US Supreme Court Upholds Freedom of Religion
posted byon 01/16/12
9-0 the US Supreme Court rules that the federal government (including agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) has no business interfering with a religious institution’s decisions on what ministers to hire and fire. It would simply be unconstitutional.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” (Article 1 of the Bill of Rights)
“[For the government to] pick and choose who can be a minister, the court ruled, is not only to prevent the free exercise of religion, it inevitably involves the government in the establishment of religion.” (Full article)
“…the first time the high court has acknowledged a ‘ministerial exception’ to anti-discrimination laws… Notre Dame law professor Rick Garnett called the ruling "one of the court’s most important church-state decisions in decades." It "protects religious liberty by forbidding governments from second-guessing religious communities’ decisions about who should be their teachers, leaders and ministers," he said. (Full article)
“Roberts… unified the court around history, principle and the Constitution’s text to remind the nation of the special constitutional status afforded religion.” (Full article)
So, are ministers in danger of discrimination from church authorities because the federal government cannot intervene to protect them? The apostle Paul states clearly in 1 Corinthians 6 that there should never be any need for anyone in the Church to take such a case to the civil government. If any organization should know how to use freedom rightly, it should be the Church.
Another question comes to mind: To what extent did the founders of our country intend to allow the free exercise of religion? For instance, if Islam qualifies as a constitutional religion, and if Islam calls for the death penalty of a teacher who converts to another religion, is the government prohibited from interfering to protect the life of that citizen? The Bill of Rights does guarantee due process of law to all persons before they can be deprived of life, liberty, or property. (Article 5)