We see in our culture a drive to neuter religion […] well-financed, well-oiled sectors [are trying] to push religion back into the sacristy.In fact all that is happening is that secular society is changing around them and rather than impinging on their religious “liberty” it is containing their previously enjoyed privilege to be bigots for Jesus.
In its frantic scramble to reclaim some moral high ground in the midst of the constantly evolving child abuse scandal it is choosing as its battlefield the rights of the LGBTQ community to a family life and the reproductive rights of women. It is demanding exemption from the laws that enforce those rights so that they can continue to oppress and discriminate against women and gays on spurious religious grounds.
I suspect that they are on the losing side of history on this, just as they were in their suppression of science in the past. But that doesn’t mean that they have no influence in the short term. Secular freedoms are ironically hard won in America, largely because for a modern secular democracy it is socially conservative with a high degree of religiosity. The message will be heard in Washington, particularly among Republicans with an election year approaching and recent victories in health reform (which includes access to contraception and abortion) and gender equality could easily be reversed.
We must not let the church redefine religious privilege as religious liberty.