The Death of Rule of Law – Part VI of VI: The Death of Religious Freedom and the Death of Trial by Jury

6th Amendment of the ConstitutionIn all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

7th Amendment of the ConstitutionIn suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Freedom From Religion

 The very core of Constitutional theory is that fundamental human rights are inalienable, granted us by God Almighty, regardless of the actions of man, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” That, in my estimation, is why the very first line of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America reads Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” This is as straightforward as it gets, and, like it or not, is the foundation for all arguments in favor of same-sex marriage. The government cannot establish a national religion, and cannot punish citizens for practicing their religion, and people have the right to live according to their beliefs… including same-sex marriage.

In my home state of Oregon, our Constitution protects religious freedom to an even greater degree than its Federal counterpart. The Oregon Constitution reads, All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences. No law shall in any case whatever control the free exercise, and enjoyment of religious opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience. No religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office of trust or profit.” Finally, the Oregon Constitution requires a majority vote to change, and The U.S. Constitution requires ratification in thirty-eight states to change. To date, neither the citizens of Oregon nor of the United States have used the clearly laid democratic process to alter the constitutional liberties and protections afforded to America’s religious. Yet, in Oregon, while we are on the verge of legalizing same-sex marriage, religious freedom is effectively dead, as though both cannot exist in one society. How could this happen?

Before we go any further, the reader has to understand a bit about Oregon. Oregon is about as far away from the Bible Belt as you can get without going to Europe. It is one of the most left-leaning, progressive, unchurched states in the Union. The Portland Metropolitan area is a safe-haven for all things non-conservative, and The Rose City’s mantra is “Keep Portland Weird!” We have very few conservative or religious leaders, and their agendas rarely get fair hearing. Portland city government is extremely lax when it comes to law enforcement, frequently giving those favored leftwing groups like anarchists, naked cyclists, the homeless, and illegal aliens a pass when they break laws. Portland is a safe haven for the free-spirited and the fringe, and you are just as likely to see a man in skirt and pantyhose by the food-carts eating lunch as you are a woman. There is no systematic discrimination of any group in Oregon. Quite the opposite. Oregon, dominated by Multnomah County, is a literal orgy of the eclectic, and that makes it a pretty fun night on the town even for conservative Christians like me.

Oregon is also a hotbed of leftwing, progressive political activity. We are home to one of the nation’s most successful Occupy movements, and our local and state politicians are always looking for ways to subvert the Rule of Law without an actual public vote. This is where two lesbians and a Christian bakery step into the picture.

Two rather militant Oregon lesbians singled out and entered a Christian bakery, not to purchase a loaf of bread or innocuous birthday cake, but rather to demand the Christians bake them a wedding cake with a same-sex topper. The Christians, citing their religion’s 2,000 year stand against homosexuality, declined to help the two lesbians celebrate their wedding, wholly believing they lived in a state and nation where religious freedom was constitutionally protected. The lesbians cited a 2007 Oregon antidiscrimination law and filed a complaint with the State, framing the issue as a “Whites Only Drinking Fountain” issue. Oregon’s Attorney General, Ellen F. Rosenblum, a woman who openly acknowledges she will not defend laws she does not like, spearheaded the case against the Christian bakery, while Oregon Labor Commissioner, Brad Avakian, illegally brought the hammer of government down on them, literally destroying their business. Were the Christians allowed a trial by jury as guaranteed by the Constitution? Nope. The Christians were summarily punished for their beliefs by two political bedfellows who share an extraordinary history of religious persecution and genocide.

“What’s that?” you say!

Well, Attorney General Rosenblum is a Jewess, and Labor Commission Avakian is Armenian. Between the two of them they share an intertwined ancestral history where around twelve million of their forefathers and religious brothers and sisters were slaughtered during the late 19th Century and the first half of the 20th Century in Europe and Persia simply based on their religious beliefs. That is right, folks, Brad Avakian, kin to 1.5 million Armenian Christians slaughtered during the Armenian Genocide, overturned constitutional law protecting religious freedom by simply ignoring it. No trial. No judge. No jury of peers. No vote of the people. Not even a conviction in the court of public opinion. Just Activist Brad and Activist Ellen. You can imagine the greeting they will get from their forefathers when they die. And here is why.

The Portland Metro area is home to a plethora of bakeries of all persuasions (think “water fountains”). I drive by no less than five bakeries in my short seven-mile daily commute. As a matter of fact, Portland has so many bakeries, 99% of which would be perfectly happy to celebrate a same-sex wedding (again, think “water fountains”), that the odds of a militant lesbian couple accidentally stumbling across a rare Christian bakery are similar to finding a needle in a haystack when you are not even looking. It is theoretically possible, but unlikely. This was no accident… and Brad Avakian and Ellen Rosenblum know it. I am guessing that Activist Ellen’s next act will be to sic Activist Brad on the Jewish deli that refuses to cater ham sandwiches for a Neo-Nazi rally, or perhaps the Muslim florist who refuses to make a giant floral crucifix for a Catholic funeral, or the Negro baker who refuses to bake a Confederate flag cake for a Klansman’s birthday or the Mormon restaurant that refuses to serve coffee to cops on duty. This is yet another test case to find out if activist government workers can infringe upon and overturn the Constitution they are sworn to uphold simply by pretending it is not there. So far, the answer is an emphatic yes.

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