Acton Institute Powerblog

Acton Commentary: Liberty for AOC but not for thee

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During a congressional hearing late last week, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez likened Christians who refuse to perform medical procedures that violate their religious beliefs to Klansmen, segregationists, and slaveholders. But in this week’s Acton Commentary, Rev. Gregory Jensen writes that it is the congresswoman who shares the Jim Crow tactics of using the government to deny other people their inalienable rights.

In a video clip that went viral, AOC, a democratic socialist, said that Christians lack the right to live according to their faith in the workplace, and even seeking to do so violates the rights of those requesting such optional procedures as gender reassignment surgery.

Rev. Jensen – an Eastern Orthodox priest, Acton University lecturer, and author of an Acton Institute monograph on consumerism – writes that segregation laws forced business owners to adopt racially discriminatory practices, even if they supported integration and racial equality:

Jim Crow laws facilitated segregation by denying individuals the right to act according to their consciences, or even according to their economic self-interest. Yes, individuals could think whatever they wished about segregation. However, they could not act on their convictions, not only because of fear of social censure (to put it mildly), but because as a matter of law – they could not use their property as they saw fit.

In the same way, requiring healthcare providers to violate their personal or medical ethics infringes on their First Amendment right to freedom of religion, as well as substituting the views of politicians for those of trained medical experts. He writes:

Even if Ocasio-Cortez’s words were sincere, they are a threat to the religious liberty of all Americans. Not least among these are AOC’s brothers and sisters in Christ. We cannot defend the rights of some by violating the God-given rights of others.

Read his full commentary here.

(Photo credit: Matt A.J. This photo has been cropped. CC BY 2.0.)

Rev. Ben Johnson

Rev. Ben Johnson is Executive Editor of the Acton Institute's flagship journal Religion & Liberty and edits its transatlantic website.