Mike, we’re talking this week about the Pennsylvania case HSLDA is litigating involving six homeschooling families that are claiming protection under the Religious Freedom Protection Act. What’s happening there?
Well, the act was passed in 2002 because the Pennsylvania legislature wanted to fix a problem created by the United States Supreme Court. The law allows people who are affected by a general law that’s neutral on its face but still has religious impact—for example, if a church had an applicant for their senior pastor who is a woman and the church believed that only men could be senior pastors of their church and the state had a law that said no gender discrimination and employment. The church needed protection to say, “Yes, we have the religious freedom right to not hire a woman” in that particular circumstance. And so the law covers that and many many other things.
Our listeners may be wondering why it was necessary for the state of Pennsylvania to pass legislation guaranteeing religious freedom. Doesn’t the U.S. Constitution do that for us, Mike?
Mike, it does. But the Supreme Court says otherwise. In the early 1990’s they ruled in a case called Employment Division v. Smith that people can no longer object to neutral, general laws. So if the law says everybody has to go to school or everybody has to be taught by a certified teacher or everybody has to employ homosexuals, religious people cannot object to such laws anymore unless they get an act like this one.
Well, thank you, Mike. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.