By / Jan 19

Today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an official determination that the People’s Republic of China is “committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, China, for targeting Uyghur Muslims and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups.” This announcement comes on Secretary Pompeo’s last day in office and a day before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. According to Axios, the U.S. has become the first country to adopt these terms to describe the Chinese Communist Party’s unconscionable human rights abuses in its far northwest.

Some of the reasons cited for the determination include “the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians, forced sterilization, torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained, forced labor, and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.” 

Secretary Pompeo stated that one of the key facts in his determination was the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) efforts to severely oppress Uyghur women with draconian birth control measures. Uyghur women are subjected to forced pregnancy checks, medication that stops their menstrual period, forced abortions, and surgical sterilizations. One of the major reasons that Uyghur women are sent to the internment camps is for having too many children. China’s goal, it seems, is to eradicate future generations of Uyghurs by manipulating who can and can’t bear children, and how many children a family can legally conceive. 

Why does this declaration of genocide against Uyghurs matter?

Since 2017, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has waged a systemic campaign of oppression and persecution against Uyghur Muslims, a predominantly Turkic-speaking ethnic group. The geographic scope of the CCP’s campaign against Uyghurs is global, but primarily restricted to Xinjiang, China’s western-most territory, where Uyghurs have lived for centuries. Under the guise of national security, the CCP is seeking to “pacify” the region with totalitarian tactics like pervasive surveillance, thought control, ideological reeducation, forced birth control, and compulsory labor. Once Chinese police detain a Uyghur for questioning, they are often sent away for “political reeducation.” China has constructed upward of 1,000 internment camps for this purpose. Estimates vary, but experts posit that China has detained between 1 million and 3 million Muslims in these facilities. Aside from political indoctrination, physical and psychological abuse is commonplace throughout these camps, ranging from rape and torture to malnourishment and forced organ harvesting

The CCP also uses these camps to break apart Uyghur families. In cases where Uyghur husbands are sent off to camps, China has sent ethnically Han men to rape, and forcibly procreate with, the wives who are left behind. In some cases, where both the mother and father are detained, the CCP has sent Uyghur children to government-run boarding schools where all communication with the outside world is strictly regulated.

Members of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China sent a bipartisan letter asking that the Administration make an official determination as to whether the Chinese government is responsible for perpetrating atrocity crimes, including genocide, against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim ethnic minorities. Additionally, Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced a bipartisan resolution to designate human rights abuses perpetrated by the People’s Republic of China against the Uyghur people and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) as genocide. 

What is genocide?

The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crimes of Genocide defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” The acts enumerated include:

  • Killing members of the group;
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; or
  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

A genocide determination sends a powerful signal to the international community that the United States will not remain silent in the face of the CCP’s atrocities towards the Uyghur people.

What’s next after this declaration of genocide?

Secretary Pompeo called upon the People’s Republic of China “immediately to release all arbitrarily detained persons and abolish its system of internment, detention camps, house arrest and forced labor; cease coercive population control measures, including forced sterilizations, forced abortion, forced birth control, and the removal of children from their families; end all torture and abuse in places of detention; end the persecution of Uyghurs and other members of religious and ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China, and afford Uyghurs and other persecuted minorities the freedom to travel and emigrate.”

Additionally, he called on “all appropriate multilateral and relevant juridical bodies, to join the United States in our effort to promote accountability for those responsible for these atrocities.”

“The Chinese government’s atrocities against the Uyghur people in Xingjiang is clearly genocide. I welcome the State Department’s recognition of it as such. The world must not turn our eyes away from this genocide against human beings made in the image of God. I pray that President-elect Biden and Secretary-designate Blinken will have great success in rallying our nation and our allies to stand against this injustice. We can never again allow genocide to go unnoticed and unanswered. In addition, I urge the business community to take seriously what is happening to this imperiled religious minority.  Few issues these days seem to transcend our country’s partisan divisions, but this should be one of them,” Russell Moore stated.

