Beutler Clarifies

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Brian Beutler says that in a recent article (or two) I got him all wrong. I said that in a February 27 article he had made an argument against religious exemptions from generally applicable laws on principle, and suggested that churches that refrain from performing same-sex marriages should lose their tax exemptions. In that article he had criticized any view of religious liberty that treated it as a “social trump card” that overrode “democratic norms and competing liberties.”

He links to a March 13 article of his where he says (as near as I can tell) that while he leans against letting these churches have tax exemptions, he realizes the issue is “complex.” And he is willing to grant churches the liberty to refuse, for example, to ordain women as priests, something he presents as a large concession.

He then moves to the slippery-slope argument about where letting companies refuse to cover contraceptives could lead. He notes that conservatives generally dismiss that argument, which is certainly true. (I dismissed it yesterday.)

I appreciate Beutler’s clarification. All in all, though, it reinforces my view that today’s liberals have a much narrower view of religious freedom than their predecessors did.

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