SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A nationally-recognized legal organization states that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling declaring that those of the same sex have a “fundamental right to marry” has now created a serious threat to religious liberty nationwide.
“Because the court has created a [newly-defined] fundamental right to marry that is on par with the First Amendment, there’s a clash between the exercise of religion and the fundamental right to marry,” Doug Wardlow, legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) told Christian News Network. “The court’s opinion doesn’t address the reality of that clash.”
He said that he believes that “[t]here is now a much greater threat” against faith-based businesses and organizations as a result of the ruling.
“What we’re going to see is further attacks on the freedom of Christian businesses: wedding photographers, florists [and] anyone involved in the wedding business,” Wardlow explained, “Also churches and religious schools that want to teach the truth about marriage as being between a man and a woman, and other religious organizations, [such as] adoption agencies—they will come into conflict with this new fundamental right to marry if they continue to profess and act upon their sincerely-held beliefs…”
While the Supreme Court included one paragraph about religious objections in its decision, Wardlow said that it does nothing to protect religious freedom in the public square.
“[I]t must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned,” the paragraph reads in part. “The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.”
“[That paragraph] doesn’t do anything real to alleviate the threat to religious liberty presented by the court’s fundamental right to marry,” Wardlow stated, stating that the language is merely considered “persuasive guidance” and is not binding. “Individuals attempting to live out their beliefs in the course of their lives, whether it be in their business or speaking out in church or in a religious school, they are not necessarily protected by that language at all.”
Justice Clarence Thomas, who is among the four justices that issued dissenting opinions in the case, largely focused his remarks on his belief that the majority decision creates “potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.”
“Aside from undermining the political processes that protect our liberty, the majority’s decision threatens the religious liberty our nation has long sought to protect,” he stated. “It makes only a weak gesture toward religious liberty in a single paragraph. And even that gesture indicates a misunderstanding of religious liberty in our nation’s tradition.”
Wardlow said that despite concerns about the ruling’s ramifications, Christians must not shrink back in this hour, but rather speak out all the more.
“It is all the more important now for Christians … to stand up for the truth about marriage—to not be intimidated and to declare what is true because we need to revitalize the marriage culture in the United States,” he stated. “It’s been damaged by no-fault divorce and the sexual revolution, and now it is under assault by means of the law and the Constitution.”
“[Don’t] be dissuaded from [taking a stand] because in the end, we can and will win,” Wardlow said. “We must be bold in the interim.”