on concerns about liberty in the U.S., spurred on by the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding Hobby Lobby and the HHS mandate. Sirico wonders why we are spending so much time legally defending what has always been a “given” in American life: religion liberty. While the Hobby Lobby ruling is seen as a victory for religious liberty, Sirico is guarded about where we stand.
Many celebrated the Supreme Court’s June 30 ruling on Hobby Lobby. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: Plenty of other challenges are coming for churches, synagogues, mosques and, yes, businesses.
On July 21, President Obama issued an executive order that prohibits federal government contractors from “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” discrimination and forbids “gender identity” discrimination in the employment of federal employees. In a scathing response, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops decried the executive order as “unprecedented and extreme and should be opposed.”
The bishops’ response, authored by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore and Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, asserted that “in the name of forbidding discrimination, this order implements discrimination.” The bishops predicted that “faithful Catholics and many other people of faith will not assent” to the deeply flawed understanding of human sexuality undergirding the order. “As a result, the order will exclude federal contractors precisely on the basis of their religious beliefs,” the bishops said.
This means that Washington will now police the hiring and staffing policies of any church or charitable organization that holds federal contracts. The irony here is that the Catholic Church unequivocally opposes discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation, without compromising its teachings on marriage or family. Who holds the moral high ground on this question, the federal government or the Church?
He goes on to note the link between religious liberty, property rights and our daily economic lives. Our religious liberty, he warns, is still at risk, due to what he calls the “most aggressively secularist administration in America’s history.”