Tag: Religious Liberty

One Vote Republic: America in the Balance

 

In 2020, Senator Ted Cruz wrote One Vote Away: How a Single Supreme Court Seat Can Change History, and in 2021 we see the United States Supreme Court again making his case. On 9 April 2021, amidst the continuing media smoke screen of one crisis or another, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision holding at Americans who want or believe they need to physically assemble together in bible study will likely prevail against the Christian-hating communists running California. The razor thin majority made explicit that they were slapping down the 9th Circuit againThe left wing disagreed, regurgitating the lab-coat left’s long-rehearsed lies, and G.W. Bush’s man on the bench, John Roberts, Jr., sided with the left while taking the dodge of not adding his name to their rationale for standing our First Freedom on its head. Personnel is policy and this latest disgraceful episode again affirms the danger of letting RepubliCAN’Ts nominate justices without careful scrutiny across all areas of supposed conservative concern, from national security, to economic, to religious/ cultural conservativism. A read of the slim majority’s written opinion and a perusal of the current and retired living justices’ official biographies is instructive.

Personnel is policy, especially with Supreme Court justices:

The Left Wing:

A Day Not Covered, A Freedom We Shall Miss

 

President Trump issued an annual proclamation, declaring January 16 Religious Freedom Day, 2021. It could not be more timely, given what is about to unfold in our nation’s capital and across the world. Set this one aside for  reference over the coming months, as Americans are forced to choose between faith and laws/edicts.**

Proclamation on Religious Freedom Day, 2021
LAW & JUSTICE Issued on: January 15, 2021
[emphasis added]
Faith inspires hope.  Deeply embedded in the heart and soul of our Nation, this transcendent truth has compelled men and women of uncompromising conscience to give glory to God by worshiping both openly and privately, lifting up themselves and others in prayer.  On Religious Freedom Day, we pledge to always protect and cherish this fundamental human right.

When the Pilgrims first crossed the Atlantic Ocean more than 400 years ago in pursuit of religious freedom, their dedication to this first freedom shaped the character and purpose of our Nation.  Later, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, their deep desire to practice their religion unfettered from government intrusion was realized.  Since then, the United States has set an example for the world in permitting believers to live out their faith in freedom.

President Trump Honors 850th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket

 

President Trump signed a necessarily lengthy yet eloquent proclamation on an event from 850 years ago that is sadly just as likely today. That event was the murder of Thomas Becket by political elite supporters of the ruling regime, led by King Henry II, in England. Becket was murdered for not sufficiently subordinating the church to his society’s ruling secular elite preferences. The document he first signed, then withdrew his assent from was called the “Constitutions of Clarendon.” After the assassination, Henry II revised the two most offensive articles, in negotiation with Pope Alexander III. 850 years ago, on December 29, 1170, Henry’s knights entered the Canterbury cathedral and murdered Archbishop Thomas Becket.

The pastor of the Brighton Oratory makes the stakes of the conflict clear [emphasis added]:

The actions of the Pope in this conflict make clear what all of history teaches: the lives of the Church’s Saints themselves comprise the history of the world. The humility of Thomas had prompted him, after a moment of weakness he had manifested in a difficult situation, to judge himself unfit for his office and offer his resignation as Archbishop. The Pope did not hesitate a moment in refusing his resignation. He judged with apostolic wisdom that if Thomas should be deprived of his rank for having opposed the unjust pretensions of the English royalty, no bishop would ever dare oppose the impingements of iniquity on the Church’s rights, and the Spouse of Christ would be no longer sustained by marble columns, but by reeds bending in the wind.

Religious Liberty Should Prevail

 

This past week in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, the Supreme Court re-entered the dangerous minefield at the junction of religious liberty and anti-discrimination. The current dispute arose when Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services announced that it would no longer refer children to Catholic Social Services (CSS) for placement in foster care because CSS refused to consider same-sex couples as potential foster parents. CSS was, however, prepared to accept into its foster care all children regardless of their sexual orientation. After prolonged negotiations with the city failed, CSS sued. It seeks, in the words of the Third Circuit, “an order requiring the city to renew their contractual relationship while permitting it to turn away same-sex couples who wish to be foster parents.” The Third Circuit upheld the position of the city.

