Craig James filed suit this week against Fox Sports Southwest (and affiliated companies) for discriminating against him based on his religion when it fired him for earlier comments he made in support of natural marriage when campaigning for the U.S. Senate.
Soon after his firing, James acquired legal representation with our friends at Liberty Institute, and filed a complaint of religious discrimination that proceeded through a state law administrative process. That process is now complete, paving the way for him to file a legal complaint in state court.
If it is shown that James’ religious beliefs were a motivating factor in the decision to fire him, he has a successful case of religious discrimination. In his complaint, James alleges that Fox Sport specifically “informed [him] that they terminated him for his statement” in support of natural marriage: “I’m a guy that believes in a man and a woman … Adam and Eve — and what the Bible says.” James made several other statements at this time affirming his opposition to same-sex marriage, noting that people will have to answer to God, and that Christians need to stand up for marriage.
After firing him, Fox Sports Southwest told the media that James “couldn’t say those things here.” James also alleges that Fox Sports Southwest unlawfully breached its contract with him and has still not paid him for work he performed almost two years ago.
In the complaint, he also points out the ridiculous behavior of Fox Sports Southwest, which circulated an article stereotyping James, assuming he’s motivated by antipathy to gay people. But as James points out, his Christian faith, with its tenets of how God created human relationships, is the very thing which causes him to love all fellow mankind. He also points out that he employed an openly-gay chief political consultant — a fact seemingly missed by Fox Sports Southwest in its rush to caricature him. James has no anger towards gay people, but believes all people deserve love and respect regardless of their views. As he points out, he even has “personal friends, family members, and professional colleagues on both sides of marriage and family issues, some of whom are themselves gay, lesbian, and transgender.”
Fox Sports Southwest refuses to remove the blinders of political correctness and perceive the man for who he really is.
Let us hope that the courts are able to peer through this charade and see that Fox Sports Southwest discriminated against Craig James because of his religious beliefs.
Can an accommodation be accompanied by a requirement that essentially negates the accommodation and still be seen as sufficient?
To answer this question, we can use a simple example, which arises in the context of employment.
When you ask for a day off – and that day off is granted – you do not expect to be required to come in on your day off in order to tell your boss you won’t be there for the day. That would negate the grant of the day off.
The same is true when religious organizations ask for an accommodation from the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act and the government offers an accommodation which does not fully meet the requests of these organizations regarding protection of their religious beliefs. Such an “accommodation” does not eliminate the burden on the religious organizations, yet courts have been approving the government’s “accommodation” as sufficient. Continuing the string of judicial denials of religious organizations’ requests, the Tenth Circuit recently denied an appeal from the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged (Little Sisters) finding that, with the “accommodation” offered by the government, there was no substantial burden on the group’s religious beliefs.
Religious organizations like Little Sisters, Priests for Life, and Notre Dame sincerely believe that life begins at conception so they object to providing abortive contraception as part of their employee health insurance plans. As a result of their sincere belief, these non-profits have asked for an accommodation under the HHS Mandate citing the protections of the First Amendment and the bar on the government substantially burdening the free exercise of religion. The religious non-profits have asked to not be required to participate in any aspect of the provision of abortive contraception.
Requiring these organizations to provide abortive contraception in contravention of their beliefs would be a substantial burden which HHS has recognized and for which HHS has created an accommodation. The current accommodation allows religious non-profits to voice their objection to providing abortive contraception by filling out a form or directly notifying HHS. After HHS receives notice of the objection, the insurance company offers and provides the abortive contraception to the employees.
The question remains, however, whether this “accommodation” is actually sufficient.
Yes, the organizations only have to fill out a form or notify HHS of their religious objection, but the mechanism of notification is not the problem. The problem is that the accommodation doesn’t change the end result. Abortive contraception is still being provided as a result of the fact that the organization provides health care for its employees.
As some dissenting judges in the Priests for Lifestated, “Where the government imposes a substantial burden on religious exercise and labels it an accommodation, that burden is surely as distressing to adherents as it would be if imposed without such a designation.”
The answer to whether there is a substantial burden even with the current accommodation is tied to our understanding of an accommodation. When we look at the example in the graphic above, it is fairly clear that the agreement made by the boss does not adequately meet the employee’s request for a day off. Similarly, we should ask whether the current accommodation adequately meets the requests of religious organizations to not have to provide abortive contraception – or, as the Little Sisters have pointed out, to “take actions that directly cause others to provide them, or otherwise appear to participate in the government’s delivery scheme.”
