"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Civil Rights and Religious Liberty

To my mind, the most important question to be faced in thinking about the contours of religious liberty is not whether the Tallapoosa County Commission can put up a photocopy of the Ten Commandments in the courthouse breezeway, or whether little Johnny can say "Jesus" in his valedictory speech, but the degree to which religious organizations (churches, parachurch groups, service centers, etc.) will have their institutional autonomy protected or whether federal, staet, and local authorities will be given free reign to impose non-discrimination standards and force those organizations to hire and keep people whose views or lives do not match the organization's. Earlier this week, New Jersey revoked the tax-exempt status of a Methodist-run pavilion because it refused to allow same-sex "weddings" there. Yesterday, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals found that a Jewish Community Center was exempt from civil rights laws on the basis of Title VII exemptions. I suspect, alas, that this will be the pattern for things to come. Courts will grant exemptions for a wide range of religious organizations from civil rights laws, but state and local authorities will use their tax and regulatory powers to try and coerce those same organizations into conforming nonetheless, especially with respect to homosexuality.

5 comments:

Kathy Hutchins said...

Just as damaging, if not more so, is the increasing willingness of state legislatures to deny conscience exemptions, especially to health care workers. While I understand the principle involved, as a practical matter I cannot believe that having to pay taxes for a pavilion is striking at the heart of the UMC's religious mission. (Of course, I walked away from the Methodist church to become a Catholic, so I might not be completely unbiased...)

However, to demand the willingness to perform murder as the price a pharmacist, physician, or nurse must pay to earn his or her living is about as blatant a violation of religious freedom as I can imagine. It is really little short of demanding tribute to Moloch.

David S. Bloch said...

This is a great point, but it may even give too much credit to the governments involved. State interference on matters of conscience is not an issue for all religious institutions, but rather primarily an issue involving the state's brief against Christian-inspired beliefs or practices. The same pressures being brought to bear on Methodists in New Jersey are surely not being brought to bear against any nearby mosques. . . .

Evanston2 said...

Mr. Bloch is right about Mosques --further, only Christians will find themselves policed by the State.

This reflects the realities of spiritual warfare, which has always featured followers of Christ versus Anything But Christ.

David S. Bloch said...

. . . And the great irony, of course, is that Islamic practice (and, I assume, belief) is vastly more hostile to homosexuality than is Christian belief.

Evanston2 said...

Mr. Bloch, once again you're spot on.
This is why I posted my "Anything But Christ" comment. When I type these things even I ask myself, "Really, is it that bad or have you just turned into a kook?" But the "irony" you mention (really outright hypocrisy) in regard to Islam and homosexuality shows what is really going on here. The natural man actively suppresses the Truth and is the enemy of God (Romans 1:18, 5:10).