Indiana Governor Mike Pence is shocked—shocked—that people see anything objectionable in Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. “Was I expecting this kind of backlash?” he exclaimed, “Heavens no.”
After all, who could object to religious freedom?
Yet, there is something fishy about the Christian right’s newfound passion for spiritual liberty. For most of American history, the First Amendment has been the redoubt of religious minorities: Catholics, Jews, Mormons, atheists, and others. The 1993 federal law that Indiana lawmakers claimed to innocently reproduce was inspired by a Native American who was fired for smoking ceremonial peyote.
Mainstream Protestants, safely in the majority, have had little need for such protections, and right-wing groups have often opposed efforts by the ACLU and other civil rights organizations to defend religious minorities.
So why the sudden clamor for religious freedom?