Religious liberty, a rallying cry after gay marriage ruling

30 June 2015 | INTERNATIONAL

Their concerns are for the thousands of faith-based charities, colleges and hospitals that want to hire, fire, serve and set policy according to their religious beliefs, notably that gay relationships are morally wrong. The Republican Party’s 2016 presidential candidates are already campaigning on the issue. And Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is urging President Barack Obama and the nation’s governors “to join me in reassuring millions of Americans that the government will not force them to participate in activities that violate their deeply held religious beliefs.” The religious liberty fight isn’t about what happens inside the sanctuary. First Amendment protections for worship and clergy are clear. Potential conflicts could arise, however, over religious organisations with some business in the public arena. That category ranges from small religious associations that rent reception halls to the public, to the nation’s massive network of faith-based social service agencies that receive millions of dollars in government grants. Some groups, such as the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, also want protections for individual business owners who consider it immoral to provide benefits for the same-sex spouse of an employee or cater gay weddings. US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy raised the issue in the majority opinion Friday, granting gays the right to marry. He said First Amendment protections are in place for religious objectors, who “may continue to advocate with utmost sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.” Rights But in his dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts predicted a clash ahead between religious freedom and same-sex marriage. He specifically noted the dilemma for religious colleges that provide married student housing, and adoption agencies that won’t place children with gay couples. “There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this court,” Roberts wrote. Conservative religious groups have for years been on watch for potential clashes over religious liberty and gay rights, and have been lobbying for religious exemptions in statehouse and Congress. But conservative anxieties intensified over an exchange during April’s oral arguments in the gay marriage case between Justice Samuel Alito and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. Alito noted the high court’s 1983 decision to revoke the tax-exemption of Bob Jones University in South Carolina because it barred interracial dating. Alito asked if the government would take such action against religiously affiliated schools that oppose same-sex marriage. Verrilli said, “It is certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that.” Earlier this month, more than 70 Catholic and evangelical educators sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to take action to protect conservative religious schools in case of government action to revoke the schools’ nonprofit status. And last week in Congress, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, both Republicans, introduced the First Amendment Defense Act, which would prohibit the federal government from taking action against an institution that opposes same-sex marriage by revoking a tax-exemption or barring them from receiving grants or contracts. Marc Stern, a religious liberty expert and general counsel to the American Jewish Committee, noted that in the three decades since the Bob Jones decision, the IRS hasn’t sought to revoke the tax exemption of another school over discrimination based on race or gender. The Supreme Court decided the Bob Jones case based on a violation of fundamental public policy, not whether the school’s policy was unconstitutional, Stern said. There is no federal law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation. Still, Michael Moreland, a vice dean and professor at Villanova University School of Law, said the concern over losing tax-exempt status is “a real one.” “The fact the majority opinion for the court did mention the religious institutions’ right to engage in advocacy with regard to their views about marriage means I don’t think there’s a rush to confront those problems, but they’re there,” Moreland said. Republican presidential hopefuls are working to keep religious liberty in the forefront. At the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington last week, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said, “The IRS will start going after Christian schools, Christian universities, Christian charities” and “any institutions that follow a biblical teaching of marriage.” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said, “Hillary Clinton and The Left will now mount an all-out assault on religious freedom.” Jindal last month issued an executive order aiming to protect religious objectors after a House bill on the issue failed. In an Associated Press-GfK poll in April, more than 8 in 10 Republicans said it was more important to protect religious liberties than gay rights. NEW YORK NAMPA / AP

Similar News

 

700 million Africans without sanitation

12 hours ago | International

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKMore than 700 million people in Africa do not have access to sanitation, resulting in many preventable diseases. This was said by agriculture minister...

Attack on home of senior Niger politician kills guard

1 day - 14 June 2021 | International

AFPNiameyA machine-gun attack on the home of Seini Oumarou, president of the National Assembly in Niger, killed one of his guards and seriously wounded a...

Fugitive Chilean colonel arrested in Argentina on human rights...

1 day - 14 June 2021 | International

REUTERSBUENOS AIRESPolice in Argentina arrested a retired Chilean army colonel in Buenos Aires on Saturday after he fled neighbouring Chile, where he was convicted of...

To counter China, G7 leaders agree increased climate finance

1 day - 14 June 2021 | International

ELIZABETH PIPERCARBIS BAYG7 leaders were expected on Sunday to commit to increasing their climate finance contributions to meet an overdue spending pledge of $100 billion...

PM defends ‘give and take’ reparation deal

6 days ago - 09 June 2021 | International

STAFF REPORTERWINDHOEKPrime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila says the government has achieved ‘significant milestones’ by getting Germany to concede that it committed genocide on Namibian soil, as...

Delhi, Mumbai loosen lockdowns as India virus crisis eases...

1 week ago - 08 June 2021 | International

AFP INDIA India's capital New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai began a gradual easing of restrictions on Monday as coronavirus infections in the country fell...

Myanmar's Suu Kyi to go on trial next week

1 week ago - 08 June 2021 | International

AFP MyanmarOusted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi will go on trial next week, her lawyer said Monday, with the Nobel laureate facing an...

The $15 billion jet dilemma facing Boeing’s CEO

1 week ago - 03 June 2021 | International

NAMPA/REUTERS Boeing Co CEO Dave Calhoun faces a multibillion-dollar dilemma over how to rebuild sales in its core airliner business that has...

Africa’s Covid-19 corruption outweighs pandemic

2 weeks ago - 28 May 2021 | International

Rampant corruption and theft of Covid funds.A number of countries have reported rampant corruption and theft of money meant for the Covid-19 response.AFRICA NEWSNAIROBIEven as...

Biden orders more intel investigation of Covid-19 origin

2 weeks ago - 28 May 2021 | International

APWASHINGTON President Joe Biden ordered US intelligence officials to “redouble” their efforts to investigate the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, including any possibility the trail...

Latest News

A new look for Top...

12 hours ago | Business

Augetto Graig Namib Mills is a leader in the supply of staple food in Namibia for a reason. With the launch of their new range...

Tesla to accept bitcoin again...

12 hours ago | Economics

SINGAPORE - Bitcoin hit a two-week peak just shy of US$40 000 yesterday, after another weekend reacting to tweets from Tesla boss Elon Musk, who...

WTO hopes for speedy deal...

12 hours ago | Economics

GENEVA - The head of the World Trade Organisation said yesterday she hoped that members could reach an agreement by July on improving access to...

‘Small' groups don't rule the...

12 hours ago | Economics

CARBIS BAY, England - China has pointedly cautioned Group of Seven leaders that the days when "small" groups of countries decided the fate of the...

EDITORIAL: No genuine appetite to...

12 hours ago | Opinion

Research by the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) shows that almost half of the Namibian population lives in multidimensional poverty.Multidimensional poverty essentially means a concoction of...

N$2m Multichoice theft trial begins

12 hours ago | Justice

Marc Springer WINDHOEKA trial in which a married couple and their accomplice are accused...

New sports stadium in Keetmanshoop

12 hours ago | Youth

Hon. Gerrit Witbooi Regional Councilor for Keetmanshoop Rural Constituency, speaking at the official handover and inauguration of the Kronlein Sports Stadium. He said that sports...

Making agriculture sexy again

12 hours ago | Agriculture

Mariselle StofbergThe Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) officially handed over the School Garden Funding Project (SGFP) at Auas Primary School in Windhoek on 9 June. Auas...

IMF eyes new trust to...

12 hours ago | Economics

Andrea Shalal - The International Monetary Fund is exploring creation of a new trust that could allow its members to lend their IMF reserves to...

Load More