Hannah C. Smith: High court set to hear religious liberty case

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  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 1, 2011 8:32 a.m.

    spring street, I did not use a 'straw man' argument in even the slightest.

    I have stated my point of view countless times on this website, I will again.

    Wiki has an accurate definition of Libertarianism (not modern liberalism):

    "Libertarianism is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society or approximates that view. Libertarianism includes diverse beliefs, all advocating minimization of governmental activity and sharing the goal of maximizing individual liberty and political freedom."

    LDS doctrine regarding free agency aligns with this principle.

    "Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights."

    The problem is that 'equal' has been twisted to mean 'I have the same thing as you do'. No one is born equal. Some are born to wealth, some without an arm, some blind, etc. We are inherently diverse. But to provide equality we design this democratic republic with the principle that we all equally control it, voicing views through our vote. Agreed?

    State recognition is a government reaction and support, but it does not inhibit the individual freedom of gays. Liberals trying to force our vote out, threaten our freedom to vote.

    That's one of my reasons.

  • spring street SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Sept. 30, 2011 9:32 p.m.

    @procuradorfiscal and VOR

    erecting straw man liberals and then knocking them over is a weak from of argument, why not just state your point of view, no reason to hide behind empty rhetoric if you actually have a valid point.

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    Sept. 30, 2011 5:39 p.m.

    Seriously, if she had been teaching the kids contrary doctrine then they would have a point. In this case they are obviously just trying to excuse the church's illegal behavior.

    I'm sure the church ran out and got a lawyer too. So it's ok for them to break thier religious principals as long as someone else did first?

    Am I to believe if the teacher had vandalized thier church and was caught they wouldn't seek any legal remidies for compensation? They wouldn't press charges?

  • Anti Bush-Obama Washington, DC
    Sept. 30, 2011 5:32 p.m.

    It's against the constitution for the government to tax religion at all. Churches do not need a tax exempt status.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 30, 2011 10:23 a.m.

    Re: Vanka | 9:52 a.m. Sept. 30, 2011
    You wrote: "The LDS Church does this very well. Although claiming to be a religious (tax-exempt) organization, they operate numerous very profitable businesses, and mix their religious "expressions" in with the secular"

    As I pointed out the LDS Church has BOTH taxable and tax-exempt arms that DO NOT intermingle. I used their construction project in Salt Lake City as an example of their TAXABLE arm. Your comment simply does not square with the facts. The question is why?

  • Midvaliean MIDVALE, UT
    Sept. 30, 2011 10:02 a.m.

    I'm not sure I made any blanket statements. What do you mean? You cannot define a group of people with sweeping statements. I'm not a liberal myself, but I know a lot of liberals, and they are as different as the conservatives I know.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Sept. 30, 2011 9:52 a.m.


    You wrote: "Those with an anti-LDS bias tend to ignore that fact".

    Yes, and those with an anti-everyone else bias ("all their creeds are an abomination" and "all their preachers are corrupt") tend to ignore the fact that those for-profit businesses were started in the first place with religious donations, just as you ignore the generous stipends your church leaders are "paid" when you all brag of having a "lay ministry".

    I rarely meet LDS who speak in anything but obfuscating riddles.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Sept. 30, 2011 8:58 a.m.

    To "Vanka | 7:06 p.m." BYU professors probably would not be covered under the same law. Read the story "Southern Baptist professor finds home at BYU" in the Daily Universe (BYU's Newspaper). Part of their contract stipulates that there are certain behaviors that are not tolerated. A professor can be fired for "1.contradicts or opposes, rather than analyzes or discusses, fundamental Church doctrine or policy;
    2.deliberately attacks or derides the Church or its general leaders; or
    3.violates the Honor Code because the expression is dishonest, illegal, unchaste, profane, or unduly disrespectful of others."

    BYU took the route of making it part of their contract, instead of calling their professors ministers/instructors.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Sept. 30, 2011 7:24 a.m.

    VoNR says:

    "... our freedoms are usually slowly stripped from those who let it happen."


    This from someone who is actually in favor of Voting to Take Away freedoms of other Americans. (Hypocrite much?).

