Speaking of Douthat

Yesterday we bounced off of a recent book and post by Ross Douthat (and also Diana Butler Bass), and today Douthat is back, and this time he’s complaining about a lack of a sense of genuine religious freedom among what he calls the “leadership class”:

What do you think? Do you believe some of the President’s and America’s actions are violations of rights or do you think these have been the inevitable to-and-fro of balancing rights and toleration?

THE words “freedom of belief” do not appear in the First Amendment. Nor do the words “freedom of worship.” Instead, the Bill of Rights guarantees Americans something that its authors called “the free exercise” of religion.

It’s a significant choice of words, because it suggests a recognition that religious faith cannot be reduced to a purely private or individual affair. Most religious communities conceive of themselves as peoples or families, and the requirements of most faiths extend well beyond attendance at a sabbath service — encompassing charity and activism, education and missionary efforts, and other “exercises” that any guarantee of religious freedom must protect.

I cannot improve upon the way the first lady of the United States explained this issue, speaking recently to a conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. “Our faith journey isn’t just about showing up on Sunday,” Michelle Obama said. “It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well … Jesus didn’t limit his ministry to the four walls of the church. He was out there fighting injustice and speaking truth to power every single day.”

But Mrs. Obama’s words notwithstanding, there seems to be a great deal of confusion about this point in the Western leadership class today….

It may seem strange that anyone could look around the pornography-saturated, fertility-challenged, family-breakdown-plagued West and see a society menaced by a repressive puritanism. But it’s clear that this perspective is widely and sincerely held.

It would be refreshing, though, if it were expressed honestly, without the “of course we respect religious freedom” facade.

If you want to fine Catholic hospitals for following Catholic teaching, or prevent Jewish parents from circumcising their sons, or ban Chick-fil-A in Boston, then don’t tell religious people that you respect our freedoms. Say what you really think: that the exercise of our religion threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to use the levers of power to bend us to your will.

There, didn’t that feel better? Now we can get on with the fight.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • phil_style

    Not being an American, Douthat’s raising of this issue seems to ignore one fundamental aspect of law, that behavior which is encouraged/ embraced by one law sometimes contradicts or is forbidden by other law, under certain circumstances.

    That is, one can not rely on the “freedom to exercise religion” provisions in law at the expense of other laws that, say, place a restriction on murdering people.

    As a practical-hypothetical then: if circumcision of a child violates one law (say, a law about causing mutilation and/or harm to children) then you have a problem. You cannot simply rely on ONE provision in law (religious expression) against another, if another exists.

    It seems to me that an American lawmaker or policy maker would be required to balance ALL of the constitutional clauses and amendments. There do appear to be some that have the potential to step on others in certain circumstances. Isn’t this partly why there are constitutional lawyers?

  • http://mattdabbs.wordpress.com Matt Dabbs

    Now that’s honest and getting to the core of what is really going on. Good stuff. How can you have a discussion if both sides can’t be honest about where they stand?

  • http://donttakemyword.blogspot.com/ scott f

    Fertility-challenged? What the heck?! Is the real threat the fecundity of the brown hordes? Why would he chose to include this accusation unless his real cause is cultural rather than religious?

  • Tim

    This is a caricature of the American political climate towards religion. Sure, certain elements will try to push anything they can. But these fringe elements do not represent the country as a whole. The mayor of Boston has received heavy criticism for threatening to use zoning laws to keep Chick-fil-A out. Virtually every legal commentator has also stated, unequivocally, that he has no legal leg to stand on. His actions are not a reflection of America or American values. Look to the statements by the Mayors of New York and Chicago who have criticized him for this.

    And as far as circumcision, please. Some groups have proposed ballots to ban circumcision and they’ve gone nowhere. They didn’t pass. Won’t pass. And even if they did pass would likely be struck down as unconstitutional.

    As to the issue of religiously run businesses, such as Catholic Hospitals, the issue is trickier. They should have a right to conduct themselves in accordance with their religious principles. But at the same time they are an employer. And employees do have certain rights. So you have to balance that. This may be a case where the courts will have to decide, but it is laughable to suggest that it is religion that is being targeted here. Rather, it is was adequate medical care for employees throughout the US that was being pursued, and all that happened was that exemptions in religious cases didn’t go far enough as some would have liked.

