By John O.Tyler, Jr., JD, PhD
Board Certified in Civil Trial Law and Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Professor of Law and Jurisprudence
Director, Legal Studies Program
Religious persecution is intensifying around the globe, and Christians are the world’s most persecuted religious group. Although religious liberty is protected in the United States by three clauses in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights,(1) the U.S. Supreme Court removed “strict scrutiny” protection from religious liberty in Employment Division v. Smith (1990).(2) This decision has enabled and encouraged unprecedented attacks on religious liberty by political progressives in the United States.
This article describes these attacks and addresses four questions.
First, why are Progressives attacking religious liberty in the United States? This article explains how the Progressive movement rejects our founding principles. The Progressive philosophy of naturalism rejects God’s existence, and the Progressive jurisprudence of legal naturalism rejects religious liberty.
Second, how are Progressives attacking religious liberty in the United States? The U.S. Supreme Court has reviewed seven tactics used by Progressives to attack religious liberty. This article explains those tactics and these important U.S. Supreme Court opinions.
Third, why should we protect religious liberty? This article presents three arguments. First, religious liberty is the cornerstone of our Constitution and our founding. Our Constitution has enabled unprecedented progress and prosperity in the United States and around the world. Second, religious liberty and political liberty are inseparable. They rise and fall together in the laws of nations. Third, religious liberty is necessary for maintaining our free republic. Free republics require politically virtuous people, and political virtue requires religious liberty.
Fourth, how can we protect religious liberty? Six legal strategies have proven their ability to protect religious liberty. This article explains each strategy and why each has been successful.
This article also carries a solemn warning. Religious liberty and political liberty are inseparable. Neither can flourish in the other’s absence. Men are not angels, and any government that denies religious liberty to its people will inevitably deny political liberty as well. Preserving religious liberty is essential to preserving our representative republic.
The Morris Family Center for Law and Liberty at Houston Baptist University
The Morris Family Center for Law & Liberty is dedicated to the promotion of American founding principles, the rule of law, the preservation of liberty, and free enterprise. Our mission is 1) to educate our fellow Texans about the principles that make America an exceptional nation; 2) to train and equip teachers, lawyers, and the business community to articulate and defend these principles; and 3) to facilitate civil discourse among diverse groups about the political, social and economic implications of a nation truly committed to liberty and justice for all.