The Supreme Court Delivers Another Victory for the Founders’ Vision of Religious Liberty

July 14 2020

The Supreme Court’s most recent term has produced a series of important rulings protecting religious freedom, most recently in the case of Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru. Howard Slugh explains:

In Morrissey-Berru, the Court reaffirmed that the First Amendment ensures that religious institutions may decide “free from state interference, matters of church government as well as . . . doctrine.” As the majority opinion noted, this concerned the Founders because, prior to the American Revolution, Britain used its authority to dictate who could serve as religious functionaries in the colonies. For example, in 1771, the British ordered New York to only accept schoolmasters licensed by the bishop of London.

The Supreme Court [thus] determined that, in order to avoid that sort of abuse, the First Amendment prohibited the government from interfering in religious organizations’ decisions regarding their hiring and firing of religious officials. . . . Critics [of the ruling] may concede that, while avoiding such meddling was important in the 1700s and 1800s, it is no longer necessary today. They would claim that the government no longer seeks to control religious doctrine, and therefore the Court can allow some level of government intrusion into internal religious affairs.

The critics are incorrect for two main reasons. First, that is simply not how law works. Even if the concerns that motivated the First Amendment passed, the Court cannot unilaterally weaken the First Amendment’s protections. Only Congress and the American people, acting through the proper procedures, can amend the Constitution. Second, the critics are also wrong about the facts; government entities in the United States still threaten to impose their religious orthodoxy on dissenting groups. The protections of the First Amendment remain as necessary now as they ever were in the past.

In . . . 2014, the city of Houston issued a subpoena demanding religious leaders’ sermons relating to “homosexuality” or “gender identity.” The city eventually relented, and the subpoenas’ purpose is disputed, but their breadth and intrusiveness remain chilling. Over the last century, the government has expanded to the point where it now touches nearly every area in American life. As the reach of the state has grown, so has its capacity to impose its views on religious dissenters.

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Read more at Newsweek

More about: American founders, First Amendment, Freedom of Religion, Supreme Court

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter