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LGBT Lawsuit at Christian University. Can/Will this happen at BYU?


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https://patch.com/washington/puyallup/s/ie8lf/faculty-students-sue-christian-college-over-lgbtq-hiring-ban?utm_term=article-slot-2&utm_source=newsletter-daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter
 

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Divisions over LGBTQ-related policies have flared recently at several religious colleges in the United States. On Monday, there was a dramatic new turn at one of the most rancorous battlegrounds – Seattle Pacific University.

A group of students, faculty and staff at the Christian university sued leaders of the board of trustees for refusing to scrap an employment policy barring people in same-sex relationships from full-time jobs at SPU. The 16 plaintiffs say the trustees’ stance – widely opposed on campus – is a breach of their fiduciary duties that threatens to harm SPU’s reputation, worsen enrollment difficulties and possibly jeopardize its future…

 

Tensions over LGBTQ-related policies have flared recently at other religious universities in the U.S.

At Brigham Young – run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- LGBTQ students and their allies at the Provo, Utah, school have been protesting rules that forbid same-sex romantic partnerships or physical displays of affection.

Yeshiva University – based in New York City – has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a state court order mandating that the Orthodox Jewish school recognize an LGBTQ student group – the YU Pride Alliance – as an official campus club. On Friday, the Supreme Court granted Yeshiva’s request for the time being, and signaled it may consider the case more fully.

 

 

Edited by Bernard Gui
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From July 2020:

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday affirmed the principle that religious schools have a constitutional right to decide who teaches their faith without government interference. The decision extends beyond religious schools to protect the First Amendment rights of churches, synagogues, faith-based charities and other religious institutions.

In Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel, the Court sided with two Catholic schools defending themselves against employment discrimination claims by their former teachers. The seven Justice majority opinion declared, “When a school with a religious mission entrusts a teacher with the responsibility of educating and forming students in the faith, judicial intervention into disputes between the school and the teacher threatens the school’s independence in a way that the First Amendment does not allow.”

Under a legal doctrine called the “ministerial exception,” the Constitution prohibits the government from scrutinizing the employment relationship between religious organizations and certain important employees who are considered “ministers” of the organization. The Ninth Circuit had parted ways with the other circuits when it declared that two Catholic school teachers were not ministers, even though they taught religion for a portion of the day, prayed with their students and prepared them for sacraments. The Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit’s decision and confirmed that employees who serve as teachers of the faith are ministers because their responsibilities “lie at the very core of the mission of a private religious school.”

The ministerial exception is based on the importance of religious autonomy—religious institutions have a constitutional right to make their own decisions about their faith, doctrine and internal governance, without interference from the state. They must be able to freely choose who will convey their message and carry out their mission, because if the government can control who conveys a church’s message, it can also control the content of that message.

When the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed this doctrine eight years ago in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. EEOC, it did not explicitly define which employees qualify as “ministers.” Instead, it left it to the lower courts to decide which employees qualify under the circumstances of each case. In Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Court clarified that the primary consideration is “what an employee does.” Notably, it affirmed that the religious organization’s explanation of the role of its employees is “important,” because “judges cannot be expected to have a complete understanding and appreciation” of each employee’s role in carrying out its religious mission.

This is an important win for religious institutions and supporters of religious liberty. The Court affirmed that the government and the courts should stay out of employment disputes involving important positions with religious schools, houses of worship and other religious organizations. Without such a ruling, these organizations would have been subject to increased litigation and court scrutiny over the hiring of key personnel and may have been required to comply with employment laws, even when compliance would have contradicted their religious tenets or values.

See also here:

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n the 7–2 majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito and joined by all but Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, the Court ruled that the Ninth had erred in applying the four Hosanna-Tabor conditions that must all be met to evoke the ministerial exception, and instead should be based primarily on the religious function that the position serves within the organization. Alito wrote: "The religious education and formation of students is the very reason for the existence of most private religious schools, and therefore the selection and supervision of the teachers upon whom the schools rely to do this work lie at the core of their mission. Judicial review of the way in which religious schools discharge those responsibilities would undermine the independence of religious institutions in a way that the First Amendment does not tolerate."

Sotomayor wrote a dissent that was joined by Ginsburg, arguing that the decision gave religious organizations a wide berth of power to dismiss employees unrelated to the religious purpose of the organization. Sotomayor wrote "This sweeping result is profoundly unfair. Recently, this Court has lamented a perceived 'discrimination against religion.' Yet here it swings the pendulum in the extreme opposite direction, permitting religious entities to discriminate widely and with impunity for reasons wholly divorced from religious beliefs. The inherent injustice in the Court's conclusion will be impossible to ignore for long, particularly in a pluralistic society like ours."

