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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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Faith

Argentine Photographer Captures INCREDIBLE Image of Christ-Like Cloud

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christ cloud

It cannot be denied that our world is in the midst of turmoil unlike anything we’ve seen in the past. From Birmingham to Beijing, we are seeing unprecedented poverty, crime, hate, violence, war, famine….you name it.  Combine these issues with a mainstream media who is salivating at the chance to rile us up for ratings and money, and the world becomes a downright scary place. Where do we turn when the world seems to shun us?  For some, the answers lie in the bottom of a bottle.  For others, it’s self-harm or outward violence. For many, however, their faith is their rock.  They turn to the religious world for answers to the questions that plague us today, and, often, they discover signs of encouragement. Such is the case today in Argentina. Monica Aramayo was in San Salvador de Jujuy in Argentina when she noticed the holy figure shining through the thick clouds Social media user Mariela Romano said: “The Lord will soon come for us all and we should be ready. While another said: “Thanks for the image that allows us to keep on our path and have a better hope for tomorrow.” The photo has to be seen to be believed. https://twitter.com/faithdefender/status/1128809009153097728 The pose and grand scale of the image has reminded many observers of the famous Christ The Redeemer statue in Brazil. https://twitter.com/OtravelAI/status/1082513665700507648 And while the cloud formation certainly isn’t going to change the minds of the unfaithful, it does provide us all with a reminder that we are loved, and we must remain harmonious with one another on this turbulent little space rock.

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Faith

Former Pope Blames ‘Swingin’ Sixties’ for Catholic Church’s Cesspool of Pedophilia

The Catholic Church is again attempting to blame their rampant pedophilia on the outside world.

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Pope Benedict

The high pontiffs of the Catholic Church would make fantastic dodgeball players. Given just how well they’ve avoided taking the blame for, or properly reacting to, the disturbing prevalence of pedophilia among their ranks, there is little doubt that these purposefully-ignorant would be able to dodge just about anything. The problem is obtuse, obvious, and ostensibly disgusting.  There are literally thousands upon thousands of young children who have been sexualized by Catholic priests over the course of several decades in all corners of the globe.  The problem is not isolated at all, and the only common factor between these horrific crimes is that they occurred at the hands of the Catholic Church. If the entire world got sick from eating a certain food, we would stop eating that food.  In the case of the Catholic Church, the children of the world are being undeniably harmed by their religious leaders in habitual and systemic acts of pedophilia, yet the leaders at The Vatican continue to ignore and obfuscate the truth. Now, one former Pope is even blaming the cultural revolution of the 1960’s for the issue. Emeritus Pope Benedict has emerged from his cone of silence to offer a personal analysis of the clerical sex abuse crisis, citing the sexual revolution, a corruption of moral theology, and the formation of “homosexual cliques” in seminaries as causes of the problem. Benedict says that he felt compelled to contribute to a response to the present situation “since I myself had served in a position of responsibility as shepherd of the Church at the time of the public outbreak of the crisis,” and so penned his reflections, obtaining the present pope’s blessing to make them public. In his new, 6,000-word bombshell essay, the former pope turns his gaze toward societal forces outside the Church as well as…

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