We, the Infidel Imams of America, are issuing this press release to praise Barack Obama for his decision to seek the overthrow of a long-standing immunity by religious institutions from federal employment laws.
We’re happy this day because, until now, not a single one of us has actually been able to find employment as an imam. But thanks to Obama’s Department of Justice, no mosque will legally be able to turn us away if the Department of Justice is successful in this new case:
President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice will ask the Supreme Court this week to eliminate a long-standing legal precedent that protects religious organizations from government regulations.
The department “is going against what almost every court has decided … it has has taken an outlier position,” said Richard Garnett, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame and a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Law & Religion at Emory University.
“It does seem to do that,” said Barry Lynn, who has run Americans United for Separation of Church and State since 1992, after working for the ACLU for several years. “It is quite unusual because this administration has not been good on … church-state issues,” he told TheDC.
On Wednesday, lawyers will present their oral arguments to the Supreme Court in “Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”
Cheryl Perich taught religion and a secular subject at the Michigan Hoasanna-Tabor school until she fell ill in 2004. When the school replaced her, she sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act. She lost the first round in 2004, but her lawyers persuaded the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to rule in her favor last year.
The church had argued that her job was not covered by employment law because it was religious and so shielded from federal regulation under the traditional “ministerial exception.” That’s a long-standing term used in courtrooms to describe religious employees’ exemption from secular employment law.
The exemption is a legal spin-off from the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. That is part of the First Amendment, and was adopted in 1791 to shield religious institutions from government regulation, such as the creation of state-funded established churches similar to the Church of England.
…If the administration’s claim is approved, government-appointed judges “could impose ministers on churches against their will,” said Luke Goodrich, a legal council at the Becket Fund, a religious-liberties group.
The government’s claim would allow judges to impose employment-related settlements on churches once the plaintiffs’ lawyers persuade a jury that the church had violated an employment-related law, he said. In practice, that could mean a judge could force an orthodox synagogue to employ an unorthodox rabbi who had successfully won a discrimination case, he said.
If the Department of Justice prevails in this case, no longer can our hatred of Islam be cited as an excuse not to hire us as imams. If we apply for the job, and get turned down (as we have been in every attempt thus far) because we are “not Muslims” and we “don’t know jack-doodle about Islam,” we will now be able to sue (with Supreme Court precedent on our side) on the basis of discrimination: “Islam Ignorance Syndrome” is a serious medical condition and you are not allowed to turn us away because of it!
The glory days of full employment are ahead of us, and we look forward to an infidel leading every mosque, thanks to the Obama administration (“Praise Allah” is generally what we’d say in situation like this if we believed in a deity, which we don’t).
And our sister organization, Atheist Ministers of America, agrees.