Conservatives want government out of the economy, despite the fact that even the godfather of capitalism Adam Smith argued that government plays a critical role in establishing the playing field for private markets and fixing inherent inequalities in capitalism. And yet right-wing conservatives paradoxically embrace government when it comes to imposing their religion on the rest of us—in the case of trying to ban abortion or limit access to contraception or pushing restrictions on same-sex marriage. Freedom *of* religion would allow secular civic institutions to recognize all families while leaving various religious institutions and individuals to have their personal views and act (or not act) accordingly. But right-wing conservatives want to go one step further and use government laws to impose their anti-gay views on the vast majority of Americans whose values tell us that all God’s creatures are created equal and should be treated equally.
This desire to impose religion on others is even embedded within the constant desire on the part of many conservatives to critique and other-ize President Obama’s religion, simultaneously claiming he’s a Muslim while condemning his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. In the right-wing political vision, religion isn’t a shining hill of pluralism but a dark cave of conformity in which all non-believers are condemned.
Thomas Jefferson might not have been able to foresee gay marriage—the man didn’t even have enough democratic imagination to see the hypocrisy in his ownership of slaves—but you can be sure that he would be mortified to see any religious community in America try to use the government he and others created to impose religion on others.