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View Diary: Fundies, I get it, I really do, but grow up (227 comments)

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  •  I'm a big supporter of the First Amendment (41+ / 0-)

    in all respects.  I'm a firm believer in the "free exercise" clause.  But religions have to realize that, while they have a right not to have the government force them into situations that violate their religion, the corollary is that they can't impose their religion on others, like by having prayers or religious preaching forced on public school students.  

    I wonder why anyone would even try this in this day and age.  There are ways of accommodating those who have religious beliefs at a public school without the school imposing certain religious beliefs on everyone.  

    •  You are of course right, coffeetalk-- in fact such (30+ / 0-)

      accommodations exist under law and are actively negotiated state to state, district to district.

      Where you're perhaps not quite on the mark is in your statement "while they have a right not to have the government force them into situations that violate their religion..."  In fact, they do not have such a right according to our Constitution.  "Congress shall not establish a state religion" does not have at all the same meaning as "Congress shall not force me to obey the law if that law in any way might go against what I interpret as the tenets of my religion".  

      Think about it.  If indeed we interpreted the Constitution as providing for an individual right to never have to be in a situation that one might perceive as "violating" one's religious beliefs, then we wouldn't be able to have any laws at all in this country, would we, given our pluralistic and diverse society?  One man's law is another man's violation of his beliefs, etc.

      That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

      by concernedamerican on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 07:32:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Free Exercise Clause is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, mapamp

        just as important as the Establishment Clause.  And, like any other constitutional right, there are limits.  But without some compelling reason (like public safety, for example) government cannot interfere with a person's Free Exercise of his religion.  

        •  Including (18+ / 0-)

          ...the right NOT to practice one, and NOT to be forced to sit through indoctrination.

          America, we can do better than this...

          by Randomfactor on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 08:19:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The First Amendment (18+ / 0-)

          means that Government must be neutral towards religion. It means that Government cannot be motivated by religion, nor can it single out any or all religions, in its enactment of laws and regulations. It does not and never did mean that religious conscience trumps legitimate governmental concerns.

          Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

          by Nowhere Man on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 08:44:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It does mean (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Julia Grey, Calamity Jean

            religion trumps laws unless there's a legitimate  government purpose behind the laws, and the law is religion-neutral (i.e., even if it doesn't say it's directed to religion, it can't be subtly directed to religion.  And there's tests as to what religious beliefs matter -- you can't just say, "my religion requires that I drive 40 miles per hour in a 20 mph speed zone."

            But say, for example, the government passed a law prohibiting the serving of unleavened bread to groups of more than 10 people.  That law would not stand up to a Free Exercise Challenge.  

            Even during prohibition, the Catholic Church was able to use wine for its masses.  

            •  No, your examples are wrong. (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tommymet, T Maysle, Rick Aucoin, NonnyO

              If the government had a legitimate purpose for banning unleavened bread -- say, if unleavened bread were toxic -- then it could do so. Hence, for example, government can and does ban the use of peyote even in religious ceremonies. (Please note: I don't want to get into whether banning hallucinogenic substances is really a legitimate governmental purpose. The important point here is simply that the Supreme Court has held it to be one.)

              See Employment Division v. Smith:

              Respondents urge us to hold, quite simply, that when otherwise prohibitable conduct is accompanied by religious convictions, not only the convictions but the conduct itself must be free from governmental regulation. We have never held that, and decline to do so now. There being no contention that Oregon's drug law represents an attempt to regulate religious beliefs, the communication of religious beliefs, or the raising of one's children in those beliefs, the rule to which we have adhered ever since Reynolds plainly controls.
              Yes, this argument has me favorably citing Antonin Scalia. There are rare occasions where he gets it right. But Scalia goes on to write:
              [A] society that believes in the negative protection accorded to religious belief can be expected to be solicitous of that value in its legislation as well. It is therefore not surprising that a number of States have made an exception to their drug laws for sacramental peyote use.... But to say that a nondiscriminatory religious practice exemption is permitted, or even that it is desirable, is not to say that it is constitutionally required
              On this I disagree, though my disagreement has never been held up in Court: I believe the Establishment Clause does prohibit the legislatures from carving out specific religious exemptions for otherwise prohibited acts. But that's not what we're arguing about. We're arguing about whether the First Amendment requires religious exemptions. And on that point, Scalia couldn't be clearer.

