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Mickey Rat

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 [1] — 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 [2]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: [3]

The new version of the bill provides Religious Freedom Restoration Act levels of protection [4] 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 [5]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 [6] 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 [7], 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 [8], 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.


174 Comments (Open | Close)

174 Comments To "Mickey Rat"

#1 Comment By Frankie T. On March 25, 2016 @ 11:34 pm

I just got back from an extended trip to rural southern Georgia, and the comments by Bobby and Richard Williams jive with my (admittedly limited) observations there. If there is a cohort of LGBT people and their sympathizers that poses a serious challenge to the conservative Christian culture in south GA, it is: (1) huge, because it will need to outnumber the congregants of the thousands of churches that dot this sparsely populated region; and (2) amazingly well hidden. E. Potson’s reading of the Georgia bill suggests that the law is intended to push back against the normalization of gay marriage that is happening elsewhere in the country, and to maintain the cultural, economic and political status quo of LGBT citizens in Peach State. I predict that within a generation laws like this will be regarded similarly as Jim Crow laws.

Also, I’m a student and admirer of the way Disney runs its business. I disagree with this statement by flyover guy: “Pay attention to where Disney is going. The culture will soon follow.” IMO, this is exactly backwards. Disney goes to extraordinary efforts to anticipate demographic and cultural trends and fine tune its business to profit from them to the maximum extent possible. Disney is so effective at this in comparison with most of corporate America that it appears to be driving the culture, when in fact the company is simply where the majority (read: the economic power) of the country is at or heading on these issues. That’s why culturally motivated boycotts against Disney have failed, and likely will continue to fail.

#2 Comment By Barret On March 26, 2016 @ 12:07 am

One day, Disney will find that they’ve alienated their target audience and that they only fans they have left are 20-something tumblr-users.

#3 Comment By Bobby On March 26, 2016 @ 12:24 am


I see no reason why a court would handle this any differently than it handled an inquiry into racial discrimination. But, yes, the facts surrounding the enactment of the policy would be germane. If a policy is cleverly tailored to be facially neutral but only ensnare gays, then the policy would probably not withstand scrutiny. For example, if a Catholic school denied employment to someone who’s a party to a same-sex marriage, then it would also need to deny employment to someone who got remarried following a divorce without seeking an annulment.

After all, if you’re designing a policy whose purpose is to exclude gay people and no one else, that’s a textbook example of what constitutes invidious discrimination.

#4 Comment By Bobby On March 26, 2016 @ 12:40 am


Such punitive responses to modest gay-rights advances have actually accelerated the progress of gay rights in the US. The more that social conservatives overreact to the alleged threat of same-sex marriage, the more the general public tends to equate opposition to SSM with invidious discrimination.

I do believe that states ought to provide some legal protections for people who don’t want to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies. But there is no reason to pass a statewide law that effectively repeals employment- and housing-related protections that gay people enjoy in certain localities.

#5 Comment By Erin Manning On March 26, 2016 @ 2:03 am

Well, this comment thread is probably just about over, but I did want to say something anyway.

Thursday night my family attended our mission church’s Holy Thursday Mass. At the end of Mass the congregation processed to the altar of repose, and we, the choir, followed our pastor who was carrying the Blessed Sacrament. We chanted the ancient liturgical hymn “Pange Lingua,” and as we reached the place where the altar of repose with its beautiful tabernacle awaited the Blessed Sacrament we began the last two verses of that hymn, the ones that begin “Tantum Ergo.”

And earlier this evening (Friday night) we returned to church for the Good Friday Passion service. During the part of the service where the prayers of the Church are offered I prayed for several of you by name. And just as the individual venerations of the Cross were ending, an adorable toddler overcame her shyness and came up to the Cross; slowly she bowed before it, and carefully kissed the wood below Christ’s feet.

In the face of scenes like this, what do I care about Mickey Mouse Morality? Perhaps the last child who will care anything for the name “Disney” has already been born, or perhaps a few decades have yet to pass before he or she will enter the world–but the sun will never rise on a world where the Pange Lingua is not sung on Holy Thursday, or where a child does not learn to venerate the Cross on Good Friday. The sound and fury of the world is reduced to the terrified squeaking of an irrelevant rodent trapped in a superficial pool of its own wastes. Nothing about our cult-less “culture” will endure, because it has no roots, because it saws off its own branches, and because it welcomes dry rot in the name of diversity.

The more we look to the real things, the things that matter, the clearer this becomes.

