From Andrew Walker and Josh Wester in the National Review:
For eight years, the Obama administration brought fundamental change to American life. As the administration comes to an end, it is appropriate to evaluate its legacy. And though many such assessments will be written, among the most important issues to consider is the Obama administration’s record on religious liberty. As we’ll argue based on episodes throughout President Obama’s time in office, this administration oversaw an unprecedented effort to intentionally malign and dethrone religious liberty as a central pillar in American political and civil life. Notwithstanding this overall record, and though neither of us is a political supporter of Obama, we applaud the efforts made by the administration in a few areas to champion religious liberty. In 2008, Obama was a U.S. senator and presidential candidate publicly opposed to same-sex marriage. Much has changed in eight years. For the foreseeable future, the legacy of the Obama administration will rest on two alliterative, colossal initiatives that have left an indelible crater on the landscape of religious liberty: Obamacare and Obergefell v. Hodges.
Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/443933/obama-administration-has-troubled-religious-liberty-legacy
Gertrude Himmelfarb in her book One Nation, Two Cultures (2010) argued that America is comprised of two distinct cultures. A traditionalist one (conservative, Puritan heritage) and a dissident one (counterculture of the 1960s). She wrote:
As a minority, the traditionalist culture labors under the disadvantage of being perennially on the defensive. Its elite — gospel preachers, radio talk show hosts, some prominent columnists, and organizational leaders–cannot begin to match, in numbers or influence, those who occupy the commanding heights of the dominant culture; professors presiding over the multitude of young people who attend their lectures, read their books, and have to pass their exams; journalists who determine what information, and what ‘spins’ on that information, come to the public; television and movie producers who provide the images and values that shape the popular culture; cultural entrepreneurs who are ingenious in creating and marketing ever more sensational and provocative products. An occasional boycott by religious conservatives can hardly counteract the cumulative, pervasive effect of the dominant culture.
Broadly speaking, in China there are two versions of Christianity. There is the one that is officially tolerated, accepted, celebrated, subordinated to, and accommodated by the State in public life. Then there is the one that is officially not tolerated, prohibited, discriminated against, and shunned by the State. Why the unequal treatment? In the former version, the State has determined that it poses no threat to national ideological and cultural orthodoxy and State power. It’s a version of Christianity that will comply with the reigning political elites and their ideological creed, even affirm them. As such, it is rewarded for good behavior with public accommodation. But the latter version, the underground version, has done what all authentic Christian communities have always done on their better days: bend the knee only to the Kingship of Jesus Christ and His Word. They fear God rather than men. It isn’t surprising that such a dichotomy in the 21st century, where a religion is accommodated only in so far as it conforms to a State sponsored creed, exists in communist China, where religious liberty and separation of church/state have never been a fundamental right/principle of the political system. We expect the State to maintain a “conform or else” attitude towards religious communities there. But in America?
Evidence? Where to begin. How about California Senate Bill 1146:
Perhaps the #NeverTrump debate among evangelicals may in fact boil down to this: should evangelicals be more worried about the nation or the church, the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of this world? Let’s be clear, voting for Trump, however purely strategic it happens to be, will result in a pro-Trump label for evangelicals (that’s how it will be uncharitably spun). So, how detrimental, shameful, consequential, to the church or kingdom of Jesus Christ will that be? If they reason it won’t be all that detrimental for the cause of Christ and reputation of his church, then a strategic choice to defeat Hillary may be prudent though painful. But if they think that it will be highly detrimental, then they will reason that a Hillary defeat gains little compared to the “mark of Trump” the church will have to bear in the aftermath of the election. Whatever an evangelical does, it seems to me that too few of them are worried about the heavenly kingdom’s reputation and goals and are singularly focused instead on the kingdom of this world.