How has the ERLC advocated for persecuted people?

In December, Dr. Moore sent Secretary Pompeo a letter urging him to issue a genocide determination. Additionally, the ERLC has been advocating for the Uyghur Forced Labor Act, which prohibits goods made with forced labor in the Xinjiang region or by entities using Uyghur labor forcibly transferred from Xinjiang from entering the U.S. market. The ERLC hosted a high-level discussion on the Uyghur situation in China and shared ways pastors and Christians can get involved and help. The ERLC will continue working to counter China morally, and will continue to stand up for persecuted people.

By / Sep 23

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 23, 2020—Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has been announced as the recipient of The Religious Freedom Institute’s 2020 Defender of Religious Freedom Award for his work to defend religious liberty for all people of faith.

The nonprofit, non-partisan organization gives the award each year to a person who “defends religious freedom for everyone, everywhere from within his or her faith tradition” and is presented on the occasion of the RFI Annual Dinner. 

“Dr. Moore is a brilliant, winsome and tireless advocate for religious liberty. Whether making his case from the pulpit, or in the pages of The New York Times, Dr. Moore finds a way to speak so others can listen,” said Thomas Farr, president of RFI.

“Baptists played a major role in the Founders’ determination to guarantee the free exercise of religion for every American and every American religious community,” said Farr. “Russell Moore represents the best of that tradition. Reaching deep into the treasury of Scripture, he demands ‘soul freedom’ for each of us, so that we might seek the truth in freedom, unhindered by government or any human agent. Russell Moore is a Christian American whose life’s work benefits all Americans. We are privileged to recognize in this public way his momentous contributions to our nation through his courageous defense of America’s First Freedom.” 

This year’s award will be given during a virtual ceremony Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. EST. Robert P. George, McCormick professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University and former chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, will present the award to Moore.

By / Jun 30

The Christian faith has always recognized the importance of the ritual of burial. From a story that begins in a borrowed tomb for a man too poor to buy his own, includes the cemeteries which dot the landscape of churchyards, and culminates in the promise that one day those graveyards will be the place where the redeemed are raised to new life, Christianity has always understood that how we treat the body after death is just as important as what we do in life. Even our liturgy is peppered with the language of burial: “buried with him in baptism and raised to walk in newness of life.”

That is why the case of Stafford County in Virginia restrictions on the constructions of a burial ground are so egregious. Recently the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit alleging that the county had imposed overly onerous restrictions on the zoning and construction of a new cemetery for the All Muslim Association of America (AMAA), which provides a low-cost burial place for poor Muslims in the Virginia and Washington, D.C., area. Both the DOJ and the AMAA argue that this represents a violation of the rights of the group to exercise their faith. Christians, even though we do not share the same beliefs, should reject any overt restriction on the ability of religious groups to provide burial space for their faithful. As people who worship a man given a tomb because of his poverty, this case should move all of us to defend the right of the AMAA to provide for the poorer members of their faith. 

Background

The All Muslim Association of America provides burial space so that Muslims who are unable to afford a spot in other places can still be buried in accordance to the Muslim faith. When their current space began to fill up, they purchased an additional 25 acres, which at the time of the purchase met all the local and state requirements to be zoned for a cemetery. However, after learning that the group wished to turn it into a cemetery, the county changed the local ordinances. 

According to the lawsuit filed by the DOJ, the county made the zoning restrictions more burdensome, all while providing an exemption only for “churchyards,” setting a clear preference for churches over other faiths. The most onerous is that any land to be used for a cemetery must be more than 900 feet from a body of water that empties into the water table or from a personal well. The state only requires 100 feet of distance. All of the purchased land would violate the new limit set by the county because it lies next to a stream and lake. Further, the county made the process for receiving the permits more complicated and expensive following the petition by the AMAA to build the cemetery.

