Religious Liberty Does NOT mean taking away others rights

Source:National Memo

Author: Cynthia Tucker

Emphasis Mine

Just after Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis was released from jail, she appeared at a raucous rally to thank a throng of cheering supporters.

Her stance on same-sex marriage has attracted the high-profile attention of other ultraconservative political figures, including GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz, who attended the rally, and Mike Huckabee, who organized it.

They seem to believe that Davis has a constitutional right to discriminate against other citizens and to violate the laws of the land. Defending her on CNN, Huckabee said, “We have the first example of the criminalization of a Christian for believing the traditional definition of marriage. It is very, very shocking, to say the least.”

Though he mentioned such luminary historical figures as Jefferson and Lincoln, Huckabee has completely misunderstood the First Amendment and its protections. Davis’ beliefs have not been criminalized; her actions have been. She has every constitutional right to oppose same-sex marriage, to attend a church that denies those marriages, to organize opposition to marriage equality.

But she has no constitutional right to hold the office of Rowan County Clerk and deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Succeeding her mother, who held the office for 37 years, Davis was elected just last year. Still, she has a very easy solution at hand: If her religious views are so rigid, she can resign her office. (A handful of clerks have done that rather than give licenses to same-sex couples.) As a private citizen, she may freely practice her brand of Biblical fundamentalism.

It’s important to get that distinction right.

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the government cannot deny marriage to homosexual couples, county clerks around the country were ordered to issue licenses to all couples who wanted the legal bonds of matrimony. A few refused initially, but most came to their senses.

Davis, however, chose to defy the specific order of U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning, and she was jailed for six days for contempt. She was released only after deputies in her office started to issue marriage licenses to “all legally eligible couples,” as the judge put it. He further ordered Davis not to interfere

f she wants to continue as clerk, she should recognize the generous compromise that she’s been offered. She can continue her bluster and Biblical traditionalism on the speaking circuit if she chooses. But, as Rowan County Clerk, she represents the government. And the government may not discriminate. The First Amendment was adopted by the Founders to ensure that the government did not legitimize any particular set of religious beliefs over another.

Think of it this way: While marriage is often a religious ceremony, it is also a civil rite. Couples get married in city halls and before justices of the peace every day. Those ceremonies may not be offered to one group of citizens — heterosexuals — and withheld from another — homosexuals.

Churches, meanwhile, are free to follow their own theological traditions, which in this country are many and varied. There are churches that endorse, bless and perform same-sex marriages, while others are abhorred by the idea. That’s one example of the nation’s vibrant religious pluralism.

After the high court’s marriage ruling, conservative preachers around the country panicked, insisting that their beliefs were under attack, that they were being persecuted, that they would be ordered to perform marriage rites for homosexuals. Not gonna happen. For centuries, clerics have chosen to perform those ceremonies — baptisms, weddings, funerals — they believed appropriate. No law has ever challenged their decisions.

But the United States is a secular democracy, not a theocracy. We are committed to protecting religious liberty, but the nation cannot allow any group’s religious ideology to strip away another group’s human rights. Sometimes, those conflicting ideals require a delicate balance, as when Catholic hospitals are allowed to refuse to perform abortions — even when doing so jeopardizes a woman’s health.

But Davis’ intransigence requires no Solomonic decision making. She has no right to be Rowan County Clerk. If she won’t do the job, she needs to step aside.

(Cynthia Tucker won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.)

See:http://www.nationalmemo.com/religious-liberty-does-not-mean-taking-away-others-rights/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Morning%20Memo%20-%202015-09-12&utm_term=MM_frequency_six

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Washington Post-ABC poll shows support for Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage

Source: Washington Post

Author: Robert Barnes and Scott Clement

Most Americans think the Supreme Court got it right last week in decisions that bolstered same-sex marriage, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The court in a 5 to 4 ruling struck down a key component of the the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which withheld federal recognition and benefits from same-sex couples who are married in states where it is legal. The poll found that 56 percent approve of the ruling “providing legally married same-sex couples with the same federal benefits given to other married couples,” while 41 percent disapprove.

By a smaller margin, 51 percent to 45 percent, Americans say they approve of the court’s action on a case involving same-sex marriage in California. The court did not rule directly on California’s Proposition 8, which defined marriage in the state to be between one man and one woman. The justices said proponents of Prop 8 did not have legal standing to challenge a lower court’s decision that it was unconstitutional.Gay marriages in the most populous state resumed last week.

Those results are similar to other surveys conducted since the court’s historic term ended Wednesday.

The Post-ABC poll showed a narrow majority disapproving of the court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act, however. The court struck a key section of the law that singled out some states, mostly in the South, for federal oversight, requiring approval from Washington before any election law changes may go into effect.

Asked if they approved or disapproved on the court’s decision “striking down a key part of the federal law overseeing voting rights for minorities,” only 33 approved, while 51 percent answered negatively.

poll by the Pew Research Center found different results, with slightly more people approving of the ruling than disapproving. More than four in 10 offered no opinion on the question, which did not specify whether the court upheld the law or not.

