Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Why is the left trying to force moral and religious people to fund their immorality?

This article by Kevin Williamson on National Review was pretty popular, and it explains my great fear about marrying and starting a family in a society run by secular leftists.

Excerpt:

I make a pretty poor puritan, though perhaps someday I’ll make a better one. I object to abortion as violence, including abortion actuated via relatively bloodless chemical means, and believe that it should be prohibited as a matter of humane principle. The use of actual contraceptives, such as condoms, and the question of what combinations of consenting adults do what with whom — by which I mean maintaining joint bank accounts and sharing dental plans, of course — may be of acute interest to the bishops but are not properly matters of prohibition by the federal government, the purpose of which is to protect property, thus enabling Americans to organize their lives as they will, rather than to move citizens about like chessmen on the theory that it does so for their benefit. There is not much that I would have be illegal — but any civilized society requires a great deal of breathing room between forbidden and compulsory.

The Left would not have it that way: Homosexual behavior is not to be tolerated, or homosexual unions recognized under law — rather, homosexuality is to constitute a special class of blessedness, and the failure to celebrate it is to be a sin, which in the liberal mind must be identical to a crime. It is not enough for religious conservatives, such as the ones who own Hobby Lobby, to tolerate the legal sale and use of things such as the so-called morning-after pill — rather, they are expected to provide them at their own expense. Abortions are not to be legal, but legal and funded by the general community, with those funds extracted at gunpoint if necessary.

This is not merely, or even mainly, a question of economics. A monthly dose of emergency contraception (which seems like a lot) paid entirely out-of-pocket would run less than the typical cell-phone bill. One does not suspect that Americans would find it very difficult to locate gay-friendly firms in the wedding-planning business. The typical first-trimester abortion costs less than an entry-level iPad — hardly an insurmountable economic barrier for a procedure that is, if we take the pro-choice side at their word, absolutely fundamental to a woman’s health and happiness.

The economics are incidental. The point is not to ensure that we all pay, but that we are all involved.

The Left may be morally illiterate, but it is not blind. The effects of the pathologically delusional tendency that once styled itself “the sexual revolution” are everywhere to be seen. In the 1960s and 1970s, our cultural discourse was dominated by the benefits side of that revolution’s ledger; since then, we’ve had sufficient time to have a good long look at the cost side, too, and the tradeoffs are more severe than our bell-bottomed Aquarian prophets had predicted. It reads like an Old Testament genealogy: Sexual chaos begat family chaos, family chaos begat social chaos, social chaos begat economic chaos, economic chaos begat political chaos. And so the generations unfold. The relevant political reality is that those costs and benefits are not distributed equally: The benefits of license accrue mainly to the well-off and educated, who have the resources to make the most of their enjoyment of them; the costs accrue mainly to the poor, who cannot afford to live, economically or morally, beyond their means. Kate Moss can afford to be a single mother in her $20 million London townhouse. Not everybody can. Our so-called liberals find themselves in the queasy position of having created a moral culture that has destroyed millions of lives and many communities among the very disadvantaged people they claim to care most about, but they are incapable of criticizing a culture of license that none of them can imagine living without, even if they themselves are square as houses in their sexual habits.

The result of that is, if not guilt, at least a nagging awareness that this all turns out to be a great deal more morally complex than our liberationist-latitudinarian forebears had imagined. The way to assuage the collective liberal conscience is to institutionalize and normalize liberal social preferences: There is nobody to be blamed for social anarchy if that’s just the way things are. And if everybody is involved — as taxpayers or as employers providing health insurance — then everybody is implicated. They are a little like those addicts who are uncomfortable in the social presence of abstainers, taking that abstention as a rebuke, whether it is intended as one or not. In the United Kingdom, the government-run hospitals are burning the corpses of aborted children for heat, and we are all expected to get cozy by the fire.

The Hobby Lobby case is in part about private property and whether we are to have it. If we hold capital only at the sufferance of the politico-sexual whims of those who hold power, then we do not really hold capital at all — we only rent property from our rulers, serfs in the world’s most sophisticated fiefdom. The property right is the fundamental right upon which all other political rights have their foundation. But there is a separate question — the right of conscience, which is, at minimum, the right not to be implicated, to at least stand apart from that which is no longer forbidden but is not yet, as of Tuesday morning, compulsory.

