The Supremes Get One Right

Well some good news :) ~ yesterday the Supreme Court actually reaffirmed America’s freedom of religion ~ from CBN News:

In a surprising unanimous decision from the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday, all nine justices ruled the government has no right to tell a religious organization what ministerial employees it can hire and fire.

Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC began here in Michigan at the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School (Redord,MI). Cheryl Perich, an elementary teacher who also led chapel devotions, became ill and unable to work, so the school replaced her with a substitute. As the Wall Street Journal related;

In the middle of the school year she sought to return and then, instead of attempting to work out the dispute through the church’s reconciliation process, she threatened to sue.
As relations broke down, the church congregation voted to withdraw her “call” to the ministry, and she ceased to be eligible for her prior job. She sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act, with the support of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Although federal statutes, which ban employment discrimination based on race, sex, age and disability, do not contain an express exception for church employees, for 40 years the lower courts have applied a “ministerial exception,” preventing the government from having a say in minister selection or retention.

Courts have reasoned that the separation between church and state protects the ability of churches to choose their own clergy just as it protects the state from any control by churches.

Before Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, the Supreme Court had never spoken to the issue. World Magazine has a good recap of their decision:

“We are reluctant … to adopt a rigid formula for deciding when an employee qualifies as a minister,” Roberts wrote in the decision. Kagan and Alito, in their concurring opinion, wrote that the “title” of minister “is neither necessary nor sufficient,” given the variety of religions in the United States, but rather courts must defer to the religious organization’s evaluation of the employee’s role.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled in favor of the teacher, saying she did not qualify as a minister because she spent more minutes of the day teaching secular subjects than religious subjects. The Supreme Court scoffed at that idea. “The issue before us … is not one that can be resolved by a stopwatch,” Roberts wrote.

This little aside in the article was pretty amusing:

(Justice)Alito, perhaps dryly, added 1 Corinthians 6:1-7 in the notes of his concurring opinion, verses that tell believers not to go before “the ungodly for judgment.”



While the court’s decision is definitely good news for religious liberty, the pessimist in me wonders whether the followers of Allah might not use the case to advance Shariah law. After all, the 10 Circuit Court of Appeals just decided that the voter-approved Oklahoma law banning any implementation of Shariah law was unconstitutional ~ Shariah in America’s courts ~ Koranic law: Coming to a city near you
Although Holder’s Department of Injustice (& Assorted Atheists) felt that the church case was worthy of prosecution, this, apparently is not: Obama’s DOJ Refuses to Investigate #OccupyWallStreet’s Threat to Public Safety. Nope, no agenda here folks.
LCMS before the Supreme Court

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