February 2012 Archives

Are Rick Santorum's Politics Anti-Catholic?

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

    Former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum has now become the darling of the GOP right-wing evangelical "values" voters. Santorum claims that his worldview has been shaped by his commitment as a Catholic to his church's social teaching. But is that true?

    Santorurm's professed "Catholic worldview" has led him to assert that President Obama is waging war against  the Catholic Church by requiring its institutions to provide for contraceptive care for their employees as part of their health insurance; he has railed against abortion, supported capital punishment, supported "right to work laws," and opposed government regulation of the economy and any and all efforts to regulate the possession and display of fire arms.

    In addition, he has vociferously denied the existence of climate change and criticized President Obama's commitment to the environment and his efforts to support the development of alternative sources of energy as a "phony theology" that endorses an "Earth-based" conservation mentality. Simultaneously, Santorum has embraced a bellicose foreign policy that supports the current Israeli Likud Party's hard-liners, recommended war if necessary against Iran and questioned whether continued U.S. involvement in the United Nations and other international agencies is a  a surrender of the country's sovereignty.

    Santorum's website touts his commitment to limited government, fiscal conservatism and family values:  "Every American should have access to high-quality, affordable health care, with health care decisions made by patients and their physicians, NOT government bureaucrats America needs targeted, market-driven, patient-centered solutions to address the costs and underlying causes of being uninsured rather than a one-size fits-all, government-run health care system."

    "Rick Santorum is committed to reviving our economy, restoring economic growth, and creating jobs in America again by unleashing innovation and entrepreneurship through lower and simpler taxes for American businesses, workers, and families.  He also will roll back job killing regulations, restrain our spending by living within our means, and unleash our domestic manufacturing and energy potential.  His vision for America is to restore America's greatness through promotion of freedom and opportunity for all.  This is just the start. A plan made in America to promote America's families and prosper its businesses."

    "Coming from Pennsylvania, a state with a rich heritage of hunting and fishing, Senator Santorum understands firsthand the importance of preserving our constitutionally protected rights found in the 2nd Amendment. Senator Santorum fights to preserve this tradition, and will work to ensure these rights are not infringed upon."As a Senator, Rick Santorum opposed frivolous lawsuits against the gun industry by supporting legislation (The Protection of Lawful Commerce Act) that would protect law abiding firearms manufacturers and dealers from frivolous lawsuits attempting to hold them liable for criminal acts of third parties."

    Santorum's website further proclaims that, "As a believer in American Exceptionalism.... Rick Santorum understands that those who wish to destroy America do so because they hate everything we are - a land of freedom, a land of prosperity, a land of equality....As an elected representative, Rick knew that his greatest responsibility was to protect the freedoms we enjoy - and we should not apologize for holding true to these principles."

    The question that now needs to be answered, however, is whether the allegedly "conservative values" that Rick Santorum professes to endorse are consonant with the tradition of Catholic social philosophy and whether they are, in fact, conservative at all? All of the evidence suggests that they are not.    

    The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a guide entitled Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions. It emphasizes that "The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities--to one another, to our families, and to the larger society."  As such, "Human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency - starting with food, shelter and clothing, employment, health care, and education. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities -- to one another, to our families, and to the larger society."

    Under a section entitled "Option for the Poor and Vulnerable," the guide proclaims: "A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first." Indeed, this option is a major barometer of one's commitment to social justice since "The moral test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members. The poor have the most urgent moral claim on the conscience of the nation. We are called to look at public policy decisions in terms of how they affect the poor. The 'option for the poor,' is not an adversarial slogan that pits one group or class against another. Rather it states that the deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wounds the whole community. The option for the poor is an essential part of society's effort to achieve the common good. A healthy community can be achieved only if its members give special attention to those with special needs, to those who are poor and on the margins of society."

    Equally emphatic is the Catholic Church's rejection of those economic doctrines that have elevated the primacy of the markets and capitalism over basic human needs. "The economy must serve people, not the other way around. All workers have a right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, and to safe working conditions. They also have a fundamental right to organize and join unions. People have a right to economic initiative and private property, but these rights have limits. No one is allowed to amass excessive wealth when others lack the basic necessities of life."  Although "Catholic teaching opposes collectivist and statist economic approaches.... it also rejects the notion that a free market automatically produces justice. Distributive justice, for example, cannot be achieved by relying entirely on free market forces. Competition and free markets are useful elements of economic systems. However, markets must be kept within limits, because there are many needs and goods that cannot be satisfied by the market system. It is the task of the state and of all society to intervene and ensure that these needs are met."
    The section styled "The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers," expresses the Catholic Church's long-standing endorsement of unions and the need for government regulation of the economy in the public interest: "The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in Gods creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected--the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative." Consistent with this view, "All people have a right to participate in the economic, political, and cultural life of society. It is a fundamental demand of justice and a requirement for human dignity that all people be assured a minimum level of participation in the community. It is wrong for a person or a group to be excluded unfairly or to be unable to participate in society."
    The Catholic Church's positions on war and the environment are equally unambiguous. They are rooted in a broad vision of the obligations that we as human beings owe to one another and as stewards of the earth: "We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers and sisters keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace. Pope Paul VI taught that if you want peace, work for justice. The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict." Further, "We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of Gods creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored."

