Friday Roundup, September 20th

The intellectual rise of Neo-Progressivism over the past three decades depended heavily on historians who helped craft a compelling story of America. This story had to expose and chronicle the dark history of exploitation of the privileged and powerful against a litany of victimized “others” while simultaneously laying claim to a worthy past that is unfolding toward a noble future. The psychological benefits of this story are many and powerful, though they rest on conceptual ground riven with subterranean stresses and fissures.

At its most powerful, inhabiting this story of America allows one to enjoy moral outrage against our forefathers (less so our mothers) while seeing the entire sweep of American history as tending (progressing) toward justice. Such a combination of moral righteousness and patriotism is intoxicating but unstable. One sees it in the way Progressive politicians draw upon authorities from our past (Washington, Lincoln, FDR) in the process of advocating a “fundamental transformation” of the nation.

  • Legal Theory Blog links to Nathan Chapman’s new paper “Disentangling Conscience and Religion” which argues that “Protecting fidelity to conscience, whether religious or nonreligious, promotes integrity and undermines the government’s pretensions to moral totalitarianism. This conception of conscience is coherent enough to support a legal right and valuable enough to deserve one.”
  • Heritage’s Foundry blog reports on yesterday’s introduction of The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act (H.R. 3133), sponsored by Representative Raul Labrador (R-ID) and over 60 other original co-sponsors from both political parties. The post helpfully links to the string of incidents over the past few years of individuals and groups becoming targets because of their religious and moral convictions regarding same sex marriage:

Last month, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment does not protect a photographer’s right to decline to take pictures of a same-sex commitment ceremony—even though doing so would violate the photographer’s deeply held religious beliefs as a Christian. Christian adoption and foster care agencies have been forced to stop providing those services because they object to placing children in same-sex households. Other cases include a baker, a florist, a bed-and-breakfast, a t-shirt company, a student counselor, the Salvation Army, and more.

California’s legislature was poised to pass a bill that would have stripped tax-exempt status from groups such as the Boy Scouts because of policies on sexual orientation. Though it had passed the state Senate, 27–9, the bill was tabled in early September after criticism from surprising quarters—including the liberal Los Angeles Times.

Richard Reinsch is a fellow at Liberty Fund and the editor of the Library of Law and Liberty.

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