'Seismic implications' for religious liberty, church in SCOTUS ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County

"The Court ruled, in an opinion written by Justice Gorsuch, that 'sex' does, in fact, include sexual orientation and gender identity, despite the fact that legislators repeatedly voted against including those categories in the legislation. So, what now?" - Russel Moore

Related: The Supreme Court Redefines Sex and Justice Gorsuch Just Opened Pandora’s Box

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TylerR's picture

Editor

I wrote this on my Facebook page this morning:

Some quick thoughts about the Bostock v. Clayton County court decision that came out yesterday. The impetus for the case were three separate instances where employees were terminated for being either homosexual or transgender. The Court consolidated all three cases, and the question before it was whether the definition of "sex" under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act included the concepts of "gender identity" and “sexual orientation.” The Court held that it did. My focus here is not the injustice of the employee terminations; it's with the question before the Court and the decision to re-define "sex" in anti-discrimination law.

1. Christians who have made an idol of supporting the Republican Party because of the alleged advantage of appointing “conservative justices” now have no leg to stand on. Justice Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion, and Chief Justice Roberts concurred.

2. Christians have little meaningful reason to continue to support the Republican Party. We will likely see a wide-scale capitulation to this newest phase of the social revolution. President Trump has already figuratively shrugged his shoulders about the decision.

3. Republican does not equal Christian. This much should have been obvious for a long time, but now it is clear as day. Christians who have looked to the Republican Party as a vehicle for achieving social change should now see the bankruptcy of this tactic. The Religious Right is dead. This is a good thing. The entire endeavor was a mistake. I have believed this for a long time. Read Stanley Hauerwas’ book “Resident Aliens” for a better strategy for the Church.

4. The idea that “textualism” is a bulwark against bad legal interpretation is now dead forever. There is no way on earth legislators in 1964 would have understood “sex” to mean “gender identity” and “sexual orientation.” Yet, Justice Gorsuch wants us to read it in.

5. This decision will open a floodgate of unending litigation against every Christian institution in the country. The very concept of “sex” in the context of non-discrimination law has now been irrevocably altered. This has profound implications, because Christian universities, seminaries, organizations … and churches … will now be targeted by malicious actors. The very expression of reality in this country has now been changed.

6. How you view the world determines how you think. The Judeo-Christian worldview used to be the philosophical foundation from which citizens understood moral values, even if wasn’t a self-conscious foundation. There used to be a residue of that worldview present in society. This Court decision signals that it is gone forever. Everybody has to identify some foundation for moral values. Once you cut yourself off from objective truth, you’re cast out onto the open sea of subjectivism. Sex means gender identity because … well, why not? Forget rationality. Forget history. Forget divine revelation. Forget biology. There are only our own subjective feelings, baptized in the laver of diagnoses from mental health professionals (the new secular priests, dispensing the sacrament on letterhead) by whose mystical incantations people are “declared” to suffer from gender dysphoria.

I’m reading the Court documents, including the transcript of oral arguments and the decision itself, and will write up an analysis in the next month or so. I did the same for the Obergefell v. Hodges decision a few years back. It’ll be an analysis of the arguments and its implications from a Christian perspective. I hope to have it ready by late July.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

I thought we had originalists/textualists appointed by W and Trump, now I'm not so sure.  I don't know whether to believe that they weren't as originalist as believed, whether they've "grown" in office, or whether somebody is getting to them with an offer they cannot refuse.  I had to wonder the same thing when John Roberts rescued the Health Insurance Deform Act (aka "Obamacare") by declaring a fine to be a tax, while ignoring the fact that HIDA originated in the Senate, while tax bills must originate in the House.

More or less, what's been argued by Gorsuch, Roberts, and the liberal wing of the court is that somehow Congress intended to protect behaviors that were either nonexistent or illegal when the Title VII law was passed.  It boggles the mind, whatever one things of the result.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Robert Byers's picture

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

In all fairness, during his confirmation process, Gorsuch said something to the effect that if you are interpreting and applying the law as written, you will come to decisions you don't like.  I won't claim to know whether Gorsuch's argument on this case was a good legal one or not.  It sounds a little fishy to me, but I haven't read years and years of case law.  But it was no secret that he had no intention of ruling for "good" rather than ruling on how he read the law.

