prisonchaplain

Is religious liberty threatened in USA?

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I could build a polemic arguing that religious liberty is under attack. Likewise, I could argue against each contention. In fact, why not?

Points of Danger:

1. LGBT have reframed religious liberty concerns as hateful bigots using their churches to oppose basic human rights.

2. Polling shows that Americans are more comfortable voting for LGBT than for Evangelicals. I could also mention Mitt Romney's campaign.

3. Gordon College just lost a battle in its religious liberty fight against a associate professor who was denied full professorship because she vocally opposed the school's doctrine and organized students to do the same. The battle it lost was asking to dismiss the case outright, since its faculty serve as 'ministers' by promoting school doctrine and integrating the religious beliefs into every subject.

4. Communities have been losing skirmishes against anti-religious groups over public displays that have religious undertones (Nativity scenes, memorials with crosses, etc.).

5. During the current virus scare some states and municipalities have officially declared churches to be 'non-essential businesses.' Louisville, KY's mayor even banned drive-in Easter services, threatening to quarantine anyone who attended for 14-days (house arrest)? https://reason.com/2020/04/14/louisvilles-filing-about-the-drive-in-church-service-tro/

Counterpoints:

1. Of course LGBT see it this way. They believe their sexual orientation is natural/biological, and see conservative religions as promoting hatred of them.

2. The current polling may reflect the hesitation many moderates still feel towards POTUS. They may see people of faith as hypocrites for supporting a man who gives every appearance of being less than moral.

3. The legal doctrine in question could be understood either way. Professors are not ministers, and the bigger case is yet to be decided.

4. America is no longer an overwhelmingly devout nation. The majority still claim Christian belief, but as one thinker declared: American spirituality is an ocean wide and an inch deep. Thus, it should not be surprising that as more and more of our neighbors are non-Christian many will find it insensitive to flaunt tax-payer funded Christian symbols at them.

5. The church in question had been promised to practice social distancing at previous drive-in services, but footage shows they did not do so (btw, I've seen the pictures and believe this particular accusation is questionable). Also, the mayor was strongly discouraging the faithful from attending in-person services in order to prevent the spread of the virus, not as a power play.

So... thoughts?

Edited by prisonchaplain

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Truth be told, @prisonchaplain, I believe most liberties are being threatened in the USA right now, not just ones with religious values. 
 

It seems to me that we live in an age, being the time before the second coming of the Savior, and as such there is great commotion in the hearts of men. 
 

It seems that every idea is being challenged. And while that has always been the case to a lesser extent, our modern society actually promotes the idea that we are supposed to give pause and consider the values of the challenge. In yesteryears we would have simply dismissed these challenges as preposterous.
 

But now, with good being considered evil and evil being considered good, we are forced to reweigh the supposed virtues of absurd ideals and give consideration lest we be labeled as uneducated bigots. 

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As a follow-up to the Louisville case, the mayor emphasized that he did not ticket/arrest or sanction anyone. In other words, the ban was not coupled with any specified enforcement. Seems a little slippery to mean. At least in Greenville, MS they were more honest--$500 tickets to anyone attending a drive-in church service:  https://thefederalist.com/2020/04/14/doj-takes-action-in-mississippi-drive-in-church-discrimination-case/

The kicker: They did rescind the tickets, but the mayor insisted that the pastor had maligned his good name. He also refused to back down on banning the drive-in services, saying he was seeking clarification from the governor's office.

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I'll grant you that there are overzealous people of my side of the debate. My personal belief is that, so long as personal safety and liberty are not infringed, churches should be able to practice as they see fit. If you, as a congregant, don't like it, find another church. My caveat, however, is that if a church insists on performing a civil service (namely marriage) under greater restrictions than the State, that church should lose its tax-exempt status. It's obviously a wildly unpopular opinion, even amongst some people on my side of the debate, but I have yet to see a strong case against it.

You hit the nail on the head with counterpoint #4. Christians have become VERY accustomed to being the majority faith in this country, to the point that pushback from minority faiths might feel like oppression to some. Again, I'm not saying that people in my camp don't go overboard sometimes, but I think some equalization has been long overdue in this country. Just remember that, if done right, more equality for one group doesn't mean less for another. Cultural shifts may feel strange or unnatural to a majority group, but that doesn't mean that it will adversely affect the group.

