St. Louis’s Unholy War on Religious Liberty

Aug 21, 2017 by

by Nathaniel Blake, Public Discourse:

Can Christian churches and organizations require employees, from teachers to ministers, to uphold Christian teaching in word and deed? Not in St. Louis, Missouri, where earlier this year the abortion lobby muscled through a city ordinance that directly attacks the freedoms of religion, speech, and association. Although it was promoted as an anti-discrimination measure, the actual purpose of the law is to destroy the self-government of religious and pro-life organizations.

The law prohibits discrimination in housing or employment related to “reproductive health decisions,” with no ministerial exemption for religious institutions and churches. Therefore, under this law, Catholic leaders in St. Louis can be fined and imprisoned for punishing a rogue priest who got a woman pregnant and then paid for her to get an abortion. The administrators of a private Christian school can be fined and imprisoned for disciplining a teacher who promoted abortion to students. The elders of a Baptist church can be fined and imprisoned for firing a minister who, in order to preserve his image as the father of a perfect family, pressured his unmarried teenaged daughter to get an abortion. The leaders of pro-life groups can be fined and imprisoned for refusing to hire pro-abortion activists, or for even suggesting a preference for pro-life employees.

Megan Green, the original sponsor of the ordinance, has confirmed these consequences, declaring that “We’re not saying the Archdiocese and the others can’t have their views. . . . We’re saying they can’t impose them on others in housing or employment.” This ordinance is intended to punish Christian ministries and organizations that require employees to adhere to Christian standards of behavior. This is further confirmed by the absence of any actual injustices for the law to remedy. NARAL, which pushed the bill, told the Huffington Post that “before the ordinance passed last winter, NARAL had not actually heard of any specific cases in which women were discriminated against because of their reproductive history.” Yet St. Louis nonetheless passed the bill as an “emergency” measure so that it could go into immediate effect.

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