              As for the Eighteenth Amendment, it could have been used to ban religious use of wine, although it was not used that way (at least as far as I know.) The Volstead Act carved out a specific exemption for religious and medicinal purposes. This was clearly motivated by politics, rather than fealty to constitutional principles: Since the Eighteenth Amendment itself included no religious exemptions, nor even offered the possibility of such exemptions1, the Supreme Court would otherwise have eventually been forced to rule that the later amendment superseded the earlier one, and that Prohibition did apply to religious uses of alcohol.

              This is not an issue of a law being trumped by the First Amendment; it's a question of whether later amendments are somehow weaker than earlier ones. The history of constitutional law shows that the opposite is true: later amendments take priority over earlier amendments or articles.



              1Unless one could successfully argue that religious use of wine is not a "beverage purpose" under the Eighteenth Amendment. I'm skeptical that such an argument could have worked, but I suppose it's possible.

              Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

              by Nowhere Man on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 08:10:57 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I don't think we are differing (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib

                I used the example of unleavened bread precisely because it is not toxic, because there's no government interest in banning it (that I can think of) other than targeting a religion.  

                I agree that when the government has a legitimate interest in acting, once that is not directed to a value judgment on a religious belief, it can enact laws and religion has to abide by those laws.  That's why I said there are limits on Free Exercise -- and government can enact public safety laws as an example.  What the government can't do is use some non-serious basis for enacting some law as a cover for the fact that it's geared toward religion.  That's why I said a ban on unleavened bread and ceremonies pouring water on babies under one year.  There's no legitimate public policy basis for those kinds of things other than a statement about a religious practices.  

                It's why I think government can ban gender discrimination in commercial establishments but not, for example, in the Catholic Church.  Government has a legitimate interest in making sure people have access to interstate commerce regardless of things like gender and race.  Government does not have a legitimate interest in making sure that a person with values other than the values of that religion have access to becoming members of that religion.  There's no government interest in assuring that there is religious diversity in a religion -- no government interest in making sure that women who are against the hijab are Muslim, no government interest in making sure that people who believe in driving cars become part of the Amish religion.  And government has no interest in making sure that people who believe women do, or do not, have a right to be priests become part of the Catholic Church.  Government has no legitimate interest in making sure that the Catholic Church abandons its long-standing rule that only men can be priests because government thinks it's a bad belief.  Government has to be neutral on that -- not take a position one way or the other.  It's not a legitimate interest of government to pass value judgments on religious beliefs.  That's the whole point of the First Amendment.  

                As another example, I don't think a law like one that was passed in France would survive constitutional scrutiny here, because it's specifically directed at religious symbols. I think school systems could ban symbols of organizations or groups or philosophical beliefs of any kind, including religious symbols, but I don't think that government can particularly ban religious symbols and those alone.  

                •  If I have misunderstood, then I apologize. (0+ / 0-)

                  We both clearly agree that government may not make laws whose primary intent is clearly to injure one or more religious groups. But as for claims of religious exemptions under the First Amendment, I would argue that if a law can be applied to anyone without otherwise violating the Constitution, then the First Amendment does not offer a shield from that law. If you agree, then we truly have no disagreement, and again, I apologize.

                  But if that's the case, then I'd also suggest that statements like

                  [religous people] have a right not to have the government force them into situations that violate their religion
                  and
                  religion trumps laws
                  perhaps weren't saying what you meant them to say. (Yes, I took the second quote out of context -- but it frames what comes after it in such a way as to imply a more stringent standard than usual for "legitimate government purpose." In other words, "religion trumps laws" is a pretty strong way to make a relatively weak claim.)

                  Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

                  by Nowhere Man on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 11:31:08 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I think I do not go as far as this (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    VClib
                    I would argue that if a law can be applied to anyone without otherwise violating the Constitution, then the First Amendment does not offer a shield from that law.
                    I think that if the primary effect of a law is on the exercise of religion, then it's likely going to be found unconstitutional as not being based on a legitimate government purpose, even though it can be a applied to somebody without violating the Free Exercise Clause. It's not impossible that a law that primarily functions to stop the exercise of certain religious view can be constitutional, but it's going to be an uphill battle to prove that the effect on religion was not a motivating factor behind the law.  

