“Is Religious Freedom for Christians Only?”

“Is Religious Freedom for Christians Only?” February 16, 2019


Where the Supremes meet
A 2013 photograph of the United States Supreme Court building, taken from the dome of the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC    (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


I’m happy — to put it mildly — that the Supreme Court of the United States is now pretty solidly conservative.  Indeed, I hope that that conservative majority will grow.  In a recent case, though, I believe that the conservative majority ruled incorrectly and I find myself agreeing with Justice Elena Kagan in dissent:


New York Times:  “Is Religious Freedom for Christians Only?  Domineque Hakim Marcelle Ray wanted an imam by his side when he was executed. The Supreme Court said no.”


National Review:  “The Supreme Court Upholds a Grave Violation of the First Amendment”


Get Religion:  “Solid, if low key, coverage of Muslim inmate executed in Alabama – without his imam present”


Religious leaders and believers must unite to strengthen our freedom to teach what we have in common, as well as to teach and exercise our very real religious differences. We must walk shoulder to shoulder on the same path in order to secure our freedom to pursue our separate ways when that is necessary according to our distinctive beliefs. We must also insist on our constitutional right to exer-cise our beliefs and to voice our con-sciences on issues in the public square and in the halls of justice. These are the rights of all citizens, including religious believers, leaders, and organizations.  (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Strengthening the Free Exercise of Religion” [Part III], 16 May 2013)


This proposal that we unite more effectively does not require any examination of the doctrinal differences among Christians, Jews, and Muslims, or even an identification of the many common elements of our beliefs. All that is necessary for unity and a broad coalition along the lines I am suggesting is a common belief that there is a right and wrong in human behavior that has been established by a Supreme Being. All who believe in that fundamental should unite more effectively to preserve and strengthen the freedom to advocate and practice our religious beliefs, whatever they are. We must walk together for a ways on the same path in order to secure our freedom to pursue our separate ways when that is necessary according to our own beliefs. . . .

I am not proposing a resurrection of the so-called “moral majority,” which was identified with a particular religious group and a particular political party. Nor am I proposing an alliance or identification with any current political movement, tea party or other. I speak for a broader principle, non-partisan and, in its own focused objective, ecumenical.  (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Preserving Religious Freedom,” speech given at Chapman University School of Law on 4 February 2011 [Part V])




I don’t condone what Domineque Ray did.  I also don’t condone what Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) said:


“A Shameful Tolerance”


“Don’t Accept Omar’s Phony Alibis for Hate”


“Union for Traditional Judaism calls for Omar and King to resign”




On a brighter note:


“Meet Sadaf Jaffer, America’s first female Muslim mayor”


Posted from Richmond, Virginia



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