Those results underscore that public perception of the Supreme Court’s work is often based on its most noteworthy decision, and this term the issue that broke through was same-sex marriage.

According to the Pew survey, two-thirds of Americans knew that the court’s rulings favored those who supported same-sex marriage. There was far less awareness of the voting rights decision.

In the Post-ABC poll, the gay marriage decisions drew strikingly different partisan reactions, while the decision on voting rights showed a deep racial disparity.

On the question about DOMA, support for the court’s decision is defined heavily by ideology, partisanship and age. The poll showed that 79 percent of self-described liberals and 68 percent of Democrats approve of the decision, while 62 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of conservatives are opposed. More than six in 10 independents and moderates approve of the decision.

The age difference was also pronounced: two-thirds of 18-29 year-olds approve, while 56 percent of those over 65 take the opposite view.

The decision was supported in every region of the country except the South, where people were pretty evenly split.

More than two-thirds of Americans feel intensely about California gay marriage case, and equal portions are strongly supportive of the same-sex marriage decision and strongly opposed.

Among those who had an opinion about the voting rights decision — a sizable 15 percent said they did not — less than half of any racial or partisan group approved. More than seven in 10 African Americans said they disapproved of the decision, compared to less than half of whites.

The telephone poll was conducted June 26 through June 30 among a random national sample of 1,005 adults. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Clement is a survey research analyst with Capital Insight, the independent polling group of Washington Post Media. Capital Insight pollsters Jon Cohen and Peyton M. Craigill contributed to this report.

Emphasis Mine

See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/washington-post-abc-poll-shows-support-for-supreme-court-rulings-on-gay-marriage/2013/07/03/bf4a27c2-e353-11e2-a11e-c2ea876a8f30_story.html?wpisrc=nl_pmpol

 

Is the historic foundation of America’s religious culture cracking?

What this does NOT mean: we need not worry about radical religious elements in America.

What this DOES mean: we need not pander to radical religious elements in our messages.

From John Meacham, Newsweek: “It was a small detail, a point of comparison buried in the fifth paragraph on the 17th page of a 24-page summary of the 2009 American Religious Identification Survey. But as R. Albert Mohler Jr.—president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, one of the largest on earth—read over the document after its release in March, he was struck by a single sentence. For a BELIEVER  like Mohler—a starched, unflinchingly conservative Christian, steeped in the theology of his particular province of the faith, devoted to producing ministers who will preach the inerrancy of the Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the only means to eternal life—the central news of the survey was TROUBLING enough: the number of Americans who CLAIM no religious affiliation has nearly DOUBLED since 1990, rising from 8 to 15 percent. Then came the point he could not get out of his mind: while the unaffiliated have historically been concentrated in the Pacific Northwest, the report said, “this pattern has now changed, and the Northeast emerged in 2008 as the new stronghold of the religiously unidentified.  …”A remarkable CULTURE-SHIFT has taken place around us,” Mohler wrote. “The most basic contours of American culture have been radically altered. The so-called Judeo-Christian consensus of the last millennium has given way to a post-modern, POST-CHRISTIAN, post-Western cultural crisis which threatens the very heart of our culture.” When Mohler and I spoke in the days after he wrote this, he had grown even gloomier. “Clearly, there is a new narrative, a post-Christian narrative, that is animating large portions of this society,” he said from his office on campus in Louisville, Ky…This is not to say that the Christian God is dead, but that he is LESS of a force in American politics and culture than at any other time in recent memory. To the surprise of liberals who fear the advent of an evangelical theocracy and to the dismay of religious conservatives who long to see their faith more fully expressed in public life, Christians are now making up a DECLINING percentage of the American population…According to the American Religious Identification Survey that got Mohler’s attention, the percentage of self-identified Christians has FALLEN 10 percentage points since 1990, from 86 to 76 percent. The Jewish population is 1.2 percent; the Muslim, 0.6 percent. A separate Pew Forum poll echoed the ARIS finding, reporting that the percentage of people who say they are UNAFFILIATED with any particular faith has DOUBLED in recent years, to 16 percent; in terms of voting, this group grew from 5 percent in 1988 to 12 percent in 2008—roughly the same percentage of the electorate as African-Americans. (Seventy-five percent of unaffiliated voters chose Barack Obama, a Christian.) Meanwhile, the number of people willing to DESCRIBE themselves as ATHEIST or agnostic has INCREASED ABOUT FOURFOLD from 1990 to 2009, from 1 million to about 3.6 million. (That is about DOUBLE the number of, say, Episcopalians in the United States.)  …our politics and our culture are, in the main, less INFLUENCED by movements and arguments of an explicitly Christian character than they were EVEN FIVE years ago. I think this is a GOOD thing—good for our political culture, which, as the American Founders saw, is complex and charged enough without attempting to compel or coerce religious belief or observance. It is good for Christianity, too, in that many Christians are rediscovering the VIRTUES of a SEPARATION of church and state that protects what Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island as a haven for religious dissenters, called “the garden of the church” from “the wilderness of the world.” As crucial as religion has been and is to the life of the nation, America’s UNIFYING force has never been a specific faith, but a commitment to FREEDOM—not least freedom of conscience… The DECLINE AND FALL of the modern religious right’s notion of a Christian America creates a calmer political environment and, for many believers, may help open the way for a more theologically serious religious life. Let’s be clear: while the percentage of Christians may be shrinking, rumors of the death of Christianity are greatly EXAGGERATED. Being less Christian does not necessarily mean that America is post-Christian. A third of Americans say they are born again…

