The PJ Tatler

Obama Administration Seeks to Unleash Unrestricted Lawfare on America's Churches and Synagogues

According to Michael McConnell, The Obama/Holder Justice Department has made a request of the Supreme Court which, if enacted, would effectively destroy religious freedom in the United States. Freedom of association would go out along with it.

The federal statutes outlawing employment discrimination based on race, sex, age and disability contain no express exception for church employers. But for 40 years lower courts have applied a “ministerial exception,” which bars the government from any role in deciding who should be a minister. Courts have reasoned that the separation between church and state protects the ability of churches to choose their own clergy just as it protects the state from any control by churches. The Supreme Court has never spoken to the issue.

But who counts as a minister? Cheryl Perich’s duties included leading students in prayer and worship, but she also taught secular subjects, using ordinary secular textbooks. The sole disagreement in the lower courts was whether her job was sufficiently religious to be considered ministerial. The Supreme Court will consider, for the first time, how to make that determination.

But the Obama Justice Department has now asked the court to disavow the ministerial exception altogether. This would mean that, in every future case, a court—and not the church—would decide whether the church’s reasons for firing or not hiring a minister were good enough. (emphasis added)

That would take “judicial activism” to a whole new level, as courts would be empowered to impose their will on churches in terms of who they hire. EEO lawsuits would follow in the wake of these diktats, as left wing activists funded by the ACLU and other far left money pots would seek employment at churches, fail to get hired, and then sue to get courts to intervene. This will, at a minimum, drain church budgets as they fight these lawsuits. And it might result in forcing churches to hire staff who fundamentally disagree with the church’s teachings on one or more issues that are of importance to the targeted church.

And make no mistake — churches and synagogues will be targeted for unrestricted lawfare.

This Obama/Holder action is a very serious threat to your fundamental rights, no matter what your politics happen to be.

The Justice Department’s brief grudgingly concedes that there may be an exception for employees performing “exclusively religious functions,” but this is an illusory protection. Every church officer—even the pope—performs at least some nonreligious administrative duties. If the government’s position were accepted, the courts would be embroiled in disputes about the selection of clergy at all levels and in every denomination. This would be a radical reversal of our nation’s long constitutional tradition.

Belong to a conservative synagogue that supports Israel? Be prepared to have a court force your leaders to hire activists who support Hamas if Obama and Holder get their way.