Freedom of religion has been under increasing pressure since the legalisation of same-sex marriage, a US Supreme Court judge has said.
In 2015, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito warned that the ruling could lead to people who do not support same-sex marriage being treated as “bigots” by governments, schools and employers.
“We are seeing this is coming to pass,” he said last week.
Alito, speaking to a group of Roman Catholic lawyers, called for an increased awareness of threats to freedom of religion.
“A wind is picking up that is hostile to those with traditional moral beliefs,” he said.
Alito went on to refer to the Hobby Lobby case, in which the US Supreme Court backed a Christian-run business that wanted to avoid providing health insurance policies covering abortion-inducing drugs.
The case was seen as a “landmark” victory for religious liberty in the US.
A wind is picking up that is hostile to those with traditional moral beliefs.
The Supreme Court judge said: “We are likely to see pitched battles in courts and Congress, state legislatures and town halls.”
“But the most important fight is for the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. It is up to all of us to evangelize our fellow Americans about the issue of religious freedom,” he added.
Alito was one of four Supreme Court judges to dissent from the court’s 2015 decision to legalise same-sex marriage.
Ashers Baking Company
In the UK, the Ashers bakery case is an example of a Christian-run business that was taken to court for its refusal to promote views that went against its owners’ religious beliefs.
Ashers Baking Company lost its appeal after the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland ruled that it had discriminated against gay rights activist Gareth Lee by refusing to bake a cake with a message supporting same-sex marriage.
In response, a Guardian editorial said the ruling “cannot be welcomed by anyone who cares about free speech” while homosexual rights and free speech campaigner Peter Tatchell called the verdict a “defeat for freedom of expression”.
Tatchell said, “in a democratic society, people should be able to discriminate against ideas they disagree with. I am saddened that the court did not reach the same conclusion”.
Ashers Baking Company has applied to the UK Supreme Court for permission to appeal the Belfast Court of Appeal’s ruling.