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The Indiana Apocalypse

What the RFRA debacle revealed about who really runs America

I have called the showdown in Indiana over RFRA an “apocalypse,” not in the “end of the world” sense, but in the original Greek sense of an “unveiling.” The reason it was so shocking to many religious conservatives is because it showed us how things really are in this country — specifically, that religious liberty is far more imperiled than we previously believed. It’s not so much that people weighed religious liberty against gay rights claims and found them wanting; it’s that people didn’t seem to weigh them at all. It was naturally assumed, and assumed with great moral indignation, that of course religious people are entitled to no consideration in the face of anti-discrimination claims.

Patrick Deneen can read the signs of the times, and sees that neither Republicans nor Democrats can be counted on to value the principle religious liberty when it opposes what the mob, including the mob in the boardroom, wants:

This past spring, we saw something quite different and revealing and worrying. With the imprimatur of American elites, which was clearly given in the furor over Indiana’s RFRA, religiously based opposition to gay marriage is now more than ever likely to be treated by our society as tantamount to a hate crime. This elite-sanctioned attack on “bigotry” will not stop at Memories Pizza. It will be extended first to religious nonprofit institutions that insist upon the view that marriage is between a man and a woman—the schools, the colleges, the adoption services—and then will reach inevitably into the sanctuaries of the churches ­themselves. The narrative of bigotry will demand nothing less, and the protection that might have been afforded by RFRA and the First Amendment has been shown to be a parchment barrier in comparison with the might and power of cultural and financial elites.

Americans of both parties once believed that no center of power in America should become so concentrated that it could force its views on every other citizen. What we saw in Indiana was not just a “miscalculation” by Republicans. We saw fully unmasked just who runs America, and the kind of America that they are bringing more fully into reality every passing day. It will be an America where the powerful will govern completely over the powerless, where the rich dictate terms to the poor, where the strong are unleashed from the old restraints of culture and place, where libertarian indifference—whether in respect to economic inequality or morals—is inscribed into the national fabric, and where the unburdened, hedonic human will reign ascendant. No limits reflected in political, social, or religious norms can be permitted: All are allowed except those who would claim the legitimacy of restraint.

Read the whole thing. You can’t know what’s going on without a program.