Minimalist Religious Freedom as a Self-Inflicted Wound

Philip Muñoz’s new book helps illuminate the “social contract–natural rights” style of reasoning that was undoubtedly influential at the Founding. But I find it hard to follow—or, for that matter, to fathom—when this sort of reasoning from fictions is deployed normatively to justify contemporary prescriptions that would otherwise seem unjust or undesirable.
In Religious Liberty and the American Founding, Phillip Muñoz believes that there is a kind of natural rights logic that leads to his minimalist version of religious freedom. His central premise is that the Constitution should be interpreted according to the “natural rights” logic that was prevalent in the Founding period; and he tries to follow this logic to its conclusions, come hell or high water.
Robert Wilken’s new book convincingly demonstrates that the concept of religious freedom has its origins in Christianity. Unfortunately, in today’s political climate, that may actually be viewed as an argument against religious freedom.
Justice Ginsburg’s claim in Masterpiece Cakeshop is deeply troublesome and problematic. Mistakenly asserted, it adds to the aggravated polarization within the United States.
Antidiscrimination laws are fully within the government’s authority—but only when the government is not using such laws as part of a campaign to compel people to express “by word or act” their support for a government-prescribed orthodoxy. The second in a two-part series.
The vendor-marriage cases are part of the centuries-old pattern in which governments have attempted to compel dissenters to publicly affirm and acquiesce in the dominant orthodoxy. The first in a two-part series.
In many ways, so-called progressives are comparable to lunch-counter segregationists, and proponents of religious exemptions are the heirs of civil rights activists.
A look back at the disintegration of republicanism in the Roman Empire yields important lessons for contemporary American government. Will we demand actual liberty—including the authority truly to govern ourselves—or be content with its image?
Debates about marriage will only be cluttered up, and decisions confounded, if the issue is framed in the question-begging terms of “marriage equality.”