A Mortal Wound To Free Exercise?

The If nothing else, it’s comforting to know that Colorado can force an orthodox Islamic butcher to make sausages for a polyamorous bisexual bachelor/bachelorette party, so long as no one asks the butcher to outwardly promote swine and free love.

Not only does the court now apparently hold the power to bore into the souls of shopkeeps to establish that their religious objections aren’t authentic, but it can also decide when their prejudice is. It makes the risible assertion that any theological problem with gay marriage is really just “opposition” to the existence of gay Americans—whatever that means…

—David Harsanyi, Hey Christians, Say Goodbye To Religious Freedom.


  1. Actually, the answer is simple. Relentlessly challenge decisions in higher courts of appeal up to the USC, and when refused, argue, demonstrate, expose, name, and shame. Also, write to state legislators and members of the House and Senate naming judges who make such utterly fascist decisions and call for their impeachment and removal.

    We have a true grievance with such Hitlers in black robes. Peaceably assemble before our legislators and petition for redress!

    Folks, at present, with the Obama administration bullying Uganda and Kenya over having anti-sodomy laws on the books, the USA is rapidly degenerating into a force for evil in the world. It is thus time for Christians to once again take up the challenge of being salt and light.

  2. This article is mistaken on a few points. The courts can’t determine whether a person’s religious beliefs are genuine, and there is no evidence that they attempted to do so here. Rather, religious objections generally don’t allow you to get around a generally applicable law as long as the law was the least restrictive means to achieve its end.

    The problem is with the law, not the court’s interpretation of the Establishment Clause. Regarding the Islamic butcher, is the author aware that the Supreme Court found that blue laws are
    constitutional, even though they impair a Jewish butcher’s beliefs that he should be open on Sunday? Where was the outrage then? Did religious freedom die at that time?

    • Scott,

      I assume that Harsanyi is aware of the Lemon test but how is this decision “least restrictive”? As Scalia and others have said, the Lemon test is a disaster. You’ve completely ducked the problem.

      Christians, Muslims and others shall now be forced to violate deeply-held religious beliefs or go out of business. Is that what the founders intended? Is that just? Is that liberty as defined by constitution?

    • I assume the public policy the state wants to impose is nondiscrimination against various protected classes, including sexual orientation. You and I may disagree that this is good public policy, but that’s not really up to the courts to decide unless there is an overriding Constitutional issue. What would be a less restrictive way to achieve the end?

      At least one of the founders, Jefferson, thought that freedom of religion applied to opinions, but the government could regulate actions. The Lemon test actually expanded the definition of religious liberty. Scalia doesn’t like it because he wants to go back to the more restrictive view of religious liberty. Read his opinion in Smith.

    • I’m aware of Scalia’s argument in Smith and of Jefferson but I’m also aware of the lengths to which the founders went to accommodate religious scruples and the practice flowing from religious (and other) convictions. Remember that the colonists came to the new world not just to be able to think certain things, which was never at issue—even in a medieval prison one could think freely—nor even to speak freely (though that was obviously significant) but to be able to act on those convictions. The idea that the founders would countenance not only a radical and heretofore unknown definition of marriage but that on the basis of this radical redefinition compel those who hold the same view that President Obama professed in 2008 to be in violation of basic human rights is absurd.

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