S3, Ep. 01: The fondness of magistrates: Is religion really winning at the Supreme Court?

Amanda and Holly kick off season three with a look at the Supreme Court’s upcoming term and its decision in Fulton v. Philadelphia

Oct 21, 2021

As we kick off season three of Respecting Religion, Amanda and Holly take a look at where we’ve been and the big cases the Supreme Court will hear this term. They dig into doctrinal shifts at the Court and recent studies about religion cases, explaining what the numbers don’t show. In segment two, they dive into the Supreme Court’s 2021 decision in Fulton v. Philadelphia (15:55), involving a faith-based group’s voluntary partnership with the government to administer a foster care program. The decision hinged on a single line in a contract, and they share why it’s not as sweeping a decision as the 9-0 outcome might make it seem. In the third segment, hear what Amanda, Holly, and BJC have been doing since we last gathered for a podcast — from new school routines to calling out Christian nationalism. 


Segment 1 (starts at 01:05): A humdinger of a term

The new podcast photo was taken during our BJC Fellows Reunion in February 2020. You can read about it in our spring 2020 magazine. Make sure you are subscribed to our new feed called “Respecting Religion” and not “BJC Podcast.”

Amanda was live on Instagram on the first day of the Supreme Court’s new term. You can watch a recording here

Amanda and Holly mentioned some previews of the upcoming term:

They also mentioned this article by Adam Liptak at the New York Times: An Extraordinary Winning Streak for Religion at the Supreme Court. You can find the study referenced in that article at this link.

Amanda read a quote from John Leland, a Baptist pastor in the late 18th/early 19th century, who famously said, “The fondness of magistrates to foster Christianity, has done it more harm than all the persecutions ever did. Persecution, like a lion, tears the saints to death, but leaves Christianity pure: state establishment of religion, like a bear, hugs the saints, but corrupts Christianity, and reduces it to a level with state policy.”


Segment 2 (starts at 15:55): Fulton v. Philadelphia

Learn more about the case of Fulton v. Philadelphia at this link, and read BJC’s brief supporting the city of Philadelphia here. Amanda and Holly discussed oral arguments in the case during season 2 of Respecting Religion. You can read Holly’s analysis of the case for SCOTUSblog at this link.

Read the decision by Chief Justice John Roberts and the 70-page concurrence by Justice Samuel Alito at this link.

To read about BJC’s involvement in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case and our brief filed supporting the state of Colorado, visit BJConline.org/Masterpiece.


Segment 3 (starts at 29:43): What else has been going on?

BJC hosted two webinars about the dangers of Christian nationalism in 2021:

Democracy and Faith Under Siege: Responding to Christian Nationalism (January 2021)

White Christian Nationalism: How Racism Undergirds Christian Nationalism (July 2021)

Read the statement supported by more than 23,000 Christians standing against Christian nationalism and add your name at ChristiansAgainstChristianNationalism.org.

You can also download a free curriculum on responding to Christian nationalism on the website.

Amanda recommended The Ezra Klein Show featuring a conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates and Nikole Hannah-Jones. You can listen and read a transcript at this link.

Listen to the BJC Podcast series on the dangers of Christian nationalism — and access discussion guides — at this link, or visit our BJC Podcast feed and scroll back to 2019.

BJC hosted a “Voices of Faith Freedom” series throughout the year to hear various perspectives on faith freedom. You can view them on this page or by visiting BJC’s Facebook page.