From yesterday (9/12/2022) The Supreme Court fight over whether religious schools can discriminate against LGBTQ people

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An Orthodox Jewish university in New York City is the latest to join the war over when religious faith provides an exemption to anti-discrimination laws — especially when those laws benefit LGBTQ people.

On Friday, Justice Sonia Sotomayor handed down a brief and unexplained order, which temporarily allows Yeshiva University to refuse to recognize an LGBTQ student group.
...

Even if Sotomayor doesn’t ultimately side with the university, Republican appointees control six of the Court’s nine seats, and they’ve shown extraordinary solicitude toward conservative religious litigants.

That said, this case presents unusually difficult First Amendment questions. The student group at the heart of this case wants the university to recognize it as an official campus group — a status that, the university complains, would require it to “endorse” the group’s views.

If the Pride Alliance merely sought access to meeting rooms or other Yeshiva University facilities, then they would have a stronger case under existing law. But the campus Pride Alliance seeks more. They seek the Orthodox Jewish university’s imprimatur as the “Yeshiva University Pride Alliance.” And that is probably more than the student group can demand from a religious institution. Yeshiva University raises a strong argument that requiring it to lend its name to an LGBTQ student group, even though a state court determined that New York anti-discrimination law requires it to do so, infringes on its right to make “internal management decisions” regarding its own interpretation of the Jewish faith.

Cases like this make me think the whole "live and let live" thing seems to have been a bit oversold.

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Meanwhile, a second line of cases establish that religious institutions have absolute control over certain matters of internal religious governance, even if that religious governance leads to discrimination that would be illegal elsewhere. As the Court recognized in Kedroff v. St. Nicholas Cathedral (1952), religious organizations have the “power to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine.”

When the courts determine that a particular question is a “matter of church government,” moreover, that is an extraordinarily potent determination. The Court has held, for example, that anti-discrimination laws do not apply at all to how religious institutions select their “ministers,” and it’s defined the term “minister” broadly to include not just traditional clergy members, but also many teachers at religious schools. That means that a religious institution could fire a preacher — and potentially, a math teacher — because it objects to this employee’s skin color.

Yeshiva University’s strongest legal argument is that its decision on whether to recognize a campus LGBTQ group is the sort of matter of internal governance within a faith that is beyond government regulation.

Suppose, for example, that a dispute arose within a Jewish synagogue about whether congregants should display an orange on the traditional Seder plate that is a centerpiece of Passover celebrations (many modern Jews place an orange on the Seder plate as an expression of sympathy with feminism or LGBTQ rights, but this is a relatively new practice). The question of whether an orange belongs on the Seder plate is a fairly classic question of Jewish faith or doctrine. And thus, under Kedroff, the government should not seek to resolve this question one way or the other.

Yeshiva argues that the question of whether it should recognize an LGBTQ student organization is similarly a question of religious faith or doctrine, and they make a fairly strong case for this position in their brief. Significantly, the Pride Alliance does not simply seek access to campus meeting spaces. It seeks to use the university’s name and proclaim itself the Yeshiva University Pride Alliance. That would suggest that the university endorses, or at least condones, the Pride Alliance’s views.

But the university claims that the Pride Alliance’s views are “inconsistent with its Torah values” — that is, inconsistent with Yeshiva’s understanding of what the Jewish faith teaches. Thus, they raise a strong argument under Kedroff. A state law, even a state anti-discrimination law, may not define the boundaries of what any particular faith is allowed to teach.
...

The Court, in other words, appears eager to move fast and break much of its longstanding religion jurisprudence, and to do so in ways that hand historic victories to the religious right. So there is no guarantee that this Court won’t use the Yeshiva University case to undermine past precedents protecting against discrimination on campus.

But such an outcome is not necessary for Yeshiva to prevail in its lawsuit. Under existing law, as established by cases like Kedroff, the university has a strong legal claim.

For now, I think BYU is on good legal footing.

Thanks,

-Smac

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This post brought to mind a recent BCC post and DN article. In short, some lines drawn by religious groups may be legal but nonetheless detrimental to the faith. ‘Religion’ loses if it becomes synonymous with ‘discrimination’. 
 

https://bycommonconsent.com/2022/09/09/religious-liberty-and-short-termism/

https://www.deseret.com/faith/2022/9/13/23349264/is-religion-dying-in-america

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On 9/13/2022 at 11:41 AM, smac97 said:

From July 2020:

See also here:

From yesterday (9/12/2022) The Supreme Court fight over whether religious schools can discriminate against LGBTQ people

Cases like this make me think the whole "live and let live" thing seems to have been a bit oversold.

