Religious right’s new panic: How can we practice religion if we can’t discriminate?

From Salon:

The “liberty” crowd, led by Ross Douthat of the Times, braces itself for persecution of its views

Tuesday, Mar 4, 2014

When it became clear that conservatives were going to lose a fight in Arizona (and then elsewhere) to establish legal protections for anti-gay religious business owners and others, nobody on the left expected an immediate course correction.

But to a disappointing degree, conservative supporters of Arizona’s SB 1062 have eschewed introspection of any kind, and have instead retreated into an ideologically insulated cocoon of self-pity. Within this cocoon it’s an article of faith that the media botched its coverage of the bill’s demise, or, worse, joined forces with liberals, gay rights advocates and others to intentionally mislead the public about the stakes of the fight. A surprising number of conservatives seem to believe that they alone possess the correct understanding of the bill’s intent — that everyone else got it catastrophically wrong, perhaps on purpose, and that the mismatch explains their defeat.

These protestations are incredibly unconvincing and a little bit sad. They prefigure a not-so-distant future in which LGBT equality is a social norm that goes unquestioned except in private, and by people who publicly insist they’ve always just been misunderstood. If you’re interested, here’s one thorough demolition.

Personally, I’m a bit less interested in what those who feel mowed over by recent events say within their virtual support groups than in the pronouncements of the handful of conservatives who have ventured out of them. And the common thread among them is a persistent belief that incompatibilities between civil law and certain religious beliefs doesn’t just burden a small subset of entrepreneurs, but actually constitutes persecution of religious affiliates in general.

Last week, after Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062, Rod Dreher, a senior editor at the American Conservative, wrote this post, which is filled with interesting data points, but ends on a strangely beleaguered note.

“What I’m really interested in is what religious and social conservatives who find themselves on the losing side here think is the next step,” he wrote. “A federal judge in Texas today did what federal judges these days do: found the state’s prohibition on SSM unconstitutional. We all know, or should know, where this is going as a legal matter, and soon. We also know, or should know, where this is going as a cultural matter. So, what next? What’s our plan for ourselves, our families, our churches, and our local communities? Do we even have one? What would it look like?”

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