#6 Comment By Rob G On March 26, 2016 @ 11:17 am

~~~This is where the “bigot” label starts to look appropriate. Christians engage in ordinary business transactions with all kinds of people they deem to be sinners. But transacting business with gay people constitutes ab objectionable moral endorsement of their lifestyle? Come on.~~~

To my mind it’s the same as if a landlord refused to rent to an unmarried heterosexual couple. Because morally, it’s in fact the same thing.

So, do we traditionalists also desire a “cohabitationist-free world” when we preach against cohabitation? Certainly not in the same sense you imply when you accuse us of wanting a “gay-free world.” All you sexual revolutionaries continue to be unable to delineate between moral rejection of the activity from hatred for its participants. And, yes, yes, I know that many times Christians have failed to practice that delineation themselves. But that failure doesn’t negate the principle.

#7 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 26, 2016 @ 11:21 am

Rod–when is your side going to wise up and realize that Business Republicanism is not your friend?

Ummm, I do recall Rod saying something along those lines now and then… in fact, I think its a substantial reason I started reading this blog about, oh, ten years or so ago.

Bobby’s last comment is reasonable, as far as it goes. There remain little details like, if a photographer is asked to record, assemble, extoll, a same-sex marriage, does that cross over into compelled expression?

Where are religious leaders being forced to perform same sex marriages? And where are people being forced to attend same sex marriage services?

The former is a sound question. The latter however… we get back to the power of employers to coerce almost anything they are not barred by law from interfering with. Two hundred years ago, an employer could fire you for not being in church on Sunday. Today, an employer could insinuate that an employee is “not a team player” if they decline to attend their supervisor’s same-sex wedding ceremony. And anyone who is “not a team player” could be out of work soon.

The problem of course is not so much political correctness, but the overwhelming power of employers to impose on employees. You know, like Hobby Lobby.

#8 Comment By CharleyCarp On March 26, 2016 @ 11:27 am

Carlo, what stops a judge from deciding that discrimination against LGTB people is “invidious” is the rest of the sentence in the law — based on grounds in state and federal law. State and federal law do not cover discrimination based on LGTB.

The Atlanta municipal code does. The ‘invidious discrimination’ exception in the statute does not cover municipal codes. It therefore allows someone to discriminate against LGTB people in Atlanta, for religious reasons.

I have no idea why so many of you folks refuse to follow the simple logic of the statute on this. Claiming that it’s an issue of judicial discretion is arguing that the sun rises in the west.

#9 Comment By Rob G On March 26, 2016 @ 11:28 am

“The more that social conservatives overreact to the alleged threat of same-sex marriage, the more the general public tends to equate opposition to SSM with invidious discrimination.”

The general public, having inhaled the fumes of SexRev and relativism for 50 years, has become a moral idiot, unable to make even the most basic moral distinctions. Public morality in the U.S. has basically been reduced to “do what you want so long as you don’t hurt someone else.” Which seems lovely on the surface, but in reality doesn’t get you very far. It’s Morris Albert Morality — “Feelings, nothing more than feelings…”

#10 Comment By Chris 1 On March 26, 2016 @ 3:30 pm

Disney will find that they’ve alienated their target audience…

Nope. Disney has already changed its target audience, and it is now following along for profit.


#11 Comment By John On March 26, 2016 @ 4:37 pm

@ Bobby,

As much as I’d like to agree with your reasoning on the double standard employed between straight “sinners” and gay “sinners” (I have those quoted because reject the whole concept of “sin”) I think that nonprofit religious organizations with a mission devoted to missionary work or proselytizing would well be within their Constitutional right to impose such double standards.

They may treat some conduct which they disapprove more harshly than others, simply because they view it as more abhorrent as other conduct, and there is nothing we can do about it. Religious-based morality doesn’t need to be rationally-based to be constitutionally protected; it need only be believed.

I agree with you however, on your point about discrimination in general. There is no reason why any law which bars discrimination on account of one’s sexual orientation and gender identity should be repealed. We in fact should be pushing for the adoption of such laws, for there is no reason why anyone who has the financial means to buy a house or rent property should be denied the right to do so just because that landlord who is renting property or homeowner who is selling his property doesn’t approve of thatcperson’s sexual conduct. Invidious discrimination should be banned wherever it is still practiced. We have no choice, but to allow the evil that religious organizations engage in since it is constitutionally protected. Sometimes the remedy, in this case allowing the government to intrude on one’s conscience, is worse than the disease.

@ Frankie Ti certainly look forward to that day when these laws are viewed like Jim Crow laws are looked at today. The push to deny LGBT Americsns from all the rights, privileges, and pursuit of happiness everyone else takes for granted is a sad chapter in American history.

@Rob G

We certainly have not lost the ability to make the most basic moral distinctions. We simply draw the line from a different point than you do.


Yes, employers have too much power over matters that are none of their business. Employees owe them a reliable and productive work ethic during their set hours and nothing more – provided they aren’t religious in nature.

#12 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On March 26, 2016 @ 4:41 pm