    The First Amendment guarantees one thing and one thing only: The right to *Worship* without government interference.

    Other aspects of churches - the business side (hiring anyone is a business function) - is NOT free from government regulation and interference.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Sept. 30, 2011 7:18 a.m.

    Hannah again approaches this issue as an advocate, not as an unbiased presenter of the case. There is a part of the LDS/BYU legal community that advocates giving religious groups unfettered rights in our society, all in the name of religious freedom. They philosophically eschew the principles of 12th Article of Faith. I am LDS, but I find their arguments to be troubling, self-serving, and driven by a bit of paranoia. If this case was so clear cut as Hannah presents it, it probably would not be before the Supreme Court. In the our society and that of the Western world, religion is protected, but is subordinate to the interests of the state. To go against the state in the name of religion and conscience is ones right, but as with Helmuth Hübener, one must be willing to suffer the consequences of defying the state in the hope for the proper reward of eternity. History if full of moral dilemmas, but history has also shown us the folly of letting religions dominate society and government.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 30, 2011 6:00 a.m.

    Re: Vanka | 7:06 p.m. Sept. 29, 2011
    "Although claiming to be a religious (tax-exempt) organization, they operate numerous very profitable businesses"

    As you must surly know the LDS Church has a religious (tax-exempt) arm and a commercial (taxable) arm. The City Creek development for example is a taxable venture and not one single solitary penny of tithing money has been involved.

    Those with an anti-LDS bias tend to ignore that fact.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 8:51 p.m.


    Why can't [liberals] be content with Lutherans defining Lutheranism?

    Because liberals abandoned the original idea of individual liberty in favor of forcing individuals to practice their beliefs.


    "Beware arguments that suggest the "floodgates will be opened." They rarely open."

    You're right. Rather than dramatic changes, our freedoms are usually slowly stripped from those who let it happen.

  • Florien Wineriter Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 8:49 p.m.

    Who decides the definition of a Religion? Federal or state government?

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 7:23 p.m.

    Re: "Your blanket statements about liberals define your own statement."

    As does yours.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 7:06 p.m.

    Christians (and religions in general) play a bait and switch game. Just as this Lutheran School did, they try to expand beyond religious education and teach secular subjects as well: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.

    This serves as a way to sneak religious dogma into young people's thinking without hitting them directly with it. This serves as a way to justify infiltrating "secular" subjects with religion. They mix secular and religious to their own advantage.

    The LDS Church does this very well. Although claiming to be a religious (tax-exempt) organization, they operate numerous very profitable businesses, and mix their religious "expressions" in with the secular.

    Are BYU Professors covered under the "ministerial exemption"? Are they ministers or secular teachers? The LDS Church tells them to teach religion as part of every class - ever had an opening prayer and read scriptures in an Accounting class?

    This case is the result of the Lutheran Church deliberately mixing their religion with secular education. If they did not issue this woman a certificate as a recognized "minister" or "priest", then she was not covered by the ministerial exception, and was wrongfully terminated.

    Religion needs to get out of secular business. That's the solution.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 5:47 p.m.

    Re: "She was not a teacher/minister of Lutheranism."

    Again -- what do liberals have against letting Lutherans decide what Lutherans believe?

    If the Lutheran scholars who run this Lutheran school determine she is a Lutheran teacher/minister, who is a liberal, activist court to overrule those scholars, substitute lay liberal dogma for considered Lutheran doctrine, and say she's not?

    That's what courts have called "excessive entanglement" between government and religion for many, many years.

    Now liberals want to have more of a say in what Lutherans [and all religious people] should or should not believe.

    Let's leave defining what constitutes religious belief to religious people, not to godless, feckless liberal activists.

    As an aside, if you really wanted to join a religion that discourages suits, at least among clergy, you appear to have found a likely candidate in Lutheranism.

    I suspect, however, a greater interest in the liberal agenda of insinuating liberal dogma into every facet of religious life.

  • Midvaliean MIDVALE, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 5:45 p.m.

    What liberals are you talking about? Your blanket statements about liberals define your own statement.