For now, I think BYU is on good legal footing.

Thanks,

-Smac

An update on the the Yeshiva University case: Supreme Court rejects Orthodox Jewish university's emergency request to deny official recognition to LGBTQ student group

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The Supreme Court said Wednesday that an Orthodox Jewish university in New York is required for now to officially recognize an LGBTQ student group in a rare legal defeat for religious rights.

In a 5-4 vote, the justices rejected an emergency request made by Yeshiva University, which claims that recognizing the group would be contrary to its sincere religious beliefs.

The decision leaves intact a decision by a New York state judge, who ruled in June that the university was bound by the New York City Human Rights Law, which bars discrimination based on sexual orientation. The university argues that it is a religious institution and therefore should be exempted from the law. Requiring the school to endorse the group would be a “clear violation” of its First Amendment rights, which protect the free exercise of religion, it said.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor last week imposed a temporary hold on the state court ruling, giving the court more time to consider the request. Wednesday's court order said the university could turn to the high court again if it is not able to block the ruling in New York state courts.

Four of the court's six conservative justices dissented, saying the court should have intervened immediately.

"I doubt that Yeshiva’s return to state court will be fruitful, and I see no reason why we should not grant a stay at this time. It is our duty to stand up for the Constitution even when doing so is controversial," Justice Samuel Alito wrote.

The LGBTQ Pride Alliance group, which first sought recognition from the university in 2019, sued in April 2021, saying the school was required to grant its request because it is a place of public accommodation that is covered by the anti-discrimination law.

Thanks,

-Smac

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On 9/13/2022 at 2:23 PM, Buckeye said:

This post brought to mind a recent BCC post and DN article. In short, some lines drawn by religious groups may be legal but nonetheless detrimental to the faith. ‘Religion’ loses if it becomes synonymous with ‘discrimination’. 
 

https://bycommonconsent.com/2022/09/09/religious-liberty-and-short-termism/

https://www.deseret.com/faith/2022/9/13/23349264/is-religion-dying-in-america

It seems to me practically unwise for a minority religion to fixate on defending the right to discriminate when many of the forces fighting for that right have historically not liked said minority religion.

Religious liberty is important. When you dilute it to being about protesting insurance mandates to punish women don’t be surprised that when you genuinely cry out that religious liberty is really being infringed for realsies this time that you are ignored.

Or at least mix up your justifications a bit:

 

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14 hours ago, smac97 said:

Procedurally, this is probably the right call by the Supreme Court. There are still a couple of state level remedies that have not been exhausted by the university.

Still, reading Justice Alito's dissent, it's pretty clear how this case will ultimately end. The signaling was clear: there are already enough votes to grant cert, and (if that happens) the university will likely win.

So, it may be another year or so before this potentially makes its way back to the Court again, but it looks like YU is in pretty good shape (for the long run).

 

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1 hour ago, Amulek said:

Procedurally, this is probably the right call by the Supreme Court. There are still a couple of state level remedies that have not been exhausted by the university.

Still, reading Justice Alito's dissent, it's pretty clear how this case will ultimately end. The signaling was clear: there are already enough votes to grant cert, and (if that happens) the university will likely win.

So, it may be another year or so before this potentially makes its way back to the Court again, but it looks like YU is in pretty good shape (for the long run).

 

As it should be.  If one is feeling that a religion discriminates against one, then the choice is to not join that religion, right??  

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On 9/13/2022 at 1:23 PM, Buckeye said:

This post brought to mind a recent BCC post and DN article. In short, some lines drawn by religious groups may be legal but nonetheless detrimental to the faith. ‘Religion’ loses if it becomes synonymous with ‘discrimination’. 

I mean, maybe, but even if this logic is true we shouldn't alter policy in order to evade the loss because the loss is impossible to avoid. Unless we abandon our doctrinal commitments entirely, there will always be ammo for the "discrimination" charge. 

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1 hour ago, OGHoosier said:

I mean, maybe, but even if this logic is true we shouldn't alter policy in order to evade the loss because the loss is impossible to avoid. Unless we abandon our doctrinal commitments entirely, there will always be ammo for the "discrimination" charge. 

I like the recommendation in one of those articles that maybe challenging laws that forbid doing things scripture commands like being kind to the stranger in your land or feeding the hungry or whatever. Or maybe advocate on behalf of minority religions and target the laws that are specifically aimed at them? Mingle that in and “religious liberty” is less likely to become a hiss and a byword. This is not the Church’s problem primarily. It would require American Christianity in general to abandon its love of worldly ambitions. I won’t hold my breath.

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