Tag: Religious Liberty

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Actress Launches Failed ‘Gotcha’ Moment on Ted Cruz

 

A minor celebrity named Ellen Page had a brilliant idea. She would go to some flyover state called “Iowa,” find dumb, evil, bigot Senator Ted Cruz, and confront him over his backward views on gay rights. Better yet, she would bring her own camera crew to document every second of her courageous destruction of the christofascist Texan and the snake-handling hill people he represents. America would finally see a white Hollywood millionaire standing up to small-town evangelical bakers and octogenarian florists.

Unfortunately for Page, Sen. Cruz had no clue who she was and never realized he was supposed to be intimidated by the 28-year-old.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Protecting Inmates From Dangerous Ideas

 

shutterstock_69674647Christianity is no longer permitted in Kentucky’s juvenile detention centers.

Chaplain David Wells was told he could either sign a state-mandated document promising to never tell inmates that homosexuality is “sinful” or else the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice would revoke his credentials … The Kentucky regulation clearly states that volunteers working with juveniles “shall not refer to juveniles by using derogatory language in a manner that conveys bias towards or hatred of the LGBTQI community. DJJ staff, volunteers, interns and contractors shall not imply or tell LGBTQI juveniles that they are abnormal, deviant, sinful or that they can or should change their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Gratitude and Responsibility

 

I went to church yesterday.

We say that so casually in America. We met to worship God according to the dictates of conscience, to learn from His Word, and to fellowship. We did so quite publicly — there’s even a sign out front — not in a back room in hushed voices. We had no fear of armed men breaking up the meeting. We heard a sermon that was neither censored nor written to avoid the displeasure of any public official. In America, we can still worship as we believe.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Oregon: Bakers’ Statements to National Media Were “Unlawful”

 

Most of us probably assume that if legal charges are filed against us and we consider them unjust, we have a First Amendment right to raise a ruckus in the press. But last week’s controversial Oregon cake ruling suggests that some public officials are not so sure about that.

Last week, the Commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, Brad Avakian, ordered Melissa and Aaron Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa to pay $135,000 in damages, primarily for emotional distress, to a same-sex couple it had turned down for a wedding cake (earlier). In addition, the ruling ordered the Kleins to

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Sweet Cakes by Melissa was a bakery in Gresham, Oregon. They became famous because they declined to provide the wedding cake for a lesbian wedding. The bakery was punished severely for this. Nearly two years after the shop was closed, a very large fine was recently pronounced by the State of Oregon. I am posting […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Slate’s Rising Intolerance on Gay Rights

 

In my recent Defining Ideas column, “Hard Questions on Same-Sex Marriage,” I sought to explore some of the intellectual cross-currents and difficulties in the Supreme Court’s opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges. There were two basic points in the article. First, I sought to explain the difficulties in finding a constitutional right to gay marriage, even though most of the standard arguments against same-sex-marriage tend to fall flat as a matter of social and political theory. The article was in no sense an effort to rally religious conservatives to stop the powerful political juggernaut that has resulted in a surge in public approval for same-sex-marriage.

The second point was my deep uneasiness that the same-sex-marriage movement is moving sharply from its defense of gay unions towards a massive intolerance of those individuals who, for religious reasons, oppose the practice and wish to conduct their own personal lives and business activities in accordance with their own beliefs — beliefs that I hasten to add are not my own. The recent hysterical screed against my column by Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, laden as it is with abusive epithets, shows just how rapidly that form of intolerance is taking over the gay rights movement more generally.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A Random Sampling of Progressive Opinion on Religious Liberty

 

SCOTUSLest you think that I was overly alarmist in my earlier post on Obergefell’s threat to religious liberty, consider this. I wrote a slightly longer version of the piece for City Journal, which was then posted to RealClearPolitics — so it attracted a fair number of eyeballs outside of the conservative bubble. Here are some of the comments I got:

  • Religion is the problem, not gay marriage. Religion is a multi-billion dollar a year industry that threatens the civil liberties of everyone. Religion is as pervasive as pornography in this country, but much more harmful to our culture.
  • If the institution of marriage is removed from its unnatural cloud of accompanying religious magic . . . it is a right, like any other. As such it should by law available to ALL citizens. In THIS country at very least.
  • I think it’s always dangerous to defend anything based on religious belief.
  • It’s a “threat to religious liberty” only if you think that people should be free to use their religion as an excuse to screw others.
  • There are so many parallels with the 1960’s civil rights movement it is hard for any rational person to fathom how those on the “pro-religious” freedom side expect history to view their backward cause.

Progressives feel momentum on their side and nothing will get in their way. If new rights can be invented by the judiciary, then old rights — like the free exercise of religion — can be just as easily interpreted into oblivion.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. To Defend Religious Liberty Today

 

shutterstock_159174965Thomas Jefferson was brilliant and essential, but he has never been my hero among the Founding Fathers. As such, it caught me off guard when I found myself deeply moved at the memorial that honors him in our capital. Even crowded by tourists, it feels a little set apart, a peaceful spot from which one can look out across the Tidal Basin and reflect on this city and nation of ours and on Jefferson’s words on freedom cut into the surrounding walls. Words that were true when first written, though not fully realized in law. Words that are true now, even if the laws should abandon them utterly.

Almighty God hath created the mind free.