    So I would suggest it seems the author of this article (and no doubt many of his readers) is stoking his persecution fetish by imagining that some political party in the US, or President, or what have you is at war with religion. And on these grounds I would say it is disingenuous at best.

  • phil_style

    @tim, your last paragraph is particularly excellent.

  • EricW

    There’s a reason I don’t read Douthat.

  • Chris

    @Scott I don’t think Douthat is being racist when he says ‘fertility-challenged’. It’s race-neutral. The point he’s trying to make is that children are at the center of a traditionalist understanding of sex and marriage, and that view is on the decline in the U.S. It has lots of economic and social consequences. Will we continue being able to support the elderly if fertility continues to drop, for instance?

  • tokniffin

    He’s right on. One of his best articles. I really appreciate the candor and insight.

    That last paragraph/& sentence is precisely what a lot of liberals think. When they talk about ‘religious freedom’, what they really mean is the ability to marginalize christians. They want religious freedom/tolerance when it is to their advantage, but not when it comes to protecting the rights of christians/ other devout religious people to act on conscience.

    I don’t think we are too far away from secular liberals coming out and saying just this.

  • Chris

    @Tim It seems to me most of the culture war on both sides is maintained and cultivated by stoking persecution fetishes. That’s what makes it so difficult. Both sides are convinced the other is bigoted and has warped values.

    But if you see this editorial as “stoking his persecution fetish” then you are misled. You certainly haven’t read the rest of Douthat’s works. When James Davidson Hunter’s most recent book came out, talking about exactly this phenomena you’ve identified, Douthat emphasized the importance of traditional Christians to learn how to be a minority, as they were in the early church surrounded by the pagan Roman Empire.

    What Douthat is trying to do here is to point out the problems with the conception of religion and the culture war on the progressive left, particularly its leaders. In his words, they “see a society menaced by a repressive puritanism”. As someone who was raised in Red States but who got a MA in a Blue State, I can verify that this is true. I regularly heard the Ivy League elite talk fearfully of misled, ignorant evangelicals and their voting power to ruin the country. That exists just as conservative Christians’ paranoia with Obama exists.

    To my mind, this is the key point:

    “religious faith cannot be reduced to a purely private or individual affair. Most religious communities conceive of themselves as peoples or families, and the requirements of most faiths extend well beyond attendance at a sabbath service”.

    Religion is not just private faith, and for some groups, their faith will require them to support things that the elites may not like. More specifically, those practices and involvements may not even fall into ‘religion’, as those elites define it. This, I think, is a very good point. And it is not at all disingenuous.

  • Tim

    Chris,

    I certainly grant you that the “religious right” scares liberals. They even scare moderates like me. It doesn’t therefore follow, however, that society at large wants to curtail religious liberties in response. Rather, the “battle” being fought is more typically in the marketplace of ideas.

    Also, the bit about Douthat’s article not feeding into a persecution fetish as he “emphasized the importance of traditional Christians to learn how to be a minority, as they were in the early church surrounded by the pagan Roman Empire” is both interesting and amusing. In my experience, having been raised Fundamentalist Evangelical, these two sentiments seem to go hand in hand.

    Maybe there’s a level of nuance in Douthat’s views that I’m missing here, but based on this initial exposure to his arguments, I have to tell you he doesn’t readily recommended himself to my reading list.

  • Chris

    Hi Tim,

    Well, if Douthat had been arguing that society at large wants to curtail religious liberties, I would certainly agree with you. :) He only mentions the “Western leadership class”. All three of the examples in Douthat’s piece were policies or decisions taken by a small group of individual leaders–mayors, judges, bureaucrats.

    As for the Roman Empire, perhaps I wasn’t clear. You can see your growing minority status and say 1) “Let’s not lose our power! Let’s scratch and claw for every last little scrap of public policy.” or you can react 2) “We realize we are no longer the majority. Let us live out our values to the best of our ability while recognizing that the majority does not agree with us.” I think you are thinking of (1) and I was referring to (2).

    Douthat is not much of a culture warrior. This is as excited as he gets about it. He’s quite irenic usually. I would highly recommend Douthat’s “Bad Religion”. There he explains how most of what passes as Christianity is not in fact orthodox Christianity. Among others, he calls nationalism a heresy and repudiates the conflation of the Republican Party with Christianity. If you’re a moderate and you dislike the identification of the Republican Party with Christianity, and yet you still want to be a faithful Christian, you will find his argument interesting and edifying.

