The Corner

The Assault on Freedom of Belief Is Not Confined to Religion

In response to Fisching For National Martyrdom

David French’s fine article yesterday points out how radical and aggressive the Left’s assault on religious liberties has become. The latest example is the statement of the U.S. Commission on Civil  Rights (on which I sit in the minority) condemning a variety of bills in North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kansas, which statement not only subordinates First Amendment  religious liberties to nondiscrimination rights, but suggests that religion is , in fact, the source of, and justification for, discrimination.

This isn’t a minor squabble on the fringes of the culture war (when it comes to such war, the Civil Rights Commission is the canary in the coal mine. We get a peek at what the Left has in store for society years before it’s sprung on the nation as a whole). This goes far beyond the current “bathroom wars.”  It’s a battle that goes to the foundations of who we are as Americans. It has the potential to “fundamentally transform” the United States into something other than the Land of the Free. Yes, it’s that serious.

And the evidence indicates we’re wholly unprepared to engage in the battle. Many conservatives are agnostic, atheist, or indifferent to religious liberty. That’s one of the beauties of such liberty. You can exercise it, or not, as you wish, consistent with the law.

But you’re wrong if you think this isn’t your fight because the matter involves beliefs pertaining to a God or Supreme Being for which you hold no particular brief. Make absolutely no mistake: This is an outright assault on the freedom to believe what you wish to believe, period – regardless of whether those beliefs have anything to do with religion.

Witness, for example, the attempt by a group of Democratic state attorneys general to chill the First Amendment rights of global warming skeptics; the calls to bring criminal sanctions against “climate change deniers.” Witness also the movement on college campuses and elsewhere to silence and sanction students, professors, speakers, and others who hold heterodox or ”unsafe” viewpoints on immigration, law enforcement, family formation, multiculturalism, Israel, free markets, etc. Their beliefs are not deemed worthy of counterargument,  rather only of suppression, if not wholesale extinguishment.

We’re rapidly descending into one of the most illiberal periods — if not the most illiberal period – in our nation’s history. We need everyone who believes in freedom of thought on the ramparts, whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, or something in between.  All conservatives — all freedom lovers — need to step up. The thought police are many, they are powerful, and they’re on the march.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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