Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Is It Possible for Us to Save Our Religious Freedom?

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday has to do with religious freedom. The United States Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear a lawsuit filed by Catholic Social Services against the city of Philadelphia. The suit claims that Philadelphia discriminated against the Catholic organization “by refusing to place children with the agency because of its beliefs.” The two organizations have been battling for two years over the issue, but the case will be decided by the Supreme Court later this year.

According to Kassie Dulin at The Daily Signal, the “outcome [of this case] will not only affect the future of faith-based adoption and foster care agencies nationwide, but the religious freedom rights of all Americans.” Catholic Social Services has provided foster homes for children in Philadelphia for more than 100 years and “has developed a stellar record” of service. 

The city forced the agency to close its doors because of its “long-held belief that children do best when raised in a home with a married mother and father” even though it was willing to refer the hypothetical same-sex couple to another foster care facility. As a result of the shutdown, numerous Catholic “foster families have been denied the ability to foster children through the agency they know and trust.” This happened even though “the city faces an unprecedented foster care crisis and has put out a call for more foster families.”

This case is important to all Americans because it “will also affect religious freedom nationwide in three key ways according to Dulin.

First, the outcome will determine whether governments can force faith-based adoption and foster care agencies out of business because of their religious beliefs…. 

Second, this case will allow the court to revisit Employment Division v. Smith, one of the most problematic religious freedom precedents in Supreme Court history. The ruling in that 1990 case gave the government considerable leeway in restricting the free exercise of religion through laws that are “neutral” or “generally applicable.” …

Finally, although this case centers on the interaction between a single city and a foster care agency, it points to a bigger issue of state and local governments struggling to balance Obergefell v. Hodges’ 2015 legalization of same-sex marriage with the Constitution’s guarantee of religious liberty for all.

            It seems to me that a ruling in favor of Catholic Social Services could alleviate damage done in several previous cases. A ruling in favor of Philadelphia would only add to the oppression of governments against religious individuals and organizations.

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