  • Tim

    Chris,

    Who on earth is the “Western Leadership Class”? Is George W Bush part of this class? Ronald Reagan? The Republican Party leaders perhaps? Or is it the “liberals”? Obama? Clinton? The Democratic Party leaders? And are these in isolation? Obama and the rest of Democratic Senators and Representatives severed from some political base, and from broader ideals, aspirations, and sentiments than much of the rest of the nation? What type of American is really being discussed here?

    It would seem to me that what Douthat is criticizing here are those who hold notions more liberal than his of what does and does not denote an acceptable level of involvement of religion in public life. And that may well include roughly half the US population.

    In any event, religion is allowed in the “public sphere” of American life. To pretend otherwise is to either be ignorant, confused, or disingenuous. Prayer is allowed in school. Students can pray. Teachers can pray. Clubs that meet on school grounds can pray. What you can’t do is force a class to be lead in prayer, running roughshod over the religious rights of others who may not ascribe to similarly monotheistic views. In fact, it was recently affirmed in the courts that school officials can offer prayers as a matter of personal faith (i.e., speaking for themselves, not the school) at public school events for those who want to join in. And free religious expression is allowed in public places outside of school. You can set up overtly Christian Christmas scenes (e.g., Jesus in the Manger) on public property, provided that such property is open to persons of all faiths and even no faith wishing to exercise the same liberty.

    This canard of public religious expression being somehow prohibited in the United States needs to die. It is false. It is unfounded. It is though unfortunately a meme that has been circulated as part of the Conservative Evangelical / Christian “Right” crowd as part of a persecution narrative that they use to motivate their “Christian Warriors” in a counter-productive culture war in this country. The only thing they are succeeding in doing is alienating the rest of us and establishing a reputation for intolerance, theocratic oppression, religious zeal, and self-righteous insularity.

  • Tanya

    Interesting that Douthat didn’t mention my biggest example of the repression of religion. The effort of the City of Philadelphia (among others) to close church soup kitchens. Selectively, neighborhoods all over the US have challenged churches, believing their ministries attract the wrong type of people to their communities. I think churches have been mostly successful in pushing back, but its cost them in legal fees. Wonder why Douthat didn’t decry this assault on the churches’ traditional ministry with the poor? Could it be it just isn’t a concern of his–the Republican conservative Catholic?

    Now about the mayors’ loose comments — the good thing is, they don’t actually have any power to do anything, and they’ve been called out by the ACLU, the New York Times, Glen Greenwald of Salon etc. Exactly how much mileage should Douthat get out of the example?

    And as far as the Catholic church and contraception — how many times in how many ways can people say: this doesn’t affect your churches, this is your hospitals –which have non-Catholic employees and receive government funding. If you don’t wanna use contraception, don’t. And don’t come to the government for assistance either.

    I’m so very tired of the Christian right and their faux persecution complex. I think the mayors are the perfect example of what will happen when enough people get sick of the right-wing pity party. The anger will lead to intemperate remarks, and finally, perhaps, real hostility. And the Christian Right will have nobody to blame but themselves.

  • Tim

    @Tanya, excellent points!

  • Rick

    Tanya-

    The soup kitchen issue is not in the news right now. Although it is a good point (the NY City school/church issue is another), it is not in the news right now.

    Why the mayor(s) even felt bold enough to make such a claim can cause one to scratch one’s head.

    The Catholic Church issue is still troubling. As outspoken RCC is about contraception, I am not sure why the Obama admin was surprised at the reaction (again, a head scratcher).

    So, the “faux” persection complex may be overplayed, but there are some…well… “interesting” things that have taken place.

    And let’s slow down on the “Christian Right” as the bad guy(s). Those claims are starting to go overboard.

  • Eric Moreno

    @#4 scott f: How out of thin air did you pull the idea that Douthat was referring to the “brown hordes”? “Fertility-challenged” is the exact opposite of “fecundity.”

    @#5 Tim: “But these fringe elements do not represent the country as a whole.”
    Douthat was referring to the “Western leadership class,” not the country as a whole.

    “But at the same time they [Catholic hospitals] are an employer. And employees do have certain rights.”
    Catholic churches, too, are employers, and certainly their employees have rights as well. But why are Catholic churches qua employers exempted?