                    Take my unleavened bread example.  If you can find somebody who likes serving unleavened bread to friends at parties, that means that a ban on serving unleavened bread to groups larger than 10 would not be unconstitutional as applied to that person. Technically, that satisfies your test.  However, I don't think that would save the law, as clearly its primary effect would be to stop the exercise of a specific religious view.  That alone is not enough to render it unconstitutional, but it certainly would be a strong factor in the argument that it was enacted for the primary purpose of affecting the exercise of religious views.

                    I think it's all about what the purpose of the law is.  If the law is based on some legitimate interest of the government, and you can demonstrate to the Court what that interest is and why that law advances it -- separate and apart from any religious consideration -- the law is probably constitutional.  If a Court determines that those considerations are a pretext for passing a law designed to affect religious views (few laws will say, "we're passing this because we don't like the Catholic religion") then, even though it also will be enforced against some others who do not share those religious beliefs, it's probably not constitutional.    

                    •  Perhaps this time I was unclear (0+ / 0-)

                      As I see it, there are essentially two classes of laws that the First Amendment has been claimed to address:

                      1) Those laws whose primary purpose is to injure one or more religious faiths, groups, or practices

                      2) Those laws which, as a side-effect, may require one or more people to violate their religious beliefs or principals.

                      We seem to be in agreement that the first kind of law is right out under the First Amendment. Gone, defunct, kaput.

                      But it's the second kind that I've been focusing on all along. For instance, laws regarding the draft, taxation, alcohol, contraception, and so many others that clearly have a legitimate purpose (at least in the legal sense), yet violate the principals of individuals -- or at least, are claimed to do so. Some of these laws specifically carve out an exception for religious purposes -- but let's toss those aside for the nonce, and focus on those with no such exemption. My question to you is, does the First Amendment ever require an exemption to such laws?

                      I say no: if the law is legitimate, then it applies to everyone. (But again, the laws of the kind in #1 above are illegitimate to begin with.)

                      Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

                      by Nowhere Man on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 04:30:09 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

          •  Conscientious Objection to bearing arms in war (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Brown Thrasher, NonnyO

            is accommodated by law.

            That's an example of making room for religious/philosophical belief when a legitimate government concern is at stake.

            Just setting the record straight.

            Such individuals could, of course, be sent as non-combatants (medics, usually), unless their CO was based on total non-participation in ANY violent state action (rare, and I'm not sure that type IS accommodated by the law).

            •  I know such exemptions exist (0+ / 0-)

              The question is whether they are required, tolerated, or even prohibited by the First Amendment.  coffeetalk claims the first, the Court says the second, and I argue the third.

              Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

              by Nowhere Man on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 08:36:24 AM PDT

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              •  Actually, you've slightly misstated my (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib, Nowhere Man

                position.  I explained in more detail above.  I think that where there's a legitimate, serious (not pretextual) interest in legislation, separate and apart from the religious aspect, that justifies the law, there does not have to be a religious exemption.  That's why I said there are limits to the Free Exercise clause, and gave public safety as an example.  Absent something like that, no, government can't target a religious belief as some sort of value judgment on the merits of the religious belief.  As I said, a law prohibiting people from serving unleavened bread to groups larger than 10 would clearly be seen as directed to the Catholic Church (based on what we know today about unleavened bread, I can't see any legitimate government interest in making sure that it's only consumed in groups of less than 10) and would be unconstitutional.  

        •  Yes, they can. (14+ / 0-)

          These fundies were convicted of involuntary manslaughter and now face possible additional charges.

          Two of their sons died due their refusal to seek medical attention.  They were on probation due to the first death and now with the second death will likely be charged again.  They even lost custody of their seven other children.  

          These people are not monsters, just people who deeply believe in their religion.  But it looks like their religion killed two of their children.  Under the law, that's involuntary manslaughter and they could loose custody permanently and serve time.

          I feel for these folks because they've clearly been brought up and lived their lives with these beliefs.  But ignorance of the law does not exempt, and they knew the consequences the second time around.

          The priest said, "Today's sermon is called 'Liars', but first I have a question. How many of you have read Chapter 66 in Matthew?" Nearly every hand went up. "You're just the group I need to speak to," the priest said. "There's no such chapter."

          by Back In Blue on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 09:04:18 PM PDT

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          •  I feel nothing but contempt (7+ / 0-)

            for them. They murdered their children and deserve to spend the rest of their  miserable lives in prison, with other child murderers.

