How Christian Institutions Can Stay Christian Amid Secular Pressure

Legal experts Stephen Monsma and Stanley Carlson-Thies say religious and secular organizations should enjoy equal freedom to live out their convictions.
How Christian Institutions Can Stay Christian Amid Secular Pressure
Image: Shutterstock

In 2014, Hobby Lobby won a landmark Supreme Court decision that exempted the home-goods chain from providing certain forms of contraception to employees. The Court ruled that closely held for-profit companies whose owners have religious objections are protected under the First Amendment. But the 5–4 ruling left many in confused outrage: How can a for-profit company invoke a Christian identity? Shouldn’t a business operating in the secular sphere have to play by secular rules?

For Stephen Monsma and Stanley Carlson-Thies—two scholars with long experience tracking tensions around institutional religious freedom—such protests rely on cramped notions of what counts as “religious.” Their new book, Free to Serve: Protecting the Religious Freedom of Faith-Based Organizations (Brazos), assesses the dangers an uncomprehending secularism poses to religious businesses, colleges, social service agencies, and student groups. CT associate editor Matt Reynolds spoke with Monsma and Carlson-Thies (fellows with the Center for Public Justice) about the religious-liberty challenges facing faith-based organizations.

What is the basic problem your book addresses?

Monsma: The book grew out of our deep concern over challenges to faith-based organizations seeking to follow the religious commitments at the heart of who they are and what they do. You see this on many fronts. These challenges aren’t random; they reflect prevalent assumptions in our society. Until these assumptions are shown to be false, we’re afraid the religious freedom of faith-based organizations will remain under threat.

Carlson-Thies: We looked at a number of areas. Some issues are matters of internal operations: Can a faith-based ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

November
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Christianity Today
How Christian Institutions Can Stay Christian Amid ...
hide this
October October

Member-Only Access

This article is from the October 2015 print issue. Subscribe to continue reading.