Comments about ‘Supreme Court justices question Obama administration's religious freedom arguments’

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Published: Wednesday, Oct. 5 2011 3:00 p.m. MDT

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Rocket Science
Brigham City, UT

Like wise the question to Mr. P:

WHAT does this have to do with Romney?

Bountiful, UT

Religious freedom is important. But so is having legal protections against discrimination.

Religion + Discrimination < no religion + no discrimination

Treating people fairly and being assured you have recourse if you are discriminated against is actually more important than religious freedom if you had to make a choice.

Discrimination resulted in slavery. It keeps individuals and generations from reaching their full potential.

Fortunately we can have both goods. Allow churches to fire ministers who don't teach correct doctrine. Do not allow them to fire ministers for other reasons that are illegal. Such as for age discrimination. Or radial discrimination etc.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT


The freedom to believe according to your own free will is inherent, a right, and paramount in comparison to the idea that one has a right to anti-discrimination legal protection. Furthermore, one cannot have a right to something that belongs to someone else. If I offer to pay someone for their time, to help me with a backyard project- what business does the government have forcing me to have 'rules for who I can choose'. My choice belongs TO ME. That is freedom. While anti-discrimination may be a more moral choice, while it may be popular, it in every way is still a choice. When you force others to do the right thing, you are doing the wrong thing in doing so.

Can I force others to attend LDS meetings just because I believe that's right? People often like to quote questions and reply. If attacking my view, address this- I support the free right to CHOOSE what I do with my money, property, and so on. Do you not support the same? Does the government have the right to interfere if I have not infringed others right to chose? The correct answer is "No!"

Provo, UT

As a religious person, I am deeply saddened that this particular examination of religious freedom seeks to determine whether or not a church can fire someone--a school teacher--with a disability who would otherwise be protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act.

In other words, the church in question wants the court to allow it to meet a LOWER standard of human respect, decency, and ethics.

They should be ashamed of themselves for calling this a "Freedom of Religion" case.


The U.S. Government is currently deciding whether or not it will allow religions to chose how and who they can trade, deal, exchange with, or spend their resources.

And here, so many people on here thought I was without claim the other day for saying that some people are in fact trying to limit religious freedom. In fact, I was even asked to cite a reference.

Well here you are!

S.Andrew Zaelit
Deseret, UT

The ministerial exception is an important firewall against the federal governments continued intrusion into religion. The purpose of separating church and state is not to protect the state from religion, but rather to protect religion from an abusive state. Under this case, the government could have unfettered power to determine what religion is acceptable and what religion is not via the open interpretation of the ADA. What is the most telling is that the plaintiff is unwilling to acknowledge whether or not she is a minister. Surely, this argument would have been made in open court so there would be no need to be evasive to the press. The appearance on its face is that she wants the SCOTUS to force that determination on her former employer through judicial fiat. The association to Obama is because it is his Justice Department arguing the case. I do not believe that the association goes any deeper than that. I suspect the SCOTUS will uphold the ministerial exception 7-2 or 6-3. If they do not then the freedom and protection of religion in the United States will have been dealt a serious blow from which there may be no recovery.


If you read the article, it makes clear that Mr. McConnel wrote his article for the Wall Street Journal, which, last time I checked, is not owned by the LDS Church or any other religious organization.

As for the connection to the Obama administration, I would have to see that I find it hard to connect the dots. Perhaps they are referring to the rather unconventional and even extreme position taken by the Attorney General in this case. It would be unlikely that such a position would have been taken without the approval of the administration.

That being said, I believe that the only action that should be enforced by the court is informed consent. People should be told what they are getting into when they take a ministerial position, and if they don't like it they should get a different job, or challenge the classification at that time.

p.s. What exactly is "radical discrimination"?

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

Dear Michael De Groote & Deseret News,

I would like to publicly thank you for placing the amount of focus you do on the issues that important and often neglected by the mainstream media.

Despite some of those who post comments criticizing this paper and writers for taking the stance they do, regardless of the large religious base that reads this paper- and despite the fact that religious freedom is important regardless of who owns or reads the Deseret News-

Despite all that, I would thank you and welcome more of these articles. Because it is my firm believe that if anyone cares about their own freedom- if anyone is upholding their duties and responsibilities as a citizen- and that anyone who holds respect and tolerance for the right to freely believe, if even different than the views held by themselves... that ALL people rightly would have some sense of virtue and goodness by respecting the fact that this freedom is without doubt, at the very core of a peaceful society and any degree of human progress.

Mr. De Groote and this paper and its ownership is doing the public a great service with such values.

Thank you!

San Diego, CA

@cjb -- So you really think the government should have the right to tell churches who they can hire and fire as ministers based on discrimination laws? So now we have Obama and Eric Holder telling the Catholic church that they have to allow women Priests? And if they don't comply, then what do we do to the Catholic church?

safety dictates, ID

The Obama Administrations view trumps the economic issues for me. It is frightening and he must not have the opportunity to appoint another Justice that shares that view. I can live with a Republican administration much easier than I can having the courts or government telling churches they cannot preach repentance for fear of violating a sinners civil rights.

the truth
Holladay, UT

Keep government out of the church!

Do we really want goverment dictating who is a minister in your church?

"Congress shall make no law..." what part of that do some do people do not understand?

Private organzations do have some latitiude in deciding membership and leadership.

And it is not discrmination exercising those rights.

Trying to compare or equate everything to race and slavery is silly and ignorant.