These actions are, according to the DOJ, a violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 and impede the free exercise of the religion of the AMAA. Also, the suit acknowledges that the requirements provide no additional health benefits over the state’s regulations. What they do is succeed in preventing the group from exercising its faith and allowing its members to be buried in accordance with their conscience. However, even if there were health benefits, one would wonder why it is acceptable for the body of a person buried under the symbol of a cross to contaminate the drinking water, but not of someone buried under a crescent moon. It is clear that this is a violation of the rights of Muslims to allow their life and death to be governed by their faith. 

Religious liberty for the living and the dead

For all people, this case should cause us to fight for the preservation of religious liberty, not just for the living but for the dead. While we often think of religious liberty as the ability to live out our faith, it also includes the right to die under the tenets of that faith. For minority religious groups especially, for whom their religion is arguably a more important marker of their identity, the right to be buried in a manner that agrees with their conscience is essential. 

The rituals that surround death and burial flow out of our deepest convictions about life, reality, and spirituality. Christians have historically believed that the body should be treated with reverence and buried because we believe that we will be resurrected to bodily form in the future. The practices of an Islamic burial are no less tied to their view of reality. The ceremonial washing and quick burial speak to their religious belief in the importance of the body and need for ritual purity. For both traditions, how the dead are treated is a direct result of the belief about humanity’s place in the world. How we speak of the dead, how we memorialize those who have died, and what we do in the final moments of life reveal what we believe about life in the present and the future, in the physical and spiritual realm. 

John Leland, the early American Baptist leader for whom our Washington, D.C., office is named, argued that the state will not answer for religious beliefs after death, so it should not limit their expression in life. To this, we can add that the government should not limit their expression after death, either by the individual or by those who love them.

Though some may argue that the manner of burial is a trivial matter, Christians of all people should recognize that this is a matter of the utmost importance. As people for whom burial is a symbol, and promise, of a future resurrection, we know the importance of the rituals surrounding death. And so, though we may not share the same theological beliefs as this group, we recognize that the choice of how to be buried is a matter of the utmost importance. And because we believe that all individuals, regardless of religious beliefs, share in the image of God, we must defend their right to live in accordance with conscience for they alone will give an answer for their lives, not the county commissioner, state officials, or the federal government. Because of this, we must defend the rights of all people to live, die, and be buried in accordance with conscience. 

By / Jun 26

Communist China’s stand against freedom is becoming increasingly aggressive with both the persecution of their own citizens and the forced changes in Hong Kong. Chelsea Patterson Sobolik and Travis Wussow welcome David Curry of Open Doors USA to the roundtable to discuss these recent developments and how it affects religious freedom in this part of the world.

This episode is sponsored by The Good Book Company, publisher of Beautifully Distinct: Conversations with Friends on Faith, Life, and Culture, edited by Trillia Newbell

Guest Biography

David Curry is the CEO of Open Doors USA, which is a non-profit dedicated to providing support for persecuted Christians around the world. For over 60 years, Open Doors has worked in the world’s most oppressive regions, empowering and equipping persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries by providing Bibles, training, and programs to help strengthen the church. Since assuming the role of CEO in August 2013, Curry has traveled extensively to encourage those living under persecution and support the work of Open Doors. In addition, Curry is often present in Washington, D.C., advocating for religious freedom at the highest levels of our government. He has testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and met with a wide range of policymakers in Washington from both sides of the aisle, including at the White House, in the Senate and at the U.S. State Department.

Resources from the Conversation

By / Jun 15

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 15, 2020—The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 in the consolidated Title VII cases covered in Bostock v. Clayton County today. The opinion, written by Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, states that an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it “unlawful … for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual … because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, responds to the ruling at length in his new article, “After the Bostock Supreme Court Case.” Highlights from his article are featured below: 

“The precedents set here will have major implications going forward on how the public meaning of words at the time laws are passed should mean for how they are interpreted in the future. 

