The presence of Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch on the U.S. Supreme Court is already being felt, after only three months on the bench, particularly as it relates to religious liberty cases. That’s encouraging for evangelicals who are trying to preserve the freedoms first sought by the Puritans who came to the new world to escape persecution because of their Christian faith.
“It is time to put a stop to the attacks on religion,” President Donald Trump told the Faith and Freedom Coalition in June. “We will end the discrimination against people of faith. Our government will once again celebrate and protect religious freedom.”
Trump has made religious freedom a key point of his platform, telling multiple audiences this summer, “In America, we don’t worship government, we worship God.” Whether he can keep his promises to evangelicals and others will be tested in the courts soon, as more liberty issues come before the bench.
Colorado wedding cake case heads to Supreme Court
ABC news reported, “Baker Jack Phillips is challenging a Colorado law that says he was wrong to have turned away a same-sex couple who wanted a cake to celebrate their 2012 wedding.” That case will be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court this fall. Barronelle Stutzman, the Southern Baptist florist in Washington state who was sued and lost everything because she declined to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding ceremony, is appealing her case to the high court. Colorado and Washington are two of 22 states with such laws.
Kentucky schools develop Bible courses
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed a bill in late June that “allows local school boards the option of developing a class for students to understand the role the Bible played in American history,” according to Fox News. The class, which is an elective, is opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union and atheist groups. A lawsuit is likely.
New York sues pro-life protesters
According to World magazine, “New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit in June against several pro-life sidewalk counselors, seeking to stop their activities and enact a 16-foot buffer zone around an abortion center.” World reported the suit claims protesters, “repeatedly harassed, threatened, and menaced patients, families, escorts, and clinic staff at the Choices Women’s Medical Center in Jamaica, Queens.”
Hawaii forces centers to discuss abortion
A new law in Hawaii forces pro-life pregnancy centers to inform patients that the state provides free abortions. If they don’t comply? The Christian Broadcasting Network reported, “The centers could face fines of up to $1,000 dollars for a repeated offense. There are currently five pro-life centers in the state.” The state of California already has such a law in place.
City seeks to block church
Right here in Illinois, the City of Chicago is trying to block the purchase of the building where the Immanuel Baptist Church has met since 2011. A zoning ordinance requires religious assemblies to have a certain number of parking spaces based on how many people they’re able to seat. Immanuel Church needs 19 spaces to comply with the ordinance, but the church utilizes street parking. Immanuel is arguing that the ordinance violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) by requiring stricter standards of religious assemblies than for other organizations. The church is awaiting a decision by a federal judge which could come any day.