Religious liberty in the military

 

U.S. Army Capt. John Barkemeyer, a chaplain, conducts mass for Soldiers on a remote contingency operating base in Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 20, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kieran Cuddihy) (Released)The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod may yet again be headed to the Supreme Court, at least to the extent of having filed an amicus brief in the case of a female Marine corporal who was given a bad-conduct discharge for refusing to take down a Bible verse in her workplace.  (“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.” [Isaiah 54:17])  It remains to be seen if the court will take her case.

But there are other religious liberty issues in the military.  Some relate to chaplains being ordered to compromise their faith.  Many relate to LBGT issues.

The Synod is weighing in on some of these issues in various channels.  The Lutheran Reporter has a story on the problem and the church’s efforts. [Read more…]

Trump signs religious liberty order

30279870283_985b3bfa2f_zPresident Trump issued an executive order on religious liberty.  It allows churches and other religious and charitable organizations to carry out political action without worrying about losing their tax-exempt status.  It also exempts religious groups from having to fund contraceptives under Obamacare.

But it does not provide what many religious groups were hoping for and what many secular groups feared:  There is no exemption from anti-discrimination laws for those who object to LGBT issues on moral or religious grounds.

The executive order does not change the law.  It just directs the IRS and the health care system to exercise “maximum enforcement discretion” in levying penalties.

A bill has been introduced in Congress to repeal the Johnson Amendment, which restricts tax-exempt non-profits, including churches, from endorsing candidates and carrying out overt political activity.

Some fear that eliminating the restriction could further politicize religion and turn churches into “dark money shops” for political candidates.  And this religious liberty advocate says the order is “worse than useless.”

Is this the kind of religious liberty protection that is needed today?

 

[Read more…]

Court rules that Civil Rights laws cover LGBT bias

640px-Lyndon_Johnson_signing_Civil_Rights_Act,_July_2,_1964Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights law bans discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, and sex.  The 7th Circuit federal appeals court ruled that the category of “sex” includes sexual orientation.  This would mean that any kind of discrimination against LGBT folks is illegal.

The ruling only applied to the 7th Circuit Court’s jurisdiction:  Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.  That restriction isn’t made clear in all of the news reports I have read. But it sets up the issue for resolution by the Supreme Court.

Traditional thinking considers homosexuality in moral terms, rather than as an “identity.”  This ruling, if upheld, would bring the law down on the side of “identity,” something the culture has seemingly already done.

Where does that leave the moral traditionalists, including most conservative Christians?  (My discussion continues, with a report on the ruling, after the jump.) [Read more…]

Other rights are not equal to religious liberty

2519766036_d988be0058_z (1)The hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court got started.

Judge Gorsuch is so clearly qualified that it’s hard to see the basis the left will use to try to shoot down his nomination.  Evidently, the criticism will be that he rules too frequently in favor of religious liberty.  For example, he ruled in the Hobby Lobby case that the owner’s religious convictions outweigh the Obamacare mandate that female employees should be given free birth control.

Today the key assaults on religious liberty are being made in the name of other rights that are assumed to be equal to, or to outweigh the protections of the First Amendment.  Thus, the right of a customer to buy a cake for a gay wedding is often thought to deserve more consideration than the Christian baker’s qualms about participating in a ceremony that violates his or her religious convictions.

David French, a constitutional lawyer among his other talents, explains why ‘fundamental rights”–that is, inalienable rights specifically listed in the constitution–must always take priority over subsidiary rights granted by government power.

Thus religious liberty has to trump (sorry) the right to buy a wedding cake from the baker of your choice, or the right to free birth control, or the right of an atheist to hold office in a religious group, etc. [Read more…]

Forcing pro-life centers to advertise abortions

TyrannyHawaii is on the verge of passing a law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to post signs or distribute flyers referring clients to abortion providers.  California and Illinois already have similar laws on their books.

Most of these pregnancy centers have a Christian mission.  Some even operate out of churches.  These laws force religious people to violate their religious beliefs.

And even apart from the religious liberty issues, it is surely tyranny to coerce pro-lifers to promote abortion.

[Read more…]

Saying Christ is the only way to God is “abusive and criminal”?

coexist-1211709_640Two British street preachers were arrested for publicly reading the Bible, particularly the parts about Jesus being the only way to God.

In their trial, the prosecutor said,“To say to someone that Jesus is the only God is not a matter of truth. To the extent that they are saying that the only way to God is through Jesus, that cannot be a truth.”

The prosecutor apparently thought that those teachings were just quirks of the King James translation of the Bible, rather than basic doctrines of Christianity.  He said, “to use words translated in 1611 in a very different context, in the context of modern British society, must be considered to be abusive and is a criminal matter.”

The court agreed, sentencing the two Christians to a fine of £2,016 each ($2,452.42). [Read more…]