    The kind of anti-government rhetoric advanced by Senator Santorum and the other professed Catholic GOP Presidential contender, Newt Gingrich, are at loggerheads with the Catholic moral teaching that is an essential part of the conservative political tradition.Because it traces its lineage from Aristotle, through Thomas Aquinas, to Catholic philosophers today, that authentically conservative tradition is fundamentally at odds with the kind of anti-social individualism that dominates current GOP political discourse. In stark contrast to Catholic social teaching, that discourse draws its values from the tradition of classical liberalism that emerged after the Protestant Reformation and was trumpeted by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume and Adam Smith, among other English thinkers.
     Catholic social doctrine insists upon the importance of government as a positive instrument to advance the public good. For that reason, the current assault that is being waged by Santorum and his Republican supporters upon government is impossible to square with historic Catholic social teaching. As the guide, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions. Guide to Catholic Social Teaching explains, "The state has a positive moral function. It is an instrument to promote human dignity, protect human rights, and build the common good. All people have a right and a responsibility to participate in political institutions so that government can achieve its proper goals. The principle of subsidiarity holds that the functions of government should be performed at the lowest level possible, as long as they can be performed adequately. When the needs in question cannot adequately be met at the lower level, then it is not only necessary, but imperative that higher levels of government intervene..."

     In his encyclical, Mater et Magister, Pope John XXIII emphasized the central role of the state in promoting social justice: "As for the State, its whole raison d'etre is the realization of the common good in the temporal order. It cannot, therefore, hold aloof from economic matters. On the contrary, it must do all in its power to promote the production of a sufficient supply of material goods, 'the use of which is necessary for the practice of virtue.' It has also the duty to protect the rights of all its people, and particularly of its weaker members, the workers, women and children. It can never be right for the State to shirk its obligation of working actively for the betterment of the condition of the workingman. "        

     Rick Santorum has expressed no commitment to the idea of social justice, nor does he understand that the notion that the public interest is something different and distinct from a mere aggregation of self-interests. He also denies that the role of government, to use the words of A.D. Lindsey, is to "hinder the hindrances" - that is, to eliminate those impediments that stand in the way of a person's moral and civic development. For those reasons, Santorum may be a Catholic in his theology, but his social philosophy and his politics are decidedly anti-Catholic.


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Has The Supreme Court Gone Too Far?

     In this season of political gridlock, continued economic misery and partisan sniping dominated by SuperPACS and millionaires determined to protect their tax advantages, the United States Supreme Court has issued a decision that is destined to further Balkanize this country. In Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. EEOC, 565 U.S. ___ (2012), Chief Justice Roberts on behalf of a unanimous court, ruled that a plaintiff's suit for redress under the Americans with Disabilities Act was barred under the Free Exercise of Religion and the Establishment Clause  of the First Amendment because she had been employed as a "called minister"and teacher in a Lutheran school.

        The Court's decision, which was decided with the assent of the Court's four supposed  moderates  - Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan - should send a chilling message to every American citizen who is concerned about the rule of civil law. As the record before the Court showed that Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School purports to offer  a "Christ centered education" to students in kindergarten through eighth grade.  The Lutheran Synod to which this church and school belonged divided its parochial school teachers into two categories: "called" and "lay."

        "Called" teachers are described as practicing Lutherans who are believed to have been summoned by God, through the  congregation to which they belong, to pursue their vocation. These teachers are required to take a course of theological study, receive the endorsement of their local Synod district, and pass an oral examination by a faculty committee. A teacher who has then satisfied these requirements may be called by a congregation. Once called, a teacher receives the formal title "Minister of Religion, Commissioned." A "commissioned minister" enjoys a status analogous  to tenure: At Hosanna-Tabor, a call could be rescinded only for cause and by a vote of a super majority of the congregation.

