The Lead: “Under American law, modern corporations can pursue any lawful purpose, including religion. That’s been true for a century. Religion is lawful in America, and so are environmental stewardship and social advocacy. These are all ‘values’ that families can and do exercise when they run a business corporation.
“If the government forced companies like The New York Times, the ACLU or Starbucks to, let’s say, pay for health insurance that covers sexual-orientation change therapy for those who no longer wish to practice homosexual behavior, those corporations (including the for-profit ones) would likely scream about their First Amendment freedoms. That same amendment, though, also guarantees the free exercise of religion, and it is not a second-class freedom.”
Why it Matters: Our country’s historic defense of religious liberty is slowly giving way to a liberal philosophy of, “freedom to worship.” Thus far, our jurisprudence is on the side of history and the broad protection afforded to Americans to live, learn, and do business according to the dictates of their conscience and faith. Though that has been chipped away, it is the reigning notion of American law.
However, political philosophy infiltrates legal precedent like a virus. Liberal philosophy teaches that you have the freedom to worship at church, pray at your dinner table, and even believe what you want to believe – so long as that worship, prayer, and belief remains private, disaffecting to children, and unannounced beyond your mind. The danger shown by my friend Matt Bowman’s article is clear: freedom to worship is but a poor impostor for religious freedom.
Worse, recall that your church, as Matt points out, is also a corporate entity. Government damages both religious freedom and corporate law when it picks and chooses who may or may not freely practice religion – whether that be in the form of honest accounting, health benefits, or expository preaching.
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