Behind the mad rush of two Republican governors to amend state legislation guaranteeing citizens religious liberty is a simpler — and more momentous— issue.
You have likely entered a business establishment and encountered a sign, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” Well, of course. You own the establishment and you can determine who uses or does not use your goods and services. You don’t even have to give a reason. Haberdashers are free to exclude the homeless; Muslim donut shops are free to exclude donut-devouring Christians; Gerry’s Gay Bars are free to exclude heterosexual swingers; the Skinheads Tattoo Parlor is free to exclude hippies, Jews and Blacks; and the Porterhouse Men’s Club is free to exclude women. Understand: adding religious liberty to the equation need not supply a layer of legal unassailability. That’s because this isn’t fundamentally about religious liberty. It’s about liberty, which the Left now knows nothing about.
The reason conservatives today are finding it hard to combat the liberal arguments prohibiting the exercise of religious liberty is that for 30 years, propelled by the determination not to appear intolerant, they’ve lined up supporting liberal arguments prohibiting the exercise of liberty. They have buckled under the pressure to endorse the coercive restriction of liberty for businesses to decide who their clients are. Now they want to draw the line at religious liberty. But religious liberty is a species of liberty. You don’t get to insist on religious liberty to the exclusion of liberty.
It was the devout Christian, Patrick Henry, who famously uttered “Give me liberty or give me death.” He didn’t mean only religious liberty. The principled response of Christians to the current spasm of coercive egalitarian madness is, therefore, the demand for liberty.
Religious liberty will then take care of itself.