Tag Archives: Religious Freedom

US Supreme Court Overturns Oregon Court in Case of ‘Sweet Cakes’ Baker Put Out of Business for Refusing to Make Cake for Gay Wedding

Image: Federalist Papers

Christian bakers, Melissa and Aaron Klein, have won a round in the U.S. Supreme Court. While the nation’s highest court didn’t take the case, it vacated the Oregon Appeals Court’s decision upholding the $135,000 fine and decision against the Kleins for refusing to make a cake for a gay wedding. The case has been sent back to the Oregon Appeals Court for a rehearing. The Oregon court previously said the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) was correct in fining the couple for failing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. The fine and subsequent public bashing by the former BOLI chief, Brad Avakian, forced the couple to close their doors to the public.

The Kleins petitioned the Supreme Court in 2018 to take up their case after the Masterpiece Cake decision upheld a Colorado baker’s choice not to make a same sex wedding cake. In vacating the Oregon court decision and sending it back, the Supreme Court made it clear that the Masterpiece Cake decision changed the game and that the Oregon court should consider the new precedent in its decision on remand.

In their petition, the Kleins asked the Supreme Court to consider three things:

The questions presented are:
1. Whether Oregon violated the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment by compelling the Kleins to design and create a custom wedding cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding ritual, in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs.
2. Whether the Court should overrule
Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990).
ii
3. Whether the Court should reaffirm Smith’s hybrid rights doctrine, applying strict scrutiny to free exercise claims that implicate other fundamental rights, and resolving the circuit split over the doctrine’s precedential status.

Scotusblog

The New York Times reports that the Klein’s were also asking a broader question than that posed in the Masterpiece Cakeshop lawsuit:

The Oregon case was in one way broader than the one from Colorado, as it asked the justices to overrule an important precedent from 1990, Employment Division v. Smith. In a majority opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court ruled that neutral laws of general applicability could not be challenged on the ground that they violated the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion.
That decision, arising from a case involving the use of peyote in Native American religious ceremonies, is unpopular among conservative Christians, who say it does not offer adequate protection to religion, and with some justices. In January, the court’s four most conservative members — Justices Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — signaled that they were open to reconsidering the decision.

The New York Times

Based on the fact that the Supreme Court didn’t take the case, it’s clear they don’t want to answer that question just yet – unless the Oregon Appeals Court gives them a reason to.

During the well-publicized ordeal, former BOLI chief Brad Avakian publicly bashed the couple and instituted a gag order on the Kleins to stop defending themselves:

Respondents Aaron Klein and Melissa Klein to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published, circulated, issued or displayed, any communication, notice, advertisement or sign of any kind to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services or privileges of a place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination will be made against, any person on account of sexual orientation

Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries

Avakian’s obvious vendetta against the Christian couple caused even liberal Oregonians to turn against him. Avakian attempted to run for Secretary of State and lost to Republican Dennis Richardson, the first time a Republican had won state-wide office in decades.

The Klein’s were represented by the First Liberty Institute of Plano, Texas, Boyden Gray & Associates, of Washington, DC, and Herb Grey of Beaverton, Oregon. Emails seeking comment by the Kleins and their attorneys haven’t been returned yet, but this post will be updated as soon as they’re received.

No doubt this is a small measure of vindication for the couple whose business and reputations were destroyed by Avakian and the anti-Christian zealots working for the State of Oregon.

*UPDATED* Hobby Lobby: The good, bad and ridiculous

While I’m watching the live blogs I’m bringing to you some of the more, ah, interesting reactions via Twitter.
The word “dominionist” is making a come back:


Here’s someone who never heard of Jesus:


How about “secularist”? No religion in the workplace, you dominionists, you!


Here we go with humans not being in corporations again (but, just remember, humans exist in organized unions):


https://twitter.com/BetsyinCalico/status/448510948798898176
Don’t you know if you’re an American with individual rights you can’t take them in the workplace? Sheesh!


Here’s a good point:


And another:


The bossy girls are back:


Mocking the business they’re trying to bring down:


I suppose they’ll cry when they read this tweet from a guy who thinks they’re smart enough to make their own decisions:


Intentionally missing the point that women were fully capable of buying their own abortions before ObamaCare:

“The Democrats” weigh in with their attempt to obscure the point and being ironic in the process (since they backed the government getting involved in a health care in the first place):


And you’re a racist. I mean a sexist. I mean a homophobe. No, you’re just a bigot. Must be if you’re a religious person, right?