The answer is no, the accommodation does not sufficiently meet the requests of these religious organizations and therefore, places a substantial burden on their religious exercise. The form or notification to HHS is an insufficient accommodation because the opting-out by the religious organizations is the direct cause of the receipt of coverage. The dissenting judges in the Priests for Lifepointed out, “the harm plaintiffs complain of … is from their inability to conform their own actions and inactions to their religious beliefs without facing massive penalties from the government” (emphasis added by the dissenting judges). This harm does not disappear because their relationship to the provision of the abortive contraception becomes a little more attenuated.
Just as a day off from work which requires you to come into work is not really a day off, an insufficient accommodation is no accommodation at all.
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Planned Parenthood’s assault on the unborn outrages our sense of justice, a sense engraved on the hearts upon which the “works of the law” have been “written” (Romans 2:15). Our hearts.
A lot of the articles in this edition of the Social Conservative Review pertain to the sustained and graphic portrayals of human evil depicted in the Planned Parenthood videos. Yet we take comfort in knowing those precious little lives are now in the arms of a loving Savior, their creator and eternal comforter.
It’s up to us, and those we’ve elected, to seize this moment to further focus the national conscience and end these atrocities. Christians are picketing PPFA “clinics,” urging Congress to defund this unseemly behemoth of the culture of death, and calling its justifiers to public account. Don’t let up, and keep checking www.frc.org for the latest updates. And pray for those within PPFA and for their advocates, whose blindness is so clear and whose need of Christ is so great.
Many of those voices are featured in this edition. Read them – and contact them, as many are readily accessible and can always use encouragement. The same encouragement they give us through their bold, thoughtful, promise-bearing young voices.
Ultimately, of course, Christians take encouragement in reflecting on the One of Whom Isaiah said, “He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might, He increases power” (Isaiah 40:29). That strength and power are always there for those “who for refuge to Jesus have fled.”
Rob Schwarzwalder Senior Vice-President Family Research Council
Jennifer Gruenke, a professor of biology at Union University (a Christian college in Tennessee), has written a piece in The Public Discourse challenging the “conservative approach to transgenderism,” declaring that “there are good scientific reasons for supposing that subjective experience of gender is legitimate, even when it contradicts apparent biological sex.”
One example of the “conservative approach” that Dr. Gruenke questions would be found in the Family Research Council’s recent Issue Analysis, “Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Movement,” which Dale O’Leary and I co-authored.
Only a day after Gruenke’s piece appeared, The Public Discourse published a thoughtful and thorough response by Gregory Brown. I commend it (and the FRC paper mentioned above) to your attention, and will limit my comments here to only a few.
First, Dr. Gruenke is a biologist. Therefore, perhaps not surprisingly, her article has a strong bias toward seeking biological (rather than psychological) explanations for transgenderism — the phenomenon of people experiencing an inner mental conviction that they are or should be of the gender opposite to their biological sex.
Because of this bias on the part of Dr. Gruenke, I am inclined to give more credence to the expertise of Dr. Paul McHugh, who as a psychiatrist can be expected to have insight into both the biological and psychological aspects of the issue. Dr. McHugh, former chief of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and Hospital, is perhaps the leading expert spokesman for the “conservative approach” that Gruenke questions. McHugh has declared bluntly, “It is a disorder of the mind. Not a disorder of the body.” He has also lamented about his profession, saying, “We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it.” McHugh has written about this issue in The American Scholar, First Things, The Wall Street Journal, and The Public Discourseitself.
This is what concerned observers have been saying for years, especially in light of myriad examples of how free religious exercise has been penalized repeatedly when it conflicts with the “rights” of homosexuals (see FRC’s copiously documented “Free to Believe” site for numerous examples). Just last week, Christian educational leaders from across the country joined FRC’s Travis Weber and Greg Baylor of the Alliance Defending Freedom on a nationwide webcast to explore how the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision (finding a constitutional “right” to same-sex marriage) could well jeopardize the liberty and financial viability of religious schools and colleges. And I’ve just published an FRC Issue Brief on how the loss of tax exempt status could do profound harm to churches and religious organizations.
