Politics & Policy

The Future of Social Conservatives Is on the Line in North Carolina

North Carolina governor Pat McCrory (Reuters photo: Chris Keane)
Religious liberty hangs in the balance in Governor Pat McCrory’s bid for reelection.

The future of religious liberty for traditional religious believers hangs on what happens to North Carolina governor Pat McCrory’s bid for re-election this November, and he is down six points in the latest CNN poll.

The Atlanta Constitution Journal just acknowledged as much in a story on the decision to hold more public debates on the need for laws to protect the conscience rights of gay-marriage dissenters in Georgia (where Republican governor Nathan Deal vetoed such legislation in 2015):

The re-introduction of ‘religious liberty’ legislation may be a given, but its prospects could largely depend on what happens in North Carolina on Election Day.

Shortly before Deal’s veto, Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina signed into law a measure that barred transgender individuals from using public restrooms associated with their present identity rather than their birth gender.

McCrory is now locked in a tight re-election bid, and Democrat Hillary Clinton is now leading North Carolina polls in the presidential contest.

The Republican party institutionally is already desperately seeking some way to stand down on any issue the Left defines as “anti-gay.” The Chambers of Commerce in Indiana and Georgia have emerged as among the chief opponents of conscience protections for gay-marriage dissenters, and even Target’s unexpected losses after it proudly announced the opening of its women’s bathrooms and dressing rooms to transgender biological males hasn’t deterred the Chamber of Commerce from continuing to support the Left’s interpretation that people with penises can be women, too.

The little-remarked seminal moment in this process of GOP surrender may have actually been in Arizona in February 2014, after the Arizona legislature passed a fairly insignificant technical clarification to the state Religious Freedom Act. The language tweak would not have protected the bakers or the florists with conscience objections, or created any broad new religious-liberty rights (although it might have strengthened the case for letting marriage clerks refuse to sign gay-marriage licenses, so long as they could find a replacement to issue them).

But the facts made no difference at all. The media plunged into denunciations of what CNN called “anti-gay” legislation. Amid the thunderous denunciations from the Left, both Mitt Romney and John McCain stepped forward to oppose the bill publicly. Given the high costs of signing the relatively insignificant law and the enormous public pressure, Republican governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill, and a template for how the Democrats can control the GOP agenda was born: cause a PR nightmare over anything the Left deems “anti-gay,” no matter how reasonable the measures in question might be if ordinary Americans thought about them. Thinking about them is going to be off the table.

The Left’s hostility to conscience protections for gay-marriage dissenters has gotten so bad, and so unrelated to whether any actual damage to a gay person results, that gay couples in North Carolina are suing in federal court to overturn conscience protections for marriage clerks, even though no gay couple has been denied a license in the state. Their grounds for suing are that the mere existence of these exemptions offends them personally, i.e., makes them feel “stigmatized.” (Meanwhile, the potential animus or stigmatization directed at North Carolinians who don’t believe in gay marriage passes unnoticed.) Even though the only standing for suit these couples can claim is that their tax dollars are being spent to implement the North Carolina law  – a claim normally viewed as outrageous in federal court — their case hasn’t yet been dismissed.

#share#Part of the process the Left has discovered to quickly change the culture involves, first, controlling the framing of issues in mainstream media; second, bringing in entertainment media (including sports) to validate and repeat the idea that outrageous things are being done to gay people by letting gay-marriage dissenters keep their jobs; and, three, persuading GOP elites to shut up about the issue, leaving the pathway to cultural change uncontested.

Politics is really not a separate thing from culture; it is part of the way conservatives contest, and Liberals complete, the Left’s cultural domination. Its most important cultural effect in a democracy is to determine which views are “inside the mainstream” and which are “radical and outside the pale.” Thus, persuading Republican elites to shut down on an issue has enormous cultural, as well as political, consequences. That is how “consensus culture” is created.

Once gay issues are out of the way the Left will use these same techniques on the other things it cares about most, hoping to reduce the Republican party to a sterile and politically impotent quasi-libertarian, pro-business economic message.

RELATED: The American Church Needs to Get Serious about Religious Liberty, Now

This week, a major new report from the scholars Dr. Lawrence B. Mayer and Dr. Paul R. McHugh demonstrates how far our views on gay and transgender issues are shifting from scientific reality, as well as common sense. The simple fact is that sexual orientation, while not necessarily chosen, is not genetically determined (for otherwise identical twins would share the same orientation which, we know, they do not). We aren’t merely “born that way.” The mystery of sexual desire has not yet been pierced by scientific knowledge.

Even worse for the Left’s ideology, their research shows that we do not have any solid evidence of the mental-health benefits of hormonal or surgical gender reassignment for adults, much less for children. But what really shocked me is that we have no evidence of the relative physical risks and benefits of these long-term powerful medical interventions. We are experimenting on our own children — and in the case of public schools now encouraging kids to shift genders — other people’s children.

But to object with our voices or our votes is to be “like a racist,” a hater, a bigot, in favor of discrimination, against the American religion of “equality,” as the Left defines it.

RELATED: Lose the Story, Lose the Culture

The question on the line in Pat McCrory’s race to be North Carolina governor is whether or not traditional religious believers are going to be treated equally, or treated like second-class citizens in America. The future of religious liberty is on the line.

But, to date, Cooper is crushing McCrory in fundraising. As in Arizona, the Left is flexing its muscles to demonstrate it can force the GOP to shut up and leave its base defenseless.

#related#The particular issue in North Carolina is whether schoolgirls should be forced to shower with people with penises, but in Georgia and elsewhere, GOP politicians are watching: If McCrory loses, the GOP will concede whatever the Left demands on gay rights, including the right to fire gay-marriage dissenters from public position  and deprive us of our right to form nonprofit schools and charities and organizations on an equal basis with other Americans.

The Left knows it’s that serious and they are acting like it. Where are we?

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