With religious liberty under sustained attack, what hope have Christians got?

Religious liberty

It has been shocking, but not surprising, to arrive in Australia in time to watch religious liberty emerge as a progressive point of attack in the nation’s federal election.

Shocking, because religious liberty is a fundamental principle of liberal democracy.

Not surprising, alas, because progressives throughout Western liberal democracies have turned “religious liberty” into a code word for anti-gay bigotry ― and are determined to cleanse the public square of traditional Christian voices.

This is an ominous turn for liberal democracy to take.

As recently as 1993, the US Congress voted nearly unanimously to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a federal law strengthening general religious liberty protections after a Supreme Court ruling against a tiny Native American sect that used peyote in its worship.

By 2015, however, America had undergone a gay-rights revolution, concomitant with a significant decline in religious belief and practice, especially among the young.

Liberals had come to believe that when religious liberty claims conflicted with gay rights, religious liberty had to lose.

When the state of Indiana passed that year a state version of the federal RFRA, major US corporations brought the hammer down on lawmakers, threatening to punish the state economically for its so-called bigotry.

Indiana relented under pressure.

This was the first time that big business took sides in the culture war ― and it was decisive.

At a national level, the Republican Party, ostensibly the advocates of social and religious conservatism, have never recovered.

They don’t know how to defend religious liberty, and would rather change the subject when it comes up.

This is why many American religious conservatives vote for Donald Trump.

It’s not because they believe in his integrity. It’s because they know that whatever his many flaws, he doesn’t hate them.

They trust him to appoint federal judges who believe that religious liberty is a bedrock value that must be defended. And they trust liberal politicians to treat traditional Christians as menaces to society who are not just wrong about LGBTQ rights, but evil.

On LGBTQ issues, the culture war is over, and religious conservatives lost.

It is positively perverse, though, to watch victorious progressives frenetically bouncing the rubble.

From observing the heretic-hunting hysteria surrounding the Israel Folau case, you would think that theocratic tyranny was about to breach the city walls.

You would be hard-pressed to find a demographic with less cultural and economic power than Pentecostals of Pacific Islander descent, yet the good and the great of Australia’s elite have bravely ― oh so bravely! ― destroyed the career of just such a man because he hath blasphemed.

To be sure, religious liberty is not an absolute right. Continue reading

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