Contained within the First Amendment are two religion clauses, the establishment clause and the exercise clause. The establishment clause ensures that Congress will not establish a federal religion and that Congress will not enact legislation that effects just one sect of religion. The exercise clause protects the individual’s rights to practice their religion. The history of the exercise clause is very interesting. In fact a case involving the exercise clause did not appear before the US Supreme Court until 1878 with Reynolds v. US, a case that involved polygamy.
Since that time the court has seen numerous cases involving the free exercise clause. Throughout United States history religious liberties have been silently attacked. Most recently the exercise clause withstood a hard blow and came out victorious. In the case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby the US Supreme Court held that a closely held for profit organization can be exempt from a law that is against its owners religious beliefs. The law in question involved the contraception mandate.
Currently Americans are facing another enemy of religious freedom. This attack is different from any other that religious liberty has yet endured, and it is championed under an ideology that is one of the most difficult to face: love. In the last few years there have been many cases where private business owners refused, based on their religious beliefs, to provide services for a same-sex marriage and were fined. Most recently two Christian ministers who own a wedding chapel have been told that if they refuse to marry same-sex couples they are in danger of jail time and up $1000 fine. The Hitchin Post wedding chapel is located in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Idaho is one of the most recent States to legalize same-sex marriage. Last week the city of Houston issued a subpoena ordering several pastors in the city to turn in any sermons they have regarding homosexuality. The subpoena was issued under the cities recent non-discrimination act. Earlier this year, in August, a Christian owned farm in New York decided not to host a lesbian marriage. The farm owners were charged $10,000 and where required to pay an additional $1,500 to both the women. The owners were told they would have to host all weddings or none at all. The owners chose to not host any more weddings.
These are just a few examples in the last couple months. These kinds of stories are not new, they have been happening for the last few years. What is it about the same-sex marriage movement that makes it so easy to violate a individuals religious rights? In a talk show hosted by Oprah that aired last year a panel of different ministers explained what they thought was the driving force behind the success of same-sex marriage. One of the panelists stated that the nation has been “educated through love.” As cheesy as it sounds, there’s a solid foundation for her statement. Given America’s past history with racial and sexist discrimination we are suckers for guilt trips. Anytime the word discriminate is brought up we throw our hands in the air and say “Ok you can have your way, just don’t think me a hater.”
It is so hard to take a strong stance against the argument that if two people love each other they should be allowed to pursue their happiness. The same-sex marriage movement has ridden the love train all the way to the top. With same-sex marriage now legal in more than half the states the definition of marriage is slowly changing. But the train doesn’t stop there. The first goal was to legalize. The next goal is to make it accepted by all. The last few months alone have shown us that the same-sex marriage campaign will cut through any barriers to make that goal a reality. Even if it means restricting religious liberties. I hope and pray that our religious liberties will stand strong in the fight against “love”.