June 27, 2014
A Response to the American Prospect
By Luke W. Goodrich
On June 18, the American Prospect published an article about the Becket Fund and its role in the Hobby Lobby litigation. Much of the article is fair and balanced. But one of its core claims—that the Becket Fund has been drifting from its founding principles—misses the mark and misunderstands religious liberty.
First, the fair and balanced part. The article does a fine job of describing the Becket Fund’s founding principles. As the article notes, the Becket Fund’s founder, Seamus Hasson, “insisted that [the Becket Fund] would be different.” It was never designed “to restore a version of Christian hegemony.” Rather, it was based on “the notion that ‘religious expression is natural to human culture,’” that religious liberty is a “natural right,” and that therefore religious freedom belongs to everyone—including those with whom we disagree.
The article rightly notes that, from the beginning, “Becket’s ecumenical commitments set it apart.” The firm was “beholden to neither party”; it freely “offered its services to aggrieved believers of all stripes”; and it “took cases that gratified and vexed advocates on both sides of the political aisle.” As examples, the article cites Becket’s defense of a Catholic organization that sought to display a crèche on city property, and its defense of Muslim police officers who sought the right to grow a beard. It could have cited many more.