Maricopa, AZ

Even more entertaining than seeing Obama brought into the discussion, which the article clearly identifies the reason and the source, is seeing posts by people who don't believe in religion, comment on every religious article, on an LDS owned paper AND they live in Utah...priceless.

Charlottesville, VA

Let's suppose Perich/Tabor wins this one and SCOTUS says that courts may determine who counts as a minister, and that only employees whose duties are "primarily" (or "substantially" or "overwhelmingly" or whatever test the Court dreams up) ecclesiastical count as ministers.

Then let's say that a temple engineer an LDS temple loses his temple recommend when he has a surgical sex change. As a result, he's fired from his job. He sues under the ADA, alleging discrimination based on sex. If Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran loses this case, the ministerial exception would only apply to persons whose duties the courts consider primarily ecclesiastical. Under that rule, the courts would hold that the temple engineer is not a minister, and therefore the LDS Church is prohibited from discriminating against him.

The LDS Church could be ordered to hire him back and admit him to the temple.

Michael De Groote

@MormonDem: The trial court in this case didn't make any findings of fact since they granted summary judgment for the school -- so we don't know everything yet. Nevertheless, Perich did not make any legal claim that she was discriminated against because of her narcolepsy disability. She is asserting retaliation because she threatened to take legal action.

As near as I can tell the school (a tiny school run by a very small local congregation -- they had about 7 teachers and about 80 students total) kept her from July until about April. They hired a temporary teacher to replace her for that year and were hoping to have her come back the next year. (Their concern was cost and the children having to switch teachers again. Also, her claims she was fine contradicted other communications they had from her -- so they were nervous that her recovery had suddenly just happened.) They were going to help with her insurance premiums as well. Several lawyers argue that the school went way beyond normal accommodation for a disability. So They requested that she accept a "peaceful release" for the year. She threatened legal action, the congregation rescinded her religious call.


Churches and Church run schools are Corporations.

They are subject to the law.

Farmington, UT

Maybe I don't understand everything I've read about this, but I can't imagine it is in anyone's interest to "demand" that they be taken back into employment when they were on a disability leave and the owner used their scare funds to hire a temporary replacement. It sounds like both parties should have communicated better about their situation. But then to suddenly sue your previous employer, who has since abandoned the school and combined with another, to what job would she return? And why would you want to go back if you felt that strongly about your previous employer? That's like two neighbors suing each other and then having to live next door for 3 or 4 more decades; it's just nuts!! In the meantime, why does the O'Bama Administration seek to haver the Supreme Court overturn decades of settled religious law? We really do need a change in the White House; common sense is lacking at every turn.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT


Does a Government have the right to force people to do things they do not believe in?

People think of Church's and corporations as big entities with a mind of their own. This is not true as people FORM institutions and groups. When you restrict a church from holding congregational services, you've restricted people from peaceably assembling. When you restrict how the LDS Church can spend it's money... you've restricted how I MYSELF can spend my money.

Freedom means FREE, whether popular or not, whether it's morally right or not. We freely vote on what's unconstitutional, and the only constitutional reference to equality only refers to government's treatment of people, not how individuals or groups treat each other. How we treat each other is only governed by laws regarding our basic freedoms. I can't restrict your freedom to worship or exercise your religion, speech, freedom to live, and so on. But that has NOTHING to do with me refusing to do business with you. If Someone says "I won't sell to Mormons", they have every right to do so. I may not like it, not one bit. But we have no right to force others against their will.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

My post on a previous article, oddly denied here, but highly appropriate:


"Even equal opportunity discrimination has interesting consequences.

While I don't personally support discriminatory hiring practices, I also do not believe that I would be justified in forcing someone else to act according to that (my) belief.

If Sally won't hire James because of his beliefs- most would argue such a practice to be morally wrong. This is someone choosing not to do something.

If James forced Sally against her will to hire him anyway- what then? This is what society currently accepts and practices. This is one person forcing another to do things against their will.

While I personally believe that equal oportunity is morally the best adopted practice- I absolutely do not believe that anyone has a right to force anyone else to do something, to spend their income, use their possessions, or act in anyway against their free choice and according to my will instead."


Actual equality requires free agency for everyone, including discriminating employers (aka: people with rights); but modern-day liberal "equality" only protects popular beliefs, not freedom to choose.

Government has no authority to interfere here. Being a "minister" is irrelevant.

Charlottesville, VA

@Ranch: So you think government should be able to regulate people's religions. Interesting. You know, there are countries that agree with you--North Korea, mainland China, Iran, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, etc.

But here in America, where we believe in religious freedom, churches receive exceptions to the law not afforded to corporations, because we recognize that our attempts to protect people from discrimination cannot unduly burden that most basic of human freedoms: the freedom to determine one's own view of life, the universe, and reality, and to live in accordance therewith.

Provo, UT

Though I observe the Sabbath on Sundays, if I lived in a Jewish-majority community I would think it entirely reasonable that they should have and should I obey laws prohibiting commerce on Saturdays. A community should be able to choose its standards, and people should be able to choose what community they want to live in.

Some communities may choose to be Jerusalem and some will choose to be Sodom. Those are their decisions, and as people vote with their feet and as communities face consequences of their decisions, society will develop and improve.

Instead, all around the Western world right now we see a "leveling down," where the right of individuals to associate freely and the right of communities to set standards are trampled in the name of others' so-called "right" not to face "discrimination" i.e. *distinctions and choices*. The result is that societies everywhere are headed for the lowest common denominator.

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