15 May Could the Supreme Court End Religious Freedom
For many years, large numbers of Christians have put their religious belief to work through countless humanitarian projects at home as well as abroad. Though believers in Christianity, they have, to this point, taken the role of pacifism in the culture war.
John Inazu, associate professor of law and political science at Washington University School of Law, opines that Christians who have involved themselves in good works, but have not taken a clear stand on societal issues that effect religious freedom, may well be pulled into the fight. The catalyzing event would be the Supreme Court’s anticipated June ruling on same-sex marriage, depending both on the decision, and how the decision is written.
Douglas Laycock, a law professor at the University of Virginia, while arguing in favor of same-sex marriage, also expressed concern in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court about the ramifications that would certainly surface if the Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage in all 50 states. The broad effect would leave no aspect of daily business involving Christian nonprofits and church’s untouched. Mr. Laycock’s brief makes concise summary of the potential situation:
Must pastors, priests, and rabbis provide religious marriage counseling to same-sex couples? Must religious colleges provide married student housing to same-sex couples? Must churches and synagogues employ spouses in same-sex marriages, even though such employees would be persistently and publicly flouting the religious teachings they would be hired to promote? Must religious organizations provide spousal fringe benefits to the same-sex spouses of any such employees they do hire? Must religious social-service agencies place children for adoption with same-sex couples? Already, Catholic Charities in Illinois, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia have closed their adoption units because of this issue.
“Religious colleges, summer camps, day care centers, retreat houses, counseling centers, meeting halls, and adoption agencies may be sued under public accommodations laws for refusing to offer their facilities or services to same-sex couples. Or they may be penalized by loss of licensing, accreditation, government contracts, access to public facilities, or tax exemption.
While June is still a month away, and no decision has yet been made, those concerned about religious freedom should be concerned, particularly organizations that could potentially be sued out of existence, and should start considering what services they will still continue to provide, and what measures they will take to maintain the integrity between their beliefs and practices.