“The ruling also will have seismic implications for religious liberty, setting off potentially years of lawsuits and court struggles, about what this means, for example, for religious organizations with religious convictions about the meaning of sex and sexuality. This will mean not only that this is just the beginning of the legal discussion at this point, but also that Congress must clarify precisely what they intended, or intend now, in laws that protect women from unjust discrimination—laws that now are to be applied much more broadly. 

“What is most important is for the church to see where a biblical vision of sexuality and family is out of step with the direction of American culture. For 2,000 years, the Christian tradition, rooted in the Bible, has taught that human beings are limited by our createdness. We are not self-created, nor are we self-determining beings. God has created us, from the beginning, male and female—a concept articulated at the very onset of the biblical canon (Gen. 1:27) and reaffirmed by our Lord Jesus (Mk. 10:6). That’s because this creation order is not arbitrary but is intended to point beyond itself to the mystery of the gospel (Eph. 5:32). Here the church has stood, and will stand.”

The ERLC filed a joint brief with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Anglican Church in North America, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and several other religious organizations in August 2019. The brief argued that “construing the term ‘sex’ to include ‘gender identity’ will create conflicts with many religious believers and with their institutions. Such an interpretation will affect the ability of churches and faith-based schools and charities to hire and retain employees who, by word and conduct, accept or at least do not contradict the church’s religious message.”

The ERLC will continue to work to defend these issues in court and work with the people’s elected voice in the U.S. Congress to ensure that Americans with sincerely held religious beliefs about human dignity can continue to enjoy religious freedom and rights of conscience.

By / Jun 12

On Tuesday, a federal judge in Las Vegas refused to grant an injunction to void Nevada’s 50-person attendance cap on all religious gatherings. 

Two churches, Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley and Calvary Chapel Lone Mountain, asked the court for an injunction claiming that the state’s COVID-19 restrictions on religious gatherings were unconstitutional. They also claimed that religious organizations were being treated unfairly as opposed to other entities and businesses. 

Currently, Nevada has a 50-person attendance cap on all religious gatherings as part of COVID-19 restrictions, but casinos and other businesses have been allowed to reopen at 50% capacity.

In his denial of the injunction, Judge Richard Boulware II stated that there was not enough evidence to warrant the court’s involvement in this matter as the churches were unable to prove there is a pattern of intentionally enforcing restrictions in a way that singles out religious organizations.

Are these restrictions legitimate? 

Christians recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented circumstances and that state governments have at certain times had a legitimate interest in restricting public gatherings. Moreover, Christians have an interest in complying with generally applicable restrictions and modifying our ‘normal’ worship practices in order to prevent those gatherings from unnecessarily spreading coronavirus and causing harm to both our members and our larger communities. 

These restrictions in Nevada, however, are not generally applicable to all gatherings as they blatantly hold religious organizations and commercial businesses to different standards. It makes little sense to have varying restrictions on large gatherings based solely on the activity that is taking place at those gatherings. If casinos — famous for many reasons, but not for social distancing — can safely adjust to operate with new precautions, so can houses of worship.

What about the First Amendment? 

This ruling clearly violates the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment by treating religious organizations less favorably than secular organizations. This is more than disappointing. The federal judiciary has, once again, failed to intervene when states pass policies that are not neutral towards religious gatherings as opposed to non-religious gatherings.

Unfortunately, Judge Boulware is not the first judge unwilling to grant injunctions to churches seeking relief from state policies that overstep their authority and violate the First Amendment. Two weeks ago, the United States Supreme Court declined an application for injunctive relief that was submitted by churches in California and Illinois over issues very similar to those of the Nevada churches.

What kind of precedent is being set?

The First Amendment does not have an exception for pandemics. Christians should be concerned about these recent court decisions not only for the present times, but also looking forward. Decisions like those of Judge Boulware and the United States Supreme Court, are setting a precedent for deference to government regulation over religious liberty; and, once given over to the government, regulatory powers are difficult to walk back.