And yes, we absolutely question the moral credibility of those who claim that Trump was chosen by God to lead this country. I would ask them to consider which is more dangerous: the wolf that they can plainly see, or the wolf in disguise that fools the sheep into thinking it's one of them?

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11 minutes ago, Godless said:

My caveat, however, is that if a church insists on performing a civil service (namely marriage) under greater restrictions than the State, that church should lose its tax-exempt status. It's obviously a wildly unpopular opinion, even amongst some people on my side of the debate, but I have yet to see a strong case against it.

My push-back on this is that marriage can be civil or religious. I officiate weddings in my role, but only if the inmate agrees that it will be religious and Christian. If s/he wants a civil ceremony, or one of a different religion, I facilitate the approval of their chosen officiant. So, no the state should not remove a religious tax exemption because a religious entity conducts religious ceremonies according to the tenets of their belief system. Besides, most churches still pay property taxes, vehicle taxes, and some probably pay sales taxes. It's our donations that don't get taxed--just like other nonprofits.

Edited by prisonchaplain

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2 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

My push-back on this is that marriage can be civil or religious.

But a religious service is still recognized by the State, and the State has its own guidelines on who can get married and who can't. I'm not saying that Churches shouldn't be allowed to enact additional restrictions. I'm just not comfortable with a tax-exempt organization putting its own restrictions on a service that it's performing as an extention of the State.

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1 minute ago, Godless said:

But a religious service is still recognized by the State, and the State has its own guidelines on who can get married and who can't. I'm not saying that Churches shouldn't be allowed to enact additional restrictions. I'm just not comfortable with a tax-exempt organization putting its own restrictions on a service that it's performing as an extention of the State.

They aren't performing it as an extension of the State.  Just because the State inserted itself in something it shouldn't have doesn't mean it owns that thing.  Marriage existed long before the State decided they owned it.

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To add...marriage is a deeply religious undertaking. The Judeo-Christian description of it is part of the creation narrative, predating the law by thousands of years. Indeed, the state often treats people who shack up better (tax wise) than those who marry...the notorious "marriage penalty." Nevertheless, people of faith marry, because it is a spiritual/religious impulse. The other difficulty is that if the government pulls tax-exempt status from some religious entities and not from others, it creates good religion vs. bad religion, as decided by the state. Yikes.

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18 minutes ago, Grunt said:

They aren't performing it as an extension of the State.  Just because the State inserted itself in something it shouldn't have doesn't mean it owns that thing.  Marriage existed long before the State decided they owned it.

The way I see it, civil intervention became necessary as populations became less homogeneous. It's the one common thread in an increasingly diverse society. Otherwise, my wife and I never would have been able to get married (by an LDS bishop, FWIW). 

9 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

Indeed, the state often treats people who shack up better (tax wise) than those who marry...the notorious "marriage penalty." Nevertheless, people of faith marry, because it is a spiritual/religious impulse.

Taxes aside, there are civil and legal advantages to marriage, many of which were at the heart of the same-sex marriage debate.

9 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

The other difficulty is that if the government pulls tax-exempt status from some religious entities and not from others, it creates good religion vs. bad religion, as decided by the state. Yikes.

It's not discrimination if everyone is being held to the same standard. You either recognize that standard or you don't.

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3 minutes ago, Godless said:

The way I see it, civil intervention became necessary as populations became less homogeneous. It's the one common thread in an increasingly diverse society. Otherwise, my wife and I never would have been able to get married (by an LDS bishop, FWIW). 

 

That's not the way I see it.  Using the State to force people to do what you want isn't liberty.

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41 minutes ago, Godless said:

The way I see it, civil intervention became necessary as populations became less homogeneous. It's the one common thread in an increasingly diverse society. Otherwise, my wife and I never would have been able to get married (by an LDS bishop, FWIW). 

Yes, that tends to happen when you deny societies the right to retain a certain degree of homogeneity.

This is a big part of my beef with progressivism.  Every “solution” creates more problems which need still more “solutions”; most of which tend to curtail individual liberty, and nearly all of which tend to magnificently ignore fundamental human nature and the accrued wisdom and practical experience of the societies that have gone before us.

