In recent days we have looked at various things, The War Against Academic Freedom, The New Intolerance, the likely outcome of forcing Americans to do much of anything, and today we’re going to look at the intolerance shown in the opposition to the RFRA in Indiana. We’ll start that with some background provided by Richard A. Epstein writing for The Hoover Institution.
The War Against Religious Liberty
Our country is in the midst of a heated and corrosive debate over what protections the law should afford to religious liberties. The matter reached its boiling point on March 17 when Indiana passed a now amendedReligious Freedom Restoration Act that was, with significant variations, patterned on the federal 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Hard as it is to remember, the federal RFRA represented an overwhelming bipartisan rejection of Justice Scalia’s 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, which stood for the proposition that “the right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).’”
Having enunciated that broad principle, Justice Scalia then upheld Oregon’s decision to deny unemployment benefits to Alfred Smith, a member of the Native American Church, because he was fired for having ingested peyote, a banned substance, as part of his religious rituals. Under Scalia’s iron logic, the disparate impact of this law on Smith did not require Oregon to make any accommodation for his religious beliefs. The denial of unemployment benefits here was collateral damage, given that Oregon did not initiate criminal proceedings against him, as it might have done if he had ingested peyote for recreational use.
Justice Scalia’s dangerously broad neutrality proposition prompted massive disapproval at the time because of the potential breadth of its application. Under that rule, the United States could draft Jews or Muslims into the military and force them to eat pork. After all, they have the choice to go hungry in order to not violate their religious convictions. It could also require commercial Kosher butchers to slaughter meat in accordance with federal health laws inconsistent with kosher rituals.
RFRA’s response established that the United States could not “substantially burden” the religious liberties of any person unless it could show a compelling state interest for the law that caused the burden, and even then it had to pick the least restrictive means to achieve its narrowly-defined public interest. During the more than twenty years that the federal RFRA has been in operation, it has provoked relatively little litigation on provision of services issues, and courts have never read it as a blanket license to discriminate. For the most part the application of the law dealt with matters of faith and religion.
Continue reading The War Against Religious Liberty | Hoover Institution.
That’s about as good on the background as I’ve seen. Mark Bauerlein writing on First Things has something to say on religious liberty as well
[I]n Public Discourse this week is a forthright statement of religious liberty signed by five distinguished figures. It’s a point that needs to be made again and again.
Religious liberty is the first freedom. It is one of the “moral roots” of our “constitutional system.” It is every American’s “birthright.” Without it, “civic harmony” is endangered.
And yet, a circumstance in our country today makes arguments for religious liberty alone inadequate. The statement acknowledges it in the third paragraph:
In recent days we have heard claims that a belief central to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—that we are created male and female, and that marriage unites these two basic expressions of humanity in a unique covenant—amounts to a form of bigotry.
That’s the crux of the matter. Religious conservatives demand religious liberty, while liberals, progressives, and libertarians demand that discrimination stop. In this set-up, which the media blast daily, conservatives don’t defend their beliefs. They only defend their right to exercise those beliefs. The charge of bigotry stands.
Keep reading: RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IS A REARGUARD POSITION.
Ben Johnson writing on Life Site News tells us that
A New York Times columnist and a corporate leader have agreed that Christian churches “must” be convinced, or coerced, to change their teachings on sexual morality and abandon an “ossified” doctrinal teaching that sex outside heterosexual marriage is immoral.
Frank Bruni wrote that traditional Christianity – whether among evangelicals, Catholics, or Orthodox – provides the greatest resistance to normalizing homosexuality in the United States in a recent column in the New York Times.
“Homosexuality and Christianity don’t have to be in conflict in any church anywhere,” Bruni insisted. “The continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing.”
Bruni quoted furniture tycoon Mitchell Gold, who has used his millions to found a liberal pressure group Faith in America, writing that Gold believes Christian churches “must be made ‘to take homosexuality off the sin list.’”
Keep reading Christian churches ‘must be made’ to affirm homosexuality, says New York Times columnist.
Now remember that there is a difference, especially in the United States, between what is legal in the civil realm. Frankly, i can see little justification for banning SSM there, although I do think it should be confined two natural persons, which is a better firebreak. It is different in any church built upon Christ’s teaching, (or Mohammed’s, for that matter) that is very clear. But that does not give us the right to coerce others, but it does give us the right to say who is a member in good standing of our congregations. We are covenantal organizations, when you join, you promise to obey (or at least try to obey) the teachings of the Church. If we do not have that right, the church itself has no meaning. And that is, I believe, the objective.
In many ways what we are seeing is a multi-pronged full on assault on freedom and liberty (yes, political correctness is part of this, it sets the allowable terms to be used, If you obey, you lose).
Why now? I think, with the best President they’ve ever had foundering in scandal, and ineffectiveness worse than anyone since Wilson himself after World War I, they have grown desperate because America is more conservative today than it has been since about 1928.
They have to win now, or they will be set back at least another 50 years, and so they are trying to make ha while the sun shines. If we stick with it now, I think we have a historic opportunity to roll back the nanny state, and increase freedom.
So cheer up and keep your powder dry, the kleptocracy is losing again, for at least another generation. Will America be as it was before? Nope it’ll be different, it always is, and likely it’ll be still better. because as always it will be:
The Shining City on the Hill
Because, amongst other reasons, as Maggie Thatcher said:
“Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.”
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/margaret_thatcher.html#EHsh3oeD8k7vxAWp.99