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The New Battle Lines

A prominent liberal seminary establishes positions on the new front in the culture war
The New Battle Lines

This just in on behalf of the Pacific School of Religion, a major liberal Protestant seminary:

BERKELEY, Calif., March 11, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — On April 16-17, the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) at Pacific School of Religion will host a symposium addressing the ways in which the concept of “religious liberty” is being used to justify and further discriminatory actions, such as denying service to same sex couples or limiting the reproductive health care benefits for employees. “Religious liberty should emphasize our freedoms — the right to worship, to self-expression — and should never be used as an excuse for discrimination against any group of people,” states Dr. Bernard Schlager, executive director of CLGS and Dean of Pacific School of Religion.

The focus of the symposium will be to articulate a theologically-based and positive definition of religious liberty that explains why religious liberty should not be used as a license to discriminate. The symposium will also consider how the concept of religious liberty can be used to further religious pluralism in the United States.

This is the next step in the fight. It never was going to be enough for progressives to get gay marriage and discrimination against LGBTs outlawed except for within religious organizations. Now the push from progressive elites will be to tear down the wall protecting religious liberty to punish the wrongthinkers. If you don’t think this is coming, you are a fool. The Law of Merited Impossibility is vindicated more and more each day.

Time to lawyer up with the Becket Fund and other religious liberty legal organizations. This is where the battle is now.

On the political front, Maggie Gallagher surveys recent LGBT-related threats to religious liberty, and says:

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it points to where I think the greatest threats lie: closing down educational and work opportunities to traditionalists who dare to speak. If the GOP would like to leave a legacy that makes a difference, I would argue for generous anti-discrimination protections for those who favor or oppose gay marriage (unless they work for an organization whose substantial purpose is to favor or oppose gay marriage).


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave a high-profile press conference offering to provide substantial new protections for gay people provided that robust religious-liberty protections are part of the deal. Live and let live is the offer on the table. So far the official voices of gay rights don’t like it: James Esseks, who directs the LGBT project of the American Civil Liberties Union, told ABC news that the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom “does not give any of us the right to harm others, and that’s what it sounds like the proposal from the Mormon church would do.” One important marker will come out of Utah, where we will find out if it is possible to craft live-and-let-live legislation or whether gay-rights supporters value legislation primarily as a club to suppress dissent.

That was last month. Last week, though, Maggie praised the Human Rights Campaign for its compromising stance on Utah legislation — which the LDS Church also compromised on. Excerpt:

It was a frank compromise by the LDS Church: a bill that contained many things it does not necessarily personally support, but an attempt at live and let live. And the Human Rights Campaign responded graciously, supporting the Mormons’ efforts, “as a model for other faith traditions here in the United States.” Well, it’s kind of presumptuous for the HRC to tell faith communities how they should respond (who appointed them? God?), but let that pass. HRC’s press release specifically mentioned the free-speech protections, which apply equally to gay-rights supporters and traditionalist believers: “All individuals would be afforded the same free-speech protections in their private lives and could not be fired for either supporting or opposing marriage equality.”

That is good news. But watch people like the Pacific School of Religion progressives. Their idea of equality matters more to them than religious liberty, or historic Christianity. They are heretic hunting, and I suspect they now or soon will have most of the US legal establishment on their side.

Critics will say trads are “obsessing” and exaggerating. They always do. Don’t you believe them. This is happening, right now.



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