Dave Barnhart

T Howard's picture

TylerR wrote:
5. This decision will open a floodgate of unending litigation against every Christian institution in the country. The very concept of “sex” in the context of non-discrimination law has now been irrevocably altered. This has profound implications, because Christian universities, seminaries, organizations … and churches … will now be targeted by malicious actors. The very expression of reality in this country has now been changed.

Let's not be so over dramatic, Tyler. In his opinion, Gorsuch signaled that religious exemptions will most likely continue for organizations with a clear religious mission. Does that mean the funeral home will qualify because the owner is a Christian, probably not. But, Christian universities, seminaries, and especially churches will still be sheltered.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Gorsuch signaled that religious exemptions will most likely continue for organizations with a clear religious mission.

It's doubtful that Gorsuch should be trusted on this because we have seen the course of history. This very decision would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. There's a reason why the left was desparately trying to pass bills to include LGBT in civil rights--They knew it wasn't there already. They weren't expecting this at all, is my guess. 

Does that mean the funeral home will qualify because the owner is a Christian, probably not.

And this should cause serious problems for us. The idea that a government can coerce religious belief and religious practice should be troubling.

Mark_Smith's picture

brings into stark relief is something that has been true for a while. Christians have no positive influence on the larger culture. None.

T Howard's picture

Larry wrote:

Does that mean the funeral home will qualify because the owner is a Christian, probably not.

And this should cause serious problems for us. The idea that a government can coerce religious belief and religious practice should be troubling.

not really. Hiring someone for a non-religious organization does not coerce religious belief and religious practice for either the owner or employee.

just like renting your home to an lgbt person doesn't coerce religious belief or practice.  

Barry L.'s picture

....since there are cases coming up regarding religious institutions. It's not just him, we need Roberts, as well, to support the 1st amendment exemption.

 

Larry wrote:

Gorsuch signaled that religious exemptions will most likely continue for organizations with a clear religious mission.

It's doubtful that Gorsuch should be trusted on this because we have seen the course of history. This very decision would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. There's a reason why the left was desparately trying to pass bills to include LGBT in civil rights--They knew it wasn't there already. They weren't expecting this at all, is my guess. 

Does that mean the funeral home will qualify because the owner is a Christian, probably not.

And this should cause serious problems for us. The idea that a government can coerce religious belief and religious practice should be troubling.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Hiring someone for a non-religious organization does not coerce religious belief and religious practice for either the owner or employee.

just like renting your home to an lgbt person doesn't coerce religious belief or practice.  

It does if you believe, for religious reasons, that you should not hire that person or rent to that person. You would be forced to hire someone against your religious beliefs.

Joeb's picture

Gorsuch made no bones where he stood on Gay Marriage.  During confirmation hearings one of the Christian Right Senators asked essentially if he would overrule on gay marriage.  Gorsuch response was go ahead send a case like that before me and I'll return it with a NO. What I have read  about Gorsuch is many consider him a clone of Kennedy and he is very big on personal rights.  This may speak to the decision he made.  
 

Tyler your spot on about the Republicans which now is the Christian Right.  We may have different reasons for not being fond of them but I agree 100 % with your assessment.   
 

 

WallyMorris's picture

No one should be surprised at this decision. The Sup Crt often reflects current culture and interprets based on the culture. Future cases will show to what degree the Court applies First Amendment rights to other "rights". Don't forget the results of the BJU case: Public policy takes precedent over religious liberty.

Concerning Republicans: The Republican Party has usually been the political party which Bible-believing Christians could depend on to generally support traditional moral beliefs. Although less true today than in the past, it is still true. Those who are upset with Republicans for capitulation on sexual/gender issues do not have any other viable political party to support. Third party candidates will not win. Don't forget the large number of federal judges that the Trump administration and Republican-controlled Senate have confirmed. The danger is that Christians will be so upset with Republicans and President Trump that they will not vote and Joe Biden (and his very important/influential Vice President) gets elected, putting people in office who are much worse than Trump and most Democrats.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

T Howard's picture

WallyMorris wrote:
Concerning Republicans: The Republican Party has usually been the political party which Bible-believing Christians could depend on to generally support traditional moral beliefs. Although less true today than in the past, it is still true. Those who are upset with Republicans for capitulation on sexual/gender issues do not have any other viable political party to support. Third party candidates will not win. Don't forget the large number of federal judges that the Trump administration and Republican-controlled Senate have confirmed. The danger is that Christians will be so upset with Republicans and President Trump that they will not vote and Joe Biden (and his very important/influential Vice President) gets elected, putting people in office who are much worse than Trump and most Democrats.

