The Obama Administration has decided it can tell a Protestant Church which doctrine it is allowed to enforce. The case is now before the US Supreme Court. Tina Korbe has the background information.
In the early 2000s, Cheryl Perich was a “called teacher” or “commissioned minister” at Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Redford, Mich. As such, she taught religious classes, led students in prayer and incorporated religious teachings into secular subjects like math, science, social studies and art.
But in 2004, she was diagnosed with narcolepsy and became unable to teach the fall semester that year. When she failed to return to school in January 2005, the school hired a replacement teacher. The school wanted to “peacefully release” Perich from her “call,” but Perich demanded she be reinstated — and threatened to sue the school if she wasn’t. It was that threat of a lawsuit — not Perich’s narcolepsy — that led the congregation to “rescind her call” (i.e. fire her). Apparently, it’s against church teaching to take an internal dispute of that sort to the secular courts.
Indeed it is against Lutheran Doctrine to sue the Church in secular courts. Flyfisher provided Bible reference material backing up the Doctrine in the comment section.
Lawsuits Among Believers
1 If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church![a] 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers!
7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.
A Brother Who Sins Against You
15 “If your brother sins against you,[b] go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[c] 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
So the Lutheran Church is doing something extraordinary and unusual as far as the Obama Administration is concerned: basing its no-lawsuit doctrine on the Bible — something Jeremiah Wright never deigned to do. But even if the Church’s doctrine is not Bible-based — as Jeremiah Wright’s is not — the Supreme Law of the Land (for you Liberals reading this, that would be the US Constitution and not the Obama Administration) is very clear on this point.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof[.]
That means the Church has the right to govern itself by its own doctrine and the US Government has no jurisdiction. Period. If you don’t like the Church doctrine, you’re free to find another Church or abstain from Church altogether. The government does not have the right to dictate to the Church which doctrine it can mandate and which doctrine it cannot.
Thomas Peters at CatholicVote.org links to the Washington Examiner for some of the details of the oral hearings. As Mr Peters rightly says, the Obama Administration’s arguments and attempts at destroying religious freedom are simply breathtaking.
The justices then rejected the argument of Leondra Kruger, Obama’s lawyer for the EEOC, who argued that there’s no ministerial exception in the Constitution, only the same rights that secular organizations possess to choose their own affiliations.
At this, Scalia exploded. “That’s extraordinary! There, black on white in the text of the Constitution, are special protections for religion. And you say it makes no difference?”
Kagan agreed with Scalia’s rejection of the argument that the First Amendment doesn’t protect churches from government ordering who they should hire as pastor or priest.
Justice Samuel Alito (a Catholic) made a critical point, asking if a Catholic priest married and the church removed him from ministry for violating Catholic doctrine, could the EEOC order him reinstated.
When Kruger answered no, Alito replied that EEOC was making a judgment that certain teachings — such as the Catholic belief that priests must be celibate — are more important than the Lutheran doctrine that ministers cannot sue the church.
Chief Justice John Roberts (also Catholic) agreed, saying, “You’re making a judgment about how important a particular religious belief is to a church.” Government cannot make such theological judgments.
Where, praytell, are all the Constitutional Scholars in the Obama Administration? Oh, right. Better question: Are there any “Constitutional Scholars” in the Obama Administration, including the Chief Executive Officer of the Obama Administration, who have actually, you know, READ the US Constituion? Another question: Is there any part of the US Constitution the Obama Administration is not willing to violate?
This is beyond the point of “old and wearisome” at this stage of the game.