By Brian Walsh, The Washington Times.
Millions of religious Americans—many in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage and many opposed to it—have been anxiously watching to see whether the federal courts would open the door for government to penalize them for living their lives according to their religious beliefs about marriage. They rightly believed that—regardless of what the federal courts decided about marriage—they should continue to fully affirm all Americans’ inherent rights to live their lives according to their faith.
Ugly periods of anti-religious discrimination against Jews, Catholics, Mormons, and Muslims have taught our nation that protecting people of all religions against discrimination is no less important than protecting gays and lesbians. People of faith thus had been hoping that if the U.S. Supreme Court created a right to same-sex marriage it would also fulfill its constitutional duty by roundly reaffirming the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Friday’s decision offers these Americans decidedly scant reassurance.
Indeed, emboldened by a conspicuous lack of reaffirmation of First Amendment principles in Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion, opponents of religious freedom are already using the decision as a springboard for attacks on the tax-exempt status of any dissenting organization—including churches. Most calls are coming from the fringe. But some of these extremists are individuals such as Mark Oppenheimer, a New York Times columnist whose attack was quickly published by Time Magazine.
The Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision included little to diffuse the disingenuous and unprincipled hostility that has been building against religion. Vociferous attacks reached a crescendo in this April’s hysterical siege war against Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a law almost identical to the federal RFRA enacted by a nearly unanimous Congress and successfully used to protect Christians, Jews, Muslims, Native Americans, and many others. In choosing to omit a meaningful defense of religious freedom, Friday’s Supreme Court decision has added fuel to the anti-religious fire.