Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Reader Responds to My Post on Russell Moore's "Wall Street Journal" Piece on Religious Liberty

John Haas is one of the many thoughtful readers of The Way of Improvement Leads Home, but unless you also follow me on Facebook you often don't get to read his insightful commentary. (John seldom, if ever, posts in the comments section of the blog.  In fact, some of the best commentary on our blog posts appears on my Facebook feed.  Feel free to follow me over there, but if you do be prepared to see pictures of my daughters playing volleyball and basketball).

Haas teaches history at Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana.  Earlier today he had an insightful response on Facebook to the post I published this morning on Russell Moore's Wall Street Journal op-ed on religious liberty.  So in an attempt to publish more commentary from readers of this blog, here is Haas's response:

The article--at least the excerpt--is half fantastic, half balderdash.

He's quite right about Jefferson's legitimate appeal to those concerned about religious liberty, and how more thinking is required on our part, especially with regard to the huckst
ers that try (and succeed) to hoodwink the gullible.

But the Baptists actually faced religious establishments that jailed, beat, fined and oppressed them.

That the Hobby Lobby and Hosanna-Tabor cases would even be mentioned as in the same ball park is absurd.

Hobby Lobby: These drugs are not abortifacients (indeed, Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College provided plans that offered them right up to the time that became politically inconvenient). And an insurance plan is the employee's compensation--it is most decidedly not an employer paying for anything.

As for the H-T case, it's a very ambiguous one. Cheryl Perich does not fit any common-sense definition of a "minister," though she was defined as one by the denominational school where she taught. The court decided to do as it has long done (rightly), and refuse to second-guess a church's definitions of its officers, even in an obviously hard case such as this. But the fact is, nevertheless, she's a teacher and an employee too, and it was perfectly right for the EEOC to push for employee-protections in her case--that's their job. Had the case gone the other way, the effect on religious liberty would have been nil (though it arguably would have set a precedent that might have had some deleterious effects down the road).

Have at it.