However, as many states have shown, it is possible to balance the bedrock principle of religious liberty and state governments’ interests in promoting public health and safety. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, offered these comments in response to the US Supreme Court’s decision to reject the challenge of California churches:

“States should set their policies according to the behaviors that can and cannot happen safely, the numbers of people that can be gathered, not on whether the assembly is a church or not a church, and they should apply those standards equally and neutrally. This pandemic is a perilous time. We need to emerge from it with both our public safety and our First Amendment intact. We can do that, but only if elected officials and the courts take seriously the matters both of public health and of constitutional freedoms.”

What happens next?

The ERLC and other organizations that exist to defend religious freedom will continue to push back against these misguided actions that unduly burden the free exercise of religion. Churches in Nevada and elsewhere have already demonstrated incredible deference to public officials for the sake of public safety. It is past time for these leaders to ensure that the religious freedom of citizens in their states are no longer impeded in an arbitrary or capricious manner. Surely churches merit the same protections as casinos in Nevada.

ERLC intern Julia Stamper contributed to this article.

By / May 30

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 30, 2020—Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, commented today on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reject the request of a California church to block the state’s attendance limits on places of worship.

"I wish the Supreme Court had acted to bring more constitutional clarity to this pressing question. There is no dispute that the government has a compelling interest in restricting assemblies during times of pandemic, but several states, including Minnesota, California and Nevada, have pursued policies that are inconsistent, incoherent and not neutral toward religious gatherings as opposed to non-religious gatherings. 

“Chief Justice Roberts is correct to say that a large gathering of people is not the same as a small business where people can socially distance one by one. And yet, in many states, that's not where the distinction is being made. In some places, casinos are open while houses of worship are not. That is not sound public policy, and it sets a bad precedent. 

“States should set their policies according to the behaviors that can and cannot happen safely, the numbers of people that can be gathered, not on whether the assembly is a church or not a church, and they should apply those standards equally and neutrally. This pandemic is a perilous time. We need to emerge from it with both our public safety and our First Amendment intact. We can do that, but only if elected officials and the courts take seriously the matters both of public health and of constitutional freedoms.”

By / May 29

ERLC President Russell Moore joins the roundtable to catch up with Jeff Pickering, Chelsea Patterson Sobolik, and Travis Wussow, on some of the big stories in American life from the past three months.

This episode is sponsored by The Good Book Company, publisher of Talking Points: Abortion by Dr Lizzie Ling & Vaughan Roberts

Resources from the Conversation

By / May 15

Over the past two weeks, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on two important cases for religious liberty. The court convened via conference call, due to the coronavirus pandemic, and as such, the public could listen live for the first time in history. Josh Wester, from the ERLC’s Nashville office, joins Jeff Pickering, Chelsea Patterson Sobolik, and Travis Wussow, to discuss the cases critical for conscience rights, Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey Berru and Little Sisters of the Poor v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

This episode is sponsored by The Good Book Company, publisher of Talking Points: Abortion by Dr Lizzie Ling & Vaughan Roberts  

Guest Biography

Joshua B. Wester serves as Chair of Research in Christian Ethics. In this role, he provides analysis, content, and counsel on ethical issues to advance the ERLC’s internal and external needs, directs research and content development for the President, and coordinates the ERLC’s academic partnerships. He holds an M.Div from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing a Th.M. in Public Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Josh is married to McCaffity, and they have two children.

Resources from the Conversation

By / May 12

The Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments yesterday in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey Berru, the second religious freedom case before the court in as many weeks. At issue in this case is whether the First Amendment’s religious protections allow for courts to interfere with a religious organization’s employment decisions when the employee performs religious duties.

Yesterday’s arguments were focused on the scope of what is known as the “ministerial exception” to employment-discrimination laws. As Amy Howe explains, “Eight years ago, in a case called Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, the Supreme Court recognized a ‘ministerial exception’ to employment discrimination laws, reflecting the idea that religious institutions normally have the sole right to determine who can act as their ministers.” 

