We are praising God that at the end of last week, the Supreme Court handed down some major victories for religious liberty which will have effects that ripple across our nation.
In 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, the Court held that Colorado could not force a Christian website designer to create websites that celebrate gay marriage. Lorie Smith, the plaintiff, was more than willing to create any other type of website for people of any sexual orientation – she just could not violate her deeply held belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. Yet by prohibiting “discrimination” on the basis of sexual orientation, the Colorado public accommodations law would have forced Lorie to do just that. In language that was clear, simple, and backed by decades of case law, the Court ruled that no person can be compelled by the government to speak a message that violates their conscience.
While this ruling will benefit all Americans, it is especially important in Massachusetts, where we have seen an increasing number of compelled speech cases – students have been forced to sign “diversity pledges;” teachers have been forced to use transgender pronouns for their students; and pro-life pregnancy resource centers have been threatened with fines if they do not speak the government’s preferred messages about abortion. This timely decision could prove crucial in MFI’s work to push back on these assaults on free speech and religious liberty. 303 Creative was argued by Alliance Defending Freedom, one of MFI’s great national partners.
Groff v. DeJoy
In Groff v. DeJoy, the Court held that employers must reasonably accommodate employees’ religious beliefs unless doing so would impose substantial costs on the employer in relation to its particular business. Gerald Groff, an evangelical Christian, worked for the U.S. Post Office for many years and had always had Sundays off so that he could attend church. However, when the USPS started shipping packages for Amazon on Sundays, they forced Groff to resign because he would not violate his religious beliefs to pick up Sunday shifts. While prior cases had held that employers didn’t need to accommodate employees’ religious beliefs if the requested accommodation imposed more than a de minimis (in other words, negligible) burden on the employer, the Supreme Court rejected that rule. Instead, it held that employers need to show that an accommodation will impose real, substantial costs on their business before denying it. The Court made clear that federal law provides meaningful protections for religious employees.
This decision could also have major impacts in Massachusetts, where religious employees are routinely denied religious accommodation requests in the context of vaccines, transgender name and pronoun use, and more. While it will take time to see exactly what ramifications the case will have, it was a clear win for religious liberty. The case was argued by First Liberty Institute, another MFI partner and champion for religious freedom.
Religious Liberty and Free Speech Wins in MA
Over the past year, we have also been blessed to see some victories for religious liberty and free speech here in Massachusetts. For example, when Pastor Kendall Lankford’s pro-family story hour event was abruptly and unconstitutionally canceled by Chelmsford Public Library, MFI’s swift intervention ensured that the event was reinstated so that Pastor Kendall could communicate messages of truth to the children who attended.
When Liam Morrison, the 7th-grade Middleborough student, was censored by his school for stating the simple truth that there are only two genders, MFI helped turn his story into a national news sensation. Even though we’ve had some legal setbacks so far, with the help of our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom, we are determined to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court if need be.
Finally, when a city councilor in Easthampton proposed a discriminatory ordinance that would fine pro-life pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) like Bethlehem House for speaking the truth about abortion, MFI threatened legal action and helped generate significant local opposition to the ordinance. The city councilor was forced to revise the proposed ordinance to a watered-down version that doesn’t even have an enforcement clause.
However, as Thomas Jefferson is said to have stated, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” This Wednesday, July 5th, the Easthampton City Council is holding a hearing on the latest version of this anti-PRC ordinance. While it no longer threatens fines against PRCs, it will likely be used to smear them in the public eye by circulating misinformation about them and encouraging people to file complaints about them. Although only Easthampton residents can speak at the hearing, we are aiming to get as many people as possible to attend and show their support for life. See this post by Massachusetts Citizens for Life for more information. As we celebrate the founding of our great nation, MFI will continue to fight to protect the Judeo-Christian values upon which it was built. Would you join us?
Finally, register now to attend our 32nd Annual Fundraising Banquet. The timely theme of our banquet this year is The Battle for Our Children. Katy Faust, author of Them Before Us, and founder of a global children’s rights movement of the same name, will be our keynote speaker. She publishes, speaks, and testifies widely on why marriage and family are matters of justice for children and their need for protection from sexual ideology and grooming. Reserve your seat today!