    “but it is laughable to suggest that it is religion that is being targeted here.”
    I wouldn’t say that the “Western leadership class” is targeting religion in itself. But when certain state officials promote their agenda, whether they be for the common good or otherwise, they easily and hastily undermine the free exercise of religion and without qualms regard it as necessary collateral damage.

    “So I would suggest it seems the author of this article (and no doubt many of his readers) is stoking his persecution fetish by imagining that some political party in the US, or President, or what have you is at war with religion. And on these grounds I would say it is disingenuous at best.”
    The Chinese leadership suggests likewise. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/31/china-religion-report_n_1723010.html
    Of course, the situation of religious believers in Western society is not by any means commensurate with the plight of religious believers in China, but your (Tim’s) patronizing assessment of Douthat’s and his readers’ perception of alleged persecution is remarkably and ghastily similar with that of the Chinese leadership.

    @#10 Tim: “It doesn’t therefore follow, however, that society at large wants to curtail religious liberties in response.”
    Again, Douthat wasn’t referring to the abstract concept of “society at large.” It’s the specific state officials whom he cited.

    “Rather, the ‘battle’ being fought is more typically in the marketplace of ideas.”
    Which should always be the case. But when a judge unilaterally criminalizes circumcision regardless of the centrality of such practice in at least two major world religions and government officials threaten to unconstitutionally execute their powers to ban a business enterprise because its leadership chose to exercise its religion and legal political activity in the public sphere, such actions of the state move the “battle” beyond the marketplace of ideas.

    “In my experience, having been raised Fundamentalist Evangelical, these two sentiments seem to go hand in hand.”
    It doesn’t mean all Fundamentalist Evangelicals or all conservative Christians share similar perceptions as you did.

    “Maybe there’s a level of nuance in Douthat’s views that I’m missing here.”
    Yes.

    @12 Tim: “In any event, religion is allowed in the ‘public sphere’ of American life.”
    Yes, you are right that many forms of expression of religion are permitted in the United States, which should always be the case. But does that mean that HHS may force Catholic hospitals to violate their conscience and that governement officials may threaten (regardless of whether they had the intention to execute their threats) a Christian business? The Bill of Rights does not guarantee the free exercise of 90% of my religious expressions. It guarantees 100% provided such exercise remains constitutional and the prohibition of such exercise does not serve a compelling state interest.

    “It is though unfortunately a meme that has been circulated as part of the Conservative Evangelical / Christian ‘Right’ crowd as part of a persecution narrative that they use to motivate their ‘Christian Warriors’ in a counter-productive culture war in this country.”
    Whether or not Christians (and other religious believers) are marginalized is a factual statement that can verified only by empirical investigation. That “Conservative Evangelical / Christian ‘Right’ crowd” (of which Douthat is not a member) employs the persecution narrative is impugning motives.

    “The only thing they are succeeding in doing is alienating the rest of us and establishing a reputation for intolerance, theocratic oppression, religious zeal, and self-righteous insularity.”
    The same thing “the rest of you” (i.e., the left) does to the Christian right.

    And BTW, I’m not part of the Christian right. Ask me and I’ll tell you why.

  • Eric Moreno

    Erratum: Douthat _is_ a member of the Christian right. But he’s no longer an evangelical.

  • MWK

    “The only thing they are succeeding in doing is alienating the rest of us and establishing a reputation for intolerance, theocratic oppression, religious zeal, and self-righteous insularity.”

    Oh sweet irony.

  • Fish

    Yawn. Yet another white male right-wing Christian claiming persecution. If he were female, gay, atheist, or Palestinian, he might have a point.

    Wasn’t yesterday a national day of feasting against gay marriage? How would he like it if thousands of people lined up to eat at a restaurant that donated millions to keep Christians from going to church? Given that being forbidden to marry the one you love is a tad bit more persecution than being forbidden to worship in public.

  • Tim

    Eric,

    I’m being compared to China now, and you’re bringing in Germany into this conversation? I thought we were discussing American policy with respect to Constitutionally enshrined rights for free expression of religion.

    FYI, two main difference between Catholic Churches and Catholic Hospitals would be membership and role. It is presumed that members of Catholic Churches are themselves Catholics. And it is presumed that the purpose of any given Catholic Church is to serve their flock according to their religious views. This is in stark contrast to Catholic Hospitals, where doctors, staff, and patrons even are not expected to be Catholic. And the purpose is to provide medical care to the public. In other words, they are businesses.