Right now, a large amount of my income is being taken from me by a secular leftist government that is busy spending it on things that are absolutely against my conscience, my morality and my religion. They are content to do this for the reason Williamson stated – to implicate me in their failed social vision, even as they see it destroying the lives of millions of poor Americans. Why must I be forced to pay for this? Why must I be forced to celebrate and affirm secular leftist moral views?

Every time we have an election in this country, a large portion of the voting public chooses to vote for “compassion”, by which they mean taking the money I earned to pay for my plan, and handing that money to a secular, socialist government to hand out as they implement their plan. Does anyone care about individual freedom and conscience any more? I don’t want to be involved in evil. I don’t want government to force me to be involved in evil. I do not get up every morning to work so that women can have free abortions. I do not want to be forced by courts to celebrate gay marriage. I do not want to subsidize government-run schools to indoctrinate my children against everything that I hold dear.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , ,

Court rules university violated conservative professor’s freedom of speech

From Campus Reform.

Excerpt:

A jury has concluded that the University of North Carolina-Wilmington retaliated against one of its professors for his outspoken conservative views.

The battle for his First Amendment rights is finally over for Mike Adams, a criminology professor who asserted the university denied him a promotion to full professor in 2006 because of his conversion to Christianity and subsequent vocal conservatism.

Today, a jury in a U.S. District Court in Greenville, N.C., agreed.

“We are just grateful that the jury saw what we’ve long known what was the case, that Dr. Adams was an incredible scholar,” Alliance Defending Freedom(ADF) attorney Travis Barham, who represents Adams, told Campus Reform.

“This is an incredibly important victory for the First Amendment,” Barham said. “To be able to speak freely without retaliation is a principle that should be a reality on campus and the jurors reassured that.”

The university hired Adams in 1993; at the time, he was a self-described atheist. After his conversion to Christianity in 2000, Adams adjusted his political and social views and spoke publicly on conservatism, including through his column at Townhall.com. From then on, Adams was subjected to “intrusive investigations” and “baseless accusations” according to an ADF press release.

“They retaliated against me for exercising my First Amendment rights in my column and other outlets,” Adams told Campus Reform after the trial. “I’m unbelievably thrilled [at the verdict].”

The case was originally filed in April 2007 and the trial was granted by a federal court last year.

Well done, Alliance Defending Freedom! And congratulations, Mike Adams, for the win! There’s probably no conservative professor in the United States who is more hated than Mike Adams.

However, there is definitely a warning for conservatives here. If you are thinking that the university campus is fair to Christians and conservatives, you really need to re-think that. On the modern secular leftist campus, you can expect to have your views ridiculed and attacked, not just by the professors, but by the students, too. After a little indoctrination, the students are just as likely to ridicule and attack you as the professors are. It’s not a place for free speech and rational discussion, especially outside the sciences. Young Christians and conservatives headed to the university – BEWARE.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Two families fighting for their religious liberty at the Supreme Court

The Heritage Foundation reports on the cases that will determine how far the Democrats can go to undermine religious liberty.

Excerpt:

In less than two weeks, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in cases challenging an Obamacare mandate that is trampling on religious freedom. The Hahn family and the Green family will be at the Court on March 25 asking for respect of their religious liberty and the freedom to continue offering their employees generous health plans.

Let’s meet these families and what they’re fighting for.

A Christian Mennonite family, the Hahns have run Conestoga Wood Specialties near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for nearly 50 years. A second-generation family business, Conestoga employs almost 1,000 individuals to produce quality wood products.

The Hahns have always run their family business in accordance with their faith, including offering an employee health plan that aligns with their values. Under the mandate, however, Conestoga Wood could face fines of up to $95,000 per day for sticking to their deeply held beliefs and not complying with the mandate.

Speaking of their fight for religious freedom at the Supreme Court, Conestoga president Anthony Hahn explains the magnitude of their case: “It’s not really only for Conestoga; we’re taking a stand for other businesses as well. This is a religious liberty issue that is concerning to us. We feel that the government has gone too far in too many instances.”