Progressives speak of “diversity”, but what they really mean is that others have to tolerate and eventually accept their own progressive values—and never the reverse.  

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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10 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

This is a big part of my beef with progressivism.  Every “solution” creates more problems which need still more “solutions”; most of which tend to curtail individual liberty, and nearly all of which tend to magnificently ignore fundamental human nature and the accrued wisdom and practical experience of the societies that have gone before us.

It took black people 100 years after emancipation to be recognized as equal citizens, and today's black communities are still recovering from the damaging conditions and policies inflicted upon still-living generations. Labor reform and women's suffrage didn't happen overnight. Heck, even the founding fathers didn't get it right on their first try. Progress doesn't come without difficulty and occasional failure. And it's often "the societies that have gone before us" that present the biggest obstacles. 

10 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Progressives speak of “diversity”, but what they really mean is that others have to tolerate and eventually accept their own progressive values—and never the reverse. 

I agree that there's a delicate balance between promoting social equality and preserving personal liberty, and that my camp doesn't always respect that balance. 

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2 hours ago, Godless said:

It took black people 100 years after emancipation to be recognized as equal citizens, and today's black communities are still recovering from the damaging conditions and policies inflicted upon still-living generations. Labor reform and women's suffrage didn't happen overnight. Heck, even the founding fathers didn't get it right on their first try. Progress doesn't come without difficulty and occasional failure. And it's often "the societies that have gone before us" that present the biggest obstacles. 

A lot of mistakes can be avoided by application of the Chesterton’s Fence scenario.  It would be one thing if progressives said “Okay, women want to be in the army/corporate boardroom.  Those fields tend to have a ‘locker room’/‘good old boys’ atmosphere, so these are the challenges we can expected and here’s how we’re going to deal with them”.  But of course, that’s not what happened—when conservatives raised those concerns and said “look, to make this work you’re going to have to make some structural changes that we aren’t ready for, and people are going to get hurt, and are you sure you’re ready to pay the price here?”; we were told “women are tough, they can do anything a man can do, and corporations/military units won’t see any major change in the way they do their work”.  And then, twenty years in, and all of a sudden it’s “holy crap, we have a rape culture and we need to spend millions of dollars to reprogram men and impose promotion quotas!”  And we conservatives are just rolling our eyes, like “this surprised you?  Really?” Issue after issue is like this—they want to force a minimum wage and then wonder why companies aren’t hiring.  They force city centers to accept low-income housing and then complain when the industrious, law-abiding citizens flee to the suburbs.  Then the well-to-do come back to the slums and rehabilitate them, and progressives complain about “gentrification”.  They want to control prices of medical care and don’t understand why no one wants to be a doctor anymore.  They openly mock marriage as a “piece of paper” and a remnant of patriarchal oppression while glorifying extramarital sex, and then demand more money to support single-parents who discover too late that maybe men are more useful to mothers than bicycles are to fishes (and of course, we need counselors for all the delinquents who grow up in those homes).  They demand free access to poisonous intoxicating substances, and then shriek about how we need more public spending for addiction rehabilitation services.

And frankly, progressives have never had sustainable, consistent, sustainable, applicable idea of what it even means to “get it right” in the first place.  The Civil Rights Act was enough—until it wasn’t.  Affirmative action in public institutions was enough—until it wasn’t.  Hiring quotas in private institutions, we’re now told, will be enough-for now.  Oh, and maybe reparations; but naturally we won’t be giving you a number, and when we do, you can rest assured that a later generation will decide that your number was too low, and in fact it was so low that it was an insult constituting a new form of oppression and we’ve got to start again from zero.  We saw this with gay rights, too, with breathtaking speed—within a decade we went from “we don’t even want your marriages, we just want to be left alone” (Lawrence) to “you MUST publicly agree that we are doing a good thing are and seal that agreement with your official records and your tax subsidies” (Obergefell)—and plans are in the works to rain hell on the institutional and individual holdouts via the tax code and the schoolhouse and the accreditation bureau and the workplace and the storefront.  Either progressives didn’t seriously think through the ramifications of what they wanted, or they just plain lied about what they wanted.  

