It may seem strange that anyone could look around the pornography-saturated, fertility-challenged, family-breakdown-plagued West and see a society menaced by a repressive puritanism. But it’s clear that this perspective is widely and sincerely held.

It would be refreshing, though, if it were expressed honestly, without the “of course we respect religious freedom” facade. If you want to fine Catholic hospitals for following Catholic teaching, or prevent Jewish parents from circumcising their sons, or ban Chick-fil-A in Boston, then don’t tell religious people that you respect our freedoms. Say what you really think: that the exercise of our religion threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to use the levers of power to bend us to your will.

There, didn’t that feel better? Now we can get on with the fight.

Defining Religious Liberty Down – This is Ross Douthat, people, not some flame-thrower. When someone as temperamentally irenic as Ross gets to this point, America, we have issues.

I’m genuinely worried about this. There are few things that I despise more than culture wars, but I feel that in recent months one has been declared by one half of America on the other half. And I mean “half,” since about half of all Americans still hold the belief that legal marriage should be between one man and one woman. The mayors of two of America’s largest cities, and a would-be mayor of its very largest, are all saying in absolutely straightforward terms that Americans who hold that belief — not who act in any particular way but merely hold that belief — are not welcome in their cities. They are trying to intimidate and drive away people whose thoughts do not match theirs: it is thought-policing in a nearly literal sense. Is this really how we want to run the country?