And number two:

“We believe that the principles that are taught scripturally are what we should operate our lives by, so that naturally flows over into the business,” explains Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, an arts-and-crafts retailer.

Headquartered in Oklahoma City, Hobby Lobby has grown from one 300-square-foot garage to over 500 stores in 41 states employing more than 16,000 individuals.

The Greens’ faith is integral to how they operate their family business. Hobby Lobby storesclose on Sundays and are open only 66 hours a week so that their employees can spend more time with their families. The family’s faith influences not only the way they care for employees but their investment in communities through partnerships with numerous Christian ministries.

Yet under the Obamacare mandate, the government is forcing families like the Greens to violate those beliefs by funding coverage of potentially life-ending drugs and devices or face crippling fines—up to $1.3 million per day in the case of Hobby Lobby. Even if the business is forced to drop employee health care coverage to avoid the mandate, it would still face a fine of $2,000 per employee per year.

There are other victims as well, but these are the two that I am watching.  The Obama administration just recently established in the courts that parents have no human right to homeschool their children. Now there will be a fight to see if government can force Christians to violate their consciences in their business operations. We should all be watching and praying about this, and thinking about what we can do to protect our values.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

All the Arizone SB 1062 bill did was allow religious liberty to be raised as a defense

The Weekly Standard posted a letter by a group of law professors from various universities, including Harvard and Stanford, to explain what the Arizona religious liberty bill did. It turns out that all the Arizona bill did was specify how religious liberty protections apply within the state, using a federal standard that was already passed nearly unanimously by Congress during the presidency of Bill Clinton.

Here’s what the professors said about the Arizona bill:

The federal government and eighteen states have Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs). Another twelve or thirteen states interpret their state constitutions to provide similar protections. These laws enact a uniform standard to be interpreted and applied to individual cases by courts. They say that before the government can burden a person’s religious exercise, the government has to show a compelling justification.

That standard makes sense. We should not punish people for practicing their religions unless we have a very good reason. Arizona has had a RFRA for nearly fifteen years now; the federal government has had one since 1993; and RFRA’s standard was the constitutional standard for the entire country from 1963 to 1990. There have been relatively few cases; if you knew little about the Arizona RFRA until the current controversy, that is because it has had no disruptive effect in Arizona. Few people had heard of the federal RFRA before the current litigation over contraception and the Affordable Care Act.

SB1062 would amend the Arizona RFRA to address two ambiguities that have been the subject of litigation under other RFRAs. It would provide that people are covered when state or local government requires them to violate their religion in the conduct of their business, and it would provide that people are covered when sued by a private citizen invoking state or local law to demand that they violate their religion.

But nothing in the amendment would say who wins in either of these cases. The person invoking RFRA would still have to prove that he had a sincere religious belief and that state or local government was imposing a substantial burden on his exercise of that religious belief. And the government, or the person on the other side of the lawsuit, could still show that compliance with the law was necessary to serve a compelling government interest. As a business gets bigger and more impersonal, courts will become more skeptical about claims of substantial burden on the owner’s exercise of religion. And as a business gets bigger, the government’s claim of compelling interest will become stronger.

So basically, businesses have the same religious liberty right as individuals AND individuals can use religious liberty as a defense in a civil suit. That’s it. No one is being licensed to discriminate indiscriminately. The bill did not say that the defense could be used in every case, it just said that religious liberty could be used by businesses as a defense (more likely to be accepted by small businesses), and that religious liberty could be used as a defense in civil suits. Whether the defense would be effective would still be decided by the courts.

Even the libertarian Cato Institute‘s Ilya Shapiro, who favors gay marriage, thought the bill was FINE:

Even though I’m for marriage equality – next week I’ll be filing a brief supporting the challenge to the marriage laws of Oklahoma and Utah in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit – I have no problem with Arizona’s SB 1062.

