It’s the justices, stupid

Rod Dreher might be accused of being a “Debbie Downer” for his dire predictions about religious liberty, but I think his analysis is spot-on. In an essay posted this morning, he argues that the take-away from the Indiana RFRA is not the law itself, but the media “freak out” that happened in response. It reveals just how deep our nation’s indifference is to religious liberty and just how willing some of our elites are to stamp it out. And it won’t stop with RFRA’s. He says that churches that support traditional marriage will soon face attacks on their tax-exempt status. If you think this isn’t coming, you aren’t paying attention.

You need to read Dreher’s entire piece, but here are the political implications he draws in the conclusion:

The overreaction, especially the blatant lies and completely invented controversy, in which the media and big business have engaged in the past few days about Indiana and religious liberty, has been a shock to my system — this, even though I am by now used to just about anything from that side. Because religious liberty is the most important political issue to me, it is hard to imagine sitting out the 2016 presidential election, as I have done the past two times because I couldn’t stomach the Republican nominee. It is impossible to imagine voting Democratic in 2016, because the Democrats are actively committed to legislating contempt for traditional Christians like me. If even mild attempts to give minimal protection to religious dissenters is condemned as Jim Crow redux by the Democrats, it genuinely frightens me to think about what a Supreme Court dominated by Obama-Clinton justices would do.

Voting Republican is no guarantee that religious liberty would be strengthened in SCOTUS rulings in the future, but there is some hope that a GOP president would nominate justices sympathetic to religious liberty concerns. With President Hillary Clinton, or any conceivable Democrat, there is no hope at all.

Je suis le First Amendment. Indiana shows why for social and religious conservatives, 2016 is all about the Supreme Court and religious liberty. The past few days have made someone like me, a conservative independent who has little use for either party, realize that I cannot afford to be on the sidelines in 2016. Religious conservative voters must be focused like a laser on religious liberty, right now. It’s that important.

Read the rest here.

Dreher is certainly right about where we find ourselves. Support for religious liberty used to be an uncontroversial bipartisan commitment. But in recent years, the issue has been collapsed into the debate over same-sex marriage. Supporting gay marriage is now sacrosanct among Democrats and a growing number of Republicans. The result is that religious liberty claims have to take a backseat to gay marriage claims. And anyone who says that they shouldn’t take a backseat is quickly branded a bigot and homophobic. That is what the current “media freak out” demonstrates.

The atmosphere is becoming increasingly toxic to those of us who hold to traditional marriage. I hope and pray that statesmen on both sides of the aisle can see that and draw back from the religious liberty cliff we are currently racing towards.


  • James Stanton

    “The result is that religious liberty claims have to take a backseat to gay marriage claims.”

    I think you touched on something here. Gay marriage advocates will not accept that religious liberty takes precedence over their rights to gay marriage and legal protections. I think many are downplaying that the current furor over religious liberty is a rearguard action to preserve protections for Christians before the Supreme Court legalizes SSM across the country. If you think that religious liberty protections are a no-brainer and should be bipartisan then perhaps these kinds of laws should not be rushed through legislatures on party-line votes.

  • Matt Martin

    “Support for religious liberty used to be an uncontroversial bipartisan commitment.”

    It is. But lets be honest here. Refusing to bake a cake for a homosexual has nothing to do with religion but everything to do with discrimination.

    And here’s another point…every time you use the phrase “religious liberty”, culture replaces liberty with “discrimination”. They can see right through you guys. But good luck in 2016 with that message.

  • Don Johnson

    Any action (such as baking a cake) can be a type of speech, the question is whether one is being required to speak in a certain way or forbidden to speak in a certain way, especially when one’s understanding of one’s religion is involved. To wipe out a business because it does not want to bake a cake is an extreme over-reaction by the government and so they should not be surprised there has been some push back. The gov’t is using overwhelming force in order to make a point, when it should be wiser.

  • Lauren Bertrand

    The libertarian in me would love to see the market take care of this as it should…that truly unapologetically bigoted people (no matter who their target might be) would get voted out of the marketplace through the court of public opinion. And, in the majority of America, most people would be so disdainful of a business that overtly said, “Christians are not welcome here” that it probably would be forced to fold. Hopefully. But can the same be said about a business that refuses to serve the LGBT? In most of the country, it will easily still stay afloat.

    It’s hard not to recall how anti-discrimination laws began: a point in time where Christian conservatives, particularly (but hardly limited to) the South, were overtly refusing to do business with blacks, to the point that blacks could not engage in basic transactions across much of the country. They then had to build their own counter-market, a counter-market with significantly lower capital, which of course fostered the two worlds of segregation which civil rights laws sought to combat. The tables are turning for LGBT, who, as recently as the 1980s, largely DID have their own counter-market (and still often have their own gayborhoods in most medium or large American cities). But the fact remains that, while a law like this will have little impact in Indianapolis (aside from all the companies threatening to pull out of the city), it could very well leave LGBT in rural southern Indiana without an outlet. Or plenty of other places in America. Obviously that doesn’t matter to the people who crafted this law, but it at least taps into the ethos that explains why even most moderate Republicans are bothered by it. Capitalism can hardly be considered an optimal system when certain segments of the population are systematically and conspiratorially forbidden from participating in the free market.

    • Brian Gaskin

      I think that most of what you said has some truth and I would say for regular commerce it holds true. If a gay person walks into a business and wants to buy a cake and pick it off the shelf, they should be able to do that. Just as the blacks in the south should have been able to buy from the same stores as whites.
      What is not as clear is should that same person come in and order a personalized cake for an event that contradicts my religious tenants, should I be forced by the power of the government to fulfill that order. Or go out of business. Everyone uses gay marriage as the example, but I would say what if there were a Voodoo priest wanted a cake for a ceremony I would turn them down as well and there would be no outrage at all. We also have to look at the fact that most of these cases are due to LGBT people seeking out those that they know will have religious objections. One of the case involving a baker showed this aspect in that the baker told the gay couple you can pick any cake they want in the shop, but he wouldn’t make a special ordered cake for their ceremony. Why would you not, as a gay couple, go to the next bakery that would make what you wanted with gladness. Why would you want a cake in your ceremony that you know was made out of contempt or governmental compulsion.
      Last but not least you would still need to prove that sexual orientation is the same as race. Black people were born black and there was no way around that. Gay people, by no obvious or scientific measure, are born gay. While we are born sinful there is no outward simple that you are gay, unless you tell everyone.
      I often wonder, how out of same mouth, people can saw that they are gay by birth and that there is nothing they can do about it, but then when speaking of gender say that it is fluid and can change at anytime.

  • ben wright

    Well it’s nice that Dreher realized this after sitting out the last two elections. Maybe he and others should start listening to the people who were making this argument 8 years ago.

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