"LOS ANGELES, Aug. 18 -- Doctors may not refuse medical treatment to gay men or lesbians for religious reasons, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday.[I sat on this overnight because I wasn't sure I wanted to open this can of worms, but it raises issues of faith and the workplace. This is certainly worth mulling over.]
The court ruled that physicians' constitutional right to the free exercise of religion does not exempt businesses that serve the public from following state law that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
That holds true, Justice Joyce L. Kennard wrote in the 18-page decision, 'even if compliance poses an incidental conflict with the defendants' religious beliefs.'
If a doctor wants to refuse a service because of religious beliefs, the court found, he or she must refuse all patients, or provide a doctor who can provide the service to everyone. ..."
Ordinarily I give great deference to how people go about responding to God's call on their lives.
If churches want to hire Christians as staff members then they should not be forced to give equal weight to job applicants who do not share the world view of the members of the congregation.
If parents feel that the public schools are inadequate, then if they are up to it they should be allowed to home-school their children. (Not all such decisions are based in religion, though many are.)
If Christians want to withhold taxes that go for governmental activities that are at odds with their God-given conscience, then that is a principled decision, albeit one with consequences. Caesar, after all, has decreed that taxes shall be remitted.
In this case reported by the Washington Post, Caesar also has a role; physicians are licensed by the state, and thus the state can and does regulate many aspects of their practice. Call me old-fashioned, but doctors should never turn away a patient based on their lifestyle, ability to pay or any other factor. If they are in need of medical attention they should receive it. Other issues can be deferred for another time.
The model of compassionate ministry that should emulate is no less a person than Jesus. He encountered a lot of people that were outside the boundaries of polite society. He attended to their needs first, and then called them to repentance.
The California Supreme Court was well within bounds on this ruling.