Thursday, July 27, 2017

"Believers should prepare for challenges..."

From Ryan Anderson's "The Continuing Threat to Religious Liberty" in the current National Review:
Two years to the day after the Supreme Court redefined marriage in Obergefell, the Court announced that it would hear a case about the extent to which private parties may be forced to embrace this new vision of marriage. The case involves Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex-wedding reception.

There was nothing remarkable about Phillips’s decision. With every cake he designs, Jack believes he is serving Christ. He had previously turned down requests to create Halloween-themed cakes, lewd bachelor-party cakes, and a cake celebrating a divorce. Yet Jack was never reprimanded over those decisions. He found himself in hot water only with the same-sex-wedding cake. ....

Religious schools adhering to the historic vision of marriage are also at risk. They stand to lose accreditation and nonprofit tax status as well as eligibility for student loans, vouchers, and education savings accounts. The Left regularly equates “homophobia” with racism, knowing full well that the latter can serve as grounds for ending tax-exempt status, as happened to Bob Jones University in the 1970s as a result of racist policies (lifted in 2000) regarding dating and marriage.

During Obergefell oral arguments, Justice Samuel Alito asked the solicitor general whether the state should yank tax exemptions for schools that uphold marriage as the union of man and woman. The solicitor general replied: “It’s certainly going to be an issue.” Right on cue, the Sunday after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell, the New York Times’ religion columnist wrote a piece for Time magazine titled “Now’s the Time to End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions.”

These vulnerabilities extend to Orthodox Jews, Roman Catholics, Evangelical Christians, confessional Lutherans, Latter-day Saints, Muslims, and anyone else who believes that we are created male and female, and that male and female are created for each other. Charities, schools, and professionals will find themselves on the wrong side of regulations: bans on what government deems “discrimination” in public accommodations and employment; mandates in health care and education; revocation of nonprofit status, accreditation, licensing, and funding. ....

.... As the law insists that social conservatives are like racists, big businesses and other institutions will bring their own pressure to bear on anyone who dissents. Professional associations, through licensing and accreditation procedures, will enforce the new orthodoxy. The American Bar Association has promulgated new model rules of professional conduct that make it unethical for lawyers to “discriminate” on the “basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status,” including in “social activities,” which, as Attorney General Ed Meese has explained, would include “church membership and worship activities.” Legally and culturally, believers should prepare for challenges. ....

Religious liberty is not an embrace of relativism. As we disagree about religious truth, we need to agree to leave legal room for that disagreement to play out in worthy and healthy ways — among people who are free to persuade and convert. People are free to try to convince Jack that he should bake the cake, but the government shouldn’t be allowed to force him to do so. ....
Ryan Anderson is a co-author of Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination.