WASHINGTON, D.C., July 8, 2020—Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, affirmed today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey Berru case stating the ruling is “crucial in reaffirming religious liberty.”
In response to the Court’s ruling, Moore said:
“Jesus told us that we must render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s. Caesar tends to demand what doesn’t belong to him. The Supreme Court was right today to affirm the separate sphere of religious institutions in carrying out their mission from the dictation of the state. This 7-2 ruling is crucial in reaffirming the religious liberty advocated by early American Baptists such as Isaac Backus and John Leland in coalition with founding leaders like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. If a religious organization cannot recruit leaders who agree with the beliefs and practices of those organizations, then there can be no true religious freedom. The Court recognized that today. This, then, is a win not just for religious people and organizations, but for all Americans. A government big enough to coerce souls is a government too intrusive to be worthy of the American vision of ordered liberty. I hope that today’s ruling will put behind us some of the more outrageous attempted incursions into religious liberty by the state, and will enable all of us to move forward into the future, with a free church in a free state.”
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 in favor of upholding the principle that faith-based organizations have the constitutional right to hire those who share the organizations’ beliefs, free from interference from the government and the courts. In so doing, the Court struck down a legal test used in the Ninth Circuit’s decision that would have narrowed the scope of the ministerial exception.In the Court opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote, “The First Amendment protects the right of religious institutions ‘to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine.’”
The ERLC filed an amicus brief, which was cited in today’s Court opinion, with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Assemblies of God and other religious organizations in September 2019. The brief argued that few decisions “matter more to religious organizations’ fulfillment of their pastoral missions than decisions about which members to entrust with religious functions.”
The ERLC will continue to defend the fundamental right of religious liberty in the public square.