A Simple Case for Religious Liberty

by Sean McDowell

As John Stonestreet and I argue in our book Same-Sex Marriage, we are currently undergoing one of the most sweeping social revolutions in world history. Until the Obergefell v. Hodges SCOTUS decision in 2015, the definition of marriage as a union of a man and a woman was the understanding of virtually every civilization throughout history. But this has all changed.

Now that marriage has been redefined, the law, our educational system, and other social customs have begun to change as well. As a result, there is a great tension between belief in religious liberty and claims of discrimination. Can Catholic adoption agencies operate according to their convictions that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, or is this discriminatory towards gay couples who want to adopt? Should the law coerce people to use the preferred gender pronoun of people with gender dysphoria?

Is Liberty Worth Protecting?

At the heart of this debate is whether or not religious liberty is worth protecting. Does the state have interest in preserving religious liberty? In my experience, few people (including religious people) understand why religious liberty is so valuable for both the government and society.

I was recently reading Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination, which is a thoughtful and respectful dialogue between Ryan T. Anderson/Sherif Girgis and John Corvino. In their opening remarks, Ryan T. Anderson and Sherif Girgis offer a brief case for the state’s interest in preserving religious freedom. It is the best I have heard.

A Simple Case for Religious Liberty

While this section certainly won’t end debate, it is the starting-point of an argument that must be heard. Many questions remain, but nevertheless, here is the beginning of a simple case for religious liberty…


A Simple Case for Religious Liberty – Sean McDowell