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Mickey Rat

Big Business is the enemy of social and religious conservatives

Used to be that the Republican coalition was made up of free marketers, libertarians, social and religious conservatives, and national security hawks. Their commonalities, versus the Democratic Party’s coalition, made it possible for them to elide their differences. Besides, when it got right down to it, most religious and social conservatives (wrongly) didn’t see any particular threat to their values from capitalism.

Now, if you are one of those social or religious conservatives, you are living in a Reaganesque dreamland. Since the Indiana RFRA debacle last year — ifyou haven’t read Prof. Kingsfield on its implications, you really, really must — Big Business has shown itself to be the most powerful enemy of social conservatives. The most powerful enemy because, well, they’re so powerful, period, and also powerful in that they generally tell the GOP what to do.

Today we see that the Walt Disney company is the enemy of traditional Christians not only because of their sleazy Disney Channel programming, but also because … well, read on:

Another industry is warning Georgia’s governor not to sign a religious-liberty bill into law — the latest to suggest that the state risks losing business over the measure.

The Walt Disney Co. and its subsidiary movie studio, Marvel, said in a statement Wednesday that they would stop all film production in the state should the Free Exercise Protection Act, which opponents describe as anti-gay, becomes law.

“Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law,” the Disney Co. said in a statement.

What does the Georgia bill do? From the Post:

The bill, which passed the state legislature last week, protects religious leaders from being forced to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies and individuals from being forced to attend such events. It also allows faith-based organizations to deny use of their facilities for events they find “objectionable” and exempts them from having to hire or retain any employee whose religious beliefs or practices differ from those of the organization.

That’s it. The bill offered weak religious liberty protection to dissenters from the emerging cultural orthodoxy. But it was better than nothing. And that’s not enough for Disney.

Last night, under pressure, the Georgia legislature watered down even the weak bill it put forward. As Ryan T. Anderson and Roger Severino write:

The new version of the bill provides Religious Freedom Restoration Act levels of protection for certain protected persons, but it explicitly says these protections cannot apply in cases of “invidious discrimination.” Of course, no one is in favor of invidious discrimination, but the problem is that in the hands of a liberal judge, everything looks like invidious discrimination even when it is not, such as religious universities or adoption agencies that want their policies to reflect their teachings on marriage. This apes the bad “fix” that gutted the Indiana religious freedom bill.

What this “fix” means in practice is that if a new or existing law creating special legal privileges based on sexual orientation and gender identity conflicts with a sincere religious belief, the Georgia religious freedom bill may provide no protection—not even the standard balancing test that is the hallmark of religious freedom restoration acts. So in an area where we most need religious liberty protection, the new Georgia law goes out of its way to disclaim it.

You will have seen, no doubt, that the National Football League weighed in, threatening to kick Atlanta out of consideration for the next Super Bowl. Nobody is talking about anti-gay discrimination in pro football. What the NFL cannot abide is the possibility that Georgia might offer an affirmative defense in court for the shrinking number of Christians who oppose same-sex marriage.

When you’ve lost Disney and the NFL — that is, when even Disney and the NFL consider “religious liberty” to be a code word for “hate” — you’ve lost, period. Get it straight in your head now, orthodox Christians, Jews, and Muslims: Big Business is the enemy. 

There is precious little we can do about it now, but we can at least stop fooling ourselves that the free market is a friend to orthodox religion. It never was, but now, it’s positively hostile.

At the state and local level, there are Republican politicians who are willing to try to protect religious liberty, but they’re getting smashed on the economic front by nationals and multinationals. As angry as I get when GOP pols put economics over moral principle, I can understand it. Don’t agree with it, but understand it. Traditional Christians and other social conservatives face a terrible choice: vote for Democrats, who will gleefully stomp on religious liberty, or vote for Republicans, who will feebly oppose it, then cave, because the business of America is and always will be Business.

If this doesn’t compel conservative Christians to radically rethink their politics, they are so far in the GOP tank that they can’t tell up from down. Reagan is dead, and so is his coalition.




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