Kathryn Lopez

We're not talking here about anyone standing in the way of birth control or barring the door to two men's wedding. Surely we have room here to disagree, even as we wish everyone well? And surely we have room here for actual debate? Not just at a Supreme Court/congressional/political level, but also in casual conversation, on the level of proposals about what the good life could consist of? That's an open question today. Do we have that right, or has the government foreclosed upon it?

At Columbia University, for the first time that one chaplain there can remember, the program for the Manhattan Declaration event had a mandatory disclaimer, distancing the university and its staff from the views expressed at the forum, lest anyone think that the enlightened folks there think religious freedom as our founders intended it is fit for their campus.

If we believe in freedom, about marriage and even over how we treat innocent unborn life -- the major human-rights issue of our era -- then we have to include the freedom to disagree. But as Metaxas put it, "When the government takes a stand and says we (have to) opt for this view over that one, we are in trouble." Now the Christian businessman and the Catholic sisters and the Christian photographer must comply, or else.

"At that point, religious liberty is threatened. And when that first of all liberties is eroded, all liberties will soon suffer," Metaxas said. "And America as we know it cannot any longer exist."

Reasonable people can disagree while still agreeing to ask: 'What's freedom and where would I be without it?' Some of us are beginning to get a better picture.

That which is not cherished and protected will be lost.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.