Yesterday Just the News posted an article about a recent court case in Washington state.
The article reports:
When the Washington Supreme Court gutted protections for religious employers in a state antidiscrimination law, it threw down the gauntlet against both federal law and several federal appeals courts, according to Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission (UGM).
The Christian homeless ministry is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to review the ruling, and last week several prominent Christian service ministries, Washington state lawmakers, a third of the states and even a Muslim group joined its cause, filing friend-of-the-court briefs.
Bisexual lawyer Matthew Woods sued UGM for not hiring him for its legal aid clinic because he was in a same-sex relationship in violation of its lifestyle rules for employees. The state high court ruled UGM could only apply the rules to “ministerial” employees, not other staff.
Yet the Washington Law Against Discrimination has exempted religious nonprofits since its passage in 1949, and that protection was reaffirmed when sexual orientation was added in 2006, according to a brief by 19 Washington Republican lawmakers, mostly in committee and party leadership.
They cited more than 300 years of religious accommodations in military service, oath-taking, medical treatment, abortion services and civil rights, including the employment-focused Title VII, which recognizes religious employers’ First Amendment rights to only hire “coreligionists.”
The state high court showed “shocking antireligious animus” against UGM and endangered similar organizations as well as private schools and even houses of worship, who are “left without legal protection from intrusive and potentially ruinous employment-related enforcement actions and lawsuits,” the GOP lawmakers said.
These groups will suffer “an actual chilling effect” if they have to predict “which of their activities the Washington State Human Rights Commission or a secular court will consider religious.” They cited the controlling precedent of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with World Vision for firing technical and office employees who rejected the doctrine of the Trinity.
This is actually a very simple matter. Would you expect a private company to hire someone who objected to the goals of the company? Would you hire someone who opposed fracking to lead a company whose business is fracking? There are many charitable organizations that operate according to Biblical principles. Are you willing to put these companies out of business when they are providing a much-needed service?
The article notes:
Franklin Graham also leads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Its brief says the obligation to proclaim the gospel “extends to all of its employees — from accountants to event planners to Rev. Franklin Graham himself — because every employee is a member of the Body of Christ,” and “every task is purposed for the furtherance of the Gospel, and accordingly, has eternal significance.”
The association was especially alarmed by Justice Yu’s concurrence, which characterized its right to hire coreligionists as a “right to discriminate” and urged religious organizations to only use faith in hiring decisions when “absolutely necessary and grounded in sound reason and purpose.”
A long line of cases makes clear that “civil courts are not equipped to second-guess a religious organization’s determination of whether a given employee or applicant is a coreligionist” without endangering First Amendment rights, the association argues.
We need the religious charities and the work that they do. The government has no business limiting their ability to conform to their religious beliefs.