The myth of a "war against religion"

Notice the claim. It’s not merely that liberals are not religious themselves. It’s that they disdain people who are, and this disdain creates a cultural stigma (and a legal barrier) to religious observance. “Bigotry against evangelical Christians is the last acceptable form of bigotry in the country,” Ralph Reed said recently.

The truth is almost exactly the reverse. Over the past few decades, liberals have—far more than conservatives—turned away from religious affiliation, though not necessarily belief in God. But while they may feel proud of their views on religion-informed issues like evolution and gay marriage, they’re not particularly proud of their lack of religious observance per se. Indeed, they’re aware that they’re violating a cherished social norm. Asking liberals to admit that they are disproportionately secular is like asking conservatives to admit that they are disproportionately white. It’s a truth they find embarrassing. Liberals love left-leaning religious figures like Sister Simone Campbell, the immigrant-rights-championing nun who addressed the 2012 Democratic National Convention, for the same reason conservatives love right-wing African Americans like Herman Cain and Dr. Ben Carson: They defy a negative stereotype.

After all, if liberals really stigmatized the religious, wouldn’t some of them have objected when John Kerry flaunted his Catholicism in 2004 or Barack Obama flaunted his adult embrace of Christianity in 2008? Is there a single example, even in the most liberal city or district, of one Democratic candidate trying to outdo the other by proclaiming herself more hostile to religious belief?