Last week, opening arguments were heard in a Supreme Court case that will decide the fate of same-sex marriage in the United States. We won’t know until June whether or not these marriages are “constitutionally protected,” but most legal experts predict that the court will come down against state bans. That’s a hornet’s nest of its own, but what such a decision could mean for religious freedom is even more disturbing.
Before you object, these concerns aren’t just coming from conspiratorially-minded Christians, looking for a chance to feel persecuted. They come straight from the Supreme Court itself, where Justice Samuel Alito asked if religious universities would lose their tax-exempt statuses if they continued to teach that traditional marriage was the way of God.
In responding to the question, the Obama administration’s lawyer, Donald Verrilli, said, “I don’t deny that…it is going to be an issue.”
In other words, the lawyers arguing that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional admit that if the Supreme Court rules for them, it’s going to take a toll on religious liberty. What’s good for religious universities, it could be argued, is also good for churches that benefit from tax-exempt status. And this is no minor thing. Without non-profit exemptions, most American churches would be forced to close overnight. Could the rise of gay marriage accompany the death of religion in this country?
It seems far-fetched, but then again, who would have thought a decade ago that gay marriage could become the law of the land? Who would have thought that Christian bakers could be fined out of their homes for refusing to produce a gay wedding cake? Liberals have demonstrated again and again that “far-fetched” is not beyond their grasp.
If you’re a fiscal conservative with little regard for religion, you may think, “So what? It’s about time that churches started paying their fair share in taxes. This isn’t a real attack on free speech.” And just like that, they have you where they want you. See, there are a number of ways the federal government can exercise its power over the populace. Military force, jails, executive orders, etc. But the most powerful tool in an era like this might just be the IRS. We’ve already seen what that agency can do when it starts putting conservative groups on a watch list. If it decides that churches now fall afoul of the liberal administration, we could indeed be seeing the last gasps of religious freedom.
Combine these concerns with the growing swell of support for “hate speech” laws that would penalize people like Pamela Geller, and you get a stew of totalitarianism that isn’t as distant as you might want to believe. When it arrives at the table, we might finally understand that all of these issues – defense of Muslims, gay marriage, Indiana’s religious freedom battle – were just appetizers. The main course is a fundamental change in the fabric of the country.