The Herald-Leader’s July 9 editorial argues that pursuing diversity and tolerance requires that Kentucky rescind its recently passed law that requires school boards and higher-education governing boards to protect religious or political organizations’ power to exclude students who are not “committed” to the groups’ missions. Boards must also ensure that groups “can define their own doctrines and principles.”
We need to eliminate the law because it makes educators’ jobs impossible trying to uphold it while enforcing non-discrimination policies. But the editorial rebuts its own objections by noting that the United States Constitution protects freedom of speech and association even when such speech or association is based on noxious principles.
This being so, there is no conflict of policies or rights for local educators to resolve.
The editorial argues that the above-referenced law is unnecessary since its purpose is already covered by the state’s religious-freedom law. So, why not get rid of it so as not to offend California which has decided not to spend money in Kentucky because of the new law?
But in the last decade, various levels and branches of government have failed to enforce religious-liberty laws and have pursued a severe curtailment of freedoms of speech, assembly and religion. Barack Obama in 2008 argued that all public proposals should be free of sectarian origins or appeal. That is, sectarian associations should not be allowed to stake a claim in the public square.
The Obama administrations sought in King v. Burwell in 2014 to compel people who on religious grounds opposed abortions to pay for conception coverage anyway. The president’s appointees sought in 2011 to deny a church’s right to insist that church staff adhere to church doctrine in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC.
Most pertinent to the issue at hand, the Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that a public law school in California could revoke recognition of a campus Christian group that was exclusionary.
Numerous cases are percolating up to the Supreme Court seeking a ruling on whether or not goods/services providers (such as cake makers) can be compelled to participate in celebrations of ideas/activities that are against their faith tenets.
In the last month, Democratic presidential contender and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders voted against a Trump appointee for a federal position arguing that the nominee’s Christian belief in salvation through Christ alone made the nominee unfit for governmental service.
The overriding issue is that the progressive left seeks a consensus on their revolutionary understanding of gender and its role (or lack of one) in creating a stable civilization. All assertions of a traditional Judeo-Christian understanding are to be denied and squeezed out of existence.
A profound illustration of this is the progressive left’s reaction to President Donald Trump’s recent speech in Poland in defense of western civilization. Trump spoke of the West’s understanding of universal values that apply to all peoples everywhere concerning the dignity of humankind, and the rights of individuals, especially that of personal liberty. He noted the religious roots of such values and the creedal nature of American citizenship. He spoke as numerous presidents before him (Democratic and Republican) have spoken.
Yet, his critics denounced him for speaking of western civilization at all for it was a racist, religiously bigoted, tribal civilization. Speaking of family, freedom, country and God was playing to the conceits of alt-right America.
California is insisting that Kentucky’s law be rescinded. The only reason for the insistence is to deny viewpoints in school organizations different from what California says is the truth regarding the nature of gender.
Recent history, far from suggesting there is no need for a law protecting the students’ rights of religion, speech and association, point strongly to a need for buttressing those freedoms. Sometimes there are more important concerns than worrying about insulting California or about making money.
James L. Hood, of Nicholasville, is a retired state worker who has taught American and Kentucky history. Reach him at jhood188