Diary

Our Freedom of Religion was the First Freedom Which Brought our Ancestors to These Shores

Ever since the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted Governor Andy Beshear’s (D-KY) appeal in the case Danville Christian Academy v Beshear, allowing him to enforce his executive order closing not only the public schools to in-person instruction — something he undoubtedly has the authority to do — but private religious schools as well, and Danville Christian, along with state Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R-KY), made an emergency appeal to the United States Supreme Court, I have been checking both the Lexington Herald-Leader’s website and SCOTUSBlog for news as to how the case is proceeding. It’s Monday now, a school day, meaning that the failure of the Supreme Court to have decided on the petition for a reversal requires Danville Christian Academy to remain closed to in person instruction today.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Senate Republicans Seek Religious Exemptions to Public-Health Orders

By Jess Bravin | December 4, 2020 | 7:52 PM EST

WASHINGTON—Senate Republicans told the Supreme Court on Friday that religious schools should be exempt from public-health orders issued to combat Covid-19, even if public and secular private schools were required to close.

Danville Christian Academy is asking the high court to exempt it from Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s Nov. 18 executive order halting in-person instruction at all public and private K-12 schools in the state. The small religious school in Danville, Ky., argues that the closure order amounts to religious discrimination, because lesser restrictions were placed on other businesses and institutions, including “daycares, preschools, colleges and universities.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) filed the brief, joined by fellow Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul and 36 other GOP senators. Former Trump White House Counsel Donald McGahn, along with other Republican lawyers from the firm Jones Day, represents the group.

“In the response to Covid-19, state governors across the country have restricted American freedoms in ways previously seen only in dystopian fiction—including by shutting down religious gatherings of all kinds, while inexplicably allowing many secular activities to continue unabated,” they argue.

A federal district judge in Frankfort, Ky., agreed with Danville Christian, but on Sunday the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Cincinnati, allowed the governor’s order to take effect.

There’s more at the original, concerning the arguments made by both sides. Governor Beshear claims that he has not treated the private Christian schools any differently than the rest of schools in the state; the appellants claim that he is treating the schools differently than other gatherings of people.

The Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal agrees with the Senators:

First Cuomo, Now Newsom

The Supreme Court extends in scrutiny of orders limiting the free exercise of religion to California and Kentucky.

By The Editorial Board | December 6, 2020 | 5:45 PM EST

The media are still preoccupied with Donald Trump, but there is other news, some of it even good. One example is the Supreme Court’s new attention to violations of religious rights in the pandemic.

Late last week the Court vacated a ruling by a district court that upheld California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s sweeping restrictions on religious gatherings. The unsigned order remanded the case for reconsideration in light of the Supreme Court’s November ruling that enjoined similar restrictions in New York (Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo).

Mr. Newsom banned indoor worship services, small and large, for almost all Californians. But even as he strictly limited church attendance, he let liquor stores and cardrooms operate without capping the number of people allowed. This disparate treatment is what the Court scored in New York, and its intervention in California shows its growing impatience with limits on constitutional rights as the pandemic continues.

A separate case out of Kentucky gives the Court another chance to protect the free exercise of religion. In an executive order last month, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear shut down in-person instruction and private and public K-12 schools. That included Danville Christian Academy, which sued along with Kentucky’s Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron.

There’s more at the original.

Federal Judge Justin Walker may have put it best:

The Plymouth Colony’s second Governor, William Bradford, alluded to St. Paul’s pilgrims when he recalled, years later, his fellow colonists’ departure from England. The land they were leaving was comfortable and familiar. The ocean before them was, for them, unknown and dangerous. So too was the New World, where half would not survive the first winter.

There were “mutual embraces and many tears,” as they said farewell to sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers, too young or old or fearful or frail to leave the Old World.

But they sailed west because west was where they would find what they wanted most, what they needed most: the liberty to worship God according to their conscience. “They knew they were pilgrims,” wrote Bradford, “and looked not much on those things” left behind, “but lifted their eyes to heaven, their dearest country and quieted their spirits.”

And, much further down:

It is true that On Fire’s church members could believe in everything Easter teaches them from their homes on Sunday. So too could the Pilgrims before they left Europe. But the Pilgrims demanded more than that. And so too does the Free Exercise Clause. It “guarantees the free exercise of religion, not just the right to inward belief.”

That promise is as important for the minister as for those ministered to, as vital to the shepherd as to the sheep. And it is as necessary now as when the Mayflower met Plymouth Rock.

Richard Warren came to these shores on the Mayflower. Fearing the conditions might be too harsh, he left his wife, Elizabeth, and their five daughters back in England. Feeling that the conditions had improved enough, he sent for them, and they arrived in 1623 on the Anne. Mr Warren left the comforts of home, and of his family, for three years, all to build them a better, freer life.

Our country was settled by people who feared the deprivation of their religion more than they feared death on the North Atlantic, more than they feared death from the Indians, more than they feared death from a complete lack of towns and infrastructure on a wild and unexplored continent. Yet so many of our current government leaders seem to think that our religion and our faith are of so little moment that our religious freedoms can simply be cast aside.

Not just no, but Hell no!
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