By David French
Recently, speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” John Kasich indicated that he wouldn’t sign a religious liberty bill and instead oh-so-helpfully urged people to “chill out.” Here are his remarks:
First, he narrows religious liberty to the concern of religious institutions, rather than a liberty enjoyed by all Americans:
I believe that religious institutions ought to be protected and be able to be in a position of where they can live out their deeply held religious purposes. But when you get beyond that, it gets to be a tricky issue. And tricky is not the right word, but it can become a contentious issue.
News flash: Kasich is behind the times. Religious liberty is now “contentious” even for religious institutions. The Left is seeking to restrict the religious freedom of Christian adoption agencies, Christian schools, Christian campus ministries, and many other religious organizations unless they recognize and embrace same-sex marriage or conform to the view that gender is a matter of psychology, not biology.
Next, we get these words of wisdom:
In our state, we’re not facing this, so everybody needs to take a deep breath, respect one another, and the minute we start trying to write laws, things become more polarized, things—they become more complicated. Obviously I don’t want to force people to violate their deeply held religious convictions, but we’d have to see what that’s all about. I wouldn’t have signed that law from everything I know; I haven’t studied it.
Here’s another news flash: The other side isn’t remotely shy about writing laws, and that’s exactly why we’re seeing increased conflicts between religious liberty and so-called “social justice.” As the regulatory state grows—and as nondiscrimination rules expand—clashes with individual liberty are inevitable. We need religious liberty protections because—in the real world—people are not respecting each other. People are not taking a “deep breath.” We’re already polarized.
In fact, so long as the Left believes it can confine religious free exercise to ever-smaller corners of American life, no one is going to “chill out.” By drawing clear legal lines, robust religious freedom protections actually help limit conflict. Neither the North Carolina law nor Mississippi’s religious liberty bill prevent a single gay person from getting married or enjoying any other individual liberty. Instead, they protect religious individuals from being coerced into facilitating or participating in behavior they find immoral.
In the absence of protections for freedom of conscience and free exercise, the Left will simply keep pushing until orthodox religious belief achieves the same legal and cultural pariah status as white supremacy. That means continual conflict. The only “peace” will come through surrender, but that seems to be the peace that Kasich craves.