Friday, August 30, 2013

Moving in the direction of ancient Rome? Looks like it is in New Mexico.

Al Mohler hit the nail on the head when he discussed the recent New Mexico court decision forcing a Christian photographer to compromise her religious convictions and participate in a same sex "marriage" ceremony if she wanted to use her gifts as a photographer to make a living.  What's at stake is the fundamental principle of religious freedom, a key galvanizing principle for the founders of our nation. 

Mohler points out in the NM case the jarring concurring opinion of Justice Richard Bosson who presented what was at stake in the court's decision and then comes to the exactly wrong conclusion.
The most amazing language found in the decision of the New Mexico court is not in the main opinion but in the “specially concurring” opinion of Justice Richard C. Bosson.

Although Justice Bosson concurred with the decision against them, he seemed to understand the plight of the Huguenins:
As devout, practicing Christians, they believe, as a matter of faith, that certain commands of the Bible are not left open to secular interpretation; they are meant to be obeyed. Among these commands, according to the Huguenins, is an injunction against same-sex marriage. On the record before us, no one has questioned the Huguenin’s [sic] devoutness or their sincerity; their religious convictions deserve our respect. In the words of their legal counsel, the Huguenins “believed that creating photographs telling the story of that event [a same-sex wedding] would express a message contrary to their sincerely held beliefs, and that doing so would disobey God.” If honoring same-sex marriage would so conflict with their fundamental religious tenets ... how then, they ask, can the State of New Mexico compel them to “disobey God” in this case? How indeed?

After asking exactly the right question, Justice Bosson then proceeded to give exactly the wrong answer—and to give it in a way that is both elegiac in tone and tragic in result. Since Elane Photography is a business offering services to the public, it cannot operate on the basis of the Huguenins’ sincerely held Christian principles. According to Bosson, the New Mexico Human Rights Act trumps religious liberty rights when the two come into collision.

Justice Bosson then acknowledged that his reasoning “is little comfort to the Huguenins, who are now compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives. Though the rule of law requires it, the result is sobering. It will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins and others of similar views.”

That language is breathtaking. Justice Bosson acknowledges that this decision will compel the Huguenins “to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.” But, he insists, the State of New Mexico will compel them to do just that.

Then comes even more shocking language. Justice Bosson asserts: “At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others.” So this is a matter of the justices balancing “contrasting values”?

Compromise, Justice Bosson argues, “is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the moving parts of us as a people.” That compromise, Justice Bosson wrote, is just a fact of American life: “In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.”

So the price of citizenship is the denial of religious liberty when the Christian convictions of this couple run into a head-on collision with the “contrasting values” of others. This is a “compromise” that requires the Huguenins to give up their convictions or go out of business. What does the “compromise” require of those who push for the normalization of same-sex relationships and the legalization of same-sex marriage? Nothing.

Some compromise.

The same-sex couple in this case did not contest the fact that there were many other professional photographers available to them. Indeed, they hired another photographer after Elane Photography declined. But they still pressed for the force of law to require all commercial photographers to provide services for same-sex ceremonies. And they got what they demanded.

That is the true nature of the “compromise” that Justice Bosson argues is “the price of citizenship.” His language about the Huguenins and their plight is moving and respectful, almost an elegy. But the decision itself is a denial of religious liberty and the constitutional guarantees of religious expression and free speech.

Justice Bosson asserts that “there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life.” The New Mexico Supreme Court has now made clear that the price to be paid by many is the forfeiture of their religious liberty.
How is this moving in the direction of ancient Rome?  Then there was the expectation that a person had to offer sacrifices to the Roman gods to remain in good standing with the Roman authorities.  Today it's not Roman deities but the gods of political correctness.  That is if you want to continue to make a living as a photographer.  Certainly we're not where Rome society was at but one can see a similar trajectory.

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