Why The Bill Of Rights Is Important

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The free exercise of religion will be under scrutiny in the Supreme Court this session.

Yesterday CBN News reported:

The US Supreme Court has agreed to weigh in on an important religious liberty concern. On Wednesday, the high court announced it will take up two cases which could decide if religious institutions have the right to pick who teaches their religion. Or if the government gets to have the final say.

Both cases will be rolled into one case for a hearing this spring at the court. Both involve California Catholic schools that each dismissed fifth-grade teachers the schools felt were performing their jobs poorly.

These teachers were deeply involved in the religious education of their students. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned lower court rulings and decided neither teacher was so involved in religious teaching that the schools should be allowed to get rid of them.

The article concludes:

Becket ( Becket Fund for Religious Liberty) Executive Director Montserrat Alvarado stated, “Parents trust Catholic schools to assist them in one of their most important duties: forming the faith of their children.   If courts can second-guess a Catholic school’s judgment about who should teach religious beliefs to fifth graders, then neither Catholics nor any other religious group can be confident in their ability to convey the faith to the next generation.”

The two cases are Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James Catholic School v. Biel. In the Morrissey-Berru case, the Ninth Circuit agreed the teacher had “significant religious responsibilities,” but decided those duties weren’t religious enough for the school to invoke its First Amendment right to control who’s teaching the faith to its students.

The cases involve something known as the ministerial exception. It represents the idea that religious groups involved in teaching their faith can only truly be free from government interference if they have full control of choosing who teaches that faith in their institutions.

Freedom is always one generation away from extinction. We need to protect all of the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

Limiting Religious Freedom In The United States

On Sunday the Daily Caller posted an article about The Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. This 60-year old Roman Catholic College of over 2,400 students is being required by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius dispense abortion-producing drugs and pay for sterilizations, both of which are strictly proscribed by the Catholic faith. Unfortunately, this is not the only incidence of this sort of behavior on the part of the Obama Administration.

The article reports:

Writer Charlotte Allen wrote of the “Persecution of Belmont Abbey” by the Obama administration in 2009. There, too, liberal zealots were demanding that the Catholic school, founded in 1876, provide contraception, abortifacients and sterilizations or face federal sanctions. This, according to the institution’s president, could lead to closing down the historic little college.

The article further reports:

Chai Feldblum is a tenured professor at Georgetown University’s law school. Georgetown is the oldest Catholic university in the country. Ironically, Feldblum is also a homosexual legal activist. She was Barack Obama’s choice for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She told a panel at Family Research Council that if it came to a clash between what she calls gay rights and religious liberty, religious liberty must give way. In other words: “Be Amish, or be quiet.”

Why are we having this discussions now? Simple. America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. There was, up until about the 1960’s, a moral consensus in this country. We have lost that moral consensus. Now before you decide that I am anti-gay or whatever else, let me explain. I don’t care what anyone does in the privacy of their own home. I don’t care what rules anyone chooses to govern their life. I do care when their rules overflow on to my rights. Just as medical clinics have the right to prescribe whatever medical treatments they choose, a religious medical clinic also has the right to refuse procedures that are against its religious beliefs. Just because Chai Feldblum has the right to be gay (which she does), does not mean that she has the right to override the religious freedom of others. When gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts, the Catholic adoption agencies were driven from the state because it was against their religion to adopt children out to gay couples. Their rights were infringed on in the name of granting other people rights. We need to be careful in granting various groups rights that we don’t infringe on the rights of people in groups whose rights are also protected by our constitution.

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