Religious liberty has taken such a beating lately that it almost comes as a surprise when the idea is actually affirmed! The 6th Circuit Court did exactly that late last week in a ruling over the hiring rights of Christian organizations. Like most religious groups, InterVarsity asks employees to agree with a statement of faith, which includes key doctrinal beliefs like marriage.
When a ministry staffer was considering a divorce, administrators put her on paid leave and encouraged her to reconcile. Ultimately, the organization made the difficult decision to relieve her of her role as a Spiritual Director. “We have a long track record of valuing the role of women in Christian ministry. this situation, InterVarsity believes it made every effort to resolve differences in perspective with appropriate grace and respect.” She sued for employment discrimination.
Although InterVarsity isn’t a church, judges agreed that faith-based organizations had the same rights. “It is undisputed that InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is a Christian organization, whose purpose is to advance the understanding and practice of Christianity in colleges and universities. It is therefore a ‘religious group’ under the Supreme Court’s Hosanna-Tabor ruling,” the court stated.
For religious groups, which are under incredible scrutiny in this brave new world of political correctness, this is a significant victory. It not only affirms the right of employers to set their own standards in personnel decisions but it keeps the long arm of the government from meddling where it doesn’t belong: in the decision-making of faith-based groups.
Regardless of what the Left would argue, the government does not have special power over religious organizations -- not in hiring decisions, not in firing decisions, and not in setting the criteria that decides either. Whether it’s marriage or any other church teaching, Christians should be able to operate by their moral principles. Now, it’s time for the courts to recognize that same principle for Christian business owners too, recognizing that the First Amendment doesn’t end where the workplace begins!