16 January 2019

Farewell to Religious Freedom Day

t’s National Religious Freedom Day again here in the United States—an ironic holiday, considering that our present administration has dedicated itself to stamping out individual religious freedom wherever it can, in favor of a sort of institutional religious freedom which allows landowners to impose their beliefs on their tenants, businesses to impose their beliefs on their employees and customers, and the rest of us to look back nostalgically on the days when we, too—as individual people, not employees or tenants—had religious freedom. The Virginia statute of religious freedom—honored in the breach on this memorial day—referred to “the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men have assumed dominion over the faith of others”; today we might add to that the impious presumption of fallible and uninspired arts-and-crafts store owners and cake bakers who have arrogantly assumed dominion over the faith of others. It’s a sorry comedown.

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