Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch: An Episcopal faith?

by

Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, attended Catholic schools growing up but now is a member of a Colorado Episcopal Church, according to Religion News Service:

He studied at the Jesuit-run Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Md., while his mother, Anne Gorsuch, served as President Ronald Reagan’s administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. After college and law school at Columbia and Harvard respectively, Gorsuch clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is Catholic. Gorsuch, his wife and two daughters attend St. John’s Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colo.

RNS has published an outline of Gorsuch’s relationship with faith and religion, pointing out that he has sided with religious groups against Affordable Care Act and birth control; he “opposes euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide and he has not ruled on any abortion-related cases.

A Washington Post article quotes the sermon given the day after the presidential election by the rector of St. John’s:

The day after Donald Trump was elected president, the Rev. Susan Springer wrote to her congregation that they should strive to behave as Godly people who spread hope even though “the world is clasping its head in its hands and crying out in fear.”

Gorsuch’s conservatism could be at odds with St. John’s own leanings. For instance, he is expected to support the rights of gun owners over gun control – “His church, meanwhile, decided after 49 people were fatally shot in a gay nightclub in Orlando that it would ring its bells 49 times each Wednesday from July 6 to the presidential election, as a way of asking members of Congress to pass stricter gun restrictions.”

Religious groups of varying political persuasions expressed their opinions of Gorsuch’s nomination on Tuesday and Wednesday. Liberal faith groups and nontheistic groups including the Union for Reform Judaism, the Secular Coalition for America and the Freedom from Religion Foundation voiced strong concerns. Many evangelical Christians — who spoke frequently when they voted for Trump of their hopes for a conservative justice who would overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion — met the news of Gorsuch’s nomination with glee.

If appointed, Gorsuch will be the first Protestant to join the court since 2010 (currently, five are Roman Catholic and three are Jewish).

From Forbes:

Gorsuch has ruled consistently in favor of religious rights, joining the Hobby Lobby decision later affirmed by the Supreme Court allowing religious employers to avoid paying for contraceptives.

In a case involving a Native American prisoner he stated Congress has made it clear judges “lack any license to decide the relative value of a particular exercise to a religion.”

Dislike (0)
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
David Fisher
Guest
David Fisher

It will be interesting, given President Trump's support for allowing right-wing pastors to endorse political candidates without loss of tax-exempt status whether this will permit liberal churches the same ability.

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
Bob King
Guest
Bob King

The presumption of malevolence in your comment is startling. What exactly is it about Trump's support for expanded free speech from the pulpit that leads you to believe he would deny it to liberals? Where did he ever say that? Or even imply that?

People on both sides are hyperventilating. Our church should be a place of moderation, but sadly the leadership of this church has elected to participate in this unnecessary knee-jerk hysteria.

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
David Fisher
Guest
David Fisher

I did not presume malevolence; only that it is not clear whether, in playing to his base, President Trump has thought through the consequences of destroying the Johnson Amendment.
Further, your comment about "knee jerk hysteria" ignores commentaries by conservative writers, such as David Brooks or Michael Gersten, on dangers to democracy posed by Trump and his Cromwell, Steven Bannon.

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
Bob King
Guest

David, I'm as sure as you are that Mr. Trump hasn't thought through the consequences of many of his public statements, including his desire to see the Johnson Amendment repealed. I think it would be a bad idea also.

What I am taking issue with is your supposition that a repeal might not apply equally to both sides. You still haven't given us any sources for your concern that such an appeal would be applied in a one-sided way. That is the kind of presumption of malevolence and knee-jerk hysteria that I am talking about.

You deflect citing David Brooks as another critic of Mr. Trump, but I agree with most of Brooks' points, and one thing you can say about him is that he doesn't knee-jerk anything.

But implying that there is reason to suspect a repeal of the Johnson Amendment would only free conservatives, and not liberals, of the existing adverse tax consequences inherent in partisan politicking from the pulpit, is needless hyperventilation. There is no basis I have seen for throwing that kind of inference into the debate.

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
Paul Woodrum
Guest

Don't you mean, "first Episcopalian or Anglican," not Protestant?

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
John Morrell
Guest
John Morrell

The first words of the church's constitution are "the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America."

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
leslie marshall
Guest
leslie marshall

If approved, Gorsuch will be the ONLY Protestant Justice on the Supreme Court (the others are Jewish & Catholic). The last protestant on the bench was John P. Stevens, Lutheran, retired in 2010.

So far, there have been 33 Episcopalians on the Supreme Court.

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
Sue Eades
Guest
Sue Eades

He has not been approved unanimously or otherwise. He has been appointed by one man. He is not a candidate, that would imply he is elected. Justices are appointed and then confirmed. Whether he is a good person for the job or not will be determined by how historically he has voted on certain issues and with that history it can be surmised he will continue to vote in a similar manner.

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
Member

Sue, he was appointed to the Federal Appellate bench some years ago, which also requires Senate approval; and no Senator voted against him.

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
D. Beales
Guest
D. Beales

For futire comments, please follow the posted comment policy of using your first & last names. - editor

Gorsuch headed a student fascism organization in high school. Much ado is being made about this on social media. Context is everything, however, and I wonder how many would choose to be judged on their actions as teens. Too, no context for this youthful group, whether it was formed in jest, or quite seriously. That he was unanimously appointed speaks well of his candidacy. That he is conservative leaning shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. I'm hopeful that he will act in good stead to uphold the Constitution. That is truly his role. We should recognize that.

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
David Allen
Guest
David Allen

That he was unanimously appointed speaks well of his candidacy.

Can you expand on that, I'm not informed as to what you mean or to what you are referring?

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
Mark Wilkinson
Guest
Mark Wilkinson

I believe he is referring to his current appointment as a judge. He was approved unanimously.

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
Gregory Orloff
Guest
Gregory Orloff

While uncertain as I am about Neil Gorsuch as many are, in the interest of squashing "fake news" (no matter how much ado is made of it on social media), the rumors of his starting or heading a fascist student organization in high school have been debunked as false:

http://www.snopes.com/neil-gorsuchs-fascism-forever-club/

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
Member

Well, I don't expect all my Episcopal siblings to agree with me. We have noted that the Episcopal Church does not have an official magisterium to press conformity of views.

Also, I wouldn't want to say that there can't be a conservative plan to meet needs that we as progressives see. Far too often, though, those who call themselves "conservative" differ on the need to be met, rather than whether there can be different approaches. As for Brother Gorsuch: much remains to be seen.

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
William (Bill) Paul
Guest
William (Bill) Paul

Good point. A very incautious headline here. Interesting that the left-leaning, left-moving leaders of our church love to say "we're not a confessional church" (a blanket statement worth interrogating btw) but, as in this post's headline, then question whether Episcopal identity has been transgressed when someone *may* have different social policies. Liberal inconsistency and liberal intolerance yet again (from someone who has voted Democratic most of the time btw).

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
1 2 3 4