Are we heading back in the direction of religious disabilities? I hope not, but the Hobby Lobby case, and some other recent developments and comments suggest that we might be. Not long ago, Joyce Appleby, a leading scholar of the American Revolution, and a past President of both the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians, asked if Catholic judges should recuse themselves from cases where Catholic doctrine takes a position. That certainly sounds like religious disability, and a religious test for office, to me. And if Catholic Justices should recuse themselves from cases involving gay marriage, as Professor Appleby suggests, the same logic would certainly apply to many religiously observant Muslims and Jews. (But would it not, also, apply equally to “Progressive” Christian, Jews, and Muslims who support gay marriage as a matter of what they take to be religious principle?)Samuelson goes on:
Dhimmitude also required non-Muslims to minimize public expressions of faith. The Air Force recently required a Cadet to erase a verse from Galatians from his own white board. He can only write such things in the privacy of his own room, the officials say. Is that different from the old disability? Would a message supporting gay marriage or legal abortion be treated differently?
To be sure, some say that the Hobby Lobby case involves the rights of a corporation, and not an individual. In practice, however, that is a distinction without difference. Since before the founding era, corporations have enjoyed civil rights at law. Moreover, the American tradition is one of allowing the creators and owners of corporations to infuse them with their religious and ethical ideals. A corporation owned by Jews is allowed to insist that employees do not put ham sandwiches in the refrigerator. Similarly, a Christian businessman is allowed to put up a cross at his place of business, to close on Sundays, and to post Biblical phrases on the walls–at least I hope that’s still the case. ...Unfortunately for Samuelson, that ship has already sailed. The days of religious displays at work are far behind us--unless the business is too small to fall with the purview of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. And, even then, state laws often scoop up the smaller businesses. Hence, the suits against the cake decorators and photographers who do not want to provide services for gay weddings.