The specific examples you cite—slavery/Jim Crow, women’s suffrage, and labor issues, are interesting; because none of them were the result of liberty.  They were   de jure restrictions on liberty; the result of government attempts to correct for what the prevailing culture might have called ”structural inequalities”—the supposed intellectual/physical/emotional inferiority of blacks and women, and the supposed passivity and ignorance of the laboring class.   Jim Crow was a government act.  The Civil War was essentially triggered when Dred Scott tried to strong-arm all Americans into accepting slavery as the law of the land.  Bans on women voting were also enshrined in law; as were police (and sometimes military) enforcement of restrictions on unions and strikers.  The solution to all of those problems was liberty and equal justice under law.  Whenever government deviated from those principles to try to make up for historical/natural/economic injustice it inevitably botched the balance, punished a new generation of innocents, and enshrined racial/religious/class/gender-based resentment and animus into the next iteration of American culture.  

The founders didn’t exalt “liberty” because they were too provincial to figure out how to overcome man’s baser instincts.  They exalted liberty because they were philosophers enough to understand that man’s baser instincts don’t tend to change over centuries/millennia; and they were historians enough to understand that any republic that prioritizes some value above liberty itself will beget a government that starts chipping away at liberty, which will beget factions trying to gain control of that government for their own ends, which over the long term can only beget a civil war. That’s the perspective from which Lincoln crafted the Gettysburg address—that the civil war over which he presided had arisen because the nation had failed to live up to its founding principles of liberty and equal treatment under the law.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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1 hour ago, Just_A_Guy said:

 They want to control prices of medical care and don’t understand why no one wants to be a doctor anymore.  

On this note, I've seen that this is actually very VERY wrong.  I have had many students who WANTED to be doctors but were NOT accepted to Medical school.  Some of them were outstanding students but as spaces are limited (and I think in some cases, purposefully limited to keep the number of US citizen doctors low), there are not enough spaces for those from the US who wish to go to medical school.  They seem to allow many of those from other nations into our medical schools before our own citizens in some cases. 

I think the entire medicine for profit has corrupted the entire profession to a degree.  ONE reason to keep the numbers of doctors artificially low (though most won't admit this) is so that they can keep the prices higher (as with supply and demand, the more of supply the less demand can cause prices to rise and instead prices fall).  I see far more take the medical exams, as for recommendations and apply than I see get in from our students. 

Otherwise, though I may not agree with all of them, you make some great points to think about.

Edited by JohnsonJones

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6 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

I could build a polemic arguing that religious liberty is under attack. Likewise, I could argue against each contention. In fact, why not?

Points of Danger:

1. LGBT have reframed religious liberty concerns as hateful bigots using their churches to oppose basic human rights.

2. Polling shows that Americans are more comfortable voting for LGBT than for Evangelicals. I could also mention Mitt Romney's campaign.

3. Gordon College just lost a battle in its religious liberty fight against a associate professor who was denied full professorship because she vocally opposed the school's doctrine and organized students to do the same. The battle it lost was asking to dismiss the case outright, since its faculty serve as 'ministers' by promoting school doctrine and integrating the religious beliefs into every subject.

4. Communities have been losing skirmishes against anti-religious groups over public displays that have religious undertones (Nativity scenes, memorials with crosses, etc.).

5. During the current virus scare some states and municipalities have officially declared churches to be 'non-essential businesses.' Louisville, KY's mayor even banned drive-in Easter services, threatening to quarantine anyone who attended for 14-days (house arrest)? https://reason.com/2020/04/14/louisvilles-filing-about-the-drive-in-church-service-tro/

Counterpoints:

1. Of course LGBT see it this way. They believe their sexual orientation is natural/biological, and see conservative religions as promoting hatred of them.

2. The current polling may reflect the hesitation many moderates still feel towards POTUS. They may see people of faith as hypocrites for supporting a man who gives every appearance of being less than moral.

3. The legal doctrine in question could be understood either way. Professors are not ministers, and the bigger case is yet to be decided.

4. America is no longer an overwhelmingly devout nation. The majority still claim Christian belief, but as one thinker declared: American spirituality is an ocean wide and an inch deep. Thus, it should not be surprising that as more and more of our neighbors are non-Christian many will find it insensitive to flaunt tax-payer funded Christian symbols at them.

