Most of the platform’s focus on domestic religious freedom had to do with Republican nominee Donald Trump’s rhetoric towards Muslims, as well as his proposal of religious tests for immigrants and refugees looking to enter the country. Trump has previously advocated for an indefinite ban on Muslims from entering the country, for security reasons.
Although “conscience” was specifically mentioned in the 1996 Democratic platform on abortion – “we respect the individual conscience of each American on this difficult issue” – there is no mention of “conscience” in the current platform, Bunson noted. Clinton has gone so far as to say at the 2015 Women in the World Summit that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed,” after discussing “critical access to reproductive health care.”
After the party affirmed its support for “religious freedom” in 2008, the term disappeared entirely from the 2012 platform, only to re-appear in 2016 in a different light.
Within the LGBT rights section, one sentence mentioned religious freedom:“We support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate.”
As Bunson stated, a “progressive” take on religious freedom could cede the ground to LGBT concerns when they come into conflict with the free exercise of religion. This is already playing out – or has played out – in some cases, as when Catholic Charities adoption agencies in Illinois and the Distric of Columbia were forced to close because they wouldn’t match children with same-sex couples. A florist in Oregon had to shutter her business for refusing to serve a same-sex wedding.
Rights of conscience might be trampled by LGBT rights in courts and in federal regulation, Bunson explained. “So it’ll be enshrined in health care, it’ll be enshrined in civil rights legislation,” he said.