Dana Nessel, a candidate for Attorney General of Michigan, is an activist attorney who has a dangerous record of attacking religious liberty and trashing the religious beliefs of those who disagree with her.
Catholics have been among Nessel’s favorite targets. In 2015, the Michigan legislature passed a bill to protect the religious freedom of faith-based foster care and adoption agencies, assuring that they wouldn’t be forced to choose between their values and their mission to find homes for children. The bill was supported by the Michigan Catholic Conference.
“If you are a proponent of this type of bill,” Nessel fumed, “you honestly have to concede that you just dislike gay people more than you care about the needs of foster care kids.” When the bill passed, she declared it “a victory for the hate mongers.”
Now, Nessel is promising that if she becomes Michigan’s Attorney General she will refuse to defend this religious freedom law against a pending challenge by the ACLU. She will, in short, place her own ideological biases ahead of the will of Michigan’s duly elected state representatives.
Nessel has also attacked the right of Catholic institutions, such as Catholic schools, to require that employees be faithful to Catholic teaching. “If the definition is ‘violating Catholic precepts’ then you better be consistent about it,” she said, “and it has to remain within the confines of federal and state law.” In other words, let the government dictate the Catholic Church’s employment policies.
Back in 2014, before the U.S. Supreme Court mandated that all states legalize gay marriage, a coalition of religious groups in Michigan—including the Michigan Catholic Conference—filed legal briefs supporting the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. Nessel trashed all these people of faith as “a radical fringe” engaged in “the demagoguery of hate.”
There is indeed a hatred and bigotry evident here. But it is not emanating from Catholics or other religious believers. It is coming from Dana Nessel, who in her ideological extremism smears the Catholic Church and people of faith, and works to deny them their First Amendment right to religious freedom.