George Takei: ‘Religious Freedom Is Just a Cloak For Prejudice’

February 25th, 2014 12:19 PM

Actor and gay rights activist George Takei is known for his outspokenness when talking about gay marriage. As a result, the former "Star Trek" cast member felt the need to jump into the debate surrounding Arizona’s new religious freedom bill.

Appearing as a guest on The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell on Monday night, Takei expressed his outrage with the Arizona bill and proclaimed that not only is Arizona’s SB 1062 “not a religious freedom bill at all” he shrieked that “religious freedom is just a cloak for prejudice.” [See video below.]

Takei continued his rant against the Arizona bill by pushing the liberal line that “They're trying to write their prejudice into civil law… But it's these right-wing religious extremists that seem to dominate in the legislature.” Nowhere in the segment did Takei bother explaining why he thought a private business should be forced to provide services for a gay wedding if it violated his/her religious conscience and instead attacked religious freedom as an excuse for prejudice.

Instead of acknowledging that private businesses are being sued for refusing to service gay weddings, the actor chose to make a blanket disparaging statement that religious freedom doesn’t really exist and instead is “just a cloak for prejudice.” Takei concluded his tirade by pronouncing that SB 1962 is “really a disgraceful repugnant bill that is trying to hide under the cloak of religious freedom.”

MSNBC has made it clear which side it stands on the side of the SB 1062 debate and it isn’t on the side of religious freedom. Even when MSNBC brought on Republican strategist Susan Del Percio to discuss the bill, the so-called conservative didn’t bother mentioning the religious freedom aspects of the issue and instead pushed the liberal line that the law was “outright discrimination.”  


See relevant transcript below.


The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell

February 24, 2014

10:32 p.m. Eastern

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: Actor and activist George Takei who owns a vacation home with his husband in Arizona wrote this on his blog Friday -- "If your governor Jan Brewer signs this repugnant bill into law, make no mistake. We will not come. We will not spend. And we will urge everyone we know from large corporations to small families on vacation to boycott because you don't deserve our dollars. Not one red cent." Joining me now, actor and gay rights activist George Takei and Arizona State Representative Chad Campbell, who is the Minority Leader in the House. George, the amount of opposition to this since you wrote about it on Friday -- I remember reading what you wrote on Friday. I was reading it on my phone, and I thought okay, that's good, that's George. I'd expect that from George. And it felt like you were writing into what was then a pretty quiet world on this subject. Here we are Monday, you've got enormous support coming your way. 

GEORGE TAKEI: We feel very strongly about this. And it breaks our heart that both houses of the Arizona legislature passed this. It is not a religious freedom bill at all. Ironically, their religious freedom is being well protected by gays and lesbians in the military. And the economic vitality of Arizona is being contributed to by gays and lesbians. The so-called religious freedom is just a cloak for prejudice. And they're trying to write their prejudice into civil law, which you can't do and you can't write your religious faith values into civil law either because we have many, many different religions. And as you said, the wise Republican leadership now is expressing their opposition to it. But it's these right-wing religious extremists that seem to dominate in the legislature. We have relatives and many, many friends, gay as well as straight that we love. And they are not represented by this bill. It is really a disgraceful repugnant bill that is trying to hide under the cloak of religious freedom.