  • ClarkKent Bountiful, Utah
    Sept. 29, 2011 5:12 p.m.

    "This case is not just about firing a teacher in a religious elementary school. It concerns a much broader principle: the right of religious institutions to control their own affairs."

    I disagree. When religious institutions get into the business of something other than religion, they should not be able to hide behind the right to control their own affairs. I think the Court will give a very narrow opinion on just the facts of this case and no one else will be able to rely on it.

  • Clarissa Layton, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 4:55 p.m.

    The interesting thing is that she can't get her old job back. The school was closed because of her lawsuit. The school was willing to work with her, but she wasn't willing to accept their terms. I read about this on another news website.

  • Aspen1713 SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 4:47 p.m.

    One other thing I just noticed:

    "She wants the courts to reinstate her as a teacher at the school over the objections of the church that runs the school."

    That is factually inaccurate. The school is closed, she is not asking to be reinstated.

    The briefs of both sides, including amici curiae, are available on the SCOTUS blog. I won't post the link here since it's against the rules, but if you google the case name, it should be the third result. You can read the arguments for yourself.

  • Baccus0902 Leesburg, VA
    Sept. 29, 2011 4:46 p.m.

    An interesting case to follow.

  • Aspen1713 SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 4:41 p.m.

    Is everything about liberalism and conservatism for some people? That has nothing to do with this.

    She was not a teacher/minister of Lutheranism. She taught secular subjects and according to the briefs, only introduced a religious topic to her students twice in 4 years. She does not argue that she was caught unaware of Biblical teachings, she claims she was unaware that the school was going to apply *this particular teaching* against her when it had never been mentioned before. The Bible teaches many things, were all of them applied to teachers--or just teachers who were fired and then protested?

    What about her behavior was "bad"? The fact that when she was told she was being fired for narcolepsy, she informed her supervisors that if they didn't reconsider, she would pursue legal action? Looks like she did pursue mediation first.

    Where was "she found to be out of sync" by "actual scholars" of Lutheranism? Cite, please.

    This argument is like saying, "She can't sue us because she can't sue us. Don't bother looking at the underlying legal argument about the actual firing."

    I want to join a religion that says no one can sue me.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 3:38 p.m.

    Re: "Religion is not a blank check for bad behavior."

    But liberalism apparently holds that liberals should be empowered to write this litigant a blank check for her inarguably bad behavior.

    She was admittedly a teacher/minister of Lutheranism. She argues she was caught unawares, either that the Bible says ". . . there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another," or that Lutherans actually believe it -- either of which would constitute bad pedagogic behavior, in this setting.

    She was found to be out of sync with the tenets of her religion by actual scholars of that religion. But, activist liberal judges substituted their own judgment on the matter for that of the scholars, in effect, entering a finding that Lutherans don't really believe in 1 Cor 6:7.

    This apparently bothers liberals not at all.

    Here's a thought -- let Lutherans define Lutheranism.

    Liberals demand to define [and re-define, and re-define, and re-define] liberalism. Why can't they be content with Lutherans defining Lutheranism?

  • Aspen1713 SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 2:42 p.m.

    This is a misstatement: "If, as the EEOC urges, the Supreme Court decides the ministerial exception should not exist at all..."

    The EEOC does *not* argue the exception should not apply at all. They argue the exception is inapplicable in this case, because the ADA has neutral and general applicability. For example, laws prohibiting the use of peyote generally apply even against those who use peyote in religious ceremonies. The EEOC's position is that the ADA is applied similarly, therefore religious groups should not get an exception that no one else does.

    It is not as simple as saying the Lutheran Church requires mediation -- none of the teacher's employment information told her this would be a requirement. It's like adding a requirement after the fact. The school fired her after her diagnosis as a narcoleptic, even though her doctor cleared her for work. There are other remedies besides giving her job back, so it's not a matter of the government telling a religion what to do. If she was fired wrongfully, she should be entitled to lost wages. Religion is not a blank check for bad behavior.

    Beware arguments that suggest the "floodgates will be opened." They rarely open.