U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (C) departs the funeral mass for fellow Justice Antonin Scalia with Justice Samuel Alito (L-center) and other justices at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (C) departs the funeral mass for fellow Justice Antonin Scalia with Justice Samuel Alito (L-center) and other justices at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. (REUTERS/Mike Theiler)

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Freedom of religion has been under increasing pressure since the legalization of same-sex marriage, a U.S. Supreme Court judge has said.

In 2015, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito warned that the ruling could lead to people who do not support same-sex marriage being treated as "bigots" by governments, schools and employers.

"We are seeing this is coming to pass," he said last week.

'Hostile Wind'

Alito, speaking to a group of Roman Catholic lawyers, called for an increased awareness of threats to freedom of religion.

"A wind is picking up that is hostile to those with traditional moral beliefs," he said.

Alito went on to refer to the Hobby Lobby case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court backed a Christian-run business that wanted to avoid providing health insurance policies covering abortion-inducing drugs.

The case was seen as a "landmark" victory for religious liberty in the U.S.

Religious Freedom

The Supreme Court judge said: "We are likely to see pitched battles in courts and Congress, state legislatures and town halls."

"But the most important fight is for the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. It is up to all of us to evangelize our fellow Americans about the issue of religious freedom," he added.

Alito was one of four Supreme Court judges to dissent from the court's 2015 decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

Ashers Baking Company

In the U.K., the Ashers bakery case is an example of a Christian-run business that was taken to court for its refusal to promote views that went against its owners' religious beliefs.

Ashers Baking Company lost its appeal after the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland ruled that it had discriminated against gay rights activist Gareth Lee by refusing to bake a cake with a message supporting same-sex marriage.

In response, a Guardian editorial said the ruling "cannot be welcomed by anyone who cares about free speech" while homosexual rights and free speech campaigner Peter Tatchell called the verdict a "defeat for freedom of expression".

Tatchell said, "in a democratic society, people should be able to discriminate against ideas they disagree with. I am saddened that the court did not reach the same conclusion".

Appeal

Ashers Baking Company has applied to the U.K. Supreme Court for permission to appeal the Belfast Court of Appeal's ruling.

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