Today’s Inside Higher Ed brings word of yet another NLRB decision requiring a Catholic University to permit a labor union to attempt to organize its adjunct faculty. This time, it’s St. Xavier University in Chicago. A few months ago, it was Manhattan College. In both cases, the NLRB found that the institutions were in its view insufficiently religious to be exempt under the Supreme Court’s holding in NLRB v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago.
Stated another way, in the NLRB’s view the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment doesn’t seem to protect religious institutions that have as part of their mission outreach and engagement with people of other faiths and no faith. To be protected and respected, the walls around the garden of the church have to be pretty doggone high.
If I were an alarmist, I would worry about the slippery slope down which our regulatory state is riding. Religious freedom holds above all for a private or privatized religion, one that looks inward rather than outward. This sounds an awful lot like the Islamic version of religious freedom, which officially permits worship, but explicitly prohibits outreach.
But, of course, I’m not an alarmist. Yet.