Still, in the new NEWSWEEK Poll, FEWER people now think of the United States as a “Christian nation” than did so when George W. Bush was president (62 percent in 2009 versus 69 percent in 2008). Two thirds of the public (68 percent) now say religion is “LOSING INFLUENCE’ in American society, while just 19 percent say religion’s influence is on the rise. The proportion of Americans who think religion “can answer all or most of today’s problems” is NOW AT A HISTORIC LOW of 48 percent. During the Bush 43 and Clinton years, that figure never dropped below 58 percent.

Many conservative Christians believe they have LOST the battles over issues such as abortion, school prayer and even same-sex marriage, and that the country has now entered a post-Christian phase…

What, then, does it MEAN to talk of “Christian America”? Evangelical Christians have long believed that the United States should be a nation whose political life is based upon and governed by THEIR INTERPRETATION  of biblical and theological principles. If the church BELIEVES drinking to be a sin, for instance, then the laws of the state should BAN the consumption of alcohol. If the church believes the theory of EVOLUTION conflicts with a literal reading of the Book of Genesis, then the public schools should tailor their lessons accordingly. If the church believes ABORTION should be outlawed, then the legislatures and courts of the land should follow suit. The intensity of feeling about how Christian the nation should be has ebbed and flowed since Jamestown; there is, as the Bible says, no thing new under the sun. For more than 40 years, the debate that BEGANwith the Supreme Court’s decision to end MANDATORY school prayer in 1962 (and ACCELERATED with the Roe v. Wade ruling 11 years later) may not have been novel, but it has been ferocious. FEARING the coming of a Europe-like secular state, the right longed to engineer a RETURN to what it believed was a Christian America of yore.

But that project has FAILED, at least for now. In Texas, authorities have decided to side with science, not theology, in a dispute over the teaching of evolution. The terrible economic times have NOT led to an increase in church attendance. In Iowa last Friday, the state Supreme Court ruled AGAINST a ban on same-sex marriage, a DEFEAT for religious conservatives. Such evidence is what has believers fretting about the possibility of an age dominated by a newly muscular secularism. “The moral teachings of Christianity have exerted an incalculable influence on Western civilization,” Mohler says. “As those moral teachings fade into cultural memory, a SECULARIZED morality takes their place. Once Christianity is abandoned by a significant portion of the population, the moral landscape necessarily changes. For the better part of the 20th century, the nations of Western Europe led the way in the ABANDOMENT of Christian commitments. Christian moral reflexes and moral principles gave way to the loosening grip of a Christian memory. Now even that Christian memory is absent from the lives of millions…

Religion has been a factor in American life and politics from the beginning. Anglican observance was compulsory at Jamestown, and the Puritans of New England were explicitly hoping to found a New Jerusalem. But COERCEDbelief is NO belief at all; it is tyranny. “I commend that man, whether Jew, or Turk, or Papist, or whoever, that steers no otherwise than his conscience dares,” said Roger Williams.

By the time of the American founding, men like Jefferson and Madison saw the virtue in guaranteeing liberty of conscience, and one of the young republic’s signal achievements was to create a context in which religion and politics mixed but church and state did NOT…they have learned that POLITICS DOES NOT HOLD ALL the answers—a lesson that, along with a certain relief from the anxieties of the cultural upheavals of the ’60s and ’70s, has tended to curb religiously inspired political zeal. “The worst fault of evangelicals in terms of politics over the last 30 years has been an incredible naiveté about politics and politicians and parties,” says Mohler…But when abortion and a moral understanding of the human good became associated with ONEparty, Christians had few options politically.”

When that party FAILEDto deliver—and it did fail—some in the movement responded by retreating into radicalism, convinced of the wickedness and venality of the political universe that dealt them defeat after defeat. (The same thing happened to many liberals after 1968: infuriated by the conservative mood of the country, the left reacted angrily and moved ever leftward.)…Cal Thomas was an early figure in the Moral Majority who came to see the Christian American movement as fatally flawed in theological terms. “No country can be TRULY ‘Christian’,” Thomas says. “Only people can…”

(EMPHASIS MINE).

This article is very comprehensive,see: http://www.newsweek.com/id/192583