It started out with hints of official, United States governmental oppression of Christianity in the wake of the Supreme Court’s marriage decision, such as “discrimination” complaints against people who refuse to celebrate homosexual behavior.
Bakers, photographers and marriage-venue owners were penalized, and government officials publicly vilified their Christian faith and ordered them, in some case, to be re-educated.
Now two rulings have cemented the American court system’s determination that Christians must not be allowed to express their faith in public life.
The U.S. Supreme Court left standing a lower court decision that Washington state pharmacists who are Christian must violate their faith in order to practice their profession. The second decision came from a federal judge in Mississippi with a reputation for ruling against Christians who said county clerks in the state must violate their faith to hold their office.
The Supreme Court’s move alarmed Justice Samuel Alito, who warned there was evidence that the “impetus for the adoption of the regulations was hostility to pharmacists whose religious beliefs regarding abortion and contraception are out of step with prevailing opinion in the state.”
In the Mississippi ruling from Judge Carlton Reeves, who once punished a school district for allowing a voluntary prayer at an optional awards ceremony, said clerks in the state cannot cite their religious beliefs to excuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to homosexual duos.
That case already had been litigated in Kentucky, where Judge David Bunning reached the same conclusion, ordering Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to violate her faith. When she declined, Bunning abruptly jailed her with no due process.
But Kentucky’s legislature simply adopted a provision protecting clerks’ religious rights, and Davis asked that the federal case be closed.
In Mississippi, however, not even action by state lawmakers was sufficient for Reeves, who ordered not only that clerks be required to provide services that violate their faith, they must be given “formal notice” of the requirement that they violate their faith.
Documentation of hate against Christians
WND previously has documented the Big List of cases where there have been government rulings that removed religious rights from Christians.
Missouri State University, for example, dismissed a student from a counseling program for expressing opposition to counseling same-sex duos.
In Texas, David and Edie Delmore, who own a bakery, were approached by Ben Valencia and Luis Marmolejo about a cake for a “gay wedding.” They declined, referring the potential customers to other bakers. Subsequently, they claim their home has been vandalized and their son has been threatened with rape by a broken beer bottle.
One business even was attacked for answering a hypothetical question on the issue.
Family owned Memories Pizza in Indiana came into the crosshairs of homosexuals when an owner was interviewed by a local TV station in the aftermath of the adoption of the state’s religious freedom law. Responding to a reporter’s question, the owner said that while her restaurant serves “gays,” her Christian faith wouldn’t allow her to cater a “gay wedding.” The restaurant immediately became a focal point of outrage toward the law, with threats of death and destruction, causing the owners to shut down their business.
It was the case involving the pharmacists that drew outrage from a minority on the Supreme Court. Washington state adopted rules forcing pharmacists to sell abortion pills to customers regardless of religious beliefs that consider abortion tantamount to murder.
The state provided no exception for religious beliefs and refused to allow an accommodation that would simply allow pharmacists with abortion objections to refer customers to another location.
After the Supreme Court refused to even review the case, Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom said all Americans “should be free to peacefully live and work consistent with their faith without fear of unjust punishment, and no one should be forced to participate in the taking of human life.”
“We had hoped that the U.S. Supreme Court would take this opportunity to reaffirm these long-held principles,” she said.
Waggoner noted the state of Washington “allows pharmacists to refer customers for just about any reason – except reasons of conscience.”
“Singling out people of faith and denying them the same freedom to refer is a violation of federal law. All 49 other states allow conscience-based referrals, which are fully supported by the American Pharmacists Association, the Washington Pharmacy Association, and 36 other pharmacy associations. Not one customer in Washington has been denied timely access to any drug due to a religious objection. As the trial court found, the government designed its law for the ‘primary – if not sole – purpose’ of targeting religious health care providers. We are disappointed that the high court didn’t take this case and uphold the trial court’s finding.”
Alito, whose concerns were endorsed by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas, said the case is “an ominous sign.”
“At issue are Washington State regulations that are likely to make a pharmacist unemployable if he or she objects on religious grounds to dispensing certain prescription medications,” the three agreed.
“There are strong reasons to doubt whether the regulations were adopted for – or that they actually serve – any legitimate purpose. And there is much evidence that the impetus for the adoption of the regulations was hostility to pharmacists whose religious beliefs regarding abortion and contraception are out of step with prevailing opinion in the state.
“Yet the Ninth Circuit held that the regulations do not violate the First Amendment, and this court does not deem the case worthy of our time,” Alito wrote.
“If this is a sign of how religious liberty claims will be treated in the years ahead, those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern…. Ralph’s [pharmacy] has raised more than ‘slight suspicion’ that the rules challenged here reflect antipathy toward religious beliefs that do not accord with the views of those holding the levers of government power. I would grant certiorari to ensure that Washington’s novel and concededly unnecessary burden on religious objectors does not trample on fundamental rights.”
Judie Brown, president of American Life League, shared the concern:
“The Supreme Court is not interested in protecting the conscience rights of Christians. If this does not send shock waves down the spines of every believer in America who knows the difference between good and evil, not to mention what God expects of them, then they do not realize what is at stake. Five members of the Supreme Court of the United States apparently believe that their power is omnipotent. That perception of their power is not only wrong, but dangerous. God’s power is Supreme; theirs is not!”
The issue there is that previous Supreme Court precedent not only bans favoritism to a religion, it also bans antipathy toward a religion or its beliefs.
In Mississippi, Judge Carlton Reeves has established a reputation for going for the jugular when an issue of faith is at play.
He first ruled that a Mississippi school student’s rights were violated because she was offended by a prayer at a public school event.
Then he reached off campus, fining the school $7,500, for allowing a pastor to prayer at an optional awards ceremony.
The judge determined that Rankin County schools must work harder to excise Christian faith from its students’ education, and he threatened the district with a $10,000 fine if it happens again.
His latest broadside to Christian beliefs, the AP reported, was in a lawsuit over same-sex marriage.
Reeves said “clerks cannot cite their own religious beliefs to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples,” AP reported.
He also demanded that all 82 clerks be given formal notice.
“Mississippi’s elected officials may disagree with [the same-sex marriage mandate], of course, and may express that disagreement as they see fit – by advocating for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision, for example,” the judge ordered. “But the marriage license issue will not be adjudicated anew after every legislative session.”
The report said Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, no relation to the activist judge, pointed to the crux of the problem immediately.
“If this opinion by the federal court denies even one Mississippian of their fundamental right to practice their religion, then all Mississippians are denied their 1st Amendment rights,” Tate Reeves said. “I hope the state’s attorneys will quickly appeal this decision to the 5th Circuit to protect the deeply held religious beliefs of all Mississippians.”
Message to Reeves
It was the ruling by Reeves regarding the school that later created a stir in Mississippi.
His decision resulted in the school’s band being benched from a halftime show at a football game, because as part of their musical presentation, they included the melody from “How Great Thou Art.” Columnist Todd Starnes at Fox News said the judge may issue an order, but the people may not necessarily bend to his whim.
He reported the people decided “a message had to be sent to the likes of Judge Reeves.”
“And what they did – would become known as the musical shot heard around the world. During halftime of Friday night’s game – a lone voice began to sing the forbidden song. ‘Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee,’ the singer sang. Brittany Mann was there and she witnessed the entire moment of defiance,” Starnes wrote.
“We were just sitting there and then one by one people started to stand,” she told Starnes. “At first, it started out as a hum but the sound got louder and louder.”
Soon “hundreds” were singing.
“At that moment I was so proud of my town – coming together and taking a stand for something we believe in,” she told Starnes. “It breaks my heart o see where our country is going – getting farther and farther away from the Christian beliefs that our country was founded on.”