Those who believe in religious liberty may be feeling discouraged at what they’re seeing in the current clash, and the battle, as Kevin Williamson frames it, against the private mind. But I am not so sure that the ground will not shift in their favor. Already you have some longtime gay marriage supporters, who have dismissed concerns that religious citizens would be brought to heel by government, questioning their positions. As Michael Barone – who has supported gay marriage for far longer than Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton – notes, this is in conflict with what has been an essential American belief for generations: “The traditional American formula for handling such issues is friendly accommodation of the conscientious beliefs of others. Indiana’s RFRA is in line with this. Forcing people to violate their religious beliefs absent a compelling government interest is not.” And has never been.
It would be one thing if this came after a decision in the other direction on Hobby Lobby – but it doesn’t. The case for gay marriage has succeeded in the public mind because it is based on love of two people for each other, not hate aimed at those with different beliefs than you. The case for using the force of government and an aggressive antagonistic mob to attack believers in all walks of life is far less sympathetic, and the potential for overreach on the part of the left is far greater. As vocal as the secular left is, there is still a hesitation among the broader swathe of Americans as to forcing people to do things they don’t want to do, for any reason. The dismissal of religious bigotry as an unjustifiable reason for such claims is possible to sustain against, say, a random pizza place. But the logic of secular leftists like Tomasky in this regard does not stop at Memories Pizza. It demands enforcement all the way to altars across the country, and it will allow for no dissent.