First Amendment Watch: Another Successful Attack On Religious Liberty In America

U.S. supreme court once again refuses to stand up for basic First Amendment rights …

This is not a pro-Christian post. If you are a worshipper of the moon and enjoy howling at it – or gathering mask-less in confined spaces with your fellow lunar disciples while engaging in all manner of ritualistic observances (“mooning?”), more power to you.

Again, this is not a pro-Christian post … it is a pro-freedom post.

In the United States of America, we have freedom of religion … or at least we thought we did.

As long as your observances are not depriving others of life, liberty or property, have at it.

Lately, though, this inalienable right has fallen under attack … and a court whose justices swore oaths to uphold it (along with our other essential liberties) are allowing it to happen.

The U.S. supreme court – led by increasingly left-leaning chief justice John Roberts – recently ruled against a San Diego, California church after it sought relief from a state law limiting attendance at religious gatherings. The church argued this edict discriminated against religious institutions at a time when abortion clinics, liquor stores and marijuana shops were allowed to operate without similar limits in place.

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(Via: Getty Images)

Nonetheless, according to Roberts, the church’s claim that its constitutional rights had been violated was “quite improbable.” And that the elected officials who imposed the edict had acted within the “broad limits” granted to “politically accountable officials of the states” during times of crisis.

Needless to say, we were livid … not only at the ruling and those who supported it, but at the door it opened for further discrimination.

“This is a deeply troubling ruling – one which poses a clear and present danger to the most fundamental of all American liberties,” we wrote at the time. “As a result of Roberts’ latest sellout, the highest court in the nation has formally created conditions under which it is acceptable for governments to not only suppress religious freedom – but actively discriminate against religion itself.”

Not surprisingly, the court’s ruling has emboldened liberal politicians to take further steps against religious freedom – and the court is clearly not going to do anything to stop them.

This week, Roberts once again displayed his contempt for religious liberty by joining the four liberal justices on the bench in denying a request from a church located near Carson City, Nevada. This congregation had asked the justices to overturn a similar state law capping church attendance – a law imposed at a time when casinos, gyms, restaurants and other entities were allowed to operate at fifty percent of their posted capacity.

Justice Samuel Alito ripped the majority opinion, saying while it was not surprising “Nevada would discriminate in favor of the powerful gaming industry and its employees … this court’s willingness to allow such discrimination is disappointing.”

Indeed it is …

“We have a duty to defend the Constitution, and even a public health emergency does not absolve us of that responsibility,” Alito continued. “For months now, states and their subdivisions have responded to the pandemic by imposing unprecedented restrictions on personal liberty, including the free exercise of religion.” 

The best response in the case, however, came from justice Neil Gorsuch.

“In Nevada, it seems, it is better to be in entertainment than religion,” he wrote. “Maybe that is nothing new. But the First Amendment prohibits such obvious discrimination against the exercise of religion.”

Here is his masterful, one-paragraph dissent …

“The world we inhabit today, with a pandemic upon us, posses unusual challenges,” he concluded. “But there is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars Palace over Calvary Chapel.”

Amen to that …

“John Roberts has abandoned his oath,” U.S. senator Ted Cruz of Texas tweeted. “But, on the upside, maybe Nevada churches should set up craps tables? Then they could open?”

Such is the sad state of religious liberty in the “land of the free.”




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