  • Eric Moreno

    Tim,

    “and you’re bringing in Germany into this conversation”
    Douthat cited the circumcision ban in Germany.

    “I’m being compared to China now”
    Let me make it explicit. General Statement:
    [A], largely based on [B] reports and groundless allegations from [C] with ulterior motives, is nothing but a political tool used by the [D] to [E].

    China (see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/31/china-religion-report_n_1723010.html):
    [A] = The annual report
    [B] = unconfirmed media
    [C] = outlawed groups and organizations
    [D] = U.S. government
    [E] = exert pressure on other countries, mostly deemed as its rivals

    Tim (as I understand what you’re saying):
    [A] = The cries of persecution
    [B] = far right media (e.g., Fox News, WorldNetDaily, Drudge Report, etc.)
    [C] = hate/anti-gay/anti-women/anti-immigrant/anti-* groups (e.g., ADF and everbody else in http://bit.ly/baXmpa)
    [D] = Christian right
    [E] = mobilize its members in the culture war

    “This is in stark contrast to Catholic Hospitals…”
    You may have a point.

  • Eric Moreno

    @Me: “You may have a point.”

    Let me take that back.
    In http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/files/2012/07/Newland-_Hercules-Industries_-v-Sebelius-Order-Granting-Preliminary-Injunction.pdf

    “These interests are countered, and indeed outweighed, by the public interest in the free
    exercise of religion. As the Tenth Circuit has noted, ‘there is a strong public interest in the free
    exercise of religion even where that interest may conflict with [another statutory scheme].” O
    Centro, 389 F.3d at 1010. Accordingly, the public interest favors entry of an injunction in this
    case.” (pp. 9-10)

    “… the government’s creation of numerous exceptions to the preventive care coverage mandate has undermined its alleged public interest.” (p. 10)

  • Robin

    I don’t see this as a war on religion. I do see this as a war of progressivism lead by authoritarians/puritans. The overriding tendency I see in the President, and especially in some of the more liberal mayors is an undying belief that their values are correct and coercion is an appropriate way to force them on society.

    Obama is probably more innocent than all the rest because he has a large audience to hold him accountable. He has only pulled out the “respect my authoritah” card on issues that were clearly important to him. But when I consider Rahm or Bloomberg I see guys who have decided that their pet issues are important enough, and they are righteous enough, that they can force their values on society.

    It is that instinct, whether it is wielded by gay rights activists, food police, or fundamentalists trying to pass blue laws, that really bugs me. Authoritarianism is authoritarianism, whether you are using it in the North to ban transfats/salt intake/big gulps, or in the south to ban whatever fundamentalist bans you want to discuss.

  • Robin

    I do think it is interesting to note that all of the examples I can think of involving government coercion (bans) in recent years tend to me from more progressive circles: transfats, smoking in public, salt in NYC, soda, regular lightbulbs, etc.

    I’m trying to think of conservative leanings bans, but all I can come up with is porn^&raphy bans from the 70s and Tipper Gore’s crusade against violent video games in the 90s (but even she was the wife of the VP)

    …nevermind DOMA just popped to mind.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Robin#24, and also in response to Rick#15′s overplay of the right being bad guys….

    We do appear to have a problem of escalation going on here, and I don’t know that the left is overplaying the overbearing nature of the right’s tactics. I think the left is now starting to react in a tit for tat sort of way. I don’t know that this strategy is the right one, because it continues and escalation that seems to be dominating the political environment right now. I don’t care what your side is, there is absolutely no question that the Repubs in congress have escalated the political war using harsh tactics to a new level. Surely you can agree with me on that.

    This is a big problem. No one is backing down from the fray and I do think this is not over. I just hope that we can all avert the use of nuclear weapons in the battle.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Also, democracy and the american way have had a good run here in the past 100 years, but we seem to be reaching a limit of sorts. Aside from the government by the people, the US is largely characterized by being a nation of laws. So we are seeing that decision being played out to a great degree, and I don’t think that we are there yet.

    What I mean is that we have adopted the position that all is fair within the law now. As long as you are able to stay out of legal trouble or are within the pre-agreed constraints we now believe that you are right in your beliefs (righteous if you will).

