Thursday, November 12, 2009
Ah, the legal academy (HT: America):
[Michael Sean Winters writes:] Timothy Stoltzfust Jost, a professor of law at Washington and Lee University, thinks issues of Church and State are involved. He writes: "For Congress to have to look to a particular church for permission to move legislation is frightening. Religious persecution is a very real issue for many throughout the world today. We have been very fortunate in the United States to have been largely spared its ravages. But the only guarantee that we will continue to enjoy religious freedom is the jealous protection of the separation principle. If any religion dominates politics, it has the power to dominate other religions as well. Let us not become another Iran." This is pure baloney. No one looked to the Church for "permission" and America is scarcely in danger of becoming another Iran.
This kind of thing has been rampant throughout the blogosphere -- and even, as Rob reported, in some quarters of Congress.. It would be silly were it not so frightening and dangerous. A great many educated, respectable, influential, engaged, and riled-up people appear to believe that there was something illegitimate, even "theocratic", about the leaders and members of the world's oldest non-state institution making their case for (i) health-insurance legislation that (ii) does not fund the destruction of unborn human life. (There is nothing similarly illegitimate, though, about, say, the AARP's -- or, for that matter, Planned Parenthood's -- lobbying.) Religious liberty is vulnerable in such a climate, I fear.
An update: The Washington Post characterizes as an "ultimatum" the Church's expressed concern that the lack of a meaningful religious-liberty exemption to the same-sex marriage law working it's way to passage in DC will require the Church to get out of much of its social-service work. According to some DC legislators, it is "childish" for the Church to think that it should not have to surrender her right to hire-for-mission in order to help the City help the poor.