5. The church in question had been promised to practice social distancing at previous drive-in services, but footage shows they did not do so (btw, I've seen the pictures and believe this particular accusation is questionable). Also, the mayor was strongly discouraging the faithful from attending in-person services in order to prevent the spread of the virus, not as a power play.

So... thoughts?

Yes, I believe religious liberty is threatened.  In general I think it is threatened in the US and Europe.  We should remember that even when Christianity has been outlawed Christians who believed still remained faithful even through persecution.  We are not yet at the time when we will be fed to Lions or killed as the early Christians were in the Roman Empire.

In that we are fortunate, but if the time comes when we are called upon to do such things in the name of faith, I hope we will do our best to continue following our Lord.

On the specific points you bring up, though I'm not sure they all apply to the situation at hand regarding the attacks on religious liberty per se...though #4 is the one that I think is the biggest game changer in regards to the whys of the attacks on religion are occurring today.

1.  I think it depends on the individual.  Undoubtably some are highly anti-Christian (not necessarily anti-religion, more so anti-Christian) and wish to destroy Christianity by any means necessary.  There are those that are also highly religious or at least practice some form of faith but some of these are not heard as loudly as others.

2.  I think it depends on the poll.

3. We'll see with the Bigger case.

4.  I think a change started with my generation (Baby Boomers) with the late 50s and then through the 60s.  They started advancing ideas that were amoral and against the standards of the Lord.  After three or four generations of pushing this idea it has become common and accepted (immorality, irreligious, and full of worldly desire and habits) becoming the norm (over 95% of the latest generation to become adults will be immoral before being married for example) rather than the exception to the rule.

People most of the time disliked the prophets and others who told them to repent in the Bible.  They did not like being told they were in sin.  They cast some in prison or other measures to ignore them.  With the lord himself they killed him upon the cross.  We all are sinners but some heed their shepherds voice while others want to side with the wolves.  They do not realize that the pack of wolves they pay heed to now in an effort to destroy the flock of the Lord are actually their enemies, and in the next life may be setting them up simply so they can devour them in fire and darkness.  Too many pay heed to the enemies of today, much of it because they love sin far more than the love of our Lord. 

5.  I think that though we should worship, we should not let fanaticism over ride common sense.  Of course, that could be me just speaking from my generation, but I see that many churches that refused to follow the social distancing ideas have suffered greatly, in some instances far more greatly than those who were still religious, but followed the idea to stay home.  Faith can perform miracles, but sometimes a dash of common sense does not hurt either.

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36 minutes ago, JohnsonJones said:

On this note, I've seen that this is actually very VERY wrong.  I have had many students who WANTED to be doctors but were NOT accepted to Medical school.  Some of them were outstanding students but as spaces are limited (and I think in some cases, purposefully limited to keep the number of US citizen doctors low), there are not enough spaces for those from the US who wish to go to medical school.  They seem to allow many of those from other nations into our medical schools before our own citizens in some cases. 

I think the entire medicine for profit has corrupted the entire profession to a degree.  ONE reason to keep the numbers of doctors artificially low (though most won't admit this) is so that they can keep the prices higher (as with supply and demand, the more of supply the less demand can cause prices to rise and instead prices fall).  I see far more take the medical exams, as for recommendations and apply than I see get in from our students. 

Otherwise, though I may not agree with all of them, you make some great points to think about.

This is a fair point; and frankly, I was thinking more in terms of places like Cuba when I wrote that.  There’s certainly a lot of guild-protection in American medical practice (as there is in American legal practice!).

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3 hours ago, Godless said:

I agree that there's a delicate balance between promoting social equality and preserving personal liberty, and that my camp doesn't always respect that balance. 

I suspect that most on this site, me included, lean real heavy towards the preserving personal liberty side. Granted, it's easy for a white, male, conservative, Protestant Christian to feel that way. Still, equality that comes from free people recognizing the value of each person is worth so much more than that bestowed by government. Sometimes, as with slavery, Caesar's sword is necessary. However, in a pluralistic, individualistic, freedom-loving republic, I hope we have enough trust in the good-meaning of most to battle in the field of ideas rather than resorting to force.

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13 hours ago, Godless said:

My caveat, however, is that if a church insists on performing a civil service (namely marriage) under greater restrictions than the State, that church should lose its tax-exempt status.