    We used to espouse integrity, hard work, a melting pot, helping the neighbor, playing fair and various other values as a big part of our country. But now the lawyers have ruined everything! Sorry I could not resist that.

    I worked for a company that worked on the premise of doing the right thing. They were excellent in their approach. However, they were forced to comply with certain regulations, and once the impact of that was fully felt the management of the company said something like “OK, we now have to change our strategy. We were trying to uphold a higher ethic, but now that the legal and regulatory misers have registered their displeasure with our ways and insist that we obey the letter of their laws, we need to adopt the tactic that we will try to do everything to our benefit that is within the rule book that has been imposed on us” A big change.

    So we are reaping the fruit of our mode of government.

    I also don’t really think that the US can be called a democracy anymore. There really is no name for what we have become and where we are going, only in 100 years will they figure that one out.

  • Robin

    DRT,

    I am not sure what any of #25 or #26 had to do with what I was saying. Let me put my point another way.

    In the early 20th century some people became convinced that society would be better if they could force the entire society to follow their moral guidelines. They succeeded in outlawing alcohol. I see that same type of moral authoritarianism when I look at the religious right, and a large portion of the left. I also see it when I consider the contraception mandate.

    I don’t think Obama has a war on religion. I think he has decided that his position is the right one, and anything which stands in his way (even some interpretations of the 1st amendment) must fall to the way-side.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    I am reacting to the color words you used of undying belief, coercion, force, force, authoritarianism, bans. I see this as different than it used to be. It seems to me that folks are now believing in what they want and they proceed to the force response rather than the education response.

    I am not commenting on the passion of the people, I am commenting on the tactics employed.

    Certainly there are (many) times in the past where similar tactics were used. I see a material difference in the degree to which they are being used.

    I am agreeing with you, but wanted to highlight that I believe something basic has changed in the manner in which influence is conducted.

    You commented that you see an “undying belief that their values are correct”. I don’t think that has changed significantly. Many people feel that way. I do think that what has changed is the frequent forcing.

  • Tom F.

    Being a little late to the discussion, I’ll ask the same questions I did last time we talked about freedom of religion.

    If Catholics should be able to ban contraception in their hospitals, should Scientologists be allowed to ban anti-depressants, supposing they were ever to build hospitals? Or what if a Scientologist bookstore objected to having anti-depressants covered on their health plan?

    If conservatives want to ban pornography on the principle that it harms those who watch it, than why not ban trans-fat too? (Robin gets consistency points on this one.) Lest this appear to not be an issue on the conservative side, remember 4 years ago before the last election. Obama was accused of wanting to make pornography available on every street corner by Focus on the Family. Besides, pornography is more highly regulated that trans-fats anyway, even in New York.

    True, conservatives don’t hope to ban corporations, at least as far as I know. Instead, they simply want to ban ACTUAL PLACES OF WORSHIP (you know, the central places where religion is “exercised”).

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/07/17/cain-says-communities-have-right-to-ban-mosques/ (Herman Cain)

    http://thinkprogress.org/security/2012/07/06/512320/gop-colorado-state-senator-mosques-islamophobia/?mobile=nc (Colorado Senator against mosques)

    Seriously, this is insane. No one has the high moral ground in religious freedom anymore. My personal bias is that the Democrats are a few notches above awful in this area, and the Republicans are a few notches below awful, but you may think differently. But you have to admit, freedom of worship is simply something to be thrown under the bus by both parties when there are more pressing concerns. Both sides simply use religious freedom alternatively as a shield and then a sword, but when preserving it might cost them politically, they run screaming like cowards, just like they do on everything else.

    Douthat, the idea that Republicans/conservatives are champions of religious freedom is simply wrong. It’s wrong. They are champions of freedom for conservative, established religions in America, which is to say, they are merely champions of their OWN religious freedom.

    But hey, I could be wrong: maybe someone can think of a time when Republicans defended religious freedom in an area where it might have cost them politically? A time where it didn’t simply score them points against the Democrats?

    Or evangelicals: witness the shameful display during the NYC mosque controversy.
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/augustweb-only/42-52.0.html?start=2

    Conservative evangelicals are lamer than lame on this issue: when it is things they care about and that involve them, religious liberty is sacrosanct. When it is someone else, ehhh. When it is someone else who is doing something that makes them uncomfortable, well, forget about it, religious liberty wasn’t meant to go THAT far.


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