By Chuck Colson
Can the government really tell a church whom to hire as a minister? That frightening question is very relevant today.
“That is extraordinary,” proclaimed Justice Scalia.
“I, too, find that amazing,” Justice Kagan chimed in.
As reported by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, The conservative Scalia and the liberal Kagan seemed bewildered by the Obama Administration’s unbelievable assertion that there should be no “ministerial exemption” for churches when it comes to hiring.
That’s the issue at stake in the case Hosanna-Tabor Church v. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. Who, in the end, decides who is a minister and who is not? A church, or the government?
In his excellent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Stanford’s Michael McConnell, a former federal judge, notes that for “40 years lower courts have applied a ‘ministerial exception,’ which bars the government from any role in deciding who should be a minister.
“But,” McConnell continues, “the Obama Justice Department has now asked the court to disavow the ministerial exception altogether. This would mean that, in every future case, a court — and not the church — would decide whether the church's reasons for firing or not hiring a minister were good enough.”
Folks this is frightening. And I can’t but help wonder if there’s not a deliberate pattern here by the Obama Administration to restrict religious freedom.
[In what follows, Colson makes a great distinction between freedom of worship and freedom of religion. Be sure to read it! – JS]