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Biden’s HHS pick said religious institutions don’t merit the same freedoms as individuals

Mary Margaret Olohan, DCNF

President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for health secretary said in 2017 that institutions do not merit the same religious freedom protections under the Constitution as individuals, video footage shows.

During his 2017 confirmation hearings to become attorney general of California, Xavier Becerra was questioned on religious freedom protections by Assemblyman James Gallagher, according to video footage posted by the California Family Council.

Gallagher pushed Becerra to explain his stances on legislation such as SB 1146 requiring private religious universities to modify their faith-based codes or face penalizations.

“On religious protections, the protection for religion is for the individual,” Becerra told Gallagher.

“I think it is important to distinguish between protections that you are affording to the individual to exercise his or her religion freely,” Becerra said, “versus protections you are giving to some institution or entity who is essentially bootstrapping the first amendment protections on behalf of somebody else.”

Gallagher later said that Becerra’s comments showed a “fundamental misunderstanding of the freedom of religion and freedom of association,” video posted by the California Family Council showed.

“The freedom of religion and the First Amendment applies just as much to the mosque as it does to the Muslim; it applies just as much to the gurdwara as it does to the Sikh; it applies just as much to the church as it does to the Christian,” Gallagher said.  “It applies just as much to religious non-profits, universities, and places of education. Their religious rights need to be protected just as much.”

Becerra did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Biden announced that he would nominate the California attorney general for secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Monday.

Biden’s selection of Becerra “raises grave concerns,” California Family Council President Jonathan Keller said in a statement.

“The Secretary of HHS is one of the most important positions in the federal government,” Keller said, calling Becerra a “radical ideologue who rejects First Amendment protections for religious organizations.”

“It’s hard to see how nominating such an activist is consistent with Mr. Biden’s pledge to be a president for all Americans,” he said.

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Founded by Tucker Carlson, a 25-year veteran of print and broadcast media, and Neil Patel, former chief policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, The Daily Caller News Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit providing original investigative reporting from a team of professional reporters that operates for the public benefit.

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