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Bless Jeff Sessions’ Heart, He’s Right

AG Jeff Sessions (mark reinstein/Shutterstock)

Have you been watching the progressive freak-out over the Attorney General’s religious liberty task force? Alexandra de Sanctis is right: the fact that left-wing organizations cannot grasp the idea that religious liberty is important shows exactly why we need a Justice Department religious liberty task force. More:

Most fundamentally, these shallow, imprecise, and often inaccurate comments completely disregard the inherent value of religious liberty. But they also exemplify the political strategy of a progressive movement losing its bearings, sacrificing sanity in favor of stoking the fires of an ever-escalating culture war. Increasing numbers of thought leaders on the left put religious liberty in ominous scare quotes and redefine it as a buzzword for bigotry. They shouldn’t be shocked that scores of religious Americans are willing to hold their noses and overlook the serious flaws of the Trump administration for the sake of protecting their right to practice their faith without coercion.

My pal Michael Wear, a liberal Democrat who worked on religious issues in the Obama White House, writes:


The Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, a religious and political liberal, is sick and tired of it:

I get that some putative Christians use faith as justification for racism, misogyny, homophobia and Islamophobia.

I get that others ally themselves with a president who could not be less Christian if he had three sixes carved into his forehead.

But I also get that none of that, none of the failings of the human structure we call religion, has the slightest thing to do with the question of whether God is.

This being America, you have the right to answer that question in whatever way satisfies you. Many of my liberal friends will come to conclusions different from mine, and I respect that. I wish more of them would return the favor. Because I’m here to tell you: the condescension is getting old. Moreover, I find it interesting that folks who would never judge a Muslim by the lunatics who share her faith are so ready to judge me by the lunatics who share mine.

If all of time, space, history and reality — everything that is, ever has been and ever will be — could be represented by a vast arena, then you and I, in our piddling 70-something years of mortal life, are like someone looking in to that arena through a peephole. So a little humility might not be a bad thing for any of us, no matter what we believe, or don’t.

Politically speaking, religious liberty is the most important issue to me. I wouldn’t rule out voting against Donald Trump in 2020, because some other issue was so urgent, and so important, that it justified voting against my religious liberty interests. But every time I start to think that, some progressive organizations will come out with statements that portray ordinary First Amendment backers like me as some sort of unique and horrible threat to decency.

UPDATE: I can’t remember the last time I had to send so many comments to the trash without publishing them. If your a liberal who can’t come up with anything more serious than, “Christians are just mad that they can’t discriminate against blacks anymore” — seriously, this was one comment — then you shouldn’t waste your time commenting, because I’m not going to publish it. On second though, maybe I should publish them, because all of those comments show exactly why religious liberty is in trouble in this country.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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