        As reflected in the record before the Court, "lay" or "contract" teachers are not required to be trained by the Synod or even to be Lutheran. At Hosanna-Tabor, lay teachers were appointed by the school board, without a vote of the congregation, to one-year renewable terms. Although teachers at the school generally performed the same duties regardless of whether they were lay or called, lay teachers were hired only when called teachers were unavailable.

      Cheryl Perich was initially employed by Hosanna-Tabor as a lay teacher in 1999. Later that school year, Hosanna-Tabor asked her to become a called teacher. Perich accepted the "call" and completed the requirements that enabled her to become a commissioned minister. She taught kindergarten during her first four years at Hosanna-Tabor and fourth grade during the 2003-2004 school year. She also taught math, language arts, social studies, science, gym, art, and music. In addition to these purely secular teaching duties, Ms. Perich taught one religion class four days a week,  led the students in prayer each day as almost all parochial school teachers do, and once a week attended a weekly school-wide chapel service with other teachers and pupils. About twice a year,  Perich is reported to have led the chapel service herself.

       In 2004, Perich became ill in June 2004 and was eventually diagnosed with narcolepsy. Because of her illness, Perich began the 2004-2005 school year on disability leave. At the beginning of January, 2005, however, Perich notified the school principal, that she would be able to report to work the following month. The principal replied that the school had already contracted with a lay teacher to fill Perich's position for the remainder of the school year.

       Perich refused to resign her position as a called teacher in exchange for an offer by the congregation to pay a portion of her health insurance premiums. On the morning of February 22, 2005, after she was medically cleared to return to work, Perich reported to  school. The principal asked her to leave but she would not do so until she obtained written documentation that she had reported to work. Later that afternoon, the principal called Perich at home and told her that she would likely be fired. Perich responded that she had spoken with an attorney and intended to assert her legal rights.

       Following a school board meeting that evening, the chairman of school board sent Perich a letter in which he stated that Hosanna-Tabor was reviewing the process for rescinding her call in light of her "regrettable" actions. He subsequently wrote with a second letter in which he advised Perich that the congregation would consider whether to rescind her call at its next meeting. As grounds for termination, the letter cited Perich's "insubordination and disruptive behavior" on February 22,  2005 as well as the damage she had done to her "working relationship" with the school by "threatening to take legal action." The congregation then voted to rescind Perich's call on April 10, and Hosanna-Tabor sent her a letter of termination the next day.

       In response, Perich filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in which she alleged that she had been discharged from employment in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U. S. C. §12101- et seq., and that she had been  unlawfully retaliated against by her employer  because she had opposed acts and practices declared unlawful by act under §12203(a) of the Americans with Disabilities Act .

      Enacted in 1990 by the United Stated Congress, the Americans with Disabilities Act declares the purpose of the statute to be four-fold: "(1) to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities; (2) to provide clear, strong, consistent, enforceable standards addressing discrimination against individuals with disabilities; (3) to ensure that the Federal Government plays a central role in enforcing the standards established in this chapter on behalf of individuals with disabilities; and (4) to invoke the sweep of congressional authority, including the power to enforce the fourteenth amendment and to regulate commerce, in order to address the major areas of discrimination faced day-to-day by people with disabilities." See § 12101. Findings and purpose.

       The EEOC subsequently brought suit against Hosanna-Tabor in United States District Court  Michigan based upon its determination that Perich had been fired in retaliation for threatening to file an ADA lawsuit and Perich intervened in that litigation. During the proceedings Hosanna-Tabor filed a motion for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 in which it alleged that only disputed issues of law, not fact, existed and that the Court should decide , as a matter of law, that the "ministerial exception" under the First Amendment barred the suit because the claims at issue were solely related to  the employment relationship between the religious institution and Perich who, as a minister, had been fired for a religious reason- viz,  that her threat to sue the Church violated the Synod's belief that Christians should resolve their disputes internally.

       The District Court entered  summary judgment in Hosanna-Tabor's favor and held that "Hosanna-Tabor treated Perich like a minister and held her out to the world as such long before this litigation began," and that the "facts surrounding Perich's employment in a religious school with a sectarian mission" supported the Church's characterization. In light of that determination, the court concluded that it could "inquire no further into her claims of retaliation."

       The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit vacated and remanded, and directed the District Court to proceed to the merits of Perich's retaliation claims. Upon review, the Court of Appeals concluded that Perich did not qualify as a "minister" under the "ministerial exception," because her duties as a called teacher were identical to the duties of lay teachers.

