The Article: Defining Religious Liberty Down
The Source: The New York Times
The Author: Ross Douthat
The Gist: Opponents of religious freedom should be open and honest about their anti-religious motives and goals.
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.
The Bottom Line: The significance of Douthat's latest column is not just what he says---though the topic is of utmost important---or how he says it---though he says it exceptionally well---but the fact that he is saying it in the New York Times. Numerous Christian publications (including this one) have documented the increasing disregard for religious liberties and lamented the push to keep religion segregated behind the walls of the church. But Douthat's column may be the first time it has been pointed out in a secular publication that the opponents of religious liberty truly are opponent of religious liberty.
We're overdue for an honest conversation about the role of religion in the public square. Too many Americans are starting to believe that religious freedom means merely the "freedom of worship." As long as such religion is practiced quietly and out of sight, they are supportive of religious belief. But if a politically incorrect Biblical belief is expressed openly they will label you a bigot and attempt to ostracize you not just from the public square but from the very polis.
Douthat has been courageous in calling them to be honest about where the stand. When they drop the pretense and launch the assaults without apology, will we have the courage to stand for religious freedom?