sábado, 8 de agosto de 2015

A return to the principles: ordered liberty based on faith and reason, natural rights and morality, limited government and civil society


by Ryan T. Anderson

Three historical developments explain it 

In recent political memory, religious liberty was a value that brought together conservatives, libertarians, and progressives. As recently as 1993, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed by a nearly unanimous Congress and signed by a Democratic president. Today, the same value is a political liability. Bakers, photographers, and florists are being ruined, adoption agencies shuttered, schools threatened with loss of accreditation and nonprofit status. So what happened? Why is religious liberty now losing so much ground?

As I explain in my just-released book, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, three historical developments explain our current predicament: a change in the scope of our government, a change in our sexual values, and a change in our political leaders’ vision of religious liberty. An adequate response will need to address each of these changes.

First, government has changed. The progressive movement gave us the administrative state. Limited government and the rule of law were replaced by the nearly unlimited reach of technocrats in governmental agencies. As government assumes responsibility for more areas of life, the likelihood of its infringing on religious liberty increases. Why should government be telling bakers and florists which weddings to serve in the first place? Why should it tell charities and religious schools how to operate and which values to teach? Only a swollen sense of unaccountable government authority can explain these changes.

Second, sexual values have changed. At the time of the American Revolution, religion and liberty were so closely linked that Thomas Jefferson could affirm, “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.” Meanwhile, his French contemporary Denis Diderot, expressing sentiments that would culminate in a very different revolution, declared that man “will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” In our own time, however, the sexual revolution has shattered the American synthesis of faith and freedom, setting religion at odds with “liberty”—or more accurately, license. Now bakers, florists, adoption agencies, and schools that uphold what Americans have always believed about marriage find themselves at odds with the law.

Third, religious liberty has changed. Our Constitution protects the natural right to the free exercise of religion. But some liberals are trying to drastically narrow that right by redefining it as the mere “freedom of worship.” If they succeed, the robust religious freedom that made American civil society the envy of the world will be reduced to Sunday-morning piety confined within the four walls of a chapel. They have even gone so far as to rewrite the U.S. immigration exam to say that the First Amendment protects “freedom of worship” rather than the “free exercise of religion.”True religious liberty entails the freedom to live consistently with one’s beliefs seven days a week—in the chapel, in the marketplace, and in the public square.

These three changes represent a rejection of the American Founding. Progressive politics and a radical view of human sexuality are combining to coerce compliance at the expense of a bedrock human right. And of course much of this has been enabled by judicial activism, as in Obergefell.


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