This case came before the Court after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a troubling ruling in which it found that “two Roman Catholic schools in California do not have the right to fire teachers for the purpose of the ‘ministerial exception.’” Russell Moore, president of the ERLC, called the Ninth Circuit’s ruling “harmful” and urged the Supreme Court to overturn the lower court’s decision. As Moore argued, "Faith-based organizations ought to be able to hire those whose views are consistent with the organization's beliefs, especially when those employees are responsible for teaching religious doctrine." 

The ERLC filed an amicus brief in the case, which argued, “Since the Founding, it has been well settled that when religious organizations make decisions about matters of faith, doctrine, or internal governance, the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment bar the government from second-guessing those choices.” And concerning which employees of religious organizations should qualify under the ministerial exception, the brief argued that courts should show deference to the organizations themselves on the grounds that it is “impermissible for the government to contradict a church’s determination of who can act as its ministers.”

The background

The case the Court heard yesterday originated in a pair of cases involving two Catholic parish schools in California. Several years ago, two former teachers at Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Hermosa Beach and St. James School in Torrance independently sued these schools for discrimination after their teaching contracts were not renewed. In both cases, the schools argued that the lawsuits were barred by the ministerial exception because these teachers were employed to substantively teach and communicate religious ideas. 

In each case, the district court agreed with the schools that the exception barred the lawsuits. But when the former teachers appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit, the circuit court determined that the ministerial exception did not apply because neither teacher’s role met the standard of “minister” according to their reading of the Hosanna-Tabor ruling. In other words, the circuit court agreed that the teachers were required to teach religious ideas as a part of their  jobs, but denied that this religious instruction was substantial enough to merit the exemption.

The arguments

Due to COVID-19, the Supreme Court has been forced to alter its normal format for oral arguments. Rather than appearing before the justices in person, attorneys and the justices conducted the proceedings via telephone with Chief Justice John Roberts presiding. And in yesteday’s arguments, one question came clearly into focus: Who qualifies as a minister? 

The attorneys representing the schools made the argument that the court should show deference to religious organizations in making such determinations. Multiple justices on yesteday’s call recognized the difficult entanglement of church and state that could result from courts or governments seeking to make such determinations. Indeed, Justice Gorsuch clearly articulated this concern during the hearing, “I’m struggling with where you draw the line and how much entanglement both sides are going to get us in here in deciding what’s an important enough person in a particular faith and how we avoid that difficulty.” 

In questioning Jeffrey Fisher, the attorney representing the teachers, Justice Thomas inquired about how much religious activity an employee must engage in before their position would qualify under the ministerial exception. And to clarify the issue, he asked if the religious activity these teachers were engaged in as a part of their jobs would be acceptable in public schools or if it would violate the establishment clause. Apparently unsatisfied with Fisher’s response, Justice Thomas asked if the attorney found it “odd that things over the line in public schools are not considered religious enough [to merit the exemption] in a parochial school?"

While Fisher warned the justices of the consequences of adopting a broad definition of “minister,” citing its effects for other kinds of religious institutions beyond parochial schools such as universities or Catholic hospitals, the attorneys representing the schools made an argument based on first principles. They argued that teachers in these schools are “stewards” of the faith responsible for passing it down to the next generation, and that the court should not act to limit protections for religious organizations to exercise and advance their religious beliefs.

The decision

The Court is expected to hand down its ruling on this case in June. And the Court’s ruling here is of deep concern to advocates of religious liberty. As the attorneys for Becket, who is representing one of the schools, have argued, “religious groups can only operate freely if they are given full autonomy in choosing the individuals who teach their beliefs and embody their faith.”

The government should not be in the business of meddling with a religious organization's internal operations, nor of determining who meets the qualifications of minister. Christians should pray that the Court’s ruling recognizes this fundamental principle.