And a little truth:


 

Precious progressives ponder possible Supreme Court review of religious objections to ObamaCare

[Since this was posted, SCOTUS has decided to take the Hobby Lobby case]

This brisk Portland morning I dragged myself into a local coffee shop to get three Americanos--stat!–and, coffeeas I was drizzling in the required milk product into the cups, overheard a gaggle of gals discussing ObamaCare. It seems the three 20-30 somethings were upset the US Supreme Court may decide today to take up cases that could exempt religious people from parts of the bill forcing them to cover abortifacent and birth control insurance coverage.  The convo went something like this,

Red head, ‘Well, I mean, they can have their religious beliefs…’

Short hair (finishing her sentence), ‘I suppose…’

Too much make up, ‘But should they be able to go line by line through it to pick what they want to follow? I mean…’

These women were in support of  forcing free people into a system which subordinates religious beliefs to obamacare priests arrested for protestthe collective ‘good.’ It made me sad they could speak so dismissively of religious beliefs while supporting a program, ObamaCare, which drops a cluster bomb into America’s health insurance and delivery system and thus far has been a spectacular failure. Had they been paying attention, these women would have known this aspect of ObamaCare has been fought hammer and tong since somebody actually read the bill.

SCOTUS could take up one of three cases challenging ObamaCare’s birth control insurance criteria, 

The three cases on which the court could act on Tuesday concern claims made by Mennonite, evangelical Christian and Roman Catholic families that run businesses.

“What’s really a focus of the case is protecting these people’s religious convictions,” said Kyle Duncan, an attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents evangelical Christians David and Barbara Green and their children in one of the cases. They own arts and crafts retailer Hobby obamacare hobby lobbyLobby Stores Inc and Mardel, a chain of Christian bookstores.

A key question will be whether individual religious liberty applies to a person’s company. If stare decisis means anything, the legal theory guiding Citizen’s United campaign contribution case should prevail in this one. If it does, get ready for the howls of protest from the left. 

Back at the coffee shop, it never occurred to these women they could pay for their own birth control pills for less than $10 a month instead of forcing people of faith to forsake their beliefs to accommodate others’ sex lives. I guess the old saw about about cows and milk has been changed to, ‘why should I pay for my birth control when I can force it from everyone else for free?

 

 

The Most Important Speech at CPAC 2013

All day long I’ve been swabbing my house and keeping me company? Hour after hour of all the speeches from CPAC 2013. I loved Sarah Palin’s speech–“step away from the telepromptr, Mr. President and lead” –later grabbing her Big Gulp cup, Ted Cruz’s fabulous exhibition, Marco Rubio’s charged up reminder of what makes America great and Phyllis Schlafley’s tales from the front lines. But I believe the most important speech of the event is one that won’t get much play. It’s the one that is the most important because of who made the speech. It was made by an author whom I’ve tried countless times to come on my show to talk about just this thing. 

eric metaxasThe most important speech was by Eric Metaxas who spoke on religious liberty. It is one speech that as an American you cannot miss. Metaxas has especial moral authority to tell this tale because he has done deep study into the last time the world saw this loss of religious liberty–under the Nazis. He tells this tale in his book Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. 

Here is an excerpt of that speech and below is the video of his talk. Please watch it.

Okay, so where are the threats to Religious Freedom in America today? Well, for one thing, understand we are not talking about Freedom of Worship. In a speech 18 months ago, Hillary Clinton replaced the phrase Freedom of Religion with Freedom of Worship — and my hero and friend Chuck Colson noticed and was disturbed by it.  Why? Because these are radically different things. They have Freedom of Worship in China. But what exactly is Freedom of Worship?

In my book Bonhoeffer I talk about a meeting between Bonhoeffer’s friend, the Rev. Martin Niemoller, who early on in the Third Reich was one of those fooled by Hitler.  And in that meeting he says something to Hitler about how he, Niemoller, cares about Germany and Third Reich — and Hitler cuts him off and says “I built the Third Reich. You just worry about your sermons!”

There in a few words you have the idea of Freedom of Worship.  Freedom of Worship says you can have your little strange rituals and say whatever you like in your little religious buildings for an hour or two on Sundays, but once you leave that building you will bow to the secular orthodoxy of the state! We will tell you what to think on the big and important questions. Questions like when life begins and who gets to decide when to end it and what marriage is…  And if you don’t like it, tough luck! That’s Freedom of Worship and that have that in China and they had it in Germany in Bonhoeffer’s day…

But the Founding Fathers said just the opposite! They said the faith inside that church building must live on and flourish outside that building. In fact, the Founders believed the success of the American Experiment depends on it! In Os Guinness’s book — A FREE PEOPLE’S SUICIDE – he reminds us that the Founders believed Freedom of Religion was at the heart of the American Experiment.

In that book he talks about the Golden Triangle of Freedom — I’ll bet you never heard about that in school or in college. He explains that the Founders knew that Freedom and Self-Government were not possible without Virtue. Without virtue, we would simply vote to line our own pockets and elect those leaders who would line our pockets. Sound familiar? But they believed that Freedom required Virtue and Virtue in turn required Faith. It was mainly Faith that motivated citizens toward Virtue.  So Freedom required Virtue and Virtue required Faith — but Faith in turn required Freedom.  Faith requires Freedom. The whole triangle falls apart if you take away any of those three things. They support each other.  Please read A FREE PEOPLE’S SUICIDE.