I’m a proponent of strong and broad protections of religious liberty, and I put a fair number of shekels toward legal defense funds with that focus.
So I really enjoy reading sharp analysis like that of Professor James Phillips. This hypothetical was just one piece of a great analysis of Tuesday’s (or was it Monday’s?) “ministerial exception” case:
Imagine some new religion whose adherents believe that certain trees and plants are their deity. Rather than a chapel, temple, synagogue or mosque, they worship in a private park they own. In such a faith, the gardener—the person tasked with physically taking care of the religion’s gods—would have enormous religious importance even if pruning and fertilizing are not the types of things we usually view as religious in this country. Focusing on the tasks of the gardener rather than the views and directives to him of the religious organization could lead courts to deprive minority faiths of protections the Constitution guarantees that they desperately need given their outsider status.