Justice Samuel Alito’s Words of Warning on Religious Freedom

Justice Samuel Alito recently delivered the keynote speech at Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Summit in Rome.

The justice’s participation in the conference came as a surprise to many, since his speaker role had not been announced in advance.

He is one of the present Supreme Court’s most fervent advocates of religious freedom.

As a member of the highest court in the land and as a Catholic Christian himself, he has firsthand knowledge of the importance of faith in a higher power and the freedom to express it, both to the individual and to the greater society at large.

The justice used the occasion of his Rome summit appearance to express his concern over potential effects that may result from a “growing hostility to religion.”

In addition to the highly publicized Roe reversal, the Supreme Court upheld religious rights in a number of rulings in which Justice Alito was with the majority.

Kennedy v. Bremerton protected the right of a high school football coach to lead students in prayer at games.

– Carson v. Makin determined that the state of Maine cannot discriminate in the funding of tuition at religious schools.

Morrissey v. Beru held that anti-discrimination laws cannot force religious schools to ignore incompatible beliefs of teachers.

– Shurtleff v. Boston ruled that Boston’s City Hall was not entitled to maintain a policy disallowing religious flags.

During his speech, Justice Alito expressed concern that as the world becomes more secular in nature, people will no longer understand the vital role that religion plays in society.

Additionally, if there is a growth of secularism in society and a simultaneous reduction of religious involvement, the free exercise of religion will be in jeopardy.

Emphasizing that the decline of faith in the Western world has contributed to an antagonism toward religious traditions, which conflict with the trending moral relativism held by a sizable segment of society, Justice Alito stated the following:

“The problem that looms is not just indifference to religion, it’s not just ignorance about religion. There’s also growing hostility to religion, or at least the traditional religious beliefs that are contrary to the new moral code that is ascendant in some sectors.”

He remarked that religious liberty is “under attack” by those who seek complete power.

The drive to obtain power over others is in direct opposition to the values that religious beliefs instill, which presents an enormous obstacle for those who seek to achieve such power.

He also pointed out that Christians have been persecuted for centuries. He listed examples from history in which faith-filled individuals endured horrific torture, such as that which occurred at the Colosseum.

He reminded audience members, too, about Nero’s purported macabre use of Christians “as human torches.”

Moving forward in history, Justice Alito stated that despite the persecution of the past “more Christians are killed for their faith in our time than in the bloody days of the Roman Empire.”

He discussed the current challenge for religious liberty in the United States and Europe, where large percentages of the population have abandoned religion and are therefore no longer interested in safeguarding it.

“Unless the people can be convinced that robust religious liberty is worth protecting, it will not endure,” he warned.

He also included in his talk the tragic treatment of people of various other faiths, including the victims of the Holocaust, the slaughter of Yazidi in Iraq by Isis, and China’s “unspeakable treatment” of the Uyghurs.

Justice Alito has been an integral member of the Supreme Court since 2006. He has authored majority opinions in numerous landmark cases, including the one that is now most familiar to the public, the recent Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade.

As an assistant solicitor general in the 1980s, he argued 12 cases before the Supreme Court, winning 10 of them.

Recognized as an ardent seeker of justice, after an FBI agent was shot in the line of duty in 1988, Justice Alito assigned himself to the case and secured the shooter’s conviction by personally handling the trial.

During the same year, he sought the re-hearing of extradition proceedings against two foreign nationals who were accused of being terrorist assassins. He had uncovered that death threats the prosecutor had received were actually sent to her by herself.

In the recent keynote speech in Rome, he raised the hackles of the compromised press and left-wing social media, when he made some humorous remarks about foreign leaders who had suddenly become legal analysts of the Dobbs opinion.

The objects of his lighthearted barbs included outgoing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Prince Harry, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“I had the honor this term of writing, I think, the only Supreme Court decision in the history of that institution that has been lambasted by a whole string of foreign leaders who felt perfectly fine commenting on American law,” Justice Alito said, adding, “One of these was former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but he paid the price.”

As the audience broke into applause and laughter, he quipped, “Post hoc ergo propter hoc, right?” a reference to the logical fallacy that creates a questionable causal relationship between two events that follow each other in time.

The justice kidded about a speech that Prince Harry gave at the United Nations in which the royal tried to give a lecture on American jurisprudence and described the Supreme Court’s decision overruling Roe as a “rolling back of constitutional rights” in the U.S.

“What really wounded me was when the Duke of Sussex addressed the United Nations and seemed to compare the decision, whose name may not be spoken, with the Russian attack on Ukraine,” he said.