SB 1062 does nothing more than align state law with the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which passed the House unanimously, the Senate 97-3, and was signed by President Clinton in 1993). That is, no government action can “substantially burden” religious exercise unless the government uses “the least restrictive means” to further a “compelling interest.” This doesn’t mean that people can “do whatever they want” – laws against murder would still trump religious human sacrifice – but it would prevent the government from forcing people to violate their religion if that can at all be avoided. Moreover, there’s no mention of sexual orientation (or any other class or category).

The prototypical scenario that SB 1062 is meant to prevent is the case of the New Mexicowedding photographer who was fined for declining to work a same-sex commitment ceremony. This photographer doesn’t refuse to provide services to gay clients, but felt that she couldn’t participate in the celebration of a gay wedding. There’s also the Oregon bakerythat closed rather than having to provide wedding cakes for same-sex ceremonies. Why should these people be forced to engage in activity that violates their religious beliefs?

That’s a libertarian speaking, there, and they are not social conservatives.

An article tweeted by Ryan T. Anderson from The Federalist asserts that the real lesson of the loss for religious liberty in Arizona is how easily the Republican Party will capitulate to pressure even when the truth is on their side. They just don’t care about religious liberty enough to defend it.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , ,

What should gay activists do instead of using government to force their morality on Christians?

Here’s an excellent post from Michael Graham, a talk show host in New England, of all places.

Excerpt:

I know, I know—Arizona’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” is the greatest act of human evil since Pol Pot’s killing fields.  So even suggesting that maybe—just maybe—the Arizona legislature has a point puts me on the same side of history as Hitler, Stalin and Robin Thicke.

But indulge me for a moment and consider how this would actually work:

A guy is at his print shop in Tempe. In walks a customer (good) who wants to give him money (even better!) to print thousands of fliers for the upcoming LGBTQ “Whip And Chain Exchange” at a local sex shop.

The printer—who has bills to pay—obviously wants to say “yes.” The reason EVERY business owner opens a business is to say “yes.”

But the guy is also serious about his religious beliefs. He sincerely believes that his faith is the most important aspect of his life. So he opened a business to care for his family, but he goes to church/synagogue/mosque because he needs to care his soul.

So he says “Uh, I appreciate the business but I’m really not comfortable being part of this event you’re having. Would you mind asking another printer? I’ll even recommend a few…”

Now, at this point what do you think should happen? Forget the law—what is the right thing for the parties involved to do?

To me the answer seems obvious: the LGBT folks should roll their eyes and say “whatever, man” and take their money somewhere else.  I wouldn’t mind if they said something snarky like “Dude—it’s your loss,” or “Can we leave you a copy in case you’d like a free spanking?”

Their integrity is in place. So is the religiously-devout business owner’s.  Why isn’t that the ideal outcome?

Oh, that’s right—because nobody gets to scream “I’m a victim! I’m a victim!”  And nobody gets to bully the person of faith.

And so instead what liberals and gay activists want is for the religiously devout printer, or baker, or wedding-band singer to be forced to participate—at gunpoint—in an event that violates their religious beliefs.

They want government agents to show up at the print shop or florist shop and order the owner to get to work. Force them to supply their labor for an event.

Seriously? That’s really what you want?  Because if you do—that’s sick.

Why do you care so much that some small business owner doesn’t support same-sex marriage? Why isn’t the jerk in this story the gay activist who doesn’t do what any decent straight/gay/bi/animal-friendly person would do and just take their business somewhere else?

The whole thing is worth reading. You might recognize Michael Graham as the interviewer on the Weekly Standard podcasts, which I highly recommend. The Weekly Standard itself posted an article on Wednesday that mentioned a letter to Governor Jan Brewer signed by 11 law professors who urged Brewer to read the bill and to see that the purpose of the bill was to protect Christians from having to participate closely in activities that were incompatible with their religious beliefs. The lawyers claimed that popular criticisms of the bill were “deeply misleading” and the bill was “egregiously misrepresented” by critics.

By the way, I noted that the National Football League and Major League Baseball were both opposed to the Arizona bill. Apple and American Airlines also opposed religious liberty. Please spend your money wisely. I never give these companies my money, and neither should you – if you can help it. Apple in particular is one of the most anti-Christian companies out there.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , ,

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