America's headlong pursuit of tolerance has led us to a "politically correct rewriting of the First Amendment," with faith communities finding it difficult to live their own beliefs in their own institutions.
That is the opinion of William McGurn, vice president of News Corporation and a former chief editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal. He shared his perspective in a Main Street column titled "Religion and the Cult of Tolerance" in Tuesday's Journal.
"Post-1791, what made America's religious freedom truly radical was not simply that it allowed people to worship (or not to worship) as they saw fit," wrote McGurn, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush. "The radical part was the guarantee it gave to corporate freedoms: to hold property together, to own newspapers, to run schools, to open hospitals and clinics, etc.
"That understanding is now up for grabs."
McGurn cites a number of recent examples of "nondiscrimination laws and codes" that put faith organizations in the precarious position of being "told whom they must employ and what they must assent to, or facing being shoved off the public square."
He refers to Catholic hospitals in Kentucky being required to perform procedures — such as sterilization — that are contrary to church teachings, and the provocative attempt — recently taken off the ballot — to outlaw circumcision in San Francisco.
"In the debates over same-sex marriage, the question is often asked of opponents: What can it possibly mean to you if two people of the same sex have their commitment to each other recognized as marriage?" McGurn writes. "We're now finding out. To give but one example, in Washington, D.C., it means that Catholic Charities no longer qualifies to do adoptions and foster care because it will not place children with or extend health benefits to gay couples.
"So much for live and let live."