The Lutheran pre-school before the Supreme Court

Once again, a congregation of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is appearing before the Supreme Court in a religious liberty case.  First there was Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Church successfully arguing that it should be able to define who its ministers are, without being subject to discrimination complaints.  Now, as we blogged about. Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri, is arguing that its preschool should have not been denied a state grant to make its playground safer just because it is a religious institution.

There is a good story about the background of the Trinity pre-school case in the Kansas City Star, excerpted and linked after the jump. [Read more…]

Civil rights must be “preeminent” over religious liberty

The U. S. Commission on Civil Rights is recommending that civil rights be made “preeminent” in American jurisprudence.  Specifically, that civil rights claims–for example, those regarding sexual orientation and gender-identity–should always trump religious freedom claims.  There would thus be no religious exemptions, because newly-coined rights would have priority over constitutional rights. [Read more…]

Defending that LCMS judge who opposes gay marriage

As we’ve blogged about, Municipal Judge Ruth Neely of Pinedale, Wyoming–a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod–is in trouble for telling a reporter that she wouldn’t be able to perform a gay marriage.  Never mind that no one has asked her to, and that her job description doesn’t require her to perform any marriages whatsoever.  The Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics wants to remove her from office.

Rev. Jonathan Lange, an LCMS pastor in Wyoming, has written a quite brilliant op-ed piece on the subject for the Wyoming News.  He takes up the charges that her religious beliefs demonstrate disqualifying bias and that she was speaking against the law of the land.  In doing so, he develops a useful distinction between “sin” and “law,” showing also how her accusers would be brought down by the same charges.

After the jump, I excerpt and link both Rev. Lange’s column and a response to the case and to the column by Holly Scheer in The Federalist. [Read more…]

“The issue will come and find you”

Liberal Baptist theologian and LGBT advocate David Gushee says that there is no middle ground when it comes to acceptance of LGBT rights.  Churches and individuals must either accept them or not, and if they don’t they will face dire consequences.

He says that affirmation of LGBT issues is already mandatory in government, education, medicine, corporations, the entertainment industry, sports, and nonprofits.  The only holdouts are conservative Christians and their institutions, which are digging in and trying to invoke religious liberty.  But if they don’t change their tune, they will be forced to close down or be treated with the same contempt that racists receive today.

Read what he says, excerpted and linked after the jump.  Then read Rod Dreher on Gushee’s threats in his piece We Have Been Warned. [Read more…]

The case of the trans-gender funeral director

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) (1993) is still the law of the land and can be a potent weapon in cases involving the conflict between religious liberty and LBGT issues.  This was demonstrated in a case involving a Michigan funeral home that fired a male funeral director for violating the company’s dress code by insisting on wearing female clothes.

The Obama administration swept in to defend him and punish the funeral home, but–in what comes as a surprise these days–the owners, invoking the RFRA, won their case.  Michael Avramovich tells the tale. . . .

[Read more…]

Are Christians the powerful or the marginalized?

In the course of a post on why so many evangelicals are supporting Donald Trump, S. D. Kelly tosses off an observation that explains much about the current controversies between Christians and secularists.

Secularists tend to see Christians as “the powerful”; that is, in postmodern parlance, those who are in a position of power and privilege who oppress “the marginalized,” those who lack power and privilege.

But Christians tend to see themselves as “the marginalized,” oppressed by the cultural elite who exclude them and exercise their power against them.

Thus, when a Christian baker refuses to participate in a gay wedding, the secularists see the Christian heteronormative establishment discriminating against marginalized and oppressed gay people.

While Christians see secularists–who control the culture, the entertainment industry, the educational establishment, the government, and the law–imposing their sexual ideology on those with traditional Christian values and punishing them for their minority religious beliefs.

This explains much of the rhetoric, argumentation, and high feelings on both sides.  Are these just two irreconcilable perceptions?  Or can we make an objective case for one side or the other?  Does realizing these different perceptions suggest other ways of addressing these controversies? [Read more…]