            ~War is Peace~Freedom is Slavery~Ignorance is Strength~ George Orwell "1984"

            by Kristina40 on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 05:02:27 AM PDT

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            •  That's your choice. (0+ / 0-)

              I have empathy for people who were indoctrinated since they were born into what is essentially a cult and who do not have the ability or awareness to escape it.  Doesn't change my opinion that they should be headed to jail in this case. As WereBear said below, "their actions are clearly monstrous."

              The priest said, "Today's sermon is called 'Liars', but first I have a question. How many of you have read Chapter 66 in Matthew?" Nearly every hand went up. "You're just the group I need to speak to," the priest said. "There's no such chapter."

              by Back In Blue on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 05:55:30 PM PDT

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          •  They may not BE monsters, but their... (6+ / 0-)

            ... actions are clearly monstrous.

            Penn State - Rug too small, dirtpile too big, not enough brooms.

            by WereBear Walker on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 05:31:36 AM PDT

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          •  I agree with that. (4+ / 0-)

            as I said, like any constitutional rights, there are limits.  Public safety -- the lives and safety of others -- is a compelling government reason for passing laws that force someone to violate religious beliefs.  For example, say a religion demanded that (in an absurd example) parents amputate the legs of any children they have.  Government CAN pass religious-neutral laws that say, "you can't physically harm your baby."  A "Free Exercise" clause challenge would never stand up against that.  The government has a compelling reason to protected the safety of other human beings (babies).  If, on the other hand, government outlawed ceremonies where water is poured on a baby less than a year old, thus outlawing infant baptisms, I have to think that would never stand up against a Free Exercise challenge.  

            •  Not sure. (0+ / 0-)

              hey were compelled by the court as part of their probation, to take their kids to a medical doctor for checkups and sick-child visits. Thus, making them participate in something they did not believe in and that went against their religious beliefs when there was no imminent danger to the children.  

               

              The priest said, "Today's sermon is called 'Liars', but first I have a question. How many of you have read Chapter 66 in Matthew?" Nearly every hand went up. "You're just the group I need to speak to," the priest said. "There's no such chapter."

              by Back In Blue on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 05:49:56 PM PDT

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        •  So who's "free exercise" takes precedence? (14+ / 0-)

          My particular denomination has no problem with marriage equality -- so why should certain denominations be able to take precedence when it comes to setting civil law?

          There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

          by Cali Scribe on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 09:29:56 PM PDT

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          •  What the Civil law should do is (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mapamp, VClib

            remain neutral -- not endorse anybody's religion.  Marriage, for civil purposes, needs to be a civil contract.  Government can set limits on who can contract (age for example) but not for religious reasons.  

            Government, however, cannot say to a religion, if you perform religious marriages, you have to perform same-sex marriages even if they violate your religion.  There's no compelling reason, for example, to make the Catholic Church perform same sex marriages.  

            •  That's one reason why I've seen a poster (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Brown Thrasher

              that says "churches don't perform marriages, they perform weddings." Or more specifically, a minister doesn't officiate over a marriage, but over a wedding.

              liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

              by RockyMtnLib on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 06:49:13 AM PDT

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              •  Words are important sometimes (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib, mmacdDE

                frankly, sometimes I think the solution is for the government to provide mechanisms for everyone to enter into a civil contract and record it (which is what civil marriage is).  

                The "marriage" part would be symbolic -- you could have whatever symbolic term you want to justify your relationship, but it's separate and apart from the government's civil contract.  (My friends who are a long-term gay couple had a wedding several years ago, and consider themselves married, even though the civil law in Louisiana does not let them enter into the civil contract.)  You could have a two part deal like some countries do.  You sign your civil contract and record it at the local courthouse (sort of like your marriage license) and that's the binding civil aspect, and it's done with the signature and recordation.  If you want to have a symbolic ceremony, if you want to call yourself married, that's up to you.  Churches would not have to recognize your ceremony, and would also be completely free not to consider you "married" in their religious sense.  Your legally binding civil contract, however, would be given the same effect as any other legally binding civil contract, because it's separate and apart from the religious/spiritual/philosophical aspect.

          •  You Cut, I Choose (0+ / 0-)

            As a kid we used to split a small carton of ice under the rule that one person splits the other chooses which piece.