“He’s 82,retired from The American Enterprise Institute, living in Florida and at least up until 2004,last we heard, claimed to be a lifelong Democrat.”

Novak was Reagan’s ambassador the the U.N. As the holder of a prominent seat at AEI, which was the Reagan Administration’s favorite think tank, he was the main defender of the morality of corporations in the 1980s, when corporations were given more power than ever before under the guise of deregulation.

I do think small businesses have too much regulation to contend with. But Big Business needs more regulation. What was the collapse and the bailout of the big banks about if not that necessity?

Unlike George Gilder and Irving Kristol, Novak explicitly wrapped corporations in the mantle of virtue, as opposed to self-interest. That is ironic now that major corporations are falling all over themselves to force abstractions about morality on the whole country.

#13 Comment By John On March 26, 2016 @ 4:58 pm

@Michael GC

Sigh. My point was that, as a gay man I would hate to live in a state that uses every chance it gets to express its hostility toward people like me.

I am by no means an elitist – just a middle class average gay Joe who considers himself lucky enough to make ends meet and have a roof over his head who lives in a state where that isn’t conditioned on who you wish to spend your life with.

And no, I certainly wouldn’t give people who have it in with me any of my hard-earned money. If I get the chance to travel, I’ll hit Illinois, Colorado, or California instead. I’ll even hit Mormon Utah before I’d hit NC since that state passed a nondiscrimination bill that includes us.

#14 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 26, 2016 @ 6:23 pm

The general public, having inhaled the fumes of SexRev and relativism for 50 years, has become a moral idiot,

The law is an ass…

The people are a great beast…

What we need now is a dictator…

#15 Comment By MichaelGC On March 26, 2016 @ 9:01 pm

John says on March 26, 2016 at 4:58 pm:

And no, I certainly wouldn’t give people who have it in with me any of my hard-earned money. If I get the chance to travel, I’ll hit Illinois, Colorado, or California instead. I’ll even hit Mormon Utah before I’d hit NC since that state passed a nondiscrimination bill that includes us.

Good for you, John. I just cancelled my Netflix account after reading that it threatened to pull their operations out of Georgia unless Governor Deal vetoes the bill, based on the same principles you cited

#16 Comment By Bobby On March 26, 2016 @ 10:19 pm

@Rob G

A number of localities have ordinances that prevent landlords from renting to people on the basis of marital status. Why hasn’t there been an outcry to seeking to protect the rights of Christian landlords who don’t want to affirm cohabitation by leasing an apartment to an unmarried couple? Surely it’s not because you’re singling out gay people and treating them differently from others whose conduct violates your religious principles.

Also, I don’t get whet the term “sexual revolutionary” is supposed to convey. My own sexual practices conform to traditional Christian teaching. That’s my personal choice, as I believe that such a lifestyle proffers a high degree of utility with low transaction costs. And because humans are naturally drawn to utility-maximizing social arrangements, I have little doubt that traditional arrangements will generally predominate.

But I see no reason to insist that what’s normal must also be normative. I see nothing wrong with permitting a degree of social experimentation at the margins, as long as such experimentation imposes no undue material burdens onto others.

I’m not the one who’s acting on subjective feelings. You are. I fail to see why I should object to living down the hallway from a lesbian couple with two kids. Their lives are not my business, and my life is not their business. If that makes me a sexual revolutionary, then I proudly embrace the label.

#17 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 27, 2016 @ 9:29 pm

Good for you Michael GC. I never had a Netflix account, because I don’t watch enough TV to be worth it. My next door neighbor’s sister is moving to Atlanta because she likes it better there. But I couldn’t stand the heat.

#18 Comment By Rob G On March 28, 2016 @ 10:25 am

Bobby, you missed my point about cohabitation. What I’m saying is that religious conservatives should have the same right to object morally to homosexual marriage, and to speak of that objection publicly, as they do regarding cohabitation.

But it seems that this is not permissible under the current rules of conduct: one cannot speak against homosexuality without being declared a “hater.” That’s not true w/r/t cohabitation.

#19 Comment By Jeff On March 28, 2016 @ 12:49 pm


Gov Deal just caved. LGBTs have political and financial power. In addition, they have moral authority. Do you still think that you can have religious liberty without challenging the Left’s claim on moral authority?

#20 Comment By Steven On March 28, 2016 @ 1:24 pm

Gov. Deal didn’t cave. He did the right thing.

#21 Comment By Gregory DeVore On March 28, 2016 @ 2:01 pm

This is why Trump is so enticing. They have turned against us so lets give them a candidate that they hate. Even Berne in the sense that he will ruin business in America.

#22 Comment By Jeff On March 28, 2016 @ 2:17 pm

Steven says:
March 28, 2016 at 1:24 pm
Gov. Deal didn’t cave. He did the right thing.

From the Left’s perspective, surrender by Republican’s is doing the right thing.

#23 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 28, 2016 @ 3:19 pm

Gov. Deal caved, whether he did the right thing or not. There is no evidence that thoughtful consideration of what would be best for the people of Georgia had anything to do with his decision.

#24 Comment By Thomas On April 13, 2016 @ 6:33 am

If these big businesses oppose laws that protect freedom of association, they are by definition opposed to the free market. Rod Dreher doesn’t understand the free market position, so he thinks it is all about supporting whatever big businesses do (ignoring the fact that these businesses receive lots of money from the state).