John Courtney Murray is still dead

And buried.

In the past couple of posts we've discussed, among other things, the potential hazards when courts are asked to rule about either the factual validity or the sincerity of religious beliefs. Here's Carmen Green on the very real hazard of the courts failing to consider those factors when a case requires them to: The majority says that the birth control mandate does place a “substantial burden” on Hobby Lobby’s religious beliefs. And this sentence is crucial: “The owners of the businesses … [Read more...]

Pope Bobby I of the Church of a Beer and a Bump


As a general rule, the courts do not want to get entangled in questions of religious sincerity. That is neither their area of expertise nor an area -- usually -- in which they have any jurisdiction. Judges will go to great lengths to avoid any argument that requires them to evaluate the measure of religious devotion held by those making free exercise claims. We saw this in the Supreme Court's 2012 decision in Hosanna Tabor, which had to do with the application of the "ministerial exception" … [Read more...]

Hobby Lobby reaction round-up

This item, I think, should put to rest any questions about Hobby Lobby's profoundly reverential religious devotion or its attitude toward women.

I'm reading a bunch of stuff so that I can think about a bunch of stuff before writing a bunch of stuff. Here's what I've been reading today about the Hobby Lobby ruling by the Supreme Court, from Kimberly Winston, Sahil Kapur, Kalli Joy Gray, Dave Lartigue, Martin Longman, Maya Dusenberg, Mark Silk, Michelle Krabill, Miranda Blue, Chauncey DeVega and many others. Kimberly Winston, "The 'Splainer: RFRA and the Hobby Lobby Case" That’s the question at the heart of this case: Can a … [Read more...]

A case of the collywobbles

Officials from the Massachusetts Bay Colony lead Mary Dyer to a public "prayer opportunity" on Boston Common.

Thanks to Blake Kirk of Huntsville, Alabama, I have learned a new word. "I guess somebody got the collywobbles," Kirk said on Thursday, in one of those glorious moments when someone deploys just exactly the perfect word for the occasion. The occasion, in this case, was the abrupt cancellation of Kirk's invitation to open a meeting of the Huntsville City Council in prayer. Huntsville is, somewhat fitfully, trying to comply with the new rules for public prayer -- or, rather, for what … [Read more...]

Coercion and conscience: Why apostasy laws, like all religious privileges, are a Bad Thing

Meriam Ibrahim with her son, husband Daniel Wani (right), lawyer Mohanad Mustafa (left). Getty Images photo via The Guardian article at link.

This is good news: "Sudanese woman Meriam Ibrahim 'safe and well' in US embassy." The Guardian reports: The husband of a Sudanese Christian woman facing threats after her apostasy death sentence was overturned has expressed relief that the family has been given refuge at the US embassy in Khartoum. "Really, it's good," Daniel Wani, the American husband of Meriam Ibrahim, told Agence France-Presse by telephone on Friday, adding that embassy staff had been "very helpful and very nice". He … [Read more...]

A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (Unlearning the Lies, part 4)


"If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong." -- Abraham Lincoln This is from Jack Forstman's book Christian Faith in Dark Times. It's the opening paragraph of his second chapter, which discusses the eminent Lutheran theologian Emanuel Hirsch: Emanuel Hirsch was one of the most brilliant persons in the field of theology of his or any other generation. During the 27 years between the end of the Second World War and his death, blind and in poor health, he published a massive, five-volume history … [Read more...]

Heterosexual marriage still unthreatened in all 50 states


Today turns out to be kind of newsy -- and good-newsy at that: 1. "Indiana’s Marriage Ban Struck Down; Marriages Can Begin Immediately" Federal District Judge Richard Young has ruled that Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses. And because Judge Young didn’t issue a stay, his ruling takes effect immediately. The county clerk in Indianapolis (Marion County) has already announced that they are issuing marriage … [Read more...]

Avoid any book with ‘leadership’ in the title


I don't trust books about "leadership." Such books invariably include lots of anecdotes about great leaders and the things that inspired them to become great leaders, yet none of those anecdotes ever seems to recount any of them having read a book about leadership. And that ought to tell us all we need to know about such books. But more than that, I don't trust such books (or magazines) because I think the main function of this sub-genre of self-help literature is dubious and kind of evil. … [Read more...]