Hollowed Ground

Ralph Benko with a little more on the problem of substituting "freedom of worship" for "freedom of religion." It empties the term of any meaning, and actually becomes an assault on religion:
It telegraphs a subversion of faith — by defending a right not in question, the right to conduct religious feasts and fasts and ceremonies, and downgrading religion’s heart, values. The First Amendment interdicts the making of laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion.  The president now replaces a strong and constitutional word, “Religion,” with a weak and chic one, “Worship,” which is religion defined by esthetics, not ethics.  Implication: the Constitution protects our steeples and liturgy, not religious values.
Which brings me to the fact that I keep seeing headlines that I would expect to see in history books for the Soviet Union. It's so disorienting. To wit: Faith Groups Urge Congress to Preserve Religious Hiring Rights. The article highlights a protest against legislation introduced by Patrick Kennedy that would ban faith-based groups receiving federal funding from considering religion in their hires.

We have already seen the government force Catholic Charities to shut down adoption and foster care in various cities (Boston; DC et al). And we've seen a nurse forced to participate in an abortion against her will and conscience. That wasn't a government action, but it could not have happened in a climate where the law respected freedom of religion. It is gradually becoming against the law to allow your faith to have any effect on your character or decision-making.

This is why many religious groups doubted the wisdom of faith-based groups partnering with government: who takes the king's coin becomes the king's man, and one must always be suspicious of government, because it's always trying to suck power to itself. Taken from the other perspective, however, a law preventing the government from hiring religious contractors would be discriminatory against people of faith. And in any case, the government also gives minority hiring contracts. Can we have a law that forbids black and women's businesses from considering race or sex when hiring?