       The Supreme Court granted certiorari, and reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals. In his opinion, Chief Justice Roberts invoked the provisions of the First Amendment that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," denied that there where "internal conflicting pressures" between the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, and held that, "Both Religion Clauses bar the government from interfering with the decision of a religious group to fire one of its ministers."

        Because there existed no precedent for the Court's expansive interpretation of the  "ministerial exception," Roberts selectively cited and distorted historical examples.  First, Roberts examined the provisions of the Magna Carta in which King John agreed that "the English church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished and its liberties unimpaired." What made this reference to Magna Carta rather disingenuous was the Court's past, well-documented  unwillingness to accept "foreign law" as a precedent, and Roberts' failure to note that the prerogatives of the "English Church" were explicitly recognized in 1215 A.D. because all parties conceded that the secular powers were entirely subordinate to the spiritual authority of the Roman Catholic Church.
        Next, Roberts cited to the experiences of King Henry II, King Henry the VIII, and the  Various Acts of Uniformity enacted during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, notwithstanding the fact that these later acts explicitly outlawed the practice of the Roman Catholic faith and other "heretical sects" in England after the Protestant Reformation. Roberts' citation to the experience of  the Puritans who "fled to New England, where they hoped to elect their own ministers and establish their own modes of worship" was equally unavailing, since among the first acts of the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony was to establish a theocracy that punished all other dissenters. Its position as the established church remained in place until 1833 when it was disestablished by the Massachusetts General Court.

        Roberts further strained credulity when he posited some kind of equivalence between the James Madison's enunciation in 1806, when he was Secretary of State under President Jefferson,  of a "scrupulous policy of the Constitution in guarding against a political interference with religious affairs" in response to an inquiry by Catholic Bishop John Carroll about whether he was permitted to appoint ecclesiastical authorities  in the  newly acquired Louisiana territory, or a Congressional Act in1811 that President Madison vetoed because it sought to grant a corporate charter to the Episcopal Church in the District of Columbus and Ms. Perich's status as a teacher who primarily taught secular school subjects but who also performed some ancillary religious functions.

        The Court's reference to prior cases, Watson v. Jones, 13 Wall. 679 (1872) and  Kedroff v. Saint Nicholas Cathedral of Russian Orthodox Church in North America, 344 U. S. 94, (1952) and Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese for United States and Canada v. Milivojevich, 426 U. S. 696 (1976), was equally unhelpful. Those three cases involved disputes about the control and disposition of church property, and did not implicate matters of settled public policy such as the commitment of the United States, through the Congress, to eradicate the vestiges of  discrimination in the workplace.
        As Chief Justice Roberts conceded, "Until today, we have not had occasion to consider whether this freedom of a religious organization to select its ministers is implicated by a suit alleging discrimination in employment." Nevertheless, he stated,  "We agree that there is such a ministerial exception. The members of a religious group put their faith in the hands of their ministers. Requiring a church to accept or retain an unwanted minister, or punishing a church for failing to do so, intrudes upon more than a mere employment decision. Such action interferes with the internal governance of the church, depriving the church of control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs. By imposing an unwanted minister, the state infringes the Free Exercise Clause, which protects a religious group's right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments. According the state the power to determine which individuals will minister to the faithful also violates the Establishment Clause, which prohibits government involvement in such ecclesiastical decisions."

        In so ruling, Roberts struggled to distinguish the Court's holding in this case from a prior case that was on point, Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990). As the EEOC noted in its brief, that was a case in which the Supreme Court declined to recognize a ministerial exception two members of the Native American Church were denied state unemployment benefits after they were fired from their jobs for having ingested peyote, a crime under Oregon law. There the Court found that the denial of unemployment benefits did not violate the Free Exercise Clause, even though it conceded that the peyote had been used for a valid sacramental purposes. The Court held that the "right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes)."    
        Roberts then engaged in a feat of legerdemain in which he opined that, although participation in a core sacramental ceremony by Native Americans was not exempted under the Free Exercise Clause, laws that prohibited discrimination in employment can not be enforced when they somehow encroach upon a church's central beliefs and mission: "It is true that the ADA's prohibition on retaliation, like Oregon's prohibition on peyote use, is a valid and neutral law of general applicability. But a church's selection of its ministers is unlike an individual's ingestion of peyote. Smith involved government regulation of only outward physical acts. The present case, in contrast, concerns government interference with an internal church decision that affects the faith and mission of the church itself. See id., at 877 (distinguishing the government's regulation of 'physical acts' from its 'lend[ing] its power to one or the other side in controversies over religious authority or dogma'). The contention that Smith forecloses recognition of a ministerial exception rooted in the Religion Clauses has no merit."

