Rabbi Lord Sacks, Canterbury Medalist

From First Thoughts

On May 15 in New York City, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty awarded its Canterbury Medal to Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who will be familiar to First Things readers thanks to his marvelous Erasmus Lecture, given last autumn and published in the January 2014 issues under the title “On . . . . Continue Reading »

When Our Side Wins, Everyone Wins!

From First Thoughts

Readers may recall the World Vision flap from last month. One day the evangelical charity announced that it was changing its employment practices, to permit persons in same-sex relationships to work for it as long as they were “married” under some legal jurisdiction, and with all the . . . . Continue Reading »

Georgetown Religious Freedom Event

From First Thoughts

Next Monday, March 24–the day before oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby andConestoga Wood Products cases–the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center will host an event, “Everybody’s Business: The Legal, Economic, and Political Implications of . . . . Continue Reading »

Escaping the Exemptions Ghetto

From the March 2014 Print Edition

As the cases challenging the Health and Human Services mandate make their way through the courts, the main claim is that those who object to the mandate on the basis of religious conscience should be exempted from the law’s requirement of providing objectionable drugs and services. The goal is admirable, but this way of thinking isn’t. I’ve become convinced that we should see protecting religious freedom as grounds for limiting political power, which means striking down laws that threaten that freedom rather than granting exemptions to laws that otherwise stand intact.The idea that the First Amendment could be the basis of a constitutionally required exemption from otherwise universal legal duties did not arrive in American law until 1963, in Sherbert v. Verner. The case concerned a Seventh-day Adventist who would not work Saturdays and thus was denied unemployment benefits. The Supreme Court held that the free exercise of religion required an exemption from an otherwise valid policy. Continue Reading »

Identity or Temptation?

From First Thoughts

I have been trying to think of whether to say something about the “gay Christian” debate that has sputtered rather intermittently into life around here. One does not want to give gratuitous offense. I have found myself strongly drawn to the arguments of Austin Ruse (who has written . . . . Continue Reading »

Again on the Soul and Dr. Krauthammer

From First Thoughts

My friend Stephen Barr misunderstands me, I’m afraid. He writes, in defense of Charles Krauthammer, thatit is a truth accessible to reason unaided by divine revelation that human beings have a spiritual nature, in the sense of being rational and free and having a soul that is not reducible to . . . . Continue Reading »

Dr. Krauthammer’s Divided Soul

From First Thoughts

There are few more gifted conservative columnists working in journalism today than Charles Krauthammer. On so many issues, from executive power to foreign policy to limited government, Krauthammer is reliable, insightful, and employs a gleefully sharp pen to eviscerate his adversaries. But every now . . . . Continue Reading »