            So if they can say YES or NO to having religion, then I get to choose WHICH! Get ready to be a Pastafarian!

            The Democrats create jobs. The Republicans create recessions.

            by Tuba Les on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 02:35:29 PM PDT

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        •  Coffeetalk, you are not thinking this through (8+ / 0-)

          clearly.

          As Cali Scribe says below, whose free exercise takes precedence?  

          Your vision of "free exercise" relies at bottom on an individual's whim taking precedence over the res publica, the collective entity that is our common endeavor as a people in a democracy where laws rule.  Sure, some laws are bad.  But in your vision of the free exercise clause, all laws are subordinate to an individual's whimsical invocation of "his beliefs".

          That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

          by concernedamerican on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 02:45:48 AM PDT

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          •  Not true. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mapamp, VClib

            generally, a compelling government reason takes precedence -- public safety, or example.  The government can pass laws to protect others if your religion (as an extreme absurd example) practices human sacrifice.  What the government can't do is say, I think it's the Muslim religion is demeaning to women so I'm outlawing the hijab.

            •  But your example (last sentence) doesn't apply (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              allergywoman, Nowhere Man

              to a "free exercise" situation-- at least not to the claims of "free exercise" protection that many Christian conservative legal groups are pressing.  The current claims of free exercise-- for example, with regard to exceptions in the law for conscience concerning abortifacients/morning-after pills, abortions, etc.-- do not respond to any sort of government proscription (as in your hypothetical example).  Rather, current "free exercise" claims are all about claiming that the individual is above or outside any sort of law whatsoever purely because he or she "believes."

              That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

              by concernedamerican on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 05:42:14 AM PDT

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              •  No, that's not the nature of their challenge. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib, scott5js

                The abortion conflict in general is because there is no general consensus in this country as to when a fetus is a separate human life.  I'm a mother, and I can tell you that at SOME point, I considered my children separate human beings.  If someone had killed one a day before my due date, I would have considered it a murder of a person, not just an attack on my.  The question is, when can the law consider that fetus a separate human life, a life that has its own interests, separate from the woman's, that the government can protect?  Roe v. Wade said that the dividing line was viability - the government can enact laws to protect the fetus (even from its mother) at viability.  That was kind of an arbitrary decision, as even Roe supporters admit.  Why then?  What happens when viability moves earlier?  Why not when there is separate brain activity?  Why not when there is a separate heartbeat?  Why not when the separate DNA is established?  The answers to those questions can be religious or not, or can be philosophical or spiritual.  And we have no consensus answer.

                IF -- and that's the big IF -- that fetus is a separate human life, then the government can, and should, pass laws that protect that separate human life from physical harm by others.  The BIG question is when that status begins.  Roe says viability, but the country as a whole is all over the place (some earlier, some later) on that.  

                •  What you are describing does not apply to the (3+ / 0-)

                  situation at hand.  The "free exercise" clause issue has to do with whether or not someone can claim that he/she is above or outside the law, or that the law does not apply to him/her, simply because he she believes something within a religious framework.

                  Such exemptions are requested beyond the framework of abortion or viability or "life".  They are currently being claimed by people who assert that it "restricts their freedom of religion" for them to rent to homosexuals, provide services to gay people or transsexuals, teach science in the classroom, etc.  In the face of laws passed in localities and states which reflect the public's sentiment in those states with regard to what they want their democratic process to make possible for citizens, such "freedom of religion" conscience exemption claimants insist that they are not part of that "public" and that they should not be subject to the laws made by the public.

                  When the founders provided for a "free exercise" of religion,they were not intending to provide for an individual's whim to trump the public good.  It is part of the public good that American children learn accepted science in schools so that they might be competitive and knowledgeable.  It is part of the public good that taxpaying, law-abiding citizens (such as gay people) be shielded from discrimination in public housing and in service situations where the providers use taxpayer-funded infrastructure that their businesses benefit from, like roads and bridges and sidewalks and public utilities.  It is part of the public good that we assent as a community to certain practices that embody or manifest a core set of American values.  

                  Those who currently want to avoid living according to such shared common American values are de facto setting themselves above American law.  I guess they're invoking divine law and saying that it trumps American law.  But that's not very American, is it?