The reaction of many leftists to Justice Alito’s speech suggests that the reason hostility against him continues may be because he remains delightfully unfazed by their hate campaign. In fact, he consistently projects a personal optimism and professional demeanor.

One theme of his speech that truly stands out was meant to inform and/or remind people of how fragile religious freedom really is.

“We can’t assume that the religious liberty we enjoy today will always endure,” he said.

He encouraged us all to be bold in our advocacy of freedom of religion, and in closing gave us the following scriptural reference to cling to:

“The champions of religious liberty who go out as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves can expect to find hearts that are open to their message.”

Words to live by and to share.

High Court Lets Anti-Christian Ruling Stand

ap_19236607035722-f8c39ac5d7bc85671f711e6587d7fa86f4e349d5-s800-c85

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled on a profoundly significant case involving the religious rights of all Americans, and more specifically, the rights of our nation’s schoolchildren, which are safeguarded and secured by the all-important words contained in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The High Court declined to review an appeal submitted on behalf of a public high school student and a Christian, Caleigh Wood, who refused to compromise her religious beliefs by participating in a class assignment that was overtly anti-Christian in nature.

What conflicted with young Caleigh’s deeply held tenets of faith was a Muslim conversion prayer, which was part and parcel of the curricular assignment of a required course.

“There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” This statement happens to be the Islamic conversion creed, i.e., the declaration that an individual professes when converting to the Islam faith. It is also the prayer that a practicing Muslim recites during the Muslim “call to prayer” practice.

Caleigh had enrolled in the above described course because it was a mandatory requirement that had to be completed before she would be allowed to graduate from high school.

In an attempt to abide by the school’s conditions with regard to the academic coursework and still not violate her own personal religious conscience, Caleigh offered to complete an alternative assignment.

However, the school refused to provide her any options that were non-violative of her Christian beliefs, despite the fact that the educational institution could have easily done so. Instead Caleigh was informed that if she did not participate in the Islamic conversion prayer she would be given a failing grade.

The eleventh-grade student was additionally compelled to view pro-Islamic material in the form of PowerPoint slides. One of the slides contained the following caption: “Most Muslim’s [sic] faith is stronger than the average Christian.” The lesson also included the following description regarding gender roles within the faith context: “Men are the managers of the affairs of women” and consequently “righteous women are therefore obedient.”

The approach taken within the class to the Christian faith stood in stark contrast with the one taken with regard to the Islamic faith. Islamic principles were presented under the auspices of “fact”; however, Christian principles were not afforded the same designation.

Regarding the comparison statement on strength of faith, Jack Tuttle, content specialist for the public schools in the county, testified that in his assessment the comparison reference was “inappropriate,” adding that he would have advised that it not be used in schools.

After Caleigh filed a lawsuit that pinpointed the violations of her Christian convictions, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals judge in the case proceeded to ignore legal precedent, essentially sanctioning the promotion of the religion of Islam in public schools.

However, requiring a student to say a prayer, whether contrary or not to a student’s personally held beliefs, is a blatant violation of constitutional principles and precedents.

The U.S. Supreme Court should have weighed in on the Fourth Circuit’s decision. In failing to do so, the High Court permitted a lower court to ignore precedent as well as a citizen’s concerns about having to recite a prayer of a different faith, and additionally having to write such, which was a clear violation of religious conscience. The presence of government coercion in this case is patently clear, since the religious activities in question were part of a required course and no alternative accommodations were provided.

The Fourth Circuit’s opinion flies in the face of the legal mandate that public schools must not disparage a student’s faith and/or require students to engage in prayer or religious exercises contrary to personally held religious convictions. Public schools are constitutionally bound to remain neutral in their approach to faith-related subjects.

The Supreme Court has historically provided greater constitutional protection with regard to freedom of conscience as it pertains to the nation’s younger demographic. This is partially due to the fact that public school attendance is statutorily compelled, and the school administration wields considerable power.

To this end, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the opening of legislative sessions with prayer, yet declared unconstitutional the opening of school sessions with prayer. Similarly, the High Court has upheld the legality of creche and menorah displays, while noting that it would be a different result if the displays arose in a school setting.

The High Court precedent requires lower courts to apply a heightened standard for coercion in the public school context. Unfortunately, the Fourth Circuit egregiously cast this heightened standard aside.

The refusal by the U.S. Supreme Court to take up Caleigh’s case not only allows the lower court ruling to stand, but it leaves the existing double standard in place, which is likely to wreak further havoc on our cherished First Amendment.