an unanticipated consequence of
Jack M. Balkin
Wednesday, December 06, 2017
Masterpiece Cakeshop and how “religious liberty” became so toxic
Until recently, almost all Americans were for religious liberty. Then LGBTQ rights and the contraception mandate came along. This week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the question of whether a small cake-making business can refuse service to a gay couple — a clash both left and right have elevated into a key moment in the culture wars.
Many on the left now regard “religious liberty” as a coded term for discrimination and exclusion. Many on the right feel they are being persecuted for their unpopular beliefs.
The current unpleasantness is unnecessary. The tradition of religious liberty has the resources to handle this. Religious liberty has never meant a right to hurt people, but it has stood for a tolerance of the unfamiliar that opens a path to a reasonable settlement.
With only a slight course correction — aided, one hopes, by a Supreme Court that aims to dampen culture clashes, not exacerbate them — religious freedom can be everyone’s friend again.