[T]he Hosanna-Tabor case … revolved around the ability of a Lutheran academy in Michigan to fire a teacher. Here, the Obama administration advanced another extreme argument, claiming that job regulations prevented the academy from being able to fire anyone over a difference in beliefs.
The lawyers for the Obama administration went far beyond the issues of the case to instead advance the legally absurd position that there is no general ministerial exception, arguing that religious groups don’t even have the Constitutionally protected right to select their own ministers or rabbis.
Thankfully, here, the administration’s extreme position was rebutted by the Supreme Court in decisive fashion, with a 9-0 decision opposing its perspective. You have to take a pretty extreme position for Elena Kagan to join with Samuel Alito on an opinion.
Third, for those of you who follow pop culture, you may have taken note of the recent flap between The Robertson family of Duck Dynasty fame, and the A&E Network that produces and broadcasts the Duck Dynasty show. And you may have further observed that the one of the loudest and most aggressive defenders of the Robertson family was the Governor of Louisiana.
You may think that I was defending the Robertsons simply because I am the Governor of their home state, the great state of Louisiana. You would be wrong about that.
I defended them because they have every right to speak their minds, however indelicately they may choose to do so. Of course, A&E is a for-profit business, and they can choose what they want to put on the air.
But there was something much larger at stake here. There was a time when liberals in this country believed in debate. But that is increasingly not the case for the modern left in America. No, the modern left in America has grown tired of debate.
Their new strategy is to simply try to silence their critics. So these leftists immediately mobilized and did all they could not to debate the issues, but rather to attempt to silence the Robertsons.
There was a time when the left preached tolerance. And they are indeed tolerant, unless they disagree with you. To paraphrase William F. Buckley, a liberal is someone who welcomes dissent, and is astonished to find there is any.
The modern left in America is completely intolerant of the views of people of faith. They want a completely secular society where people of faith keep their views to themselves.
Finally, let me finish by mentioning an incredible irony. I’ve been working on this speech for a good while. And last Thursday, exactly one week ago, something truly bizarre occurred.
The person who is at the tip of the spear prosecuting this quiet war on religious liberty spoke at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. The topic he chose to speak about was defending religious liberty.
I was stunned, and I bet the President of Hobby Lobby, who was in the audience, was stunned as well. Yes, President Obama did wax eloquent, as he always does, about the horrors of religious persecution that are occurring beyond our borders. And good for him.
To be clear, churches in America are not being burned to the ground, and Christians are not being slaughtered for their faith. There is really no comparison to the persecution of people of faith inside our borders and outside.
Yet, it is stunning to hear the President talk of protecting religious liberty outside the United States, while at the very same time his Administration challenges and chips away at our religious liberty right here at home. Once again, there is a Grand Canyon sized difference between what this President says and what he does.
Here is what the President said last week, no doubt playing to his audience — “History shows that nations that uphold the rights of their people — including the freedom of religion — are ultimately more just and more peaceful and more successful.” Well said Mr. President, I couldn’t agree more.
So I leave you with this — The President is very concerned about religious liberty…and also, if you like your religion you can keep your religion.
Speaking of which, I wrote this two weeks ago:
[A] religion held deeply and with integrity carries with it a view of what is truly true, and of what constitutes human well-being. In other words, anyone who can, upon demand, distinguish
- what he thinks is truly true from
- what is merely religiously true
is truly irreligious beneath the thinnest and most nominal veneer.
Guess who fits that description:
“I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian — for me — for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.” – April 17, 2008, while running for president, defining marriage at the Saddleback Presidential Forum.
“I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” – May 9, 2012, as president, in an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC News.
(Both quotes from Politico, emphasis added)
I knew he was
lying temporizing with his “for me as a Christian” dodge on April 17, 2008. I knew that when the time seemed right, he’d drop the “Christian” grounds.
I’ve allowed that he’s a “liberal Christian.” I now say that he’s “irreligious beneath the thinnest and most nominal veneer.”
I do not mean that every liberal Christian is irreligious other than nominally. I’ve tended to believe that for most of my life, but I’ve been moving away from it – not because I understand liberal Christianity better, but because (a) I better understand how invisible the historic Christian option is to people whose brains or sensibilities won’t let them swallow the visible “conservative” Christianity and (b) I’m more inclined generally to grant a presumption that others are acting in good faith.
I also don’t mean that Obama has no convictions – that he is merely a sort of political weather vane. I think he has some very deep convictions – to which some adjective other than “Christian” applies.
I also see abundant evidence that of conservative Christians who are merely nominal.
Obama’s not an exception to that presumption of good faith, by the way, but it’s rebuttable, and the evidence rebuts it thoroughly.
* * * * *
“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)