Supreme Court Ruling on Church Hirings is Disturbing

I know, most of my Christian brothers and sisters are rejoicing over the Supreme Court ruling that came about on Wednesday that declared the church had the right to hire and fire those who were ministers without regard to EEOC guidelines and rules. The case involved a teacher that was suing an evangelical school based upon discrimination using the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the school had a right to fire her since she is classified as a “minister.”

“Because Perich was a minister within the meaning of the exception, the First Amendment requires dismissal of this employment discrimination suit against her religious employer,” reads the ruling written by Chief Justice John Roberts. “The EEOC and Perich originally sought an order reinstating Perich to her former position as a called teacher. By requiring the Church to accept a minister it did not want, such an order would have plainly violated the Church’s freedom under the Religion Clauses to select its own ministers. …

“The exception … ensures that the authority to select and control who will minister to the faithful is the church’s alone,” the ruling reads.

Yes, the court made the right decision. But what is disturbing is that fact that the church had to submit to the court at all. What if 20 years from now, the court rules otherwise? What we have done here is sought permission from the courts to be the church. We do not need to seek permission from the courts of the United States to be the church. We are who we are by God’s grace, not the court’s permission.

This is the same way I feel when it comes to the the 501 3c status and all that garbage. The church is separate from the government in our courts and rulings and how we conduct our business. To appeal to the secular courts at all goes against Scripture and Paul’s admonition otherwise.

1 Corinthians 6:1-6 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!

It is a shame for those of us who are the people of God to have to appeal to the secular courts concerning this. Our appeal should have been much higher for we are to submit to Christ when it comes to matters of the church, not the courts of man. What will happen when the courts do not rule in our favor? Are we going to submit to their demands that we hire those who are not qualified to work in the church because of their lack of beliefs, lifestyles, beliefs in other gods, etc.?

What if they courts decide that even when it comes to hiring and firing secretaries, or sextons, or even our gardener, do we have to hire the bisexual/transgendered Wiccan to cut our grass? Is that not a ministry of the church as well? Who are the courts to determine what is and is not a legitimate ministry within the body of Christ?

Before someone hits me with Romans 13:1-7, let me please explain that Paul’s admonition there is for civil magistrates to keep peace and order in society, but does not grant to the courts or civil magistrates the keys to the Kingdom of God, the right to rule on religious beliefs and courts, or power of the administration of the Word and sacraments. For them to take on those issues is to overstep their bounds of authority.

This is what I believe has happened with this court ruling. They have overstepped their bounds of authority in granting us permission to hire and fire whom we deem fit.

I know many are rejoicing. But I’m saddened by it all. How long before the courts start ruling against the church, our beliefs and our practices?

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2 thoughts on “Supreme Court Ruling on Church Hirings is Disturbing

  1. Did the church appeal to the courts for this? Or did someone take them to court (to which they’d need to respond)? (The 1 Cor. 6 reference might be problematic because it says, ” To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” (1 Cor 6:7). In other words, “As the church, you’ll have to go ahead and keep that teacher you wished to fire.” )

    I am, overall, with you on this. That we would be submitting our questions to the courts is nonsense. The primary function of government is to insure our rights, not profer them. The Bill of Rights was about the rights we HAVE, not the rights they were giving. It was about the rights they were not allowed to steal. When government decides that churches don’t have the right to “the free exercise” of their beliefs, the government has crossed that line.

    Two thoughts, then. 1) The government did the right thing to set it aside. The bad thing is that they retain the right to do so or not. 2) It’s a really good thing that the Ultimate Decider in all of this is NOT the government. It’s a really good thing that we have a Sovereign God in charge.

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  2. Hi Stan,
    I imagine the church was sued on this issue, since it was a American With Disabilities lawsuit. So the church probably had not choice in the matter. I just hate that it had to go to the courts for the courts to say that they are not the place to decide this issue.

    Your thoughts are truly good ones. The thought that they have the right to set it aside or not rankles me. But God is Sovereign even over this, as you point out.

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