Religious Freedom Watch: 1994 RFRA Under Attack?

An op-ed Wednesday in The Washington Post laid out how the left is attempting to dismantle what Congress once unanimously recognized as “undergird[ing] the very origin and existence of the United States”: religious freedom.

Specifically, Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, argues in the op-ed that the constitutional right to exercise religious faith always must yield to the civil right against discrimination.

… Recognizing that religious freedom is important, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act allows the federal government to burden the exercise of religion only if it is a “narrowly tailored” means for achieving a “compelling” government purpose. About half the states have a similar law.

… Melling’s column in the Post shows that the ACLU has completely rejected the approach it once supported. Now, she argues, any claim of discrimination should automatically defeat any assertion of religious freedom.

Same-sex couples, for example, must be able to obtain the cakeflowerswebsite, or photographer for a wedding anywhere they choose, including where doing so forces a particular business owner to violate his religious beliefs. Read More»
Thomas Jipping | “Since When Does Freedom From Discrimination Require Destroying Religious Freedom?” | September 9, 2022

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5 comments

  1. Doing business (baking a cake, etc.) with self-identified members of the LGBTQ, etc. “community” is one thing. Being forced to do things like perform a marriage ceremony or to include special editions of hymnals that honor lesbians is another thing altogether. The problem is that many denominations/congregations in the mainline have already abdicated their freedom (so to speak) in this regard, opening the door for attacks from the Left against other churches who have refused to go along with the immorality. Who knows where this might go next…

  2. “Free exercise thereof (of religion)” is actually verbatim in the Constitution.

    “Civil right against discrimination” does not appear in the Constitution nor, as far as I am aware, in any statute passed by Congress in those words.

    If the ACLU doesn’t like the Constitution, there are ways to amend it. It’s been done 27 times. So why don’t I see them pursuing this approach?

  3. To further the argument against Mellings’ assertion and her demand for legislation, why are these accusations always aimed at Christians and their organizations? What does she think might happen if discriminatory accusations were to be aimed at the multitude of Islamic communities clustered in the larger metropolitan areas around the country? Or what about orthodox Jewish communities (and I stress “orthodox”), for that matter? Neither of these have any use for that kind of control over what they think or believe and neither of them (again, in the most orthodox sense) have anything to do with any of the LGBTQ+ agendas. Why JUST Christians?? Would this kind of law be forced upon those people? I’d say, good luck doing that!

  4. Masterpiece cakeshop is owned and operated by Phillips, a Christian.

    In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins went to Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, CO, and requested that its owner, Jack C. Phillips, design and create a cake for their wedding. Phillips declined to do so on the grounds that he does not create wedding cakes for same-sex weddings because of his religious beliefs. Phillips believes that decorating cakes is a form of art through which he can honor God and that it would displease God to create cakes for same-sex marriages.

    Craig and Mullins filed charges of discrimination with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act

    After the Division issued a notice of determination finding probable cause, Craig and Mullins filed a formal complaint with the Office of Administrative Courts alleging that Masterpiece discriminated against them in a place of public accommodation in violation of Colorado Anti-Discrimination act
    which prohibits, as relevant here, discrimination based on sexual orientation in a “place of business engaged in any sales to the public and any place offering services . . . to the public.”
    The Administrative Law Judge issued a written order finding in favor of Craig and Mullins, which was affirmed by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

    On appeal, the Colorado Court of Appeals subsequently affirmed the Commission’s ruling.

    Q: What was the question raised by Masterpiece cake shop v. Colorado civil rights commission?
    Does the application of Colorado’s public accommodations law to require a cake maker to design and make a cake that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs about same-sex marriage violate the first amendment?
    MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP V. COLORADO CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION (2018)

    Q: What was the decision of Masterpiece bakeshop v. Colorado civil rights commission?

    What did the court use as its reasoning? basically ON WHAT GROUNDS did they decide?
    7-2

    The court ruled in favor of Masterpiece cakeshop, The Colorado Civil right’s commission’s conduct in evaluating a cake shop owner’s reasons for declining to make a wedding cake for same-sex couples violated the free exercise clause of the first amendment.

    The Court explained that while gay persons and same-sex couples are afforded civil rights protections under the laws and the Constitution, religious and philosophical objections to same-sex marriage are protected views and can also be protected forms of expression

    The Colorado law at issue in this case, which prohibited discrimination against gay people in purchasing products and services, had to be applied in a neutral manner (meaning the cake owners religion had to be taken into account as much as the same sex couples’ sexual orientation) with regard to religion.

    The majority acknowledged that from Phillips’ perspective, creating cakes was a form of artistic expression and a component of his sincere religious beliefs.

    The Court stated that Phillips did not receive neutral treatment from the Colorado civil rights commission, with members of the Commission showing clear and impermissible hostility toward his religious beliefs. The Court explained that commissioners’ comments disparaging Phillips’ beliefs and characterizing them as rhetorical were inappropriate.
    The Court concluded that these comments cast doubt on the fairness of the Commission’s consideration of Phillips’ claims. The Court also pointed out that disparities between Phillips’ case and those of other bakers with objections to making cakes with anti-gay messages, and who were victorious before the Commission, further reflected hostility toward the religious basis for Phillips’ position.
    The Court concluded that the Commission’s actions violated the State’s duty under the First Amendment not to use hostility toward religion or a religious viewpoint as a basis for laws or regulations. Under the facts of this case, the Court determined that Phillips’ religious justification for his refusal to serve Craig and Mullins was not afforded the neutral treatment mandated by the Free Exercise Clause.

    Phillips’ religious objection was not considered with the neutrality required by the Free Exercise Clause.
    Ex. They compared his sincerely held beliefs to defenses of slavery and the holocaust

  5. “ $15M Gift To ACLU By Jon L. Stryker And Slobodan Randjelović Is Largest-Ever Focused On LGBTQ Rights”

    The American Civil Liberties Union is honoring two of the world’s most iconic gay figures by naming its project working on LGBTQ and HIV issues after philanthropist Jon L. Stryker, president and founder of the Arcus Foundation, and his partner, Slobodan Randjelović, the celebrated architect, designer, and photographer.

    According to the ACLU, the launch of the Jon L. Stryker and Slobodan Randjelović LGBTQ & HIV Project is being funded by the couple’s landmark gift of $15 million to the ACLU Foundation. Calling this donation the largest LGBTQ rights-focused gift in its 101-year history, the organization thanked Stryker and Randjelović for their decades of personal support to the ACLU and other LGBTQ rights organizations.

    “Jon and Slo have been pioneering supporters for our LGBTQ rights work for years,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero, in a statement. “Alongside scores of funders and organizations as well as millions of activists and everyday LGBTQ people, Jon and Slo helped build the infrastructure that made marriage equality the law of the land, but they also understood that the fight for LGBTQ equality did not end there.” – Forbes.com

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