At a recent conference on religious liberty sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, some argued that we are seeing unprecedented threats to religious liberty in the United States.
Richard Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention, pointed out that, for the first time, U.S. Department of Justice attorneys argued in front of the Supreme Court,
…that there are no particular and special protections for religion in the First Amendment and that churches and religiously affiliated organizations have no more protections under the First Amendment than a country club…
This case, Hosanna-Tabor vs E.E.O.C., the Lutheran church (Hosanna-Tabor) school fired a teacher, among whose duties it was to teach religion, because the teacher taught something other than the Lutheran faith. The teacher sued the church and the case ended up in the Supreme Court. The court ruled 9-0, unanimously, against the E.E.O.C. In the words of the court,
By imposing an unwanted minister, the state infringes the Free Exercise Clause, which protects a religious group’s right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments. According the state the power to determine which individuals will minister to the faithful also violates the Establishment Clause, which prohibits government involvement in such ecclesiastical decisions.
Hannah Smith of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, identified this anti-constitutional intrusion into church affairs as one of three types of serious attacks on religious liberty. Another attack is the HHS mandate, requiring employers to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization. The third attack involves the violation of conscience rights of individuals. For example, forcing nurses to assist with abortions, photographers to work at gay “weddings,” and pharmacists to dispense abortion-inducing drugs.
Expect many more such attacks.