The first amendment says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, effectively forbidding a state religion. Then it says it will make no law prohibiting the practice of religion. The 14th amendment applies it to all the states. But what happens when allowing the unimpeded practice of a religion effectively establishes a state religion, a religion that is empowered by law to violate secular laws, thereby violating that Constitution? This is what is happening as the Supreme Court, owing to Congressional gridlock, has assumed the role as a de facto law making branch of government.
One example of this is that the Justice Department recently felt compelled to affirm the right of religious organizations to discriminate against LGBTQ people and still continue to enjoy access to public funding. In other words, people’s civil rights under secular law will not be protected by the government. This is how strong the rule of religion, mainly Christianity, is in this country. If you think there is no national religion here, think again.
When the Constitution was written, the Framers likely did not anticipate this problem. Religious practice and faith were givens. Such concepts as gender rights and civil rights of minorities who would come to populate the new nation were unforeseen. While there has been the occasional ruling favoring non-Christians who insist on exclusions from secular laws, such as permitting Orthodox Jews to conduct religious services that can become super spreader events, the overwhelming number of religion based cases reaching the Court involve Christian extremism. Fundamentalist Christianity has a built-in component that compels it to impose itself on everyone. When the Court endorses exceptions from secular law, the Court itself is engaging in this proselytizing. They justify, on the basis of the right to freedom to practice, the imposition of the Christian practice of foisting itself upon the nation. This, of course, is in a long and shameful tradition of conquest in the name of religion. The Court is facilitating this process, effectively establishing into law Christianity as the state religion.
Court rulings have not always treated every religion equally. Objections on the part of Quakers to paying the portion of income tax allocated to the military, based on the claim their religion forbids them to support war, have been dismissed by the same courts that exempt businesses that serve the public from providing services to individuals who do not comply with their particular, and relatively frivolous, concerns about “morality.”
The vast majority of citizens in Colonial times, and all the Founders, were Christians. Like believers today, they were certain that their faith was the one and only true one. They took for granted it would, and should, eventually supplant all others. Like many Christians I’ve known and been friends with, most of these otherwise learned men were profoundly ignorant about and dismissive of other faiths.
It’s telling that many religion related cases that appear before the Court involve Christians who allege their free speech or practice of religion is being impinged when in fact they are actually imposing their belief system against the rights of others. Orthodox Jews prohibit abortion and birth control, but they don’t go to court to deny them to everyone else. They comply with their own rules and leave it to others to comply with their’s. This is because Judaism does not endorse proselytization with the consequent imposition of its particular religious practices on the world.
I have stated elsewhere that ultra-religious judges, their impressive professional and academic credentials notwithstanding, should be barred from serving on the Supreme Court unless they routinely recuse themselves from cases related, even tangentially, to religion. The Bible itself tells us for everything there is a time and purpose. I contend the high court of a nominally secular nation is not a place for religious bias and certainly not a place for extremely religious judges. Why appoint judges who are known to be biased in any matters, especially religious ones? There’s a huge pool of equally qualified, religiously neutral candidates to choose from.
Every Justice in today’s Court is Christian and some of them extremely devout. A case in point is Justice Barrett who was a “handmaid,” no less, in an ultra orthodox Christian community that verges on a cult, endorses strict enforcement of traditional gender roles, and recently was implicated in one of those, all too common in such organizations, child abuse coverup scandals. And Barrett served on the board of the school in question.
Would most Americans support a Court composed of such clearly biased Justices? Beyond that, would they support a Court with all Muslims? All Jews, some of them ultra-orthodox? All atheists? A Court composed of Justices only of a single religion, and some fanatical ones to boot, constitutes, in itself, a religiously biased organization. As my grandma would have said, “Azoy a Supreme Court?” (if you don’t understand “azoy” please refer to my blog, “Azoy a President” which was the most popular of all my blogs and trended internationally. You will enjoy it.)
Devoutly religious people of any stripe are blind to the extreme prejudice they carry into all matters. Don’t kid yourself into thinking Justices can turn it off when they walk into a court of law. As devout Christians become increasingly alarmed and militant over fears that the hegemony Christianity has enjoyed in our society is beginning to weaken, the Court, more and more often, is called upon as the final arbiter when religious freedom butts up against secular law, fairness and common sense. It’s naive to believe Justices who live and breathe blind faith are able to be impartial in such cases. When they rule in favor of religious tenets over the rights of society at large, and they often do, they are violating the Constitution they are charged with defending by establishing and imposing a state religion.