Religious schools, hospitals, charities, publishing houses, and broadcast organizations are all exercises of religion and must function by religious standards, which focus on obedience to God, or they should not exist at all. This means that practically they should be free from antidiscrimination laws, which pursue a far different ethic of egalitarianism and quality of life.
The devastating loss of religious freedom for traditional Christians over the last two decades, barely foreshadowed by earlier religious/secular conflicts about school prayer and monuments, and occasioned largely by homosexual liberation, has left the faithful staggered. We have seen the great mass of Americans either indifferent or hostile, with hostility particularly pronounced from the mass media. The likely election of another liberal Democratic administration will mean another quantum loss of religious freedom, both through legislation and a liberal Supreme Court for the indefinite future, and so now is a good time to assess where we’ve been, see where we’re going, and anticipate how we will respond.
As a recent BreakPoint commentary noted, the battle was really decided by the Romer vs. Evans decision from the Supreme Court in 1996, which essentially said that laws motivated by opposition to homosexuality were unconstitutional. Supposedly based on the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, the decision was terrible because it noted, and set aside, the claim of religious conscience against contributing to homosexual behavior as the justification for Colorado’s Constitutional Amendment 2, which prohibited local homosexual rights ordinances (what today we would call sexual orientation and gender identity [SOGI] laws). It was terrible as well because of the obvious partisanship of the decision. As Justice Scalia noted, it blocked a state law which bound local laws in a very ordinary way, accorded “equal protection” (and thus immunity from adverse judgment) to a group identified by the behavior of its members (could not the same logic be applied to drug users?), and went beyond merely claiming a violation of equal protection by citing hostility to homosexuals as an illegitimate motive of the voters, thus attacking the democratic process. As this writer has noted before, the impugning of an idea in the democratic process, in this case, the belief that homosexuality is sinful (in religious terms) or evil (in secular terms), sets government away from constitutional liberalism and towards ideology, with ideas deemed to be oppressive excluded from law and society. Most importantly, the Romer decision implied the denial of what Christians now need, the right to conscientious objection from homosexual behavior.
Subsequent decisions regarding homosexuality – Lawrence vs. Texas(2003) which voided state sodomy laws, and in particular voiced disapproval of “private discrimination” against homosexual persons (now conflated with their behavior, which would rule out conscientious objection), United States vs. Windsor (2013) which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act which made traditional marriage the federal standard, and Obergefell vs. Hodges (2015), which imposed same-sex marriage on the nation – were all authoritative moral pronouncements, declaring homosexuals to be oppressed by traditional morality, not reasonable judgments from the text or originally intended meaning of the constitution. The Constitution says nothing about sexual rights, nor could the original founders or the authors of the 14th Amendment possibly have meant to guarantee sexual license outside of traditional marriage. The real reliance in these decisions was on the Griswold vs. Connecticut decision (1965, which essentially says sexual choices are too personal for external judgment) and the Eisenstadt vs. Baird decision (1972, which extended this for purposes of contraception to cover non-marital intercourse). These decisions turned morality on its head. No longer is damage to personhood and dignity the result of improper inclinations and conduct (what Christians call sin), but the result of attacks on those inclinations and conduct. Pain and humiliation at attacks on sexual conduct is sufficient to prove injustice, and this is known, as the Griswold decision said, by “a law older than the Bill of Rights.” No wonder the newly decreed sexual rights overcome all other considerations.
For Christians, our concern is not first with dignity, but with our duty to God. This is really the duty of all creatures, and the appeal (in all things in this world, not just sexual matters) to the created order and to conscience (which speaks worldwide and from antiquity in favor of sexual purity) is right in setting our case before the world.