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Maurine Proctor
Thursday, May 31 2012

Specific Threats to Religious Freedom

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She said that Chief Justice John G. Roberts said, ‘That can’t possibly be the case. The Pope is the head of state, carrying out secular functions. He’s not a minister?”

The Supreme Court unanimously rejected the Justice Department’s arguments calling them “extreme, remarkable and untenable.”

They said, “We cannot accept the remarkable view that the Religion Clauses have nothing to say about a religious organization’s freedom to select its own ministers.”

Don’t relax just yet. The Becket Fund reports that “a bevy of state and state-funded universities are using the Court’s decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (2010) to fashion policies tailor-made to drive religious student organizations into extinction—unless, that is, the students capitulate to the school’s secularist orthodoxy and agree not to require their own leaders to adhere to their faith.”

Violations of Conscience Rights of Students, Health Care Workers and Other Professionals

Dr. Donald W. Landry, Chair of the Department of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief of the New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University, noted that so many of the threats to religious liberty have a medical aspect to them.

He said that in medicine, the erosion of religious freedom is the culmination of a decades-long process to “marginalize and suppress and eliminate those who do not subscribe to the dominant liberal ideology, and more specifically to those who do subscribe to traditional religious values.”

He says, this process is far advanced in medicine. “We now have a situation where over 80% [of medical professionals] have shifted to one side of the debate…At the same time, the majority of ob/gyn’s are off to the extreme ideological left and in such a situation dissent is difficult.”

Dr. Landry pioneered a procedure that is an alternative, embryo-sparing method for the production of human embryonic stem cells. Yet, he says, “There is an enormous suppression of anything that doesn’t appeal to the extreme liberal orthodoxy.”

He presents a paper and there are only “whispers of approval in the hall after.”

He said, “One imagines the ultimate expression of dissent—the assertion of a conscientious objection” to a procedure. “Such an objection becomes progressively more difficult in such an environment.”

Dr. Landry has talked to several health-care professionals who feel their careers have suffered from their conscientious objection to performing an extreme procedure that “are now quite routinely required.”

As a member of the President’s Council on bio-ethics, he heard testimony by an ob/gyn governing body claiming that medical practitioners do not have a right to conscientious objection if that right goes up against the desires of a patient for anything.

“There is no limit on the absence of limits,” said Dr. Landry. “You could claim that medicine today is a hostile work environment” for a person of conscience.

“We’re at the crescendo of a long process, a long, extreme and unyielding process.”

These examples of attacks on religious freedom could be multiplied, but one of the most dangerous is the growing public censure of policy arguments informed by religious beliefs. The Becket Fund again, “Secularist voices in the public discourse increasingly seek to delegitimize arguments and positions that have any connection to religious beliefs. Based on a distorted view of the ‘separation of church and state,’ they claim that such arguments have no place in the public square.

This pernicious argument says, “You’re religious? Your ideas don’t count. You are gagged in the public square.” Then it goes a step further to say some positions, like being against abortion, are automatically religious.

Reading this, one is tempted to think, “Somebody ought to do something about this.” Somebody is.

Coming soon: Rising Threats to Religious Freedom, Part 3.











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