Jewish Groups Split on CLS v. Martinez

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JTA, which describes itself as “The Global News Service of the Jewish People,” has posted an article discussing the divergent choices various Jewish groups have made regarding Christian Legal Society v. Martinez.  As the article explains, some groups have filed “friend of the Court” briefs supporting CLS’s constitutional freedom to draw its officers and voting members from among those who share its religious commitments — both doctrinal and moral.  Others plan to file in support of the government or sit the case out.

The article features several remarkable statements by Deborah Lauter, the National Director of Civil Rights for the Anti-Defamation League.  First, she implicitly characterizes CLS as a group that is “opposed” to non-Christians and those who engage in extramarital sexual conduct.  It is profoundly unfair and misleading to characterize CLS’s statement of faith requirement as “opposition” to those who have different religious commitments.  The statement of faith expresses CLS’s core religious beliefs, positively articulating what brings its members together.  The idea that the founders and leaders of CLS started with some “opposition” to non-Christians and then wrote the statement of faith to express that alleged “opposition” is absurd.

Second, Ms. Lauter suggests that if CLS prevails, public universities will be rendered utterly unable to address actual invidious discrimination.  I continue to find it amusing that opponents of CLS’s position, finding themselves unable to mount a persuasive case against CLS itself, must resort to parades of hypothetical horribles.  Her remark reflects a conflation of real discrimination (invidiously taking irrelevant characteristics into account) and the means by which a bona fide religious group legitimately maintains its religious character over time.

Third, Ms. Lauter said that it is “antithetical to democracy” to allow religious groups that consider religion in their hiring decisions to participate in federally funded social service programs.  “Democracy” produced the 1996 welfare reform law, which acknowledged the right of such religious groups to participate in the provision of services to needy people with public money.  Large numbers of both Democrats and Republicans voted for this legislation, and a Democratic president (Bill Clinton) signed it.  Can one plausibly call their handiwork “antithetical to democracy”?  It appears as though “antithetical to democracy” means “stuff ADL doesn’t like.”

Hastings states that no group can deny voting membership and leadership to any student on any basis (not just on the basis of characteristics listed in Hastings’ Policy on Nondiscrimination, like race and religion).  Under such a policy, a student chapter of ADL would not be able to withhold voting membership or an officer position from an avowed anti-Semite.  Does ADL really believe that Hastings would not violate ADL’s constitutional rights by revoking its registered status under such circumstances?  Perhaps ADL is confident that Hastings would selectively enforce such a policy by, say, withholding registered student organization status from CLS while conferring such status on it.  That might not be an unreasonable assumption:  in 2004, Hastings conferred RSO status upon La Raza (“the race”) even though its bylaws expressly limited membership and leadership to those “of Raza background.”

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One Response to “Jewish Groups Split on CLS v. Martinez”

  1. Peter Chamberlain Says:

    The ADL’s leadership has a long history of leftist-oriented antagonism toward and defamation of groups and leadership opposing the left-wing agenda, including conservative Christians, which is ironic considering the Jews’ experience of real invidious discrimination. They have previously published defamatory attacks upon various conservative political groups which are not anti-Semitic and have active Jewish members. They have sometimes functioned as though more comfortable wiht atheists than Christians.

    As for their reported attack upon those who believe that human sex should be reserved for marriage, a position strongly expressed in the Jewish scriptures also recognized by Christians, this is further strong evidence that ADL has come under the control of those who are hostile to Judeo-Christian beliefs, values, and practice and instead support the atheistic leftist agenda.
    The logical absurdity of their and others’ other stated view, that any recognized student group must accept any student as a voting member or officer, shows up when you consider a student Sierra Club chapter being required to accept voting members and officers hostile to its positions and actively involved on the opposing side of litigation in which the national club is a party, etc., though you could enjoy their outings while opposing their core beliefs and positions. Student club meetings are normally open to all well-behaved students as observers, but the Young Democrats and Young Republicans could not function, either, under this rule. Of course, students are still forming their belief systems and many are quite properly not yet wedded to either of our political parties.

    Now, based upon having known many practicing Jews, as well as Christians, who were also staunch political conservatives, and knowing that some Christian-based conservative groups, such as ACLJ, are very strong supporters of Israel, it would be natural that some religious Jews might well align themselves with the religiously-based social, economic, and political positions of the Christian Legal Society, the ACLJ, ADF, etc. Christians might logically also align themselves with the legitimate activities of the ADL in opposition to anti-Semitism, racism, and other forms of improper discrimination. It should be entirely up to ADL’s parent B’nai B’rith, formed as a Jewish organization with that Hebrew language name, which, in translation, clearly and expressly refers to the covenant between God and the Jews, whether to admit them to voting membership or elective office, or, in view of their club’s function, to collaborate on certain issues on another basis.

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