November 21, 2006
Is religious speech more protected than free speech?
I'm glad to see that a student whose free speech rights were trampled upon by a professor has won her case against the university:
SPRINGFIELD, MO, November 14, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Emily Brooker, a student in the Missouri State University's School of Social Work, sued the university after being punished by a professor for refusing to lobby in favour of homosexual adoption. Only weeks after launching the suit, the university has settled out of court and disciplined the professor in question.WorldNetDaily has more, but the case is not attracting a great deal of MSM attention. The professor's conduct in trying to force Brooker to sign a statement she disagreed with was outrageous.
Wendy McElroy had an analysis of this case before the decision was announced, but it seems to me that something is being taken for granted:
The ADF, a Christian legal group that advocates religious freedom, accuses tax-funded MSU of retaliating against Brooker because she refused to sign a letter to the Missouri Legislature in support of homosexual adoption as part of a class project.There's no question that her First Amendment right to free speech was violated, but I don't see the freedom of religion issue in quite the same way. Is there a clear issue of freedom of religion? According to McElroy, it comes down to this:
Gay adoption violated Brooker's Christian beliefs.
I'm curious about the theological perspective. How might allowing homosexuals to adopt children violate Christian beliefs? I realize that Leviticus condemns the act of a man lying with a man like a woman (but not a woman lying with a woman) as a sin, yet that is certainly not the only sin listed in the Bible. For starters, there are the sins listed in the Ten Commandments.
I'm no theologist, but according to Christian doctrine, aren't all human beings supposed to be sinners? Unless there is something inherently more sinful about homosexuality (perhaps the concern is with the unrepentant nature of open homosexuality), I think it's fair to ask just where in the Christian doctrine is the tie-in to adoption found? If breakers of the Sabbath, makers of graven images or liars are not barred from adopting, from where derives any biblical view that only homosexuals are?
I think Emily Brooker is absolutely within her right to oppose homosexual adoption, and I'm glad she won her case, but I don't see how her religious views inbue her opinion with any more protection than anyone else's. But if we assume that that her views are more protected because they are religious in nature, that begs the question of what they are. (Had the professor attempted to compel her to assert that homosexuality was not a sin and that Leviticus was wrong, it would be more clear to me.)
Are atheists who refuse to sign letters in support of gay adoption less worthy of protection?
Let me switch to the less inflammatory issue (well, less inflammatory for now) of eating pork. Certainly, no one has the right to compel anyone to eat pork, and compelling a person to eat pork in violation of his religious views would violate his First Amendment rights (plus a lot of other rights). While compelling someone to be in the presence of others who ate pork might violate the right to free association, could it be seen as religious discrimination? Absent a religious prohibition on associating with pork-eaters, I don't see how. It seems only fair to me that people making claims based upon freedom of religion ought to be able to explain how their religious freedom is being curtailed. So, while it is wrong to force anyone to sign a petition in favor of the right of pork eaters to adopt, I don't see how even those who refrain from pork for religious reasons can say that advocating adoption by pork-eating parents violates their religious beliefs.
I know I sound picky, but I think some of these folks are just plain fudging.
posted by Eric on 11.21.06 at 01:26 PM
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