This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
A fight has erupted in the state of Missouri over a court's decision to exclude jurors from a discrimination case because of their faith.
The case, Missouri Department of Corrections v. Finney, now is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court and concerns discrimination based on sexual orientation.
But the fight includes the fact that at the trial court level, three jurors who confirmed they attended a Christian church and followed the Bible's precepts were excluded because of that faith.
The ADF now has submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the Supremes advocating for a decision that would reject that discrimination.
"American society has no place for religious tests for civic duty," explained ADF spokesman John Bursch.
"What happened in Missouri is egregiously wrong and extremely troubling. Even though the prospective jurors made it clear that they would adhere to the law and judge impartially, the trial court ruled that they should be disqualified simply because they subscribed to the Bible's plain teachings about sex and human sexuality.
"As we explain in our brief, no one would be allowed to reject prospective jurors based on racial stereotypes just to 'err on the side of caution' – and rightly so – yet the court rejected these jurors based on religious stereotypes.
"That violates the U.S. Constitution, and we urge the Supreme Court to put a decisive end to this practice."
The brief argues that the decision was "flagrantly wrong" in light of the Supreme Court's century-long precedents regarding free exercise and Establishment Clause cases.
The brief notes the Missouri situation is not the first time such religious discrimination has happened, as it also appeared in separate cases in Texas and Minnesota.
There, courts "affirmed striking prospective black jurors based on the prosecutor's claim that they were struck not because of the race – but because of their religious affiliation."
The brief explains the Equal Protection Clause "requires our judicial system to treat citizens – including prospective jury members – as individuals and not deny them access to public life based on stereotypical assumptions about their race, religion, sex, or national origin."
In the Missouri case, prospective jurors were asked if they attended a "hell, fire, and brimstone church" where they were taught homosexuality is a sin.
Three prospective jurors said yes, but they all said "everybody sins" and indicated they could be fair and impartial.
The lawyer in the case, however, charged, "There's no way to rehabilitate somebody" who believes homosexuality is a sin.
Cited was the fact the case involved discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Leaving the problem unaddressed would be to "condone a practice that conflicts with decades of precedent and multiple cases the court has recently decided," the brief said.
It was an "error" for the court to assume that those individuals with religious beliefs would not be able to render a fair and impartial decision.
"If allowed to stand, the decisions … risk slamming the jury box closed to prospective jurors based not on any actual inability to faithfully apply the law, but based on the unfounded assumption that people who hold certain religious beliefs can't possibly fairly serve on a jury." And that, it said, is "biased, prejudicial, and approximates a religious test for jury service."