The struggle for religious freedom is no longer what it used to be
Thirty years ago, a possible reversal of Blacksmith would have been celebrated especially by liberals. Today conservatives are charged with expanding and overthrowing religious freedom Blacksmith. Understanding why shows the contours of a great transformation that American society has undergone over the past three decades.
Two talks on religious freedom are taking place at the same time, one legal and one political. The majority opinion in Fulton, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, emphasized the legal talk and detailed how Philadelphia was not neutral towards religion. Alito’s unanimous opinion calling for the replacement of Blacksmith, similarly emphasized the legal conversation. He argued that the repeal Blacksmith would protect religious freedom for all, including Orthodox Jews, Sikh men, and Muslim women. Such an approach is common among advocates of religious freedom, but it misses the political context that has developed alongside far-reaching claims to religious freedom. In politics, the way in which the religious freedom cause is being used leads to the perception that conservative Christians closely associated with republican politics will benefit from its expansion. That promotes division.
Not so long ago, religious freedom was cross-group and cross-party. The religious divide between the parties was less pronounced – evangelical Democrats like Jimmy Carter were widespread – and liberal interest groups like the ACLU defended freedom of worship in court. Religious minorities such as the Amish, Seventh-day Adventists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses have often benefited. After the Supreme Court ruled the rights of religious freedom with the Blacksmith The opposition’s decision was almost universal – and certainly bipartisan – despite being led by Democrats and progressive groups. Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993 almost unanimously to weaken it Blacksmith and restoring full protection of religious freedom. Non-partisan super majorities in several countries followed suit and strengthened their protection of religious freedom.
Within a decade, these non-partisan currents changed. Republicans used religious freedom arguments to advance their position on cultural issues. They argued that Christian freedom of religion was threatened and stressed cultural conflicts. In doing so, the Republicans adopted the cultural arguments for religious freedom advocated by white evangelicals. Evangelicals had become a core part of the party’s activist base and electoral coalition, mobilized by a mix of civil and abortion opposition and support for religious nationalism. Evangelicals had for decades made arguments in favor of religious freedom to drive back secularism and sexual revolution, and to promote cultural conservatism such as prayer in schools. As Conservative Christians became integrated into the Republican Party, its messages on religious freedom gained wider acceptance.