Advantage Becket

Hair’s the thing. When Cesar Gonzales was an infant, he was seriously ill—so ill that his parents made a religious promise to God that, if their son recovered, they would keep a strand of hair on his head uncut as a sign of their faith and gratitude. Cesar got better, and he and his brother Diego both continue to keep their hair uncut and have adopted the promise to God as their own. Their Texas elementary school accommodated their faith, but that changed in seventh grade. Now, the Gonzales brothers are banned from participating in school activities like band performance, robotics team, and athletics⁠—just because of their hair. Becket has stepped in to ask the school to accommodate the Gonzales brothers’ religious exercise.

(Becket Fund email)

This is a very odd case, but I don’t question the Gonzales’ sincerity or religious motivation.

I doubt that ADF would take this case because — well, let’s just say ADF’s cases look relatively homogeneous, with few “very odd cases” — which is why I give roughly double to Becket over ADF for religious freedom support.

On the other hand, and in defense of ADF, it is the more proactive of the two, opposing (for instance) LGBT causes that are still a step or two away from religious freedom’s door. I generally can see the uncomfortable logic of these proactive positions, though it sometimes feel like “borrowing trouble” and is hard for me to defend against facile charges of phobia or mean-spiritedness; there’s just no facile counter to that.

Both are worthy of support. The breadth and consistency of Becket’s approach is why I prefer it. Your mileage may vary, especially if you’re inclined to “take the battle to ‘them’.”

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