Defining Religious Freedom Down—and Away

When the American Founders wrote protections of religious liberty into the Constitution, they were concerned with protecting religious minorities from legislative coercion by the majority. Now, writes Adam J. White, challenges to freedom of religion have taken a different shape:

During Barack Obama’s presidency . . . the collisions between progressive policy and religious liberty are not the result of legislative compromise or political give-and-take. Rather, they come from administrative agencies pushing a specific agenda as aggressively as possible, or from courts announcing new rights in absolute terms, leaving little apparent room for religious freedom. In this respect, the threat to religion comes not from popular majorities, but from minority factions that succeed in capturing either administrative or judicial power and leveraging it against religious minorities who stand in the way of their policy agenda.

Administrative absolutism was illustrated perfectly in the Hobby Lobby [case before the Supreme Court] and subsequent cases. The contraceptive mandate that the Obama administration wants to enforce against religious employers, and now against religious organizations, is found nowhere in the Affordable Care Act itself. . . . But regulators are not the only unelected officials prone to writing new laws in absolutist terms. To the extent that same-sex couples’ right to marry ultimately results from judicial decisions (at the administration’s behest) rather than legislative compromise, judges’ expansive vision of such new rights may leave legislators little room to exempt religious institutions, organizations, and persons from direct involvement with same-sex weddings.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: American founders, Barack Obama, Freedom of Religion, Hobby Lobby, Politics & Current Affairs, Supreme Court, U.S. Constitution

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas