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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Outwit. Outplay.Outlast.

In a refreshing departure from the elegantly worded, ancien regime-toned articles on how America refuses to listen to its betters, Notre Dame professor Patrick Deneen has penned a bracing, bare-knuckled assessment of the pizza-and-prayer battles of 2015. Not for him the tortured, love the sinner/hate the sin formulations of the genteel (emphasis added):
As the dust from the recent explosion over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act begins to settle, one thing is clear: Republicans and Christians lost, Democrats and gay activists won. Republican leaders initially ­supported the legislation for what was likely a combination of strategic political reasons and the belief that religious freedom is a positive good. Passage of RFRA laws was an intensifying demand in conservative Christian circles. Having concluded that the culture war was lost, conservative Christians retreated to the castle keep of American political order: the right to the free exercise of religion, a right that had been bolstered by the bipartisan passage of the federal RFRA law in 1993. Governor Mike Pence no doubt thought he was practicing good politics: giving his base something they dearly wanted, while only potentially alienating committed members of the opposition party.
Mike Pence, Asa Hutchinson, and the Republican party were not blindsided by opposition to RFRA by gay rights activists. What knocked them back were major corporations, such as Apple, Walmart, and Angie’s List, and organizations such as the NCAA that denounced the law, in many cases announcing boycotts of Indiana. Had the only appreciable opposition to RFRA come from gay rights activists, RFRA would have been a smashing political success for Republicans. It would have made the right enemies while generating gratitude and energy in the base. They did not expect their usual friends in corporate America to join the opposition, which was an idiotic miscalculation given the fact that establishment outrage scuttled the Arizona RFRA last year...

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