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If you still have any doubt that religious liberty in America is under attack, come meet the influential Senator from Massachussetts. Here’s a transcript, but the text alone doesn’t do her justice. Go watch the video.  Scott Walker also has a vision of what it means to President. After the Supreme Court said on Friday that “equal” […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Obergefell’s Threat to Religious Liberty

 

As a libertarian, I support same-sex marriage. As a libertarian, I also fear the totalitarian overtones sounding from the next round of gay rights initiatives. The nature of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on same-sex marriage in Obergeffel v. Hodges has only compounded the danger. As I note in my newest column for Defining Ideas from the Hoover Institution:

…[I]n the wake of Obergefell, we have to ask what the next step in the struggle over same-sex marriage will be. By insisting that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right, Kennedy has consciously introduced an equivalence between race and sexual orientation. How far is he prepared to go? In the 1983 case of Bob Jones University v. United States, the Supreme Court upheld an IRS decision to deny tax-exempt status to schools engaging in racial discrimination. The Court acknowledged that it could not outlaw the Church’s practices, which were protected as a free exercise of religion. But the differential tax treatment was fine because “the Government has a fundamental, overriding interest in eradicating racial discrimination in education.”

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So Albert Mohler has used the term “erotic liberty” to describe the ongoing campaign to allow sex without moral limits to trump everything, including religious liberty. Fred Clark at Patheos comments: “Mohler is describing a group of people as less than human . . . .” The term “erotic liberty” is a “dishonest, reductionist, hateful phrase.” He […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Scenes From my Front Porch

 

The thing about living in a place with four seasons — bear with me, I spent about 80 percent of my life in California — is that the beginning of spring is inevitably frantic. As the trees bloom, all your rationales for putting off home improvements start to wilt. And so, at the Senik household, there’s been a parade of contractors, plumbers, handymen, and the like ascending the hill in recent days.

After awhile, they become virtually indistinguishable from one another. Each explains, with the thinly-veiled contempt of a teacher that should have retired years ago, highly technical concepts in impenetrable jargon that bounces off my skull like a bird flying into a window. Each next proceeds to request an amount of money that would imply they’ve taken one of my family members hostage. Each then dutifully gets paid because…well, I’m a writer. The odds are pretty good that my death will be premature, but I’ll be damned if it’s going to happen on my roof.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Why RFRA Was Necessary

 

Ricochet readers who listened to last week’s Libertarian podcast know where I stand on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Even if the political process surrounding the law’s adoption was flawed, the protections it seeks to afford for religious liberty are vital. As I note in my new column for Defining Ideas, the Indiana law did not occur in a vacuum. The more intemperate critics of the law would do well to consider that context:

…During the more than twenty years that the federal RFRA has been in operation, it has provoked relatively little litigation on provision of services issues, and courts have never read it as a blanket license to discriminate. For the most part the application of the law dealt with matters of faith and religion.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Please Stop Celebrating the Naked Public Square

 

RFRA_Indianapolis_Protests_-_2015_-_Justin_Eagan_02-615x458Fifteen years ago, as a college undergraduate, I had the opportunity to visit Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. It’s an interesting place, and some parts are quite moving. Nearly everyone comes away haunted by the Children’s Memorial, commemorating the 1.5 million Jewish children killed in the Holocaust. For me though, another very memorable bit was the main museum, which told the story of the Holocaust from an angle I hadn’t seen before.

Of course, I had studied the Holocaust in school and seen the classic movies. I had heard the pious cliche (laughable when you think about it) that “this is disturbing but we study it anyway so that this can never happen again.” But when American schoolteachers cover the Holocaust, the impression they give is that the extermination of Jews just resulted from a random outpouring of wild-eyed hatred, which could as easily have fallen on short people or green-eyed people or anybody else who happened to be a little different. Yad Vashem’s narrative was much more attentive to the fact that it was not short people or green-eyed people who were hated and killed; it was Jews. And that really wasn’t a point of random happenstance.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Liberty, Religion, and Basketball

 

Kentucky-Wildcats-vs-Wisconsin-BadgersCome with me in imagination to a place that certainly exists somewhere in this country. It’s a small food vendor — a restaurant, bakery, pizza parlor, or what you choose — that happens to be owned by a University of Kentucky graduate. Today, he’s a disappointed, even bitter Wildcat fan whose mood is not in the least improved when a nice guy with a Midwestern accent breezes through the door. In red. Whistling “On, Wisconsin!”

Now, let’s hope the guy behind the counter stays polite, but we know the Badger will get his pizza or ice cream; it would be outrageously unthinkable that — even at his bitterest — the Kentucky grad would deny service to someone just because he’s from Wisconsin.

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“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed — if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’ And yet the past, though of its nature […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Ross Says it All

 

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 8.36.59 AM

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The left gets more surrealistic all the time. One of its latest ideas is to ban any religion that says anything harsher than “You’re ok!” to anyone–and all in the name of liberty. Much of the left has completely forgotten, but it has some deep roots. One of them reaches down to John Locke. Let’s call Locke’s idea […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. One Quote And Three Questions on Religious Liberty

 

7131116_376b8e9da2_zOn the Volokh Conspiracy, Eric Rassbach writes the following on the rise in religious liberty cases in the United States:

Imagine a…Venn diagram of fields of human activity, with the field of government regulation represented as a sphere, and the field of religious activity represented as another, intersecting sphere. Religious liberty conflicts arise within the overlap between the sphere of government regulation and the sphere of religious activity. When either sphere expands over time, the set of potential conflicts increases. When either sphere contracts, there is less overlap and less potential conflict.

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Via Dennis Prager’s Facebook page, a reminder from WND that even in Texas government is a circus. Officials with the city of Houston, Texas, who are defending a controversial ordinance that would allow men to use women’s restrooms now have demanded to see the sermons preached by several area pastors. [….] More

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