Friday, August 23, 2013

The Assault on Religious Liberty Continues . . .

This time in New Mexico where the state supreme court ruled that a photographer who refused to photograph a gay commitment ceremony is guilty of discrimination. From Ryan T. Anderson of the National Review:
But New Mexico’s highest court, deciding an appeal of the case, ruled against Elane Photography, concluding that neither protections of free speech nor of free exercise of religion apply.

Elaine and her husband, Jon, both committed Christians, run their small photography business in Albuquerque, N.M. In 2006, she declined a request to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. In 2008, the New Mexico Human Rights Commission ruled that the business had engaged in illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation by declining to use its artistic and expressive skills to communicate what was said and what occurred at the ceremony.

The commission ruled this way according to New Mexico’s human-rights law, which prohibits discrimination in public accommodations (“any establishment that provides or offers its services . . .  or goods to the public”) on the basis of race, religion, or sexual orientation — among other protected classes.

Elane Photography didn’t refuse to take pictures of gays and lesbians, but only of such a same-sex ceremony, because of the owners’ belief that marriage is a union of a man and a woman. New Mexico law agrees — it has no legal same-sex civil unions or same-sex marriages. Additionally, there were other photographers in the Albuquerque area who could have photographed the ceremony
Full disclosure, my wife is a professor photographer and this concerns us deeply. But this case goes beyond the rights of speech and religion of photographers but all citizens. As a pastor, I am liable for discrimination cases if I refuse to officiate a similar ceremony or marriage or if our church refuses to allow access to our facilities to a gay couple for such a ceremony. Everyone must now toe the secular line regardless of their day job.

It has been argued numerous of times, here and elsewhere, that the legalization of same-sex marriage undermines religious liberty. In his concurring opinion, Justice Richard Bosson, wrote the following haunting words:
The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life.

In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship
This is utterly reprehensible. What the justice argues is that the first amendment protects the freedom of worship not the freedom of religion. The difference is between private and public worship. Justice Bosson suggests here that the photographer and her family are perfectly within their rights to worship and pray to their God so long as they keep it out of the public square including, and now especially, regarding their business.

This marks the death of religious liberty. It was on its last leg anyways.

Ryan T. Anderson (National Review) - Clashing Claims
Christianity Today - N.M. Supreme Court: Photographers Can't Refuse Gay Weddings

For more:
A Must Read: Defining Religious Liberty Down
Another Attack on Religious Liberty?: California Bans Anti-Gay Treatments
The Wall Doesn't Exist: What the Contraceptive Mandate Reveals
Crossing the Wall of Separation: The Danger of the State Wooing the Church
Prophet, Priest, and President:  Is Obama the Messiah? 
- It Ain't Easy Being the Messiah:  Is Reality Finally Hitting Americans About the Messianism of Politicians?
With Presidents Like These Who Needs God?: "God of All Things" and the Modern Presidency
Endowed By Who?: Three Strikes and the President is Out
The Ongoing Conversation on Religious Liberty
The Extent of Freedom & Liberty: What Snyder vs. Phelps May Mean For Christians in the Near Future
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