We tend to be of the same political mindset, but this is something with which I have to disagree with you. 

A church performing civil services under greater restrictions than the State should have no impact on the tax exempt status of the Church. Instead, the State should just not recognize the service. So if Church of the Psychotic Right Wing Fringe has a policy that it will not perform interracial marriages, then ministers of the CPRWF may perform as many marriages as it likes, but the people who are married by CPRWF will not get to automatically claim their religious spouse as default beneficiary to life insurance, retirement savings, etc. And come tax season, they will each file their taxes as "Single." (unless, of course, they also pursue a civil marriage on the side)

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8 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

I suspect that most on this site, me included, lean real heavy towards the preserving personal liberty side. Granted, it's easy for a white, male, conservative, Protestant Christian to feel that way. Still, equality that comes from free people recognizing the value of each person is worth so much more than that bestowed by government. Sometimes, as with slavery, Caesar's sword is necessary. However, in a pluralistic, individualistic, freedom-loving republic, I hope we have enough trust in the good-meaning of most to battle in the field of ideas rather than resorting to force.

Caeser's sword was only necessary to protect individual liberty, though.

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3 hours ago, MarginOfError said:

A church performing civil services under greater restrictions than the State should have no impact on the tax exempt status of the Church. Instead, the State should just not recognize the service. So if Church of the Psychotic Right Wing Fringe has a policy that it will not perform interracial marriages, then ministers of the CPRWF may perform as many marriages as it likes, but the people who are married by CPRWF will not get to automatically claim their religious spouse as default beneficiary to life insurance, retirement savings, etc. And come tax season, they will each file their taxes as "Single." (unless, of course, they also pursue a civil marriage on the side)

Ah...the case that started it all. Okay, sorta. Bob Jones University, circa 1970s, had a sincerely held religious belief that God's act at the Tower of Babel was to remain his will--that the races would be separated. As such, the school prohibited interracial dating among its students. The IRS comes after the school, threatening to withhold tax exempt status, since the school violates public policy against racial discrimination. Yours truly, as a high school sophomore, wrote an editorial opposing the IRS. I said the government should not be determining good vs. bad religion. WOW was I an outlier, at the time. Of course, today I'd be a relic and racist. Nobody--even then, wanted to defend BJU. Ultimately, the school caved. To this day I believe I was right...and I would never have gone to that school because my wife and I could not have dated. 😉

Edited by prisonchaplain

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27 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

Ah...the case that started it all. Okay, sorta. Bob Jones University, circa 1970s, has a sincerely held religious belief that God's act at the Tower of Babel was to remain his will--that the races would be separated. As such, the school prohibited interracial dating among its students. The IRS comes after the school, threatening to withhold tax exempt status, since the school violates public policy against racial discrimination. Yours truly, as a high school sophomore, wrote an editorial opposing the IRS. I said the government should not be determining good vs. bad religion. WOW was I an outlier, at the time. Of course, today I'd be a relic and racist. Nobody--even then, wanted to defend BJU. Ultimately, the school caved. To this day I believe I was right...and I would never have gone to that school because my wife and I could not have dated. 😉

huh.  I was trying to be melodramatic and so over exaggerated that it would be obvious that I wasn't trying to name any specific entity.  And then you had to go and pull up an an entity that might actually fit the description :D

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12 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

huh.  I was trying to be melodramatic and so over exaggerated that it would be obvious that I wasn't trying to name any specific entity.  And then you had to go and pull up an an entity that might actually fit the description :D

"Even I didn't see that coming!" -Nathan Poe

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9 hours ago, anatess2 said:

Well, as this first page of this thread clearly indicates... Yes.  Religious liberty is threatened in the USA.

It is and the powers that be are using this pandemic as an excuse to suppress not only religion, but gun rights and freedom of assembly and free speech.  All in the name of "safety".

None of this is legal of course, and I'm mostly ignoring any and all of these stupid orders.  I won't wear a mask or gloves, and I go where and when I please.  Over Easter we had a nice family gathering of over ten people at the house.  Shocking I know.

None of this has been legislated or voted upon by the people it restricts.

Sadly, all my favorite restaurants are closed except for takeout.:eek:

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