Freedom for All

Freedom for All

Last week Friday was Religious Freedom Day. So it was notable that on the same day the Supreme Court decided to hear cases that will determine whether same-sex marriage will be constitutional nationwide.[1] Predictably, there has been some handwringing from some conservative Evangelicals, cautiously optimistic about having a Supreme Court ruling, but also adamant about their beliefs in “traditional” marriage and some even vowing some form of disengagement from the larger society if the Court should rule against their wishes. LGBT advocates are much more hopeful, mostly based on a ruling in their favor in the Windsor case that went before the Court last year.

The Court will consider two questions when the case is argued – First, “does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?” Second, “does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?” These questions create three possible outcomes. One, the Court could decide yes on both questions. If they rule this way the same-sex marriage will become the unencumbered law of the land. The second option the Court could choose is to answer no on both questions. Choosing this option would result in several states reinstating same-sex marriage bans, despite the fact that circuit courts overruled those bans over the last few years. Same-sex couples could only be married in states that affirmatively decided on gay marriage, and they could not enjoy those benefits if they moved to a state that did not have same-sex benefits. Finally, the Court could say no to the first question but yes to the second. Under this system, same-sex couples could get married in New York, move to Texas and have their marriage respected by Texas, despite the fact that same-sex marriage is banned in Texas. While there areplausible arguments to the contrary, I think that the Court will most likely rule in favor of same-sex marriage. The rationale of the Windsor decision is equally applicable in these cases, and it seems contrary to the operations of the Court to allow same-sex marriage to occur for this long only to overturn it when another case comes before it.

The issue of same-sex marriage is uniquely situated as a church-state, religious liberty issue. Although it only has a tangential effect on churches, people of faith have strong opinions on the issue because marriage for those people is a holy institution or sacrament. As always I think it is important to note that the type of marriage we are talking about extending to same-sex couples is the secular form of marriage and that no church will be required to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. But there is an even more important connection to religious liberty that should be noted. If you believe in the freedom of conscience that undergirds religious liberty, you cannot just believe in it for those who believe the same faith as you, or even for those who have a faith. Religious liberty has to be just as concerned with the ability of those who have no faith to live their lives with as much freedom as possible. Allowing same-sex marriage does not diminish the freedom of anyone else, and any problems it does create are the types of problems we should be eager to solve for everyone’s benefit. Furthermore, with so much variance between even Christian beliefs, I am shocked at how concerned with are with one more difference. Even so, “if possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Rom 12:18) We may disagree with the way people decide to live. That is the Christian’s lot in a sinful world. But God has not called us to keep people’s decisions from them. Instead, we are told that freedom exists where the Spirit of the Lord is, and that freedom is for everyone.

[1] This is the best primer I’ve seen in terms of answering all your questions.

Jason Hines is an attorney and doctoral student in Religion, Politics, and Society at the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University. He blogs about religious liberty and other issues at

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Freedom is a concept that for many people is like a hot potato in their hands, they just don’t know what to do with it. They often forget that their own freedom ends at that line in the sand where the rights of others start.

Thanks for the good article. I bet it will generate a good conversation here, since there are certainly polarized opinions about freedom among the Spectrumites.


very well stated, thank you.,Tom Z


If Caesar’s government wants to slide deeper into the pit of immorality and decadence, they have the right to do so. What they don’t have the right to do is force churches to do things which are contrary to their beliefs.

Although there are exemptions for churches on some of these homosexual issues, one wonders how long that will last. The militant activists in the homosexual movement would like to see all exemptions removed.


Why, when one chooses to curtail the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of others, is it impossible for them to see that they are fighting against the very principles that established this nation? Please note that the way of God/Jesus is not of force and/or coercion (Babylon in The Revelations), but of tolerance and supplication. Come to me all who are labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.

Trust God.



why the gratuitous comment? The court is only considering the civil aspects, the most important of which is property rights. they have left Religious Liberty intact. This is one of the most conservative courts in history of this nation. Why do you always insist on the negative of others? The issue needs resolution. Why don’t you start a campaign to remove “underGod” form the pledge. Tom Z


Any evidence that “Caesar’s government” will force Churches to do those " things which are contrary to their beliefs?"
Or are you just dealing with a straw-man?


I think the persistent “negative attitude” we see in some Adventists is the product of some brainwashing process. May be it’s the silent result of reading and re-reading countless times the threats found in the boox. It certainly is a kind of paranoia, a constant feeling that there are “those people out there” conspiring against “us;” the view that the SDAs are the ultimate target of persecution by all other Christians and religions in general.

Man, we need the GC to move out from that building as well. We ( @elmer_cupino and associates) will be so busy that we will need the whole building!!!

I commend TW for his support to move the GC to Brazil (breaking news!):


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you will note gay and lesbian students are now enrolled in SDA universities and schools. the issue arises if the instruction receives Federal support, even student loans. Tom Z


Can you tell us in a brief sentence what was it about?

Or anyone else who will have the time to read all that long paper?

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if you refer to the federal document. In simple language, The Federal government is telling private institutions they can’t discriminate. the issue was race, the implication is it will apply to same sex marriages if the Supreme Court acts favorably on same sex marriages. The issue is even private institutions receive all sources of support and aid from the federal government. So they fall within the affirmative Action/Equal Rights law. remember the Marikay Silver case? Tom Z


Section 501©(3) provides that “[c]orporations . . . organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable . . . or educational purposes” are entitled to tax exemption. Bob Jones vs. US held that this exception does not apply to organizations that discriminate. Since churches and schools both fit that description, the ruling applies to churches as well as schools. Furthermore it held that “The Government’s fundamental, overriding interest in eradicating racial discrimination in education substantially outweighs whatever burden denial of tax benefits places on petitioners’ exercise of their religious beliefs.”


So simple: those who don’t want the interference of the Government in their business should just ask the Government not to “interfere” with any funds to their projects.

But I guess they want the money anyways… Like little children who want some money from their parents but don’t want to tell what they are going to buy with it… Sure!..


Can anyone in their sane state of mind dispute that resolution?

I pay my taxes, and think that I have no right to discriminate against anyone/anything.
Churches don’t pay taxes, and do they think that they can discriminate at will? This is a crazy rationale.What kind of sense of entitlement is that?

Besides, it is not in any way an evidence that “Caesar’s government wants to slide deeper” (per @blc) into anything.


If a church refuses to hire a pastor that does not believe in God, that is discrimination. Should churches no longer have this right?

Of course not. Rather, it is the evidence you requested:

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It will be interesting to see if the polygamous families will pursue legalizing plural marriages at some point.

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Only if Mitt becomes president. Tom Z


I am fully aware that not everyone will share my personal opinions about certain issues. And it’s fine with me!

Probably based on their belief in the OT stories about men who were God’s chosen people?