What’s the theory of politics for ‘saving’ religious freedom?

Rachel Lu suggests a path forward for religious freedom:

We don’t have to play identity politics in a shameless or misleading way. I don’t want anyone to feign commitments they don’t actually hold. But there’s nothing shameless about showing the public why less-familiar lifestyles or commitments might, in their way, be admirable and worthy of respect.

As the Left regularly demonstrates, you needn’t be part of a group in order to be an “ally” to those who do. My liberal friends regularly self-identify as “straight allies” or “male feminists” or what have you. Conservatives do this occasionally (some good examples here and here), but not nearly as often. When we do find ways to humanize our causes, that’s usually when we’re at our best. Just look at the pro-life movement.

Lu’s piece highlights what I’ve been arguing. Namely, the need for strategy, the limits of writing, and the importance of starting with real human beings.
But the details need to filled in. How, exactly, should this cause be humanized? And even if we figure out how humanize RF, what impact will that have? Lu et al. need a theory of politics on how to get there (still undefined) from where we are now. Freddie DeBoer, writing on the plight of adjunct faculty, is instructive:
The lack of job benefits for adjuncts is not the fault of tenured faculty but of administration. The lack of permanent contracts for adjuncts is  not the fault of tenured faculty but of administration. Those are facts. So what’s the plan? How do you get to the world you say you want? You don’t get credit for merely expressing dissatisfaction with the status quo if you have no theory of politics for how you will get past it.[Emphasis added-PK]
Lu has a good start with this essay. But I’d gently challenge her to take it one step further. What’s the plan?


  1. I struggle to think of a plan besides humanizing examples. You wrote in a previous post, “gay rights advanced in no small part because of visible signs of gay dignity and humanity. Of actual, real-life examples of loving gay couples.”

    Yet, eloquent examples of trad dignity and humanity will always be undercut by those on their side who reduce the same religious freedom argument to “other people are icky!” or simplistic appeals to tradition. Time and again, Dreher struggles to convey his more nuanced stance because of the real bigotedness of others.

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