If lay people don’t love their … faith enough to struggle for it in the public square, nothing the (religious leaders) do will finally matter.”
Archbishop Chaput, Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Facts About Religious Rights in the Workplace:
Lack of awareness of religious liberty in the workplace has led to violations of the lawful rights of citizens who merely want to peacefully live out their religious beliefs as they earn a living. Attorneys at the law firm, First Liberty, have compiled the following facts:
- The Supreme Court recognized, in 2014, that all Americans, including businessowners, have freedom of conscience rights to live and work according to their beliefs without the fear of government compelling them to violate their beliefs.
- Employers cannot discriminate on the basis of religion and have an affirmative duty to accommodate an employee’s religious practices in the workplace, unless this practice imposes undue hardship on the employer.
- Employers may run their businesses in accordance with their religious beliefs.An employer does not discriminate on the basis of religion by affirming the faith of its owners in business objectives. However, the employer may not give the perception that employees’ should acquiesce to these religious beliefs.
- Employers and employees may engage in religious speech in the workplace. Both may not engage in uninvited proselytizing. As with spoken religious speech, employers can share their religious beliefs with their employees in print form such as pamphlets, books, and newsletters.
- Employers and employees may have prayer meetings and bible studies in the workplace as long it is clear attendance is voluntary and not required.
- Employers may have employee training based on bible principles. However, employees cannot be required to undergo religious training, services, activities, or engage in behavior that would violate their own sincerely-held religious beliefs.
“We will not allow Caesar to re-define our faith or banish us, our Church, or other faiths, from the public square, to the shadows of our cities, or walled gardens of our inner selves.”
Bishop William Murphy, Diocese of Rockville Centre
“Christians must beware of a polite persecution that is cloaked in a disguise of culture, modernity, and progress.” Pope Francis
Religious Liberty Loses – Again:
Four years after losing their business for declining to create a cake for a same-sex wedding, Melissa and Aaron Klein, owners of “Sweet Cakes by Melissa”, finally had a hearing with a three-judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals. Until March 2, 2017, the Kleins had never been granted an official day in court to appeal their case.
The saga began in 2013 when the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) ordered the couple to pay $135,000 in damages and forbade them from speaking about this case. However, even before hearing the case, the BOLI Commissioner had praised an LGBTQ advocacy group on Facebook and made public comments on media interviews indicating the Kleins “disobey(ed)” the law and needed “rehabilitation”. Attorneys for the Kleins stated the Commissioner should have recused himself.
First Liberty attorneys argued the the OBLI violated the Kleins constitutional rights to religious freedom, freedom of speech, and due process. “The case centers on one vitally important question: can the government force citizens to violate their conscience or their faith? The First Amendment was written to prevent exactly that.” (cbn.com, 3/2/17; us news.com, 3/2/17)
Who’s Next? Ideas to Consider:
- Will the state now force Muslim and Jewish butchers to prepare and serve pork to whoever demands it?
- Will fashion designers who refused to design clothing for the First Lady be held accountable?
- Will an architect be compelled to design a church?
- Will a rabbi be forced to marry a Christian and a Jew?
(oregonlive.com, 3/2/17; tfpstudent.org, 2/21/17)
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”
President Ronald Reagan
Religious Liberty Loses Case:
Washington State: Florist Barronelle Stutzman, age 72, sued by the state and the ACLU for declining to design and provide flowers for a same-sex wedding, lost her appeal at the state’s Supreme Court in February. She had declined to serve a long-time customers’ wedding because of her Christian beliefs but instead recommended 3 florists who would gladly create the floral pieces.
“What the court decided was now the government has the power to separate me from my livelihood and faith,” said Mrs. Stutzman. “They’re trying to compel me to design something that goes totally against my personal conscience.”
The Washington Supreme Court ruled she is also liable for fines and legal costs estimated at over $2 million. Mrs. Stutzman said, “It’s not just my freedom, it’s everybody’s freedom, whether you’re religious or not, that is at stake.” (CNA/EWTNnews, 2/19/17; patheos.com, 2/19/17)
USCCB urge President to protect religious liberty:
Saying “religious freedom in America has suffered years of unprecedented erosion,” the USCCB posted an online letter for citizens to send that urges Pres. Trump to sign a religious freedom executive order.
The letter, found at https://www.votervoice.net/USCCB/Campaigns/49640/Respond
says the president can “restore the federal governments respect for religious freedom of individuals and organizations” with a “government-wide initiative to respect religious freedom.” (catholicreview.org, 2/17/17; todayscatholicnews.org, 2/7/17)
“Let us preserve freedom. Let us cherish freedom. Freedom of conscience, religious freedom, the freedom of each person …” Pope Francis
Saturday, March 18, 10am-2pm, with a light lunch served. St. Bernard’s RC Church, Parish Center, 3100 Hempstead Tpke, Levittown, NY, “Comfort My People – Dignity at the End of Life”
Presenters: Lisa Honkanen, MD, Doctor of Geriatrics, Msgr. James McDonald, current Pastor, St. Aidan’s, Come and be informed!
“The Constitution … affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility towards any.”
Supreme Court, 1984, in Lynch v Donnelly
Victories for Religious Freedom:
Georgia: The state agreed to to pay $225,000 to settle a lawsuit claiming it illegally discriminated against a lay pastor who was fired by the states’ Department of Public Health (DPH) because of the content of his sermons.
In 2014, Dr. Eric Walsh, MD, accepted the job as district health director with the DPH but was soon dismissed after a DPH official asked him to submit copies of sermons he had previously preached as a lay minister with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“No one should be fired for simply expressing his religious beliefs,” said First Liberty senior counsel.
“I am grateful this trial has finally ended,” said Dr. Walsh. “It’s been a long difficult journey, but it’s worth it to have my name cleared and to ensure that all Georgia government employees know they have religious liberty.” (wnd.com, 2/9/17; christianindex.org, 2/10/17)
Minnesota: Veterans Memorial Park, Belle Plaine: The city has agreed to bring back a memorial showing the silhouette of a soldier with rifle kneeling in front of a cross.
A Freedom From Religion group had demanded the city remove the cross last month. Many supporters of vets responded by setting up their own crosses.
Amid the controversy, Alliance Defending Freedom proposed setting up a “limited public forum” inside the park where the original cross could stand. The newly approved plan “ensures that there is no endorsement of religion by the city because memorials that will be put up represent the citizens that put them up,” said ADF.