Religious Liberty Is Under Fire Once Again

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 04/01/2016

Religious liberty laws are back in the news again, and I’m seeing a huge amount of misunderstanding out there, so here are a few posts (from previous flare-ups) explaining religious liberty laws:

What happened in Georgia (please read Ryan Anderson’s analysis of the situation) has proved it doesn’t matter how the law is watered down or what compromises are made by lawmakers; when a law protecting religious liberty is proposed, hysteria ensues (see the track record in the links above), religious liberty is called “religious liberty” by the press, and the law is mischaracterized as a license to discriminate—even though that doesn’t remotely describe how these laws work, and as I wrote last year, “One federal law and 19 state laws exist...and yet no one can point to a single instance where a RFRA was misused to create any of the Jim-Crow-type scenarios the media are warning us about.”

But that doesn’t matter, because the people throwing their full weight against these laws are opposed to diversity. They have no interest in working out a way for everyone to live together in peace. Their goal is to crush religious liberty and force everyone to actively agree with them in word and deed, and if achieving that goal requires stirring up a little hysteria, misinformation, and anti-religious bigotry, then clearly they have no problem with that. The strategy, after all, is effective.

And don’t think Christians are immune to this strategy. In a comment I saw today on Facebook, a Christian said this, closely mirroring what is endlessly repeated to us by the media: “I see most of the current conservative fights in states for ‘religious freedom’ as thinly veiled attempts to institutionalize the biases of a narrow religious perspective at the expense of those who don’t agree with them.” (Note the scare quotes.)

The irony of his statement is that the exact opposite is true. Upholding a person’s right to opt out of doing something that goes against his beliefs (e.g., performing a same-sex marriage ceremony) is in no way institutionalizing any perspective, but using the government to force a person to act according to some other group’s beliefs (and against his own) most certainly is. That’s the very definition of “institutionalizing the biases of one perspective at the expense of those who don’t agree with them.” How did everyone get so mixed up about this?