I won't vote for Trump this November. Conservative Christian voters are viewed similarly to black voters. The republican party knows Christians won't vote democratic and they rely on scare tactics like the above to keep Christians voting republican. Democrats know blacks won't vote republican and they rely on scare tactics to keep blacks voting for democrats.

As my friend Flavor Flav says, "Don't believe the hype!"

Larry's picture

Moderator

The idea that "This world is not our home" doesn't really help here. We are citizens of this kingdom. It's a two kingdom kind of world. Being citizens of heaven does not absolve us of responsibility to be good citizens here. 

And remember, for all the complaints about Gorsuch and this decision, most judicial decisions are made at lower court levels and Trump has had an apparently good record there. Don't let the publicity of one decision override the overall good that is done. 

We cannot throw a temper tantrum that will lead us into unwise decisions. Withdrawal from society is at least unwise and perhaps even sinful.

T Howard's picture

Larry wrote:

The idea that "This world is not our home" doesn't really help here. We are citizens of this kingdom. It's a two kingdom kind of world. Being citizens of heaven does not absolve us of responsibility to be good citizens here. 

And remember, for all the complaints about Gorsuch and this decision, most judicial decisions are made at lower court levels and Trump has had an apparently good record there. Don't let the publicity of one decision override the overall good that is done. 

We cannot throw a temper tantrum that will lead us into unwise decisions. Withdrawal from society is at least unwise and perhaps even sinful.

This world is not my home allows me to as much as possible lead a quiet and peaceable life with all men regardless of politics. Being a good citizen of America doesn't require I vote for a republican. A democrat as president will only do what God allows him to do. I'm not worried. Will I have to suffer for my biblical convictions and beliefs in my lifetime? Probably. Guess what, Christians have been doing that for 2,000 years. We American Christians are so spoiled and soft.

If by withdrawal from society you mean being cloistered, I agree. If by withdrawal from society you mean not being an active republican voter, I disagree.

Mark_Smith's picture

In fact many are bad. But almost all Democrats are worse. So I vote Republican. Nothing wrong with that.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Being a good citiizen doesn't require voting Republican. It does require actually being a good citizen and making decisions for the good of society. My post had nothing to do with voting Republican vs. Democrat per se. I wonder if it is telling that that is what is assumed. It is interesting that a call to vote wisely and live responsibly as a citizen is assumed to be a call to vote Republican.

The whole "Christians have suffered for 2000 years" is often raised and I am not sure why. It's almost the reverse prosperity gospel--that anyone suffering is automatically a better Christian than others. I agree that American Christians are spoiled and soft. I think that has little to do with our government and society and a whole lot to do with church and the preaching and the gospel being preached. Being faithful does not require volunteering for the worst possible outcome. Suffering is not necessary glory. Sometimes it's the result of a lack of wisdom. 

Joeb's picture

Let's be clear Mark it's their party and Trump's Party.  All the moderates have been run out of town.  The Freedom Cacus is the dominating group in the Republican Party and it was founded by Former Congressman Daniel Webster who is a thirty year Gothardite Cult member.  Throw in Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee being Gothardites and Ted Cruz taking endorsements from Mr Green and ATI.   I question your assessment of the Christian Republican Right as being better. Different sins but not better.
 

Voting for a Democrat does not equal sin as the Republicans ooops I mean the Christian Republican Right would like us to believe.    

Joeb's picture

Hey Mark considering Steve Bannon and Paige Patterson and the wonderful Judge Pressler were deeply involved together in the Christian Right AKA Republican Party I'd say Satan himself was helping to steer the Republican Ship.  Also I'd say with that kind of person in command and Gothardite Al Perkins of the FRC to boot any mention of Prolife and antigay issues is a total joke being all the human wreckage left in the wake of their boats.  Again horrendous human destroying sin they never acknowledge or repented from.  Not once.  Kind of like Dr Thomas White at Cedarville.  Like Ken Starr to looking the other way at Baylor.  Like Falwell Jr hiring Baylor's Athletic Director for Liberty, who was fired for the same reason as Ken Starr. Not one peep of repentance or hey I was wrong just lies.  That's the ilke of the Leadership in the Christian Right.  Lie lie lie just like Donald Trump.  

