Albert Mohler: Religious Liberty in the Crosshairs
Make no mistake. The Solicitor General of the United States just announced that the rights of a religious school to operate on the basis of its own religious faith will survive only as an “accommodation” on a state by state basis, and only until the federal government passes its own legislation, with whatever “accommodation” might be included in that law. Note also that the President he represented in court has called for the very legislation Verrilli said does not exist … for now.
Verrilli’s answer puts the nation’s religious institutions, including Christian colleges, schools, and seminaries, on notice. The Chief Justice asked the unavoidable question when he asked specifically about campus housing. If a school cannot define its housing policies on the basis of its religious beliefs, then it is denied the ability to operate on the basis of those beliefs. The “big three” issues for religious schools are the freedoms to maintain admission, hiring, and student services on the basis of religious conviction. By asking about student housing, the Chief Justice asked one of the most practical questions involved in student services. The same principles would apply to the admission of students and the hiring of faculty. All three are now directly threatened. The Solicitor General admitted that these liberties will be “accommodated” or not depending on how states define their laws. And the laws of the states would lose relevance the moment the federal government adopts its own law.
The third exchange on religious liberty came as Justice Samuel Alito asked Verrilli about the right of religious institutions to maintain tax-exempt status, citing the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Internal Revenue Service to strip Bob Jones University because of that school’s policy against interracial dating and interracial marriage. That policy of Bob Jones University remains a moral blight to this day, even though the university has since rescinded the policy. Bob Jones University stood virtually alone in this unconscionable policy, but the Court’s decision in that lamentable case also set the stage for Justice Alito’s question — “would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?”
Pay close attention to Solicitor General Verrilli’s response:
“You know, I — I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I — I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is — it is going to be an issue.”
Verrilli’s pauses no doubt indicate that he understood the importance of what he was saying — “It’s going to be an issue.” the rest image