It seems there are very few religious freedom victories in the halls of justice. Perhaps “religious freedom” is ambiguously defined in our culture and that is the problem. Maybe it is the complacency of Christians to sit back and take whatever the government dishes out against our faith. One former part-time postal worker chose to fight back for his faith all the way to the Supreme Court. He won.
Gerald Groff is a former part-time postal worker in Pennsylvania who was raised attending the Mennonite Church. He was a fill-in for when other mail carriers were unavailable. He left his position with the U.S. Postal Service because he felt he would be fired if he did not voluntarily quit. The reason for his fear? He claims it was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 where the postal service tried to force Groff to work on Sundays. He said it was against his faith. Title VII mandated employers to make special provisions and accommodations for an employee’s religious practices. The only exception to that requirement was if the accommodations would put an “undue hardship” on the business.
According to Fox News, attorney Aaron Street argued on behalf of Groff that “the government believes undue hardship arises whenever there is lost efficiency, weekly payment of premium wages, or denial of a coworker’s shift preference. Thus, under the government’s test, a diabetic employee could receive snack breaks under the ADA but not prayer breaks under Title VII, for that might cause lost efficiency.” The Supreme Court agreed and handed a unanimous decision down in favor of the former postal worker. The new decision could open the door and pave the path for additional employees in companies to obtain exemptions from working on Sunday due to religious freedom under Title VII.
When God delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, he explicitly commanded for the Sabbath to be kept holy. In today’s view, if we go to Mass on Saturday evening then that gives us all day on Sunday to work, go to the river, watch football, or whatever we choose to do. In fact, there is a common practice that when you’re on family vacations then it’s acceptable to skip Mass because you’re on vacation. This is not the truth and goes against Sacred Scripture. It is a sin. (Then again, the last time I heard a pastor or church preach against sin and urge repentance is when I was a Southern Baptist.)
We often recognize the command to keep the Sabbath holy as “another one of the Ten Commandments” that we read on a card for an examination of conscious before going into the confessional and then forget about until next year’s Lent. However, it is much more to God, and it was much more to our Jewish fathers. “You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.” (Exodus 31:14)
It's a shame that this country has a non-Catholic Christian fighting all the way to the Supreme Court for the right to practice his faith, but the Catholic Church has gutless and cowardly bishops and a papacy that would rather persecute their own bishops for defending the faith. Religious courage is honored by the U.S. Supreme Court and condemned by the Catholic Church. When faithful and practicing Catholics can go to their employers and receive Sunday off work to attend Mass then they have a non-Catholic, Mennonite raised Christian to thank for that and not the Catholic Church. This past week has shown us the significant canyon of difference between Catholicism and other Christians. It’s not a pretty picture. It leaves us asking, “just who is really fighting for faith in Jesus Christ?”