Free religious exercise is not a secular belief. It isn’t an Islamic belief. It’s a thoroughly Christian one.
It makes some sense then, unfortunately, that a nation which, when Christianity dominated the thinking of its leaders, once enshrined religious liberty as the most sacred of all rights, would turn away from those commitments as Christianity declines in favor of therapeutic moral deism.
The examples are too numerous to cover, but here’s one from yesterday.
The Supreme Court of the Untied States, a body which I argue has done more harm to the Constitution and human rights than any other political entity in the country, has eroded that right further with a new decision in Nevada. Fox News reports:
The Supreme Court on Friday denied an appeal by a Nevada church to allow additional worshipers to join in-person services based on capacity amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Nevada has placed a 50-person cap on all places of worship, no matter the capacity of the building, as a part of the state’s coronavirus restrictions.
But casinos, along with other businesses such as restaurants and movie theaters, may permit up to 50 percent capacity, allowing casinos to grant access to hundreds of patrons at a time.
“This is a simple case. Under the Governor’s edict, a 10-screen ‘multiplex’ may host 500 moviegoers at any time,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote Friday.
“In Nevada, it seems, it is better to be in entertainment than religion. Maybe that is nothing new. But the First Amendment prohibits such obvious discrimination against the exercise of religion,” he added.
The First Amendment doesn’t count for much these days, but I still think the right response is for churches to blatantly and flagrantly ignore this order. They need to sue the hell out of the governor, the supreme court be damned. The court has granted higher constitutional protections to entertainment (in Nevada, of the soul-crushing variety) than to churches which are explicitly protected by the document.
Anyone who may have thought, several years ago, that religious persecution could not happen in the United States should be woken up from that dream by this. It is explicit persecution when you can go gamble your money in groups of 1000’s but cannot worship corporately in groups larger than 50. This is the very definition of persecution.
I often hear Christians in the Untied States speak of how other Christians around the world suffer real persecution and we should be thankful and shut up our complaints. I agree that other Christians suffer worse, and I agree we ought to be thankful. But I think it is foolish to shut up about creeping persecution here. If we do that, we make light of what we say we are thankful for instead of defending it. And we give to our children and grandchildren a country much closer to those third world nightmares that we are thankful we’ve so far avoided.
This may be a bit extreme, but I have become increasingly convinced that our Supreme Court has so eclipsed its constitutional purpose that our nation would more approximate the plan outlined by the Founders if we abolished the institution by amendment than if we allowed it to continue to set fire to the very document by which it draws its authority.