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Supreme Court: Their Religion More Important Than Our Lives

The United States Supreme Court evidently needs some fixing, because, as demonstrated in its ruling late Friday in Tandon v. Newsom, the current radical right-wing majority thinks your religion is more important than my life:

The Court is serious about giving religious conservatives broad immunity from the law — so serious, in fact, that it is literally willing to endanger people’s lives in order to achieve this goal.

…California limits gatherings in people’s homes to members of just three households. This is a blanket rule, applying to people who gather in a home for any reason, regardless of whether they do so to pray, to quilt blankets that they plan to sell on Etsy, or just to socialize with friends. So, under Smith, this rule would be lawful because it treats religious and secular actors exactly the same.

Nevertheless, a majority of the Court concluded that people who wish to gather in someone’s home for religious activity must be exempted from California’s public health rule. And, although the Tandon opinion does not explicitly repudiate Smith, it defines what qualifies as a “neutral law of general applicability” so narrowly that the term is basically meaningless.

…The Tandon decision, in other words, is a signal that even conservative lower court judges need to be more protective of religious objectors — even when those objectors seek legal exemptions that could help spread a deadly disease [Ian Millhiser, “The Christian Right Is Racking Up Huge Victories in the Supreme Court, Thanks to Amy Coney Barrett,” Vox, 2021.04.12].

I do a pretty good job of co-existing with my non-atheist friends and neighbors. But when religionists who claim to be distinctively “pro-life” derive from their reading of their holy texts a mandate to behave in ways that endanger life—not just their lives, but the lives of all the rest of us who are still taking precautions and making sacrifices to beat back a global pandemic—I have to question their understanding of and commitment to their professed and vaunted religious principles. By congregating in groups in violation of public health orders—and in this case, in overturning public health orders for the sake of religioous activity for which non-in-person alternatives are available—are you really worshipping the Lord, or are your worshipping yourselves and your selfish motives?


  1. Ryan 2021-04-13

    Cory asks, apparently with a straight face, “…are you really worshipping the Lord, or are your worshipping yourselves and your selfish motives?”

    hahaha we both know the answer, and the answer hasn’t changed just because of covid, either.

  2. jake 2021-04-13

    Ryan, I assume that you,like me, believe they are ‘worshiping themselves and their ideologies’ more than the Lord! Am I right?

  3. Fast Eddy 2021-04-13

    I don’t care much about what others accept as their religious principals… as long as they keep it to themselves. When they bring it to the workplace or to government, then I care. When you begin to punish employees for not believing as you do or you use the courts to punish people in following your religion, a line has been crossed.

  4. Ryan 2021-04-13

    jake – without a doubt, at least for 95% of them.

  5. Porter Lansing 2021-04-13

    Fast Eddy … Quick research shows two Chick-fil-A and numerous Hobby Lobby stores in SD.
    Bigger violators of persuasive religious actions toward employees are rare.

  6. sx123 2021-04-13

    And they’ll throw out the red herring, abortion, to rationalize their lackadaisical attitude toward covid. “Why should I care about people that die from covid when there are a lot of abortions people don’t care about”. I see this quite a bit.

  7. Donald Pay 2021-04-13

    I’m an atheist, but if I am accuse of violating any law, I’ll just claim religious exemption. “Oh, I was 20 mph over the speed limit? Gee, Occifer, sorry, but I was praying to Jesus. I can’t be held to any such law when Jesus is communicating with me.”

  8. DaveFN 2021-04-13

    The Court is definitely out of line on this one. Christ shows up only when two or three are gathered in his name. Matthew 18:20

  9. Mark Anderson 2021-04-13

    You know none of those boys can get through the eye of a needle. Their girls can’t either.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-04-13

    To mIke’s note about SCOTUS ignoring procedure: ” …the Supreme Court created this sweeping new rule through its shadow docket—those cases decided with minimal briefing and no oral argument outside the court’s normal procedure.”

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-04-13

    Donald, do we atheists have to put on a religious disguise to claim the benefits of those religious exemptions? What are the equivalent atheist activities that our First Amendment rights will give us license to ignore the law and public health?

  12. leslie 2021-04-13

    Reminder: just a few days after the death of #GeorgeFloyd, Chauvin agreed to plead guilty to Third Degree Murder. As part of the deal, he would have served more than 10 years in prison.

    But at the last minute, the deal fell apart after former AG Bill Barr rejected the deal.
    Trump convinced Brazil’s ignorant president Bolsonaro to join him in a malignant subversion of covid medical science so the population is paying the ultimate price.

    Trump stupidly contracted the virus but unlike most severe cases for a 70s year old patient, Trump received the very best hospitalization in the world and of course very early vaccinations. The US should now make this state of the art care available to all of Brazil, immediately.


    So far that i kno Barr has yet to receive any comeuppance on either count gor his complicity.

  13. o 2021-04-13

    Well, if affluent white is no longer a recognized privileged class, the thinking is clearly that “religious” can take its place. No matter what, these people cannot settle for equal — they never have.

  14. leslie 2021-04-14

    Adam Cohen wrote “Supreme Injustice” and was interviewed on AMICUS podcast, 3.27.21, concluding that the most important issue in America today is economic inequality. (It encompasses all matters suppressing our threatened democracy, except the other crisis, global warming.)

    I have said this before. Going back at least to Nixon, but certainly further to McCarthy or Powell/Goldwater, or the civil war if you like, people like John Thune and Mike Rounds are the new bearers of a criminal conspiracy better known as the GOP with this as its aim. Why? Probably good ole white boy bigotry steeped in generational, misinformed hate.

    Recently the Republican party has taken the gloves off its white in desperation. Thune makes a national, coarse, false statement that Trump’s big lie—‘the 2020 election will be/was stolen!’—“will go down like a shot dog”. (Obviously something Thune killed as a boy.) Rounds just made the very public threat that “Joe Biden, come a take it [Mike’s sexy gun]” with impunity.

    Nixon’s (and McCarthy’s) lawyer, Roy Cohn (RIP)/Roger Stone, through their present avatar, former Leader Mitch McConnell, publicly called Joe Biden reckless for the [a “Trumpian set-up”] planned, final Afghanistan troop withdrawal by 9.11.21.

    After publicly saying corporations should continue bankrolling Republican elections. After threatening corporations not to speak out against 400 some voter suppression laws across 42 Republican legislatures in “his Republic”. After saying he would reelect 45 in 2024. After publicly, breathlessly crucifying, on the Senate floor, Trump’s incitement of the 1.06.21 insurrection by Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters and ignorant Republican rioters as enabled by Sec. Pompeo and AG Barr and Trump’s cabinet.

    All of this hypocrisy after McConnell defeated Trump’s second impeachment conviction. Thune is complicit in every step. Putin seems to be.

    Former Speaker Kevin McCarty and the rest of the Republican conspirators, the cabal that the GOP groomed from childhood, now circulate their very public outrage that VP Kamala Harris should drop everything and run down to Trump’s border cesspool with them, evidently to distract the democratic effort from turning the titanic ship of state away from melting ice bergs. The GOP, like it did under John Boehnor’s illegitimate obstruction of the Obama presidency, is obstructing every Democratic repair, and progression effort post-Trump, in the continuing Republican conspiracy to flip Congress in 2022. At the extreme expense of the nation.

    Cohen makes the point that, except for Chief Warren’s SCOTUS, “justice” at the highest levels, has brought us to the all encompassing economic inequality threatening the 99 percent of us. In close cases SCOTUS cheats. Bush v. Gore (2000). Now, Chief Roberts. This is no accident, and one party is responsible for it. The Republicans.

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