                  But that's ultimately what's at stake in the fact that a "free exercise" clause is in our Constitution in the first place:  individual whim is subordinate to the overall framework of the rights and obligations enumerated therein.  

                  That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

                  by concernedamerican on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 07:22:43 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  That's contrary to the First Amendment (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    VClib

                    the Free Exercise clause was put in the First Amendment precisely so that the government CANNOT say, I think your religious values are not good for the country as a whole, so I'm going to make it illegal for you to exercise your religious beliefs.  

                    Remember, at the time, most countries thought that it was really, really, really bad for the public at large to have any religion other than their version of Christianity. The Free Exercise clause was precisely so that government would NOT be able to say, your religious values are wrong, so we are going to pass laws against them.  

                    The GOVERNMENT cannot, however, function on those religious values.  So, the GOVERNMENT cannot discriminate.  But if a church wants to say, "only men can be a part of our church, women have to stay in a separate room outside," the Free Exercise clause means that government can't say, that's discrimination, you can't do that.

                    Government CAN pass laws that inhibit someone's free exercise if the law is not directed at a religious value (no matter how horrible that value may be) and the law is prompted by some completely independent and important government interest, like the safety of others.  I'm a woman - I have a constitutional right (the 14th Amendment) not to have THE GOVERNMENT discriminate against me.  I DON'T have a constitutional right not to have, for example, the Catholic Church discriminate against me (as it clearly does).  I can't say, I really really really want to be a priest, but the Catholic Church won't give me that job. It would be a violation of the Free Exercise Clause for the government to say, because discrimination against women is bad for the country as a whole, the Catholic Church can't discriminate against women.   I don't even have a constitutional right not to have my neighbor discriminate against me -- if he wants to have a neighborhood party and invite only men because he thinks women are subhuman, that's his right.  The federal government passed civil rights laws under its Commerce Clause power -- its power to regulate interstate commerce -- and because of the recognition that certain people, based on race, etc. were not getting adequate access to interstate commerce because of "whites only" or separate but equal situations.  There is no government interest in making sure that people have adequate access to a religion when their access would violate the beliefs of that religion.  That's why the Free Exercise Clause is in there.  

                    I am often dismayed at this site by the hostility of some to the First Amendment, and the notion of some people that my views and values are the only ones that should be respected by, or given protection by, the federal government.  

                    •  It does not violate one's freedom of speech for (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Nowhere Man

                      one to accede to a publicly-desired, democratically-passed law in this Republic.

                      One can always speak out about the law, one can criticize it, one can try to elect representatives who will propose versions of it that more reflect what one wants, instead of what the rest of the public wanted.  All this happens and that's entirely as it should be.

                      Re:  your example:  how do you distinguish between "The Catholic Church" and the many businesses and service centers run by the Church, for which the Church receives government money?  This re: your comment "It would be a violation of the Free Exercise Clause for the government to say, because discrimination against women is bad for the country as a whole, the Catholic Church can't discriminate against women."  A Catholic hospital, for example:  if it is going to receive government funding to carry out a host of operations, and if it's going to rely on public infrastructure, to what extent is the hospital obliged to obey prevailing secular law when the Church's services are not physically being provided in a Church setting, but in an office, say, or a hospital room?  

                      That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

                      by concernedamerican on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 08:38:19 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  The First Amendment also includes (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        VClib

                        a "free exercise" clause.  You can't pretend it doesn't exist.

                        As for the Catholic hospital, I think that's a grey area of the law, and I will be interested to see how it plays out.  As I've said elsewhere, I agree that religions have to obey the law, but the law cannot be directed toward religion, and cannot be based on the notion that religions beliefs are wrong.  Instead, a law has to have a legitimate, serious (not pretextual) basis that is not related to some statement that the religious belief is wrong.  

                        For example, suppose Congress passed a law saying that Catholic owned hospitals have to provide abortions, but the allowed other hospitals could make the decision not to provide abortions if they chose.  I would suspect that would be a violation of the Free Exercise clause, as it would be passed based largely for the purpose of showing Catholics that the government thought their religious beliefs are wrong.  It's the same concept as if, for example, the government said Jewish-based food kitchens had to serve pork.  Making a statement that a religious belief is wrong is NOT a legitimate government interest.  

