The Bold Interpretation of the First Amendment by the Church of Scientology
The church countered that judicial enforcement of a contract is generally not considered a state action, citing a range of precedents from other types of legal disputes. In a footnote, the appeals court pointed to one of its own precedents in which the court refused to enforce a written agreement between a Christian mother and a Jewish father to raise their children in the Jewish faith. . Both parents later divorced and the mother, who had converted to Judaism, converted back to Christianity and sought to raise her child in that faith.
“We believe that cases such as In re Marriage of Weiss, which specifically state that a party cannot waive their constitutional right to change their religion, set the appropriate precedent,” the court explained. “Contrary to Scientology’s theory that enforcement of agreements that limit the right to change religion would not constitute state action, these authorities recognize that court enforcement of such an agreement would infringe on the fundamental constitutional right of a person.”
After the California Supreme Court refused to hear the Church of Scientology’s appeal earlier this year, the organization turned to the United States Supreme Court for relief. His motion for review also framed the dispute as a matter of religious freedom. “The idea that the First Amendment empowers the state to regulate the covenant between a church and its congregation could not be more wrong or dangerous,” the church told the court. “To the contrary, the First Amendment prohibits the state from weighing the reasonableness of the ‘price’ of joining a religion, whether that price be a baptism, bris, Holy Communion, or agreement to be bound by religion. ecclesiastical law in all relations with religion.”