Dr. Charles C. Haynes is director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum and a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center. He writes and speaks extensively on religious liberty and religion in American public life.
Decision in New York case creates confusion for government officials who now must decide when an official legislative or meeting prayer crosses the line into proselytizing or disparaging other religions.
“I hate all Jews” was Frazier Glenn Miller’s mantra, repeated time and again by the well-known white supremacist at rallies, in publications and on the Internet over a period of many years. This week, on the eve of Passover, Miller translated his words of hate into violent action by opening fire on a Jewish community center and Jewish retirement home in Overland Park, Kansas. Although Jews were Miller’s apparent targets, his bullets killed three Christians – including Reat Underwood, a 14 year-old boy who was at the community center to audition for a singing competition. It might be tempting, even consoling, to treat Miller’s hate crime as an isolated case of a deranged man losing control. But that would be a mistake for at least two reasons.
The sad lesson of the battle over S.B. 1062 is that in the current climate of name-calling and fear-mongering, few people on either side are willing to work together to uphold both nondiscrimination and religious freedom.
When people of faith choose to live out that faith in the world of business, they should not be put to what the Supreme Court once called ‘the cruel choice’ between following their God and making a profit.