                        On the other hand, suppose there were a law saying that EVERY hospital in the country has to provide abortions.  That may be constitutional, or may not, depending on the justification.  If there was evidence (in the Congressional record, for example) that women could not find any place to have abortions, there could be a legitimate government interest in assuring that a legal medical procedure were available to women who needed it, and Catholic hospitals may have to abide by it or face whatever consequences are in the law.  If, on the other hand, the evidence in the Congressional record were that most women who wanted that medical procedure could find it, then the law might well be seen as pretextual for an attack on a religious belief, enacted for no other purpose than to assure that medical providers had to violate their religious beliefs because the government doesn't think those religious beliefs are legitimate.  That may not be constitutional.  

                        •  I can see something more like (0+ / 0-)

                          If a hospital provides gynecological services, they must provide ALL services, including abortions where medically indicated.

                          That would give an out - if you don't provide ANY gyn services you don't have to provide abortions.

                          But it would severely impact the hospital.

                    •  The hostility is not to the First Amendment (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      concernedamerican

                      It's to your interpretation of the First Amendment. There is a difference.

                      Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

                      by Nowhere Man on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 08:46:51 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  NM - there is a lot of hostility here to the (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        coffeetalk, andalusi

                        First Amendment. I too have been surprised at how willing people are to try and silence other views. We have had a long debate about "hate speech" and the issue of "incitement" by the media, as a good examples.

                        "let's talk about that"

                        by VClib on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 10:07:33 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I would not at all call that hostility (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          coffeetalk, concernedamerican

                          Misunderstanding, or in rare cases even ignorance, very possibly, but not hostility. Not hostility to the First Amendment, anyway. I still those conflicts as being about interpretation -- what is intended to be covered, and what is not?

                          Personally, I think extreme examples of hate speech on university campuses are not protected speech, even at public universities, because of the university's need to establish and maintain a safe and collegial environment. I recognize that it's difficult to define and apply a concrete standard as to what constitutes extreme hate speech. Still, to me the important test is not whether the speech is "extreme" hate speech; it's whether the university would punish a student for speech made off of the campus grounds (or campus network servers), where the university community would be far less substantially affected. So long as students are free to express themselves elsewhere without retribution from the university, I don't see a major First Amendment issue in "reasonable" restrictions on hate speech.

                          (By the way, this isn't about whether I personally think hate speech restrictions are a good idea or not; I'm focusing solely on whether they violate the First Amendment.)

                          Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

                          by Nowhere Man on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 11:04:52 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  NM - I think hate speech is a HUGE (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            coffeetalk, Nowhere Man

                            First Amendment issue, even on public university campuses. And we will agree to disagree on this point.

                            Thank you for a thoughtful reply.

                            "let's talk about that"

                            by VClib on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 11:34:25 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I agree with VClib (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            VClib

                            the problem with the "hate speech" thing is defining "hate speech."  Most often, it is defined by the group in power as "derogatory speech directed to people or principles we think are important or good."   For example, suppose we are talking about  fundamentalist Christian or Catholic have certain religious beliefs on marriage (such as "I believe same-sex marriage is sinful and an abomination in the eyes of God").  Does calling them "bigots" for their religious views constitute "hate speech"?  I suspect fundamentalist Christians and Catholics would say yes, but those who support same-sex marriage would say no.  "Hate speech" is too often subjective, and colored by your values.  The importance of the First Amendment is that it doesn't allow government to distinguish among speech based on the values of those who are in government positions.  

                            That's why I believe that, absent speech that constitutes an incitement of an imminent threat of unlawful conduct, there's very little in the way of speech that can be banned.  Even the speech of the Westboro Baptist Church, which I believe is about as "hateful" as you can get, can't be banned, but can be regulated as part of content-neutral time place and manner regulations (for example, no first amendment activities, regardless of content, within so many feet of a funeral).  And the best way to deal that hate speech is "more speech" - counter protesters blocking them from the sight of the funerals they are protesting.

                          •  Well I agree with that. I know a journalist who (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            andalusi

                            is one of the most liberal people among my acquaintances, but he has emphatically said on more than one occasion that he unequivocally supports the Nazis marching in Skokie or Westboro trying to picket anywhere they damn please, because of their first amendment rights to do so.  And he's right.

