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Sunday, January 15, 2012


larry kurtz

Good post. If peyote can be upheld, is cannabis a protected sacrament, too, Ken?


Thanks for pointing out the "called" aspect of the woman's employment. When phrased as a question of churches being able to decide who gets to serve as their own clergy, I can see the wisdom of the ruling. Extending it to gardeners and other secular(?) employees is a step too far.

But I wonder: is there room for abuse under this ruling? Does this ruling give churches cover to declare every one of their employees "ministerial" and thus remove their anti-discrimination protections? Couldn't I start the Church of Cory and declare that every person I hire, from my music director and theological research assistant down to my church bike rack polisher is in a position to represent and preach the Gospel of Cory to our congregants and seekers of truth? And then when I hear the janitor mention that he agrees with Ken Blanchard on Obama's lack of leadership, Boom! Fired!

Even Hosanna-Tabor doesn't seem completely cut and dried. It doesn't seem that Perich was fired for any religious reason. I can accept a church firing a gay pastor on the basis of their reading of scripture saying homosexuals can't be pastors. That's free exercise of religion. But was Hosanna-Tabor really exercising religion, or were they just mad at Perich for making having narcolepsy and making a stink? If that's the case, did the court wrongly apply "free exercise"... or is this firing like Fred Phelps shouting "God hates fags": one of the unpleasant but perfectly constitutional acts that we accept as a price of a strong First Amendment?

Donald Pay

Hiding behind Christian religion to do an decidedly anti-Christian act is pretty telling about the nature of this so-called "Christian" schools. They are nothing more than profit centers, using the First Amendment to hold people in virtual slavery, then discard them on a whim. These fake Christian "ministers" need to understand they aren't being "called" by God. They are "called" because this is a nice way for these profit centers to get around treating people with dignity. May the people associated with Hosana-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church obtain justice in the hell they are likely to go to.

Ken Blanchard

Larry: There is no good reason to ban the ceremonial use of peyote. That doesn't mean that this practice has constitutional immunity. That was the finding in Employment Division v. Smith. It's a judgment call. A state might, for example, allow ceremonial use of peyote for adults but not for children. It might do the same thing for communion wine. These are matters for legislatures.

Ken Blanchard

Donald: To say that religious schools are "nothing more than profit centers" is flamboyantly ignorant. Religious schools have long provided the poor with a better education than they could have received anywhere else. Those who established them and contributed to their establishment and maintenance did so because they thought that they were serving God and their fellow human beings. Far from being "profit centers" these schools have always been dependent on charity.

Recently a lot of Protestant religious schools have been established precisely because their founders didn't want their children taught such things as Darwinism. I have no sympathy for their anti-Darwinism at all, but I am not such a fool as to think that their motives involve profit.

The people who teach at these schools are, for the most part, answering a call. They are sacrificing a lot to serve God and their students. Your contempt for them condemns you, not them.

Donald Pay

Nah. Most of the anti-Darwinist effort is centered in the same motives as those selling snake oil. There are a lot of people out there eager to be sold snake piss. A lot of that "faith" is simply great marketing, building on the fears of rather stupid people.

Ken Blanchard

Donald: you set yourself in judgment of a lot of people about whom you know little or nothing. I think that makes you a left wing Archie Bunker.


Mr. Aversa,Your quote is out of context. The rceerfnee to ordination of women in the Catholic Church being something that the government cannot become involved in is a quote from the BRIEF IN FAVOR OF THE PLAINTIFF. So even the government recognized that this was not involved in the decision, even if it had gone for the plaintiff.This is a very important decision. It not only upholds the ministerial exemption, it effectively gives the Church and other religious entities the right to decide who is a minister and who is not. Even 45 minutes a day of religious instruction (see decision) is enough to be a minister and a stop watch cannot be used to determine a minister. Frankly, I did not think this one would ever fly: she was clearly fired because she was narcoleptic, not for a the remotest religious reason. WOW. This has really raised the wall of separation to a new height in a new (and good) way. The court has unanimously ruled out government meddling in any hiring of people even remotely related to the religious function of the group. It effectively overturned the Persons with Disabilities Act too for religious entities too, if the person was a minsterial. Wow.That this didn't involve the conscience question is irrelevant, this was not about that issue. After this decision and remember that the justices we Catholics rightly hate agreed with it I am looking forward to a conscience case. Even the Obama appointees understand that the First Amendment was intended to protect churches, not the government. Bring on the conscience cases!Oh, can I claim, Fr. Z., the credit for sending you the link? . . . . .

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