President Obama does not talk about "religious liberty". He prefers the phrase "freedom to worship" - ie, it's something you do for an hour or two on a Sunday morning, and then put it in the closet for the rest of the week and live a secular life in a secular world. I would imagine that shrunken and attenuated view of religious "liberty" will come to prevail in America in the years ahead - at least until some gay guy sues a Muslim baker for failing to bake his wedding cake, when it will all get more complicated.
Yesterday the Governor of Arizona made her own small contribution to this wholesale transformation. From Powerline's Paul Mirengoff:
Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed Arizona S.B. 1062, legislation that I wrote about here and here. Brewer claimed that S.B. 1062 "does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona" and that it was "broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences."
Paul takes these objections more seriously than Arizona's Governor did or most of the newspapers. Yesterday, I heard Republican state senator Steve Pierce explain why he voted for the bill before he was against it. Like Nancy Pelosi, he passed it in order that he could find out what was in it, and, once he'd found out, he changed his mind and demanded that Jan Brewer veto him before he could legislate again.
Whatever the faults or the virtues of the bill, there is nothing to be said for such a legislative class. What does the jelly-spined Pierce really believe about the law he passed? What does Governor Brewer really feel about it, other than that she's tired of being demonized as "Jan Crow"? Paul Mirengoff distills it:
Her real concern is with avoiding the wrath of businesses that wish to avoid the wrath of gay activists.
Through all the years I have been in America, I have been told, whenever I draw attention to some examples from Canada, that Americans are not wussy pantywaist Canadians, and there's no chance of that happening here. And yet oddly enough it does happen here, in nothing flat. Here's the kind of column I was writing up north a decade ago:
So it's no surprise to find that, even though we've only had legalized "same-sex marriage" for ten minutes, and even though Paul Martin & Co. have given a lot of fine-sounding assurances on how the new arrangements will respect the deeply held beliefs of ancient religions, gays are already in court suing for the right to marry on church property. In 2003, the Knights of Columbus in Port Coquitlam accepted a booking for a wedding reception in their hall behind Our Lady of the Assumption Church. It's a fairly typical Knights of Columbus hall--crucifixes, photographs of the Pope, paintings of the Virgin Mary, et cetera. When the Knights discovered that Deborah Chymyshyn and Tracey Smith were, in fact, a lesbian couple, they cancelled the booking as politely as they could under the circumstances, returning the deposit and, on the advice of the Archdiocese, chipping in a further $600 to cover new wedding invitations and an alternative location...
Take a wild guess at how that worked out for them.
A legal decision here, a legal decision there--a religious institution can't fire a militantly gay employee, a religious school has to allow gay couples to the prom, the sterner admonitions from Leviticus can no longer be quoted in church advertising--and the ratchet effect is well underway.
As my compatriot Kathy Shaidle likes to say (until she's arrested), "More KY for that slippery slope." But don't worry - rock-ribbed Republicans like Pierce and Brewer will ensure there's no danger of any of that coming to America.
In my book Lights Out (now out on Kindle, Kobo and Nook - click above), I write:
In the early days of gay liberation, most of us assumed we were being asked to live and let live. But, throughout the western world, 'tolerance' has become remarkably intolerant, and 'diversity' demands ruthless conformity.
Live and let live? No, live and let die. As Barbara Findlay, the QC who successfully sued the Knights of Columbus, said way back in 1997:
The legal struggle for queer rights will one day be a showdown between freedom of religion versus sexual orientation.
But don't worry, you'll still have the "freedom to worship".
~I'll be returning to the Deranged Dominion myself for my appearance at the Manning conference this Saturday. So I won't be able to keep my weekly date with Hugh Hewitt, because I'll be in Ottawa joining Evan Solomon for my biennial appearance on the CBC, live at 6pm Eastern. See you then.