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The last presidential campaign was brutal and exposed a number of seeming violations of some of the most fundamental rights and the laws that protect them that we enjoy in the United States. For the first time in history, we witnessed a candidate that not only objectified women but boasted about sexual assault against women. But there were more subtle and, perhaps, more insidiously dangerous violations of fundamental rights and laws going on that have not drawn the visceral reactions they deserve.
The fundamental right to freedom of speech seemed to be in jeopardy, and we barely noticed. Continue reading
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Should there be a religious litmus test for public office?
That question has arisen in regard to Russell Vought, an appointee to the office of deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. As a Wheaton College graduate, he defended the College’s decision to terminate the professor who wore a hijab in solidarity with Muslims and said that Muslims worship the same God as the Christians. His statements made in that defense became the subject of his confirmation hearing.
In his statement, Russell Vought, stated what most orthodox Christians and Muslims believe: that Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God. Christians obviously believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, and Muslims believe that Allah, alone, is God, and Muhammad is his messenger. Those beliefs are held by millions of people and are not controversial, in that sense.
An increasingly large segment of western society views religious beliefs negatively and takes the position that religious beliefs of this kind do not belong in the public square. They go further, implying that people who hold such religious beliefs are not qualified for public office. Thus, the question: should there be a religious litmus test?
The collective response to the recent adoption of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is a marker of the shift in popular culture in my opinion. The swell and direction of popular opinion is unmistakable. The overwhelming will of the people favors the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and religious freedom has never been more disfavored in the Western world. The groundswell threatens to unhinge governments and people who stand against the tide. Continue reading