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The New Intolerance

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A few weeks ago, the editors of the Wall Street Journal wrote about “The New Intolerance.” They argued that “Indiana isn’t targeting gays. Liberals are targeting religion.”

The Indiana law was merely a version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act that passed overwhelmingly in 1993 and was signed by President Clinton. Indiana actually needed such a law because “neither its laws nor courts unambiguously protected religious liberty. Amish horse-drawn buggies could be required to abide by local traffic regulations. Churches could be prohibited from feeding the homeless under local sanitation codes.”

The law merely required a balancing test when reviewing cases involving the free exercise of religion. A commercial vendor would still have to prove that his or her religious convictions were substantially burdened. In most of these cases, the vendor still has lost in court. Similar laws or legal principles haven’t proved to be that helpful in other states to florists, bakers, or photographers.

This brings us to the paradox that the editors were addressing. They observe: “even as America has become more tolerant of gays, many activists and liberals have become ever-more intolerant of anyone who might hold more traditional cultural and religious views.”

We can see this in politics and in the corporate world. We can also see it in how former proponents of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act now oppose it. When the law was passed in 1993, the editors remind us that: “liberal outfits like the ACLU were joined at the hip with the Christian Coalition. But now the ACLU is denouncing Indiana’s law because it wants even the most devoutly held religious values to bow to its culture agenda on gay marriage and abortion rights.”

A culture that has become more tolerant of homosexuality is also becoming more intolerant of religious people who don’t embrace same-sex marriage.

Viewpoints by Kerby Anderson

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