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Freedom of Association Is Great ... for Liberals

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Editor's Note: This piece was coauthored by Tim Graham.

The secular-left website Slate recently warned on Twitter that "'Religious Freedom' legislation will be everywhere in 2017." "Religious freedom" is in scare quotes, a warning that deplorables will use that thing called religion as their weapon of choice in the coming assault on the LGBTQ community.


The same website is celebrating a petition urging the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to reverse its acceptance of an invitation to sing at President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration. The freedom to disassociate becomes a terrific idea when used to reject Republicans or conservatives. Slate's story has a hero named Jan Chamberlin, who quit the famous choir because it will appear to be "endorsing tyranny and fascism by singing for this man." She says, "I only know I could never 'throw roses to Hitler.'"

Slate "reported," "Trump is not just any president-elect for Mormons, many of whom were turned off by his vulgarity, repressive immigration proposals, and calls for religious persecution." Like many leftists, the only religious people it cares about being persecuted are Muslims. Persecuting Christians -- and we mean real persecution, as in setting bodies on fire, chopping off heads, machine-gunning and the like -- means literally nothing to websites like Slate. It has mocked a "Christian persecution complex" among conservatives.

Another Trump inauguration issue further displayed leftist hypocrisy: the scheduled performance of the Radio City Rockettes. One of the dancers, Phoebe Pearl, protested on her Instagram page: "The women I work with are intelligent and are full of love and the decision of performing for a man that stands for everything we're against is appalling. I am speaking for just myself but please know that after we found out this news, we have been performing with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts. We will not be forced! #notmypresident."


Basement-dwelling outlets like MTV News characterized this controversy as "a brief, Hunger Games-esque preview of the horrors to come." Facing angry liberal-media coverage, Rockettes Chairman James Dolan said that no dancer would be forced to perform. What do you suppose would be their reaction if a Rockette were to announce that she would not rent her apartment to a lesbian because she finds the lesbian lifestyle appalling?

The secular left never recognized this line of reasoning when conservative Christians wanted to bow out of events they disagree with -- gay weddings. Florists like Barronelle Stutzman, bakers like Aaron and Melissa Klein, and farm owners like Robert and Cynthia Gifford have been trashed by the left and heavily fined by liberal bureaucrats for wanting to make their own choices.

So let's just make it apples to apples here. How would the media have reacted if members of one of these groups had refused to perform at Obama's inauguration? Undeniably, they would've been slammed as racists for shunning the first black president. But go against Trump and you're heroic, the resistance to the American Hitler.

It's time for the "progressives" to recognize their own hypocrisy. No one should be forced to participate in an event they find to be immoral, whether it's the Pledge of Allegiance or a gay wedding. They mock the idea of tolerating intolerance under Trump and then embody all the tortured logic it implies. Their zone of freedom of association is exactly as broad as their narrow leftist orthodoxy.


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