Based on recent events, the emerging progressive consensus seems to hold that religious beliefs should be forbidden in the public square, except in those cases where they should be mandatory.

It has been a couple of weeks since Pope Francis released his encyclical about the environment, and liberals are just now recovering from their collective swoon. The organs of the left lavished it with praise, calling it everything from “authoritative” and “compelling” (The New York Times) to “powerful” and “revolutionary” (Salon). Humanity has sinned against the planet, they agree, and must take urgent, collective action to repair the damage.

Liberals took a decidedly less deferential tone when the craft-store chain Hobby Lobby sought a religious exemption from Obamacare’s contraception mandate.

Corporations can’t have religious beliefs, they said (ignoring the fact that thousands of incorporated entities, known as churches, clearly do). Even more emphatically, they insisted Hobby Lobby’s owners wanted “to impose their religious views on employees” (The New York Times again, echoing countless others). This was histrionic nonsense, given that employees remained perfectly free to buy contraception on their own.

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