Resolving this delicate confrontation requires a return to first principles. Let’s start with the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion, as elaborated in Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith. Alfred Leo Smith, a drug guidance counselor, was denied unemployment benefits after being terminated for consuming peyote, a controlled substance, as part of a religious rite. The court held that his religious beliefs do not “excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the state is free to regulate.” The First Amendment did not require Oregon to accommodate Smith’s religious practice. Any neutral law of general applicability was acceptable, notwithstanding its disparate impact.

Notably, the word exercise is broad enough to cover not only Smith’s use of peyote but also CSS’s adoption policies. Accordingly, under no circumstances should Philadelphia be allowed to pass an ordinance that requires the Catholic Church to ordain women as priests, or to offer family aid services paid from its own funds to same-sex couples. The question in Fulton is whether CSS’s free exercise rights are forfeited when the city supplies public funds and matching services to CSS and the children it puts up for foster care.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Jay Greene, the Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, and Jason Bedrick, the Director of Policy for EdChoice. They discuss their timely new book, Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York, about the recent battle between Orthodox Jewish private schools and New York’s state government over the content of instruction. They explain “substantial equivalency” statutes and their potential impact on a wide array of private and religious schools, as well as on parental rights, K-12 education policy, and religious liberty in America. Bedrick and Greene draw comparisons between substantial equivalency regulations and the bigoted, 19th-century Blaine Amendments that were recently weakened as a result of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. They express concerns about growing interference by state departments of education, regardless of the paltry level of funding they distribute to private schools through Title I, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or other programs.

Stories of the Week: In Baltimore, the school district has formed a promising partnership with the Recreation & Parks office to give more than 1,000 students in-person access to their virtual learning lessons, in small cohort groups meeting in schools and rec centers. A New Hampshire town tuitioning program offers financial support to rural families who choose secular private schools for their children – but not to those choosing religious options. In the wake of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, does that distinction still pass constitutional muster?

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard continue coverage of COVID-19’s impact on K-12 education, joined by Tim Keller, Senior Attorney with the Institute for Justice, which has been defending school choice from legal challenges, largely from state Blaine Amendments, for 30 years. Tim describes IJ’s work on behalf of the plaintiffs in the high-profile Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the impact of the pandemic on the timing of the ruling. They explore the case’s prospects for success, and some potential political and legal responses in the event of a favorable outcome. They also delve into the national implications of another recent case in Maine, involving families battling a long-standing state law prohibiting public tuition payments to religious school parents. Tim also shares the backstory of Arizona’s popular Empowerment Scholarship, an education savings account program that he helped design and defend.

Stories of the Week: Despite COVID-19 school closures, the College Board will move forward with Advanced Placement exams; but will the increased security measures enacted to prevent cheating raise controversy? Around the world, temples and churches have emptied as a result of the pandemic, but religious leaders are using technology to stream their services, and help congregants celebrate Passover and Holy Week even in the absence of physical connection.

Make the Democrats Talk About Sex

 

Yes, really. I mean the meaning of “sex.” The leftists in the House of Representatives passed a resolution purporting to extend the deadline for passage of a Constitutional amendment that had failed for lack of ratification by the specified deadline. The Democrats did so as part of election politics. The Senate Republicans should seize the opportunity given them, rather than playing into Chuck and Nancy’s hand.

Democrats want to run this year as women’s rights advocates, even as they destroy the rights of actual girls and women. It is time one party stood up for girls and women against the patriarchy in dresses. The ERA, if passed as currently written, will be weaponized by the left, reading their cultural agenda through the word “sex.” Nevertheless, the recurring story we will see and hear for the next nine months will be that a bunch of old white men, led by Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, are standing in the way of women’s equality. It does not have to go this way.

