Monday Miscellany, 7/10/23

Monday Miscellany, 7/10/23 July 10, 2023

Supremes shore up religious liberty; how just three corporations imposed woke capitalism; and LGBTQ theology takes on the witches.

Supremes Shore Up Religious Liberty

The Supreme Court made two major rulings in support of religious liberty.  As we blogged about last week, in 303 Creative v. Elenis the court ruled that religious website makers and, by extension wedding cake bakers and photographers can refuse to have their speech “compelled” to celebrate same-sex weddings.  That ruling may set the precedent that First Amendment rights such as freedom of religion can trump anti-discrimination laws.

Furthermore, in Groff v. DeJoy, the court ruled that employers must do more than they had been doing to accommodate their employees’ religions.  This time anti-discrimination laws worked in favor of religion.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, requires that employers “reasonably accommodate . . . an employee’s or prospective employee’s religious observance or practice” unless the employer is “unable” to do so “without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.”

So how much hardship is “undue”?  The previous interpretation took a minimalistic view, so that nearly any hardship on the employer was enough to deny the accommodation.  But the court cited explicit language in the statute that indicated the hardship must be “substantial.”

So in the case of a postal worker who wanted Sundays off–who took the job back when there were no Sunday deliveries, before the USPS signed a special deal to deliver packages for Amazon–the hassles of scheduling and the resentment of other employees were not considered reason enough to prevent the worker from going to church.

This case was the topic of one of our weekend discussions, and I myself had qualms about requiring private employers to bend over backwards because of their employees’ religion.  But the Supreme Court considered the issue to be quite clear.  Though the case about refusing to support same-sex marriages was decided 6-3, along conservative/liberal lines, this one was unanimous.

How Just Three Corporations Imposed Woke Capitalism

One puzzler in American politics is why big corporations–traditionally Republican bastions condemned by the left as capitalist pigs–have become such drivers of the “woke” ideology, to the point of requiring companies to adhere to a so-called Environmental Social Governance (ESG) agenda (e = environmentalism; s = social justice when it comes to diversity and inclusion; g = requiring management to address these priorities).

I had assumed that corporations are buying into this because today’s progressivism is now primarily a movement of the affluent, college-educated elite.  The old left was all about getting the working-class to rise up and throw off its chains.  The new left is all about race, sex, and gender, with little to cramp the style of the rich and virtue-signaling.

I still think this is part of it, but Gage Klipper at the Daily Caller drills down to the details, showing, in the words of his title, how Just 3 Companies are Leading the Charge in the Marxist Takeover of America.  He explains how, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, “active” investing (frequent buying and selling of stock in an effort to beat the market) gave way to “passive” investing (just holding on to a well-constructed portfolio).

This led to the massive growth of the “Big Three” investment firms that specialize in passive investments: BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street.  These three companies now manage some $23 trillion in assets.  That gives them a foothold in countless other companies and gives them lots of votes in corporate governance.

Klipper traces the origins of the ESG requirements  directly to those three companies.  He writes,

After George Floyd’s death, BlackRock decided it wanted all the companies it invests in to put greater effort into diversity and inclusion. They forced American companies to disclose the “racial, ethnic and gender makeup of their employees.” This was then used as a benchmark to force companies to re-make their boards of directors so that the “board’s composition reflects . . . the diversity of the company’s key stakeholders.” BlackRock pledged to vote against any directors who refused to do so.

At virtually the same time, Vanguard and State Street imposed similar diversity mandates across their portfolios, making it near impossible for companies to avoid. The number of companies now releasing their diversity data tripled in the year after the new requirements were imposed.

This formula has been replicated on numerous left-wing priorities. Additionally, as industry leaders, the Big Three serve as respectable actors for smaller firms to emulate — even those they lack the direct power to coerce.

And thus the awokening of American capitalism.

LGBTQ Theology Takes on the Witches

The LGBTQ movement has made trouble for Christian churches, causing some to change their time-tested teachings on sexual morality and God’s creation of the two sexes and demonizing churches that refused to do so. But other religions than Christianity are also coming under LGBTQ critique.  For example, witchcraft.

The modern religion of Wicca has been popular among feminists for cultivating the “divine feminine.”  And, in its attempts to revive paganism, it practices what has been called a “duotheistic” worship of a Horned God and a Mother Goddess.  Wicca rituals evoke the sexual union of these two primal deities, which ties in to the fertility of nature.

But this assumes the sexual binary, say LGBTQ religious activists, that nature involves only two sexes.  What about all of the other sexes and genders?  This is offensive to humans whose sex is non-binary. Says Heather Greene for the Religion News Service,

The attention to the two sexes has presented problems for Wiccans proud of the religion’s progressive framework, as its reliance on gender binaries in both practice and belief has seemed to exclude LGBTQ+ individuals.

Since the birth of modern paganism, queer men otherwise attracted to the path for its alternative to traditional religion and acceptance among Wicca’s practitioners have had to overcome a certain amount of “erasure” inherent in its gendered assumptions.

So some Wiccans are breaking off into new offshoots that add to the divine masculine and the divine feminine the “queer spirit.”  But such liberal theology is offensive to orthodox Wiccans.

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