        Left unanswered by Robert's opinion are some important questions. Did the Court refuse to accept Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, as  binding precedent because the religious practices in question involved a non-mainstream religion? If the religious principles in question involved  Islam and Zoroastrianism or Jasinism would the Court have awarded more deference to the administrative decisions of the US EEOC ?

         Precisely how does the right of a parochial school teacher - who was never ordained as a deacon, minister, or bishop in the Lutheran Church but held some title as a "called" teacher -  to seek redress under anti-discrimination laws interfere with a church's "selection of ministers"? How does the right of teacher to seek redress interfere with the central doctrines or core beliefs when Lutherans, along with Roman Catholics, Orthodox Catholics and  Episcopalians, accept the Apostle's Creed as the central statement of their religious beliefs? Would the Court grant the same kind of deference to the tangential practices and beliefs of religious groups that upheld the subjugation of women, demanded the segregation of the races, or permitted members to deny essential medical treatment to children, spouses or elderly believers because it contradicted their settled religious beliefs and practices?        

        The breadth of religious exemption set forth in Tabor-Hosanna is extraordinary given the court's refusal to be bound by past precedent (the legal principle known as stare decisis). The Court was also unwilling to acknowledge a compelling government reason to defer to a "religiously-neutral" and "facially-valid" statute enacted by Congress to address pervasive issues of employment discrimination. Equally inexplicable was the Court's refusal to grant any deference whatsoever to the reasoned arguments of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that has a wealth of accumulated institutional administrative experience, and by law is charged with the oversight and enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as almost all other civil rights statutes.     

        The Tabor-Hosanna decision is especially worrisome given the enactment of so-called "conscience clauses" that  have been adopted by a number of U.S. states, including Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota. These acts permit pharmacists, physicians, nurses and other providers of health care not to provide certain medical services for reasons of religion or conscience. Despite their possession of licenses granted by secular state authorities, these laws exempt them from discipline if they refuse to provide a specific service. These "conscience clauses" have been enacted primarily in connection with issues such as  reproduction,  abortion, sterilization, contraception, and stem cell based treatments, but may include any aspect of patient care.
         This concern about the interplay between religious law and civil law has now become critical. In a recent New York Times article ("Ruling on Contraception Draws Battle Lines at Catholic Colleges," January 30, 2012),  Denise Grady chronicles the kind of problems confronted by Fordham University students. Because Fordham University's student health service refuses to prescriptions for birth control, many students had to go to Planned Parenthood or private doctors to get prescriptions. Some of the students, unable to afford doctor visits,  simply gave up the use of birth control pills entirely.

        In that article, one Georgetown University Law School graduate, who suffered from polycystic ovarian syndrome, was reported to have been prescribed birth control pills by her physician who noted the reason on his prescriptions. Because Georgetown's health services would not fill the prescription and she could not continue to pay $100 a month out-of-pocket, she stopped using  birth control pills.Within a matter of months, she was diagnosed with a large ovarian cyst and lost one of her ovaries.

        The article noted that many other Catholic colleges refuse to prescribe or cover birth control for religious reasons. As a consequence, the Obama administration, citing the medical case for birth control, announced an administrative decision that the new health care law would require  insurance plans at Catholic institutions to cover birth control without co-payments for employees, and that may be extended to students. In response, Catholic organizations contend that the rule would force them to violate their beliefs, despite the fact that they receive significant funding from the federal government for buildings and facilities, research, student grants and for student health services.

        Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as quoted to the effect, "We can't just lie down and die and let religious freedom go."

        The controversy has continued to escalate. During Masses on January 28 and 29, 2012 priests across the country were instructed to read letters condemning the Obama's administration's proposal. Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik even declared that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Obama have said to Catholics, "The hell with you."

        In Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1878), a case that Chief Justice Roberts did not cite in his opinion, a unanimous Supreme Court denied a Mormon's argument that his religious convictions - that included as a core principle his right to practice plural marriage  -  should take priority over the secular laws of the United States. Chief Justice Waite upheld the principle of separation of church and state but asked, "Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances...."
        How can such a broadly construed "ministerial exception" as enunciated in this case be reconciled with Article VI of the Constitution that provides that "This Constitution and the Laws of the United States.....shall be the Supreme Law of the Land"?  Wasn't the Civil War waged to uphold that the supremacy of federal law? Isn't there a danger that plethora of religious exceptions, even if granted on a case by case basis, will over time subvert the rule of civil law?  Before ruling, Chief Justice Roberts and his eight associates should have pondered the importance of Justice Waite's warning.