News Release

March 31, 2015

Heritage Foundation says American Muslims should
be free to discriminate based on Islamic teaching

Heritage needs history lesson: America
doesn’t sanction religion-based bigotry 

Faith In America, a nonprofit organization working to end religion-derived derogation toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, is demanding the Heritage Foundation explain its position that Muslim business owners should be free to discriminate based on their religious belief.

That position was outlined Monday evening on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” by Heritage Foundation spokesperson Ryan Anderson as he was defending Indiana’s new religion-based bigotry bill in a discussion with Dan Savage, a staunch advocate for LGBT civil rights.

The host of the show asked Anderson what would happen if a Muslim business owner refused to serve women or employ women unless they applied to the fundamental dress code of wearing a head covering. 

Anderson stated: “I think in a free society if a Muslim citizen wants to run a business accordance to their Islamic values, that as Americans we let Muslims be Muslims.”

Faith In America points out to the Heritage Foundation that social conservatives were appalled to learn after the murderous attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in France that Muslims in that country were free to operate their separate communities under Sharia Law in what are referred too as free zones.

“It is beyond consternation that the Heritage Foundation would announce that its vision of America is one in which fundamental religious communities exist as separate societies governed by religious teaching instead of the American constitution,” said Brent Childers, executive director of Faith In America. “The honesty behind Anderson expressing that vision is what is most astounding.”

“It is true that Muslims can be Muslims in America, Jews can be Jews, Christians can be Christians and Atheists can be Atheists because our forefathers long ago decided that our nation would not be premised on certain religious belief trumping civil governance.”

Childers said every American should stand against the Heritage Foundation dangerous view of a society divided along the lines of differing religious belief and a nation where its citizens can be targeted by misguided religious teaching. He said Indiana’s measure  without question places a moral and religious stamp of approval on discrimination and hostility toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

“As Anderson’s comment clearly shows, it may be evangelical Christians discriminating against married gay couples today but easily could be other minorities targeted in the future,” Childers said. “Every American who cherishes the premises of equality and religious liberty should denounce the Heritage Foundation for promoting religion-based bigotry as an American value,” Childers added.

Faith In America has worked since 2005 to raise awareness and understanding about the harm caused to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, especially youth and families, when misguided religious teaching is used to justify discrimination and hostility. It has started a petition at asking the public to turn off the NCAA Final Four Tournament to show its disapproval of Indiana’s gay persecution measure.