Green’s article begins by noting a recent ruling by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that Green called “astounding:” It says that “sexual orientation is inherently a ‘sex-based consideration,’ and an allegation of discrimination based on sexual orientation is necessarily an allegation of sex discrimination under Title VII.” This is, as Green notes, a “big deal” because it expands the definition of sex from one of biology to one of sexual “orientation,” meaning that homosexuality must now be regarded in federal law as such recognizably benign and immutable characteristics as race and ethnicity.
This should come as no surprise, really. The EEOC is led by Chai Feldblum, a former Georgetown Law professor who is reported to have said in 2006, “in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win because that’s the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner. I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.”
Ms. Feldblum is, it would seem, as good as her word, a rare and laudable quality in the political class. Too bad that her commitment is to the side of anti-religious bigotry.
Many religious leaders, most particularly Evangelical Protestants and Catholics, have issued statements saying we will close our churches and schools and charities before bending the knee to any insistent demand we compromise the truth of Scripture and the self-apparent evidence of “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” We have meant it. We continue to mean it.
The cost not only to the religious but to everyone who refuses to bow to subversions of our God-given liberties would be so high as to be difficult to imagine. They would render America a nation its Founders could never have imagined, a quasi-fascist state run by the repressive and coercive elites.
It’s to avoid such a fate that we will use our “tools” with all the grace, truth, courage, wisdom, and tenacity we can muster. We love our opponents too much to do otherwise.
On Monday, the Boys Scouts of America voted to allow gay adults to lead troops and work in the organization, while still letting church-chartered troops make their own decisions on this issue. While this is disappointing considering the BSA had already won a long legal battle culminating in a Supreme Court win against those who wanted to disrupt the group’s First Amendment freedom of association and force it to admit those living lives inconsistent with its values, it was not unexpected considering the BSA’s other recent actions. Despite clearly having constitutional protection, the group gave it up anyway in order to be accepted and make the cultural tension go away. This latest decision is Exhibit A for the claim that law follows culture.
But perhaps even more troubling than giving up hard-won constitutional protections was the response of those who benefit from this change. Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin wasn’t totally satisfied with the change, but added: “Including an exemption for troops sponsored by religious organizations undermines and diminishes the historic nature of today’s decision. Discrimination should have no place in the Boy Scouts, period.”
Everyone should take note of such statements, as further claims by the HRC and their allies of wanting to protect religious liberty simply can’t be trusted. Maybe the HRC never cared about religious liberty in any form, but now just thinks it can get away with making such statements and doesn’t have to hide its disregard for the concept anymore. Who knows.
Regardless, as David French points out at National Review, the fact that the new BSA policy didn’t impose on religious liberty enough “displeased the lords of political correctness” like HRC, who “would rather destroy scouting than see it maintain its culturally and religiously conservative heritage.”
Roughly 70 percent of Boy Scout troops are chartered to religious institutions, most of them Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, and Mormon. If they are forced to choose between the moral teachings of their faiths and allegiance to a BSA that mandates acceptance of gay Scout leaders, they will opt for the latter. This will lead to the collapse of the Boy Scouts of America as a viable organization. However, this evidently is inconsequential to Chad Griffin and his allies in the LGBT movement.
The Mormon church has already expressed concern about this new policy. And many churches behind troops would rather just give up their troops than compromise their beliefs. According to another report on this decision, the “BSA has vowed to provide legal support to any church-backed chartered organizations that are challenged in court over the continued ban.” Far from being heartwarming, however, this statements seems to be a tacit acknowledgement that such suits will be forthcoming. Intolerance always takes its toll on democracy.
Contrast Griffin’s position with that of Michael Harrison, a businessman who led Boy Scouts in Orange County, California, who (though still supporting the resolution) said:
“There are differences of opinion, and we need to be respectful of them … . It doesn’t mean the Mormons have to pick a gay scoutmaster, but please don’t tell the Unitarians they can’t.”
While still troublesome in light of the fact that the BSA didn’t need to voluntarily give up its protections, at least such a statement shows some respect for democratic pluralism, unlike Chad Griffin’s.
If the HRC and others are going to take the official position of not tolerating private free association in a democratic society, then we must start describing these groups as they have described themselves by their own free adoption of such a position: authoritarian, conformist, and Orwellian.
After the recent legalization of same-sex unions, the internet was in a flurry with the logical consequences of the decision. If the basis of the decision was about adult consent and autonomy, what about polygamy?
