As the group of bishops were the instigators behind the Neo-American religious imposition as freedom ideology, it was not surprising that they came up with yet another twist on how they exercise “their” religious freedom.
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports an individual’s freedom to practice, worship, and observe a religion’s tenets or deity, or deities, without interference; the concept also includes the freedom to change religion at will or not to follow any religion. That concept of religious freedom was what the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers believed was reasonable and universally excepted when they concocted the First Amendment. Although it, relatively speaking, served to protect Americans’ freedom to worship, or not, for almost two-hundred years, it never really caught on with a control-oriented segment of the population under the spell of, and led by, the United States Council of Catholic Bishops. Now, religious freedom means that a small percentage of the population can impose, and enforce by Supreme Court fiat, compliance to their religious beliefs.
As the group of bishops were the instigators behind the Neo-American religious imposition as freedom ideology, it was not surprising that they came up with yet another twist on how they exercise “their” religious freedom. According to its distorted reading of what religious freedom means, a Catholic school in Indiana and the Fort-Wayne-South Bend Diocese said religious freedom protects the school and church from having to go to court at all. Even a federal court over the church school violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act banning employers from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
The church and school discriminated on the basis of gender (sex) and religion when it summarily fired an English teacher for going through fertility treatment (in vitro fertilization or IVF). When “the Church” officials were informed the teacher, Emily Herx, was undergoing IVF treatments, they ruled that she was “a grave, immoral sinner” and fired her (for wanting to give birth, no less). She rightly filed a discrimination lawsuit in 2012 and the school and diocese argued that freedom of religion gives them the constitutional right to fire whomever they choose and violate federal discrimination laws at their religious pleasure; particularly because it was a woman they deemed a gravely immoral sinner according to a Vatican document.
In September, a federal judge ruled that there was enough evidence for a jury trial, but the Catholic diocese said no. According to another twist on religious freedom, the Church said that just going to trial over the question of discrimination violated its freedom of religion. Church attorneys argued that “If the diocese is required to go through a trial, it would irrevocably deny Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese the benefits of its religious freedom.” The Church is appealing to a higher power, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, to verify their newest iteration of religious freedom is religious enough to discriminate with impunity and immune from answering to, or even appearing before, the American judicial system.
There is a “special discrimination exemption” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in that allows religious institutions to favor members of their own faith in hiring. However, there is no special religious exemption for sex discrimination which is how the terminated teacher is framing her dismissal. She proved her point quickly by showing that the diocese had never fired a male teacher for using any type of fertility treatment. The church admitted that indeed, it had never fired a male teacher undergoing fertility treatments in the past, but it probably “would” because it is against church teachings; they just “hadn’t gotten around to it in the past.”
A staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, Brian Hauss, that is not involved in the lawsuit but filed amicus briefs in support of the teacher was flabbergasted and said, “I’ve never seen this before, and I couldn’t find any other cases like it. What the diocese is saying is, ‘We can fire anybody, and we have absolute immunity from even going to trial, as long as we think they’re violating our religion. And to have civil authorities even look into what we’re doing is a violation.’…It’s astonishing.” No, it is 21st Century America when the Papal-contingent on the Supreme Court eviscerated the establishment clause and imposed the USCCB ideology of religious freedom on the nation.
Another legal expert, Louise Melling, was very critical of the Church argument and said, “It’s an unusual and extreme argument, to be saying the court doesn’t even have the legal authority to ask whether this was, in fact, sex discrimination. I can’t imagine they would prevail on that. It’s too extreme.” However, Melling also said she could never have imagined the explosion of cases where churches, religious institutions, and increasingly businesses have an expansive right to discriminate borne of the UCSSB concept of “religious freedom.”
Of course, it was the High Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling that really empowered “the faithful and the clergy” to use “their” religious freedom to impose “their” belief system on anyone in their realm of influence. In fact, the ACLU has noticed a sharp rise in the number of Christian schools claiming that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act empowers them to discriminate against, and fire women undergoing IVF to become pregnant, or terminate employees engaging in same-sex relationships. Now, besides using the “invisible religious freedom clause” in the anti-discrimination law to discriminate on the basis of religion, gender, and sexual preference, that same religious freedom includes supremacy over the American judicial system.
Whether Americans are aware or not, this latest ploy is the ultimate expression of “above the law” and a “law unto themselves.” Under this bizarre interpretation of religious freedom, there are no limits, accountability, or responsibility for the church, any (Christian) church, to make, execute, and define any law that they deem either moral or immoral; and no court in the land can interfere. All because in June of 2014, the Papal-Five on the nation’s highest court ruled that the 1980s concept of “religious freedom” proffered by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops abolished the Establishment and Free Exercise Clause. The most frightening aspect of this latest Hobby Lobby consequence is that now that the church garnered supremacy over the Constitution and the judicial system, the real 21st Century Crusade and Inquisition will begin in earnest.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.