                            That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

                            by concernedamerican on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 03:33:30 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I fully supported the right of the Nazis (0+ / 0-)

                            to march in Skokie. Did then, do now. But Skokie is a municipality, and the march was on public streets. I see a clear distinction between that forum and a university campus. Just as it's often said that the First Amendment does not apply here on dailykos.com, it may be that a university, too, has some ability -- if not an obligation -- to establish rules regarding content.

                            Here's one example: Suppose a biology professor turns out to be a creationist, and starts teaching creationism in the classroom. The university fires him. Does the professor have any grounds to sue based on First Amendment rights? Why or why not?

                            May the university establish restrictions on speech within the classroom? If so, why may it not do so outside of the classroom?

                            Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

                            by Nowhere Man on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 06:46:31 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  As long as the professor was teaching and (0+ / 0-)

                            Testing his students on the curriculum, and covering the required elements of the course, they likely wouldn't have much problem with anything else he said.

                            Even at the college level, there are goals and outcomes that need to be taught, and if your students don't get those, there can be repercussions.

                            Not for what you say or even how you say it, but because your students aren't getting the course content they need to move on.

                          •  Totally agree with you. (0+ / 0-)

                            The university has not only the right, but the obligation, to ensure that students are being taught properly in the classroom.

                            The question is, does that right and obligation end at the classroom door?

                            Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

                            by Nowhere Man on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:26:21 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  You are incorrect-- the government doesn't say (0+ / 0-)

                      "you can't exercise your religious beliefs" when it says to people that they may not deny housing to gay people in a town where there is a non-discrimination ordinance that reflects prevailing public sentiment.

                      What the government is saying is, "you can exercise your religious beliefs in your own home, in public places you are free to speak your mind about your religious beliefs, and you are free to worship where you wish--- but it is illegal for you to elevate your individual religious beliefs above the law and above the common good."

                      The government is telling conscience exemption claimants nothing more than that if they wish to run a business or provide a service from which they would use public infrastructure and make a profit, then they cannot discriminate against citizens who are protected by the law and who are to be accorded all the rights of every other citizen under the law.  

                      Their religious beliefs have nothing to do with it.  

                      Now, if they so value their religious beliefs that they feel it is of the utmost importance to deny citizens their rights rather than obey the law, then they can choose civil disobedience, or they can get out of a business that caters to the public.  That's pretty simple it seems to me.

                      That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

                      by concernedamerican on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 03:43:42 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

    •  Just to illustrate the extreme still happens. (10+ / 0-)

      I ran across this title (Raw Story) and thought it had to be a fake. I suggest you trust me that it is true. The Chilean cult was apparently formed in 2005 and only has 12 members.

      Police seek fugitive cult leader after his group burns an infant alive as the ‘Antichrist’

      There are limits on the freedom to practice religion, and they restrict more than burning people at stakes.

      "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

      by Ginny in CO on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 08:25:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The 3 Abrahamic faiths trace their origins to (11+ / 0-)

        a guy who was quite willing to murder his son via bonfire as an offering to his imaginary friend, and yet somehow Christians are surprised when a bible-thumper really does it?

        •  There are a fair number of very scholarly (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NonnyO

          books on how those three Abrahamic faiths account for a very large proportion of human violence compared to other faiths.

          For that matter, the horrible level of child abuse and death in our 'Christian' country also has clear implications for many of us. We are so determined to protect the freedom of religion and parents rights, the case workers and programs that protect children are drastically underfunded. So we have increasing rates of children who die, or grow up to become part of the 68% of inmates who turned their childhood abuse to violence on some other human(s).

          "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

          by Ginny in CO on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 04:09:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  They try it because they (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mapamp, Brown Thrasher, NonnyO

      know the eeeebil gubmint is going to force them to stop doing it and then they can say: "See! We told you there was a war on Christianity! The Big Government is squashing our FREEEEDUUUMMMMSSSS!"  It's self fulfilling prophesy.

      ~War is Peace~Freedom is Slavery~Ignorance is Strength~ George Orwell "1984"

      by Kristina40 on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 05:01:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  American Taliban (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, cybersaur, Calamity Jean, NonnyO
      I wonder why anyone would even try this in this day and age.
      American religious fundamentalists (they really put the "mental" in fundamental...) are ideologically aligned with the Taliban.  It really is that simple.

      Arrrr, the laws of science be a harsh mistress. -Bender B. Rodriguez

      by democracy inaction on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 05:44:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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