Thursday, January 12, 2012

Religious freedom (1): protection under the law

As the march towards full equality for LGBT people continues, those opposed are now cloaking themselves in the mantle of victimhood. They are claiming that somehow protection of a minority's rights infringes on THEIR liberty. I have never understood how being told you can't discriminate can be perceived as discrimination, but as Susan Russell often puts it, this is a bit like claiming sympathy for being an orphan after you've murdered your parents.

Yesterday the Supreme Court passed down a ruling giving broad protections to religious organizations that essentially exempt them from civil laws. This should put to rest the lies they tell. It won't, but it should. From the Daily Beast:

In its first major religious-freedom case in decades, the Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with a Pennsylvania Lutheran school that fired a teacher after she took disability leave for narcolepsy, then returned mid-year demanding her job back. ….
The court based its decision in Hosanna-Tabor v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on a long history of reverence for the “ministerial exception”—the idea that it violates the First Amendment for the state to interfere in who religious groups hire and fire. The decision hinged on a broad definition of “minister,” arguing that because she was ordained, considered “called” by God to her position, and collected religious-tax breaks, the teacher is the type of person religious groups should be able to select—and get rid of—without state interference. …

If you’d only been listening to the religious right for the past three years, this decision—especially the fact that it was unanimous—would come as a shock. ...

In the theoconservative imagination, almost everything the government does to ensure equal rights, especially for LGBT Americans, is a threat to religious liberty. Non-discrimination statutes could force churches or Christian businesses to hire gay employees. Legalized gay marriage could lead to churches being forced to conduct gay weddings. The end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell could force chaplains not to preach against homosexuality.

But the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hosanna-Tabor case illustrates how overheated this alarmism has been. ...
It would be nice if this decision made it clear that they are lying, but it won't.  We'll continue to explore this meme of "Christian victimhood" in my next few posts.

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