(by Joseph E. Kurtz, Tổng giám mục Louisville, President of USCCB)
Tháng sáu 30, 2014
Pope Francis recently emphasized that “religious freedom is not simply freedom of thought or private worship. It is the freedom to live according to ethical principles, both privately and publicly.”
On Monday, the Supreme Court recognized this basic freedom in the Hobby Lobby case, upholding the rights of Americans to live out their faith in daily life, through the closely held businesses they run.
The court based its decision on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, which Congress passed in 1993 with nearly unanimous bipartisan support and President Bill Clinton enthusiastically signed into law.
While many Americans may not have heard of RFRA, the law has worked very well over the past two decades to allow people to live out their faith, both inside and outside of church.
In the early ’90s, Ví dụ:, a Washington, DC, Presbyterian church sought to move a few blocks and continue its longstanding work of feeding the homeless.
But some locals objected, enlisting the city’s help to block these plans with zoning regulations, stopping the church’s outreach to the poor.
The church sued, saying that ministering to the needy was an essential part of its religious teaching. It mainly relied on RFRA, arguing that the zoning laws substantially burdened church members’ religious exercise.
The court agreed and stopped the city from enforcing its unjust zoning regulations against the church’s program to feed the homeless.
The DC federal court back in 1994, and the Supreme Court in Hobby Lobby, both got it right — and both for the same reasons.
In both cases, people faced government punishment for living out their faith in ways that others disfavored. And in both cases, the government couldn’t justify the burden it had placed on that faith-in-action.
As President Clinton explained upon signing RFRA, the law “basically says . . . that the government should be held to a very high level of proof before it interferes with someone’s free exercise of religion” — and rightly so.
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