Chief Justice John G. Roberts said it best in his dissent in Obergefell:
“Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective ‘two’ in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not,” Roberts wrote. “Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world.”
If marriage is not between one man and one woman, why should it be between two people? Jonathan Turley, the lawyer who won the polygamy marriage case in Utah for Kody Brown and his four “Sister Wives” said “…much of the language of the majority clearly resonates with our arguments against the criminalization of private consensual relations. It also speaks to the stigma that is borne by families in being excluded in society. That is an even greater danger when your entire family is declared a criminal enterprise merely because the parents chose to cohabitate as a plural family.”
While polygamy is as “taboo” today as same-sex marriage was in decades past, the legal reasoning for opposing polygamy now has no foundation, says Fredrik deBoer, writing for Politico. With the Supreme Court decision, same-sex union advocates have succeeded in undoing natural marriage, he says. Now there is no reason for “progressive people” to oppose extending marriage rights to any and all sexual romantic relationships that adults choose.
Let’s fast-forward to another taboo topic (and with good reason): incest. Some argue that incest should be allowed because of the same arguments for autonomy, self-fulfillment and consent that we find in the arguments for same-sex unions and even for polygamy. Debra Lieberman, assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara said, “We need to start asking if it’s OK to limit someone’s freedom just because we have a ‘yuck’ response to it.”
The author of this article seeks to normalize incest saying,
“When Melissa, an administrative assistant in a law firm who’s in her 20s, met an older woman named Lisa a few years ago, it was love at first sight. The two have been in a relationship ever since but know that marriage is out of the picture. And it’s not because they are lesbian. It’s because they are mother and daughter…
It wasn’t that long ago when homosexuality and sadomasochism were also considered taboo. These days, though, Hollywood’s offerings are packed with homoerotic imagery and commuters are happy to crack open a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey on the morning train to the office. So if pop culture is anything to go by (and when isn’t it?), there are some signs that romantic love between family members is slowly becoming less socially outrageous. Look no further than HBO’s Game of Thrones— which explicitly portrays sex between a brother and sister — or scenes of a mother and son going at it in Boardwalk Empire.”
Normalizing incest would be to irresponsibly promote its painful, horrible consequences—all in the name of autonomy. This would lead to health and psychological consequences which are clearly not in the best interest of those participating in it or of any children involved. Even if the two relatives are consenting adults who perceive their lifestyle choice as normal, should it have a stamp of approval and if not, on what basis do we draw the line if “love is love?”
We see how the cookie crumbles. So if marriage is no longer legally between one man and one woman, then on what basis do we draw the line against any kind of consensual “marriage” relationship? What about the “rights” of polygamists or polyamorists like those described in “One Big Happy Polyamorous Family?” And what about the “rights” of those in incestous relationships?
We have a moral obligation to severely and urgently draw the line.
Whether it is the mind-boggling cruelty of ISIS or the clinical brutality of Planned Parenthood officials contemplating the trafficking of fetal organs, we are reminded of the thin line that separates civilization from barbarism. The heart of man is desperately wicked and deceitful who could comprehend its depravity but for God alone.
Coincidental with these recent events, the AHC cable channel is now showing a new series, “Auschwitz: The Final Solution.” If it is not the best historical documentary series produced about the Nazi extermination machine and its most notorious factory of death, then it is absolutely in the top tier of such programs. It is scheduled for Mondays at 10, but there only a couple episodes remaining at most. My best advice is to set your recorder to pick up and new and repeat episodes. Sooner or later AHC will show it again. I thought that I had a good knowledge of this history, but the series proved otherwise decisively. If you have any interest in the history of the Second World War or the Holocaust you will want to watch it.
If you get Netflix, you can stream “My Italian Secret: The Forgotten Heroes,” a fine 2014 documentary that provides an overview of the manner in which many Italians, including seemingly innumerable Catholic nuns and priests, formed a human chain of cooperation across the nation to hide, move, and save thousands of Jews from the Nazis. This took place after the Germans took over the country in September 1943. Of course, a good many Italians cooperated and betrayed Jews, but the documentary shows a world less hopeless than the one encountered in Eastern Europe. Each of these Italians risked their lives, and the documentary restores some faith in human decency. Especially uplifting is the story of Tour de France-winning cyclist Gino Bartali whose activities are described along with those of other heroes.