Fox News Pretends ENDA's Religious Exemptions Aren't Real

Fox News continues to falsely accuse the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) of threatening religious liberty, asserting that the bill's broad religious exemptions simply won't be enforced by the Obama administration.

During the November 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brett Baier, correspondent and pro-discrimination champion Shannon Bream discussed concerns about ENDA - which would bar employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity - suggesting that the law might be used to punish religious employers:

BREAM: The stated goal of this legislation is to make sure that there's no discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Now, both people who oppose and support the bill say they support that, that everybody should be treated with dignity in the workplace. Their fear is that this is going to get tricky for religious employers. Drafters of the bill say, 'Well, there are religious exemptions built in.' But as you can imagine, there are plenty of skeptics who say, 'Well, look how it's working out with the [Health and Human Services] HHS contraception mandate.' So they have worries.

Bream's citation of the HHS contraception mandate seems to be recycled from an earlier Fox segment attacking ENDA, during which hate group president Andrea Lafferty similarly questioned whether ENDA's religious exemption would be enforced:

LAFFERTY: We have an administration that ignores the religious liberties of chaplains, of all kinds of people when we look at what's happened with the HHS mandate. 

But Fox isn't making a serious argument. The Obama administration exempted religious groups and churches from the HHS reproductive health mandate.

Moreover, ENDA already includes broad exemptions for religious groups, mirroring the same exemptions that already exist under the religious discrimination provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In fact, ENDA's religious exemption is broader than the exemption for most protected classes under Title VII. As the Center for American Progress wrote, “ENDA gives religious organizations a legal right to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity."

The plain language of ENDA should be enough to dispel fears about the law's impact on religious liberty, but Fox would rather baselessly accuse the administration of lying than admit that conservative attacks on the measure don't hold water.