The Democrats almost slipped the ERA by us back in 1972-1973, whereafter Phyllis Schlafly mobilized effective opposition. Eventually, several states reversed their ratification. Yet, the Democrats intend to claim in court that a state cannot un-ratify, so they get to collect every state, with the more recent passage by Virginia making the magical 38th state, adding the already redefined amendment onto the end of the Constitution, trumping all previous language—especially the First Amendment’s religion clauses.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara talks with Montse Alvarado, Vice President & Executive Director of the Becket Fund, about the implications of the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court school choice case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the pervasiveness of 19th-century, anti-Catholic Blaine amendments across the country, and some of Becket’s legal victories in high-profile religious liberty cases. Montse also offers encouraging insights from a recent Becket poll on younger generations’ commitment to religious freedom. She shares the inspirational stories of human rights champions recognized by the Becket Fund, such as former Cuban religious dissident and political prisoner Armando Valladares, and the Nobel Prize-winning writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

Stories of the Week:

Conservative Is As Conservative Does

 

Trump thumbs upPresident Trump is the most conservative president of my lifetime, including President Reagan. This is true, as a matter of fact, across all three of the legs of the old conservative coalition stool: economy, national defense, and social conservatism. With an impressive record of promises kept, despite the worst efforts of Democrats and Conservatism Inc., American voters have a real choice in 2020.

President Trump has done more to strengthen NATO, as opposed to papering over other nations’ hiding under our nuclear umbrella and so shifting the burden onto our taxpayers and our cities under ICBM target designations. He has, without a massive military build-up (despite his hyping of our latest purchases), imposed more economic pain on bad actors (Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran) than any president since at least Reagan, and done so to the advantage of American working families. President Trump’s policies have paid off in growing NATO member states spending at least 2 percent of their GDP on their own defense, from two to eight members, outside the United States. This satisfies Americans’ basic sense of fairness, building a reasonable basis for continued commitment to an alliance that is finally showing signs of taking itself seriously. Such a substantial demonstration of commitment also serves notice to Russia and China that NATO is not a paper tiger.

President Trump has similarly pushed the United Nations to really live up to its fine phrases, its written aspirations. Far from abandoning the world or merely patronizing other nations, he has treated them as adults, as sovereign states who are entitled to pursue their interests while we pursue ours. He made that point again in hosting an on-camera meeting of the U.N. Security Council members. Read or watch the remarks and you will see even China engaging in a mutually respectful manner.

Attorney General Barr Speaks up for Religious Liberty

 

AG BarrOn Friday, 12 October 2019, Attorney General Barr spoke at Notre Dame Law School. Notre Dame Law School advertises itself as America’s oldest Roman Catholic law school:

At the nation’s oldest Roman Catholic law school, students of diverse backgrounds are encouraged to broaden their social, spiritual, and personal lives while honing their intellectual and professional skills to serve the good of all.

Attorney General Barr took them seriously, and used the forum to deliver a call for defense of Christianity in the public square in the face of all-out attacks from militant secularists. I am pleased to see that the whole text of his remarks is posted on the Department of Justice website [emphasis added]:

The Roadrunner President

 

TrumpRoadrunnerPresident Trump wears me out just following his schedule, and I’m two decades his junior. He seems to thrive on constant motion. Moreover, the motion is directed, purposeful.

Consider the past week: 17-25 September. President Trump went into the heart of political enemy territory to raise money, then created visuals of real new wall construction, then met with the Australian Prime Minister, set up the Democrats and their media arm, showed he was on top of disaster response in Texas, joined Prime Minister Modi in a large arena venue like a couple of rock superstars, celebrated an Australian opening a new manufacturing plant in Ohio, publicly defended religious liberty on the global stage, placed the globalist climate fraud in perspective, told the world the future belongs to patriots in every land, got multiple international agreements signed, acted as the caring friend of two feuding nuclear powers, demonstrated real transparency, exposed real corruption and collusion, and tied it all up with a bow in a level-headed tour de force press conference Wednesday morning.

Let’s break that down. I’ll break out each phase with bold and underlined section headers, so we do not get lost.