That's why I left the Republican Party oops I mean the Christian Right.   There is a few I still like and respect.  Rand Paul and Marc Rubio being two of them along with Ted Cruz but only because he grasps are biggest problem $$$$$$$$$$.  Now certain parts of the Christian Right wouldn't like Rubio because he is a CATHOLIC. Bottom line they're no better then the far left Democrats.  Just different sins.  
 

Id return to the Republican Party quick if they shrunk the Hypocrites influence like Al Perkins and the FRC crowd and Mr Green and other lousy elements.  No wonder the Rhinos left they couldn't stomach the Hypocrites anymore either.  You know like the Freedom Caucus pushing for Daniel Webster Mr Gothardite Supreme to be Speaker of the House.   Between the Iraq war and The Hypocrites in the Republican Party I ran from them and I was a diehard Christian Righty.  As Diehard as they come.  

My whole voting career until I left except for one local Democrat Congressman in NJ named Rob Andrews was a straight Republican ticket.  Rob Andrews helped me personally in my fight to get medical care on my on the job injury and he helped a number of the people in my church with issues like overseas adoptions.  His career ended when he bucked the local Democrat Mob Boss Norcross in Camden County NJ, because he stood up for what was right.  Norcross still runs everything in South Jersey to this day. Jim probably knew Rob Andrews.   

I left NJ for PA because the property taxes are insane. Plus NJ taxes retirement income.   My son in law's parents just moved to PA from North Jersey.  They were paying $15,000 in property taxes per year and now their paying $3700.   Big difference.    Now both sets of Grandparents will be 10 minutes away from our new Granddaughter.  What a beauty she is.

WallyMorris's picture

Here is an article that illustrates how the Republican party is changing, especially because of young Republicans:

https://www.foxnews.com/media/supreme-court-gorsuch-gay-rights-tomi-lahren

Young Republicans are accepting some of the social views of Democrats while trying to maintain their conservative identity and, for some, still call themselves Christians. We see this in our churches as well - young adults who are tolerant of homosexuality, etc. The arguments used by Lahren are the same arguments used by social liberals for decades.

 

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Mark_Smith's picture

Joeb wrote:

I question your assessment of the Christian Republican Right as being better. Different sins but not better.

Uhhh... I never said "Christian Republican Right." You did. I never said Republicans were Christian. Never said it and I don't believe it.

Joeb wrote:

Voting for a Democrat does not equal sin as the Republicans ooops I mean the Christian Republican Right would like us to believe.    

Once again, I never connected Christianity and the Republican party.

As for Gothard,  you see him everywhere. Don't know what to tell you. I have never listened to any Gothardite teaching. In fact, I don't even know what that is. Find some other boogeyman.

Rob Fall's picture

as a Californian, how can I show my displeasure for Speaker Pelosi and the California Democratic Party? For now, I do so by voting a straight Republican ticket.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Better question: "How can I do the right thing?"

I get the desire to "show displeasure," but that's not primarily what citizenship is about, especially for believers. We agree that we're stewards of our time here, right? So what kind of analysis of our choices does that demand?

It may have the same answer, but it's important to get there the right way.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Joeb's picture

Mark a Former Professor  at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) has already stated that the problems at SWBTS we're not liberalism but Gothard heresies.  Godly Paige Patterson and his wife were GOTHARDITES. PAIGE'S wife was a DUGGERITE to boot.  If they are not that influential then why do the problems at Cedarville come right out of the Gothard playbook. Seems like Gothardism is much more influential than you want to admit.  The Cedarville matter is going on right now and the stink gets worse by the week.  Right from the SBC to Cedarville.  Oh yeah SBC President Greer was caught hiring a Sex Perp Protector for his church and as usual he appears to be trying to lie his way out of it.  Nothing changes with these so-called Godly men yet they represent the Christian Right.    
 

The Republican Party today is the Christian Right.  One in the same.  Their leaders are lairs just like their Messiah Donald Trump. Gothardite   AL Perkins of the FRC and Falwell Jr are phonies and lairs along with many others who are dominate in leadership in the Christian Right.  Like Trump's Spiritual Advisor White. A  three time married alleged adulterer whose got a thing for men with comb overs ie Benny Hinn.