Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Now That Justice Gorsuch Is Seated

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Monday, President Trump said as Neil Gorsuch was sworn in as the 113th Justice of the US Supreme Court, "I have no doubt you will go down as one of the truly great justices in the history of the US."

Now that Justice Gorsuch is seated, he will be ruling on several key faith issues---including a case that pits religious freedom and liberty against LGBTQ rights.

President Trump said at the swearing-in ceremony, "I've always heard that the most important thing a President of the United States does is appoint people---hopefully great people like this appointment," reflecting, "I can say this is a great honor."

Most conservatives and Christians agree with the president. In fact, many evangelicals voted for the president because they believed he would appoint conservative, constitutional originalists to the Court.

Gorsuch has been seated in time to weigh in on a dispute over a Missouri law that bars church schools from getting public funds for general aid programs.

This case, which involves Trinity Lutheran Church, has been in the court system for several years. Their daycare and preschool center was barred from participating in the state's Playground Scrap Tire Surface Materials Grant Program.

ADF, the Christian law firm that has taken up the case, says the Missouri law is a clear violation of the free exercise of religion.

They say, "Seeking to protect children from harm while they play tag and go up and down the slide is about as far from an 'essentially religious endeavor' as one can get."

Gorsuch will also be casting a vote in the case of Cakeshop vs Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Baker Jack Philips declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple saying that doing so would be a violation of his Christian faith.

Because the Colorado Supreme Court declined in April 2014 to take the case after the state's Court of Appeals affirmed a Colorado Civil Rights Commission decision against the Christian, this case is now coming before the US Supreme Court.

The state ruling ordered owner Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, much like the WA State Attorney General has ordered Barronnel Stutzman to do as a florist---lend your creativity to celebrating something that violates your conscience and personal religious faith.

The decision also ordered Phillips to comply with Colorado's Anti-Discrimination Act by re-educating his staff and filing quarterly "compliance" reports for two years.

ADF also represents him. They have told the court, "No one---not Jack or anyone else---should be forced by the government to further a message and event that they cannot in good conscience promote."

They say, "That's what this case is about. Jack, who has happily served people of all backgrounds for years, simply exercised the long-cherished American freedom to decline to use his artistic talents to promote a message and event with which he fundamentally disagrees."

ADF is asking the Supreme Court to ensure that government understands that its duty is to protect the people's freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally, not force them to violate those beliefs as the price of earning a living.

This Supreme Court ruling will, of course, impact a number of other similar cases involving bakers, florists, photographers and even venue owners.

This case is, at the core, about religious freedom---not cakes or flowers or photos or homosexuals.

A Marist Poll has found that 65% of Americans oppose penalizing vendors who choose, because of religious beliefs, not to provide services for homosexual ceremonies and celebrations.

Many constitutional scholars, conservative and liberal, say the Constitution does not support the government forcing people to violate their religious beliefs to affirm a sexual behavior and lifestyle.

We will soon see what the Supreme Court of the United States believes about the matter.

And we'll see if Justice Gorsuch will "go down as one of the great justices in the history of the US."

Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Diligent. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful.