All Articles For Church and State

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On June 15, 2020 the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County.1 This case involved the question of whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be construed to prevent discrimination against homosexual and transgender people, and others with varying sexual orientation. The Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act does apply, in a landmark decision that has far-reaching implications for our churches, schools, and individual believers. The background for the case The decision actually involved three different cases, each with relatively simple facts. In each case, an employee was terminated...

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We often hear about court cases involving challenges to displays of religious symbols on public property, whether it be displays of the Ten Commandments or a cross or some other item of religious significance. The United States Supreme Court recently issued a decision in such a case involving a cross on public property as part of a war memorial, The American Legion v. American Humanist Association.1 This decision is significant, not for its subject matter, but for the legal analysis used by the Court in reaching its decision. Although the news media widely reported simply that the Court had allowed a...

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As was discussed in a recent issue of the Standard Bearer, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was incorrect in finding a baker violated the civil rights of a gay couple by refusing to bake them a cake celebrating their same-sex marriage.1 The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (UK) has now issued a ruling in a similar case, Lee v. Ashers Baking Company.2 Although the facts of the two cases are similar, the courts used very different approaches in reaching the same ultimate outcome. The reasoning used by the Court in the...

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Previous article in this series: April 1, 2018, p. 307. In the last installment under this rubric, we looked at the pending United States Supreme Court case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. This case, which involved a homosexual couple’s claim of discrimination against a Colorado baker who refused to make them a wedding cake, raised issues of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The Supreme Court has now issued its opinion in the matter, and while some of the decision is as expected, there are some aspects of the ruling that are noteworthy.1 The bakery in...

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We have previously looked at the United States Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges,1 in which the Court found that the rights embodied in the U.S. Constitution included a right for homosexuals to marry (“The Supreme Court Finds a Right to Homosexual Marriage [1-3],” Dec. 15, 2015; Feb. 1, 2016; May 15, 2016). As was noted at that time, when one such right is recognized, it raises the question of the limits of that right in relation to other recognized rights. The Supreme Court recently had an opportunity to look at the other side of the...

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The Supreme Court recently decided a significant case addressing the separation of church and state. This case did not receive a lot of media attention, but is important for a couple of reasons. First, the case gives some indication of the current direction of Supreme Court jurisprudence related to church and state issues. Secondly, the case involved issues of separation of church and state in the context of a private school, and therefore has ramifications for our covenant schools as well as for our churches. The case is Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc., v. Comer,1 and began when the...

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In the recent presidential election in the United States, many Christian voters were reluctant to vote for Republican candidate Donald Trump. Although the values of Christian voters on issues such as abortion and homosexual rights tend to align more with those of Republican candidates, many had concerns about Trump’s personal life, his incendiary comments, and his past positions on values issues. Despite these reservations, many conservative voters cast their ballots for Trump, not necessarily because of support for him personally, but because of the appointments he had indicated he will make to the Supreme Court as well as to other...

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So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Holy Scripture sets out the simple truth that God created humans as male and female right at the beginning of the Bible, at the conclusion of the creation history in Genesis 1:27. Yet as simple as this truth would seem, the world increasingly seeks to blur the lines between male and female. First homosexuality became legalized and even promoted by society and by our government institutions. More recently the conflict has focused on so-called “transgender” individuals, who act...

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Previous article in this series: February 1, 2016, p. 212. In the last two articles in this series, we looked at the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which found a right to homosexual marriage. We also looked at the need for churches and schools to position themselves so that they are able to use the protections available under the First Amendment to the Constitution. In this installment, we will look at churches and schools and the specific measures they can take to assert their rights under the law. I would preface these comments by noting that these specific...

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Previous article in this series: December 1, 2015, p. 140. In the last article, we examined the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which found that homosexuals are guaranteed a right to marry by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. We examined the way in which the Court reached this conclusion. In this and a future installment, we will look at the implications of that ruling for believers, as well as some measures that religious organizations such as churches and schools can implement to protect themselves. As mentioned previously, the Court in Obergefell did not create a...

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