Member Post

 

  One thing I can thank “big tech” for is the algorithm that led me to the Huguenot Chronicles.  There are three books in the Chronicles Merchants of Virtue, Voyage of Malice, Land of Hope,  there is also a prequel that I have not read yet so I do not further mention it in this […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Christian Cake Artist Again Defeats Colorado Bureaucrats

 

Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission announced Tuesday that it will dismiss its latest charges against cake artist Jack Phillips. You might remember Phillips from his victory at the US Supreme Court last summer. With SCOTUS’s backing, why on earth would the state of Colorado attack Phillips again?

The cake artist first came to prominence when he declined a custom design to celebrate a same-sex wedding in 2012. Same-sex marriages were illegal in Colorado at the time but the state’s Civil Rights Commission punished Phillips anyway. After that case had proceeded for five years, the high court agreed to hear his case. That same day, an attorney demanded Phillips design another custom cake, this time to celebrate a gender transition. This same attorney also asked for a cake with satanic themes and images. In accordance with his religious beliefs, Phillips politely declined both.

After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Phillips, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission decided to attack him on this new charge. Instead of watching another case slowly creep through the courts, attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom went on the offense, suing the bureaucrats for their anti-religious bias.

Member Post

 

The push to foist Newspeak upon Middle America’s unconverted heathen is now in full force, as recent events in Ohio and Virginia attest. (Frankly, I’m surprised that such controversy would erupt so deep within red America. Perhaps the administrators in Portsmouth and West Point felt an extra need to demonstrate their progressive bona fides.) In both […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

AG Jeff Sessions’ Remarks at the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Summit on Religious Liberty

 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is speaking tonight at the Alliance Defending Freedom’s annual Summit on Religious Liberty. Here are his remarks as prepared for delivery. You can watch his speech via livestream here beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Thank you all for being here. On behalf of the President of the United States, Donald Trump, I want to thank all of you for your work for and commitment to religious freedom at such a time as this. As President Trump said to the National Prayer Breakfast last year, “freedom of religion is a sacred right, but it is also…under threat all around us…I’ve never seen it so openly [threatened].”

This is a problem around the world.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of a Christian baker who was sued for not customizing a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony but note the ruling focused on this particular case rather than broader issues of conscience and religious liberty.  They also cringe as Bill Clinton still sees himself as the victim in the Monica Lewinsky scandal and scolds an NBC reporter for even bringing it up.  And they’re incredulous as President Trump boldly announces he has the power to pardon himself and Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, contends Trump could not even be indicted for killing former FBI Director James Comey while still in office.

In Big Ruling, SCOTUS Endorses Freedom Over Compulsion

 

The Supreme Court upheld the First Amendment Monday, ruling in favor of Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakes in Lakewood, CO. In a narrowly crafted 7-2 opinion, the court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission demonstrated hostility to Phillips’s religious beliefs.

Although Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion was full of the woke posturing we’ve come to expect, had this case gone the other way, religious liberty would have suffered greatly. This ruling was a necessary brushback pitch to overreaching bureaucrats trying to stamp out diversity of thought and belief.

It would be ludicrous for government to force Jewish artists to create paintings celebrating Easter or force atheist artists to promote Hindu beliefs. Either would be as offensive as forcing Muslim bakers to cater a pork barbecue.

Recipe for a Wedding Cake

 

In his famous poem “Ozymandias,” Percy Bysshe Shelley describes the head of the tyrant’s statue lying in the desert sand:

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

Ozymandias’ nameless sculptor had one thing in common with his innumerable brother sculptors, painters, and other artists throughout the ages: he was not well-positioned to turn down the job. Had he suggested to the king’s agent that his religion and his conscience really did not permit him to honor the king with his artistic talents, presumably the sculptor’s head would have hit the sand long before the king’s statue did.

Member Post

 

In response to a strong but unsupported reply I made on a comment on a @richardepstein post Let Them Bake Cake , @tommeyer rightly challenged me: “That said, do you think that [Justice Anthony Kennedy’s] career can be summarized as a ‘secular supremacist project of effectively outlawing biblical Christianity.’” Preview Open

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.