Religious demands for special treatment get even more extreme

It looks like the publicity surrounding Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis’s claims that her private religious beliefs should allow her to disobey any law she thinks is wrong has encouraged other crazies to adopt her attitude and demand that their ‘freedom of religion’ means that their religious practices and privileges take precedence over everything else and everybody else’s rights.

We have this case where a church in Washington DC claims that a proposed new bike lane that passes by their church violates their freedom of religion. Why? I leave it to you to try and make sense of their argument.

The parking loss would place an unconstitutionally undue burden on people who want to pray, the church argues, noting that other churches already have had to flee to the suburbs because of similarly onerous parking restrictions. The church says that DDOT lets cars park diagonally on the street during busy times, which would be seemingly impossible if a protected bike lane were on the street.

Then we have a high school football coach in Washington state who claims that ‘his agreement with god’ entitled him to lead team prayers at the 50-yard line despite being told by his school district that this violates US Supreme Court rulings. These people’s delusions are quite amazing.

“I kind of made an agreement with my personal faith and with God that this was something that I was going to do, and I was going to give him the glory after every single game, and do it on the 50,” the coach added. “I’m kind of a guy of my word, and I’m just going to go through with what I’ve always done.”

Then Duquesne University in Pittsburgh claims that it has a First Amendment religious freedom right to fire or not rehire people. As Hamilton Nolan explains, “Duquesne is arguing that is poorly paid adjunct professors should not be allowed to form a union in part because such a union might impede the school’s ability to fire a history of science professor for teaching un-Catholic science.

Then in Texas (no post on religious craziness is complete without something out of Texas) about a hundred people gathered and prayed loudly before a school board meeting and demanded that all meetings in future begin with prayer. Of course, they claim that their praying does not infringe on anyone else’s rights.

“Nobody’s trying to coerce anybody to pray and we’re not trying to establish a religion by praying we’re simply exercising what the Constitution says is our freedom of religion,” Goodson told KXXV. “It says that congress shall make no law that respecting and establishes a religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

These people have no idea what the Establishment Clause means and think that the Free Exercise clause gives unbounded freedom for any religious practice, any time, anywhere, as long as it is Christian of course.


  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    …might impede the school’s ability to fire a history of science professor for teaching un-Catholic science.


  2. Apropos of nothing says

    Duquesne got some bad publicity in 2013 over the death of a long-time adjunct prof, Margaret Mary Vojtko. The union organizing started before that, but Vojtko’s story triggered some additional rumbles but it isn’t mentioned in either of the web pages you link to. She worked 25 years for Duquesne as an adjunct Prof, earning $10,000 at the end, no medical insurance and cancer. As the NPR story says it “Vojtko died Sept. 1 after a heart attack at the age of 83, destitute and nearly homeless.” While 83 might not be young, the circumstances are heartrending. That’s some choice special treatment right there (Duquesne is a private Catholic university in Pittsburgh). The brief NPR story is at

  3. Pteryxx says

    I’ll just leave this here…

    The Texas Attorney General’s Thorough Plans To Discriminate Against LGBT People

    Here are some excerpts from his proposal:

    Religious organizations should not be forced to compromise their religious beliefs when making staffing and housing decisions. […]

    Faith-based adoption and foster care agencies should be free from discrimination based on their religious beliefs, as has occurred in other jurisdictions. […]

    The accreditation of religious schools should not be revoked due to the school’s sincerely-held religious beliefs. […]

    Tax assessors should not revoke religious tax accommodations based on religious beliefs. […]

    Religious beliefs when providing counseling should be protected. […] [This includes reparative therapy or cure-the-gay crap.]

    Small businesses and closely held corporations should not be required to provide goods or services for weddings that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. […]

    Judges and other officiants should not be forced to perform weddings that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. […] The State does not, in the process of complying with the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, needlessly trample the religious liberties of State and local government employees. […]

    Public school, college, or university students’ retain their constitutional freedom to speak their religious beliefs, to associate with others of similar religious beliefs, and to not be compelled to participate in religious practices contrary to their religious beliefs. […]

    Discrimination laws and ordinances should be uniform across the State. […]

    Meaning that anti-discrimination laws currently in effect in Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and other cities would be overridden and future laws banned.

    Excerpts thanks to Lynna

  4. qwints says

    The Duquesne case is pretty interesting, but it’s not really a “more extreme” religious freedom demand. Instead, it’s the NLRB breaking new ground here by expanding labor rights for teachers at religious schools.

    Short Explanation:

    Duquesne is essentially challenging a new rule from a government agency in December 2014. Under the old rule, it had the First Amendment rights it’s now asserting.

    Long Explanation:

    The NLRB (established in 1935) didn’t claim authority over any private college until 1970 and didn’t promulgate a regulation declaring its jurisdiction until 1978. In 1979, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress hadn’t given the NLRB jurisdiction over lay teachers in church-operated schools. NLRB v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago 440 U.S. 490 (1979). Additionally, in 2012, the Court significantly expanded the “ministerial exception.” The Court had long held that the Free Exercise clause bars any legislation requring a church to accept or refuse a minister, and in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, 132 S. Ct. 694 (2012), it held that a teacher at a Lutheran school was a minister for First Amendment purposes.

    Last December, the NLRB ruled that it had jurisdiction over “faculty members who are not expected to perform a specific role in creating or maintaining the school’s religious educational environment.” 361 N.L.R.B. 157 (2014)

    Specifically, it required that, to avoid NLRB jurisdiction, a school would have to show that it A)Claimed to provide a religious education environment; and B) claimed that the relevant faculty were “performing a
    specific role in creating or maintaining the university’s religious educational environment.” I would be very surprised if that decision stands judicial scrutiny.

    The NLRB has been overruled twice in the past when it’s been challenged on its jurisdiction over religious colleges. (1st Circuit in 1985, D.C. Circuit in 2002).

  5. brucegee1962 says

    So let’s see now…

    The government can’t make it illegal for corporations to bribe elected officials, since money is speech.
    Now we learn that it also can’t pass laws about parking, because parking is religion, or discrimination, because discrimination is also religion.

    Will there be anything left that government can still regulate?

    Oh, that’s right. It can regulate stuff that I grown in my garden and sell in my front lawn, because that’s interstate commerce.

    I’m not sure the framers would even recognize the Constitution anymore.

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