John Courtney Murray is still dead

And buried.

Blood transfusions, you see, are religiously forbidden for Jehovah’s Witnesses. That is to say, in Alito’s apparent way of thinking, the religious scruples against blood transfusions do not involve a legitimate religion. Concern about abortion, however — even when that concern has no factual basis — is a legitimate religious scruple because, well, it’s Catholic. [Read more...]

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


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. So 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. Alas, such evaluations are sometimes unavoidable because they are part of the statute or the religious exemption the courts are being asked to consider. [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.

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. [Read more...]

A case of the collywobbles

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

“Somebody got the collywobbles,” Blake Kirk said. Savor the perfection of that. That’s the precisely necessary word — perfect in its denotation, connotation and implication, and perfect in its tone. That doesn’t happen every day. [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.

Sudan’s “apostasy” laws are an extreme example of the problems created by any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” As America’s First Amendment argues, and as Ibrahim’s case illustrates, the establishment of religion in any form makes the free exercise of religion in any form impossible. This is true not just for “apostates” — religious minorities and dissenters from the privileged official religion — but for adherents of the official religion itself. [Read more...]

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


Emanuel Hirsch’s complicity indelibly taints his writing and theology. How, precisely, does it do that? Well, that’s the difficult thing. It’s not compartmentalized, not a distinct, discrete ingredient that can be easily separated from the rest of Hirsch’s theology. It’s pervasive, a leaven that leaveneth the whole lump. We can’t simply read Hirsch’s theology, subtract the Nazi bits, and cheerfully keep the rest. [Read more...]

Heterosexual marriage still unthreatened in all 50 states


No-fault divorce laws did not mandate that Catholic priests had to start sanctifying remarriages. The repeal of Prohibition did not mean that Southern Baptists had to start drinking. Marriage equality does not ask or require anything of Catholics and Southern Baptists either. Their insistence on pretending that somehow it does is, at a very basic level, just weird. [Read more...]

Avoid any book with ‘leadership’ in the title


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. Books on leadership are written for and read by people in positions of “leadership,” which is to say by people with fancy titles, offices and salaries. Which is to say, they are written for and read by people haunted by the crippling fear of impostor syndrome. Or, rather, by people who actually know themselves to be impostors. [Read more...]