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A Deeper Look at the Recent Religious Freedom Cases Brought Before the Supreme Court

Were They True Victories?

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On the surface, it appeared this past week’s SCOTUS ruling on florist Barronelle Stutzman’s refusal to provide floral arrangements for a gay “wedding” was a victory for religious freedom.

But it, like the Masterpiece Cake Shop decision from earlier this month, has its nuances, and may not be the slam dunk for Constitutional religious freedom that Christian small business owners in this nation sorely need after the historic Obergefell v. Hodges case that established same-sex marriage as legal across the land.

Author and commentator Dr. Michael Brown explained these nuances over at Charisma News this week, urging the church to pray that we can eventually get the day in court that we’ve been waiting for.

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First, he says, it is important to note that the Court did not rule in favor of Stutzman, but rather, sent her case back to the Washington court that had originally ruled unanimously against her.

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“The Supreme Court could have agreed to hear Stutzman’s case, but it chose not to at this point,” he says. But this isn’t all bad news, as “It could also have refused to hear the case entirely, which would have been a devastating defeat for this Christian grandmother. Thankfully, that did not happen.”

“But what the court did decide is significant. The court sent the case back to Washington, advising the justices there to reconsider their initial decision, which found Stutzman in violation of the state’s anti-discrimination laws, in light of the Supreme Court’s own decision in Masterpiece Cakes,” he explains.

In the Masterpiece Cake decision, the Court did not actually rule in favor of baker Jack Phillips because of his Constitutional right to refuse to lend his services to a ceremony that violated his deeply held faith, but that the Colorado Human Rights Commission had shown distinct hostility towards said faith.

This was a First Amendment issue, the court said, because he was deprived of a trial that would show no bias towards his faith–the issue as to whether or not a small business owner has a First Amendment right to refuse to provide services to a same-sex wedding, Justice Kennedy, who wrote the decision, said, would have to wait for another day.

So this is the context in which SCOTUS said the Washington Supreme Court would have to reconsider Stutzman’s case. While SCOTUS overturned the Colorado Human Rights Commission’s ruling on Phillip’s case, they instead sent Stutzman’s case back to the lower court, so this is an important distinction to make when considering the outcome, as Brown clarifies:

Can we expect them to change their ruling in light of the Supreme Court’s order? It would be foolish to get too optimistic, given their previous 9-0 decision. Yet it’s clear that the case was returned to them for a reason. And should they rule the same way again, the case will surely be appealed back to the Supreme Court.

Perhaps, if that scenario unfolds, the court will issue a more definitive defense of our First Amendment rights.

But let’s pray even now for justice to prevail. The State of Washington has literally sought to bankrupt this Christian grandmother. Specifically, “Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington … filed discrimination lawsuits” against Stutzman. “In addition to targeting her business, Arlene’s Flowers, Inc., they sued Stutzman personally, ensuring that any assets she might own beyond the flower shop could be taken from her to pay their own legal fees if she lost.”

Are you going to tell me there is no animus against religion in these outrageous actions? It’s high time these hostile sentiments get exposed.

The battle for religious freedom following Oberfield v. Hodges is far from over–but between these recent rulings and the hope of yet another originalist appointed to the court, there’s good reason to hope.

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Catholic Priest Says A Prayer For ‘Unborn Child In The Womb’ During The DNC

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A Catholic priest who was called upon to deliver a prayer during the Democratic National Convention no doubt made quite a few folks very, very angry by praying for and making a plea on behalf of unborn children at the end of the event. Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit who has caused quite a stir in the Catholic Church for his writings about gay and transgender issues, prayed that folks who were watching the event would open their hearts to “those most in need,” which included “the unborn child in the womb.” Here’s more on this from The Washington Examiner: “Help to be a nation where every life is sacred, all people are loved, and all are welcome,” he said. Martin confirmed to the Washington Examiner earlier in the week that his prayer would contain explicit references to the unborn. Although a hot-button issue for much of the Democratic primary, abortion did not play a major role in the Democratic convention. Aside from Martin’s prayer, the issue received only minimal attention, with some speakers mentioning it in their speeches. Republicans, by contrast, are gearing up to make a major issue of abortion at the Republican National Convention next week. In addition to several anti-abortion speakers, the Republican National Committee invited Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, to deliver the convention’s opening prayer. Dolan has previously done so at both the Republican and Democratic conventions, during which he prayed for the protection of the unborn. At the end of the day, abortion is one of the most critical issues to face our culture in modern history. The reason, of course, is because fundamentally, at the core of the issue, is the defense of the most basic right we all have. The God-given right to exist, to live. If we cannot…

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President Trump Says He’d ‘Go In And Do A Number On Middle East Countries Persecuting Christians’

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President Trump recently said that he would “do a number” on countries located in the Middle East that are persecuting Christians if he could find solid proof and evidence that sort of thing was happening. Christians in that part of the world are heavily persecuted, mostly by radical Muslim government regimes and terrorist groups, for daring to stand up boldly for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here’s more on this from The Washington Examiner: “If you look at the way Christians have been treated in some countries, it’s beyond disgraceful,” Trump said Thursday during a news conference at the White House. “If I had information and if I had absolute proof — some of the stories that we’ve heard, which are not easy, which is not easy to get — I would go in and do a number to those countries like you wouldn’t believe. He added, “What they do to Christians in the Middle East — it’s disgraceful.” Trump made the comment while discussing the nascent “Abraham Accord” treaty to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. This is not only going to be a big help to Christians in that area of the world, but it will also help Israel as well. For many, many years, the Jewish Nation has been surrounded by countries who do not recognize it’s legitimate right to exist. Striking this deal is a first step in changing that way of thinking in that part of the world. It’s something a lot of folks probably never dreamed possible before. Christians are told in the Bible to expect persecutions and to rejoice in suffering for the cause of Christ. However, that doesn’t mean we should allow persecution to continue on as if it’s a good thing. It’s not. If we have an opportunity…

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