Bernie Sanders’ Debt To Religious Freedom

David Marcus, for The Federalist, has a great column about religious freedom and conscientious objectors vs. government forcing Christians to accommodate gay weddings. Here is an excerpt:

Bernie Sanders applied for conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War. Although his application was ultimately rejected, by the time that happened he was 26, and no longer eligible for the draft. So, for all intents and purposes, Sanders’ application ensured he would stay safe at home.

This has not been a big issue in the campaign, nor should it be. Sanders’ views have since changed, and he is no longer a pacifist; but, assuming his youthful application was sincere, he was simply exercising his religious freedom.

As early as the American Revolution, citizens whose religious beliefs reject violence in all cases have been granted accommodations and have not been forced to fight. The guarantees of religious freedom in the First Amendment solidified the right to refuse combat service owing to deeply held moral beliefs. In the 1965 Seeger decision, the Supreme Court extended conscientious objector status to pacifists whose beliefs were not based on any orthodox religion.

All of this leads to an intriguing question: if Sanders didn’t have to fight in Vietnam because of his beliefs, why do business owners have to participate in gay weddings in spite of theirs?




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