom-rfi-address-2023

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Thank you Monica Harris & FAIR

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Monica, your hiring of Shellenberger goes against the values you espouse in this column.

Shellenberger is a partisan propagandist: eg, his long history on the climate denial grift circuit. I hope you read this expose before he joined FAIR:

https://disinformationchronicle.substack.com/p/the-new-denial-is-delay-at-the-breakthrough

I hope FAIR retains its pro-human agenda and doesn't devolve into the typical corporatist right-wing think tank. Anti-environmentalists like Shellenberger are the exact opposite of "pro-human."

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