Rights for Me, But Not for Thee: How the Religious Right Thinks

05/09/2015 11:38 am ET | Updated May 09, 2016

The conservative Sutherland Institute has published a screed whining about "progressive liberals" who claim "to fight hate, cherish tolerance and promote equality." What did these "progressive liberals" do that has Sutherland upset? They criticized someone who signed the absurd legal brief to the Supreme Court claiming gay marriage will increase abortion.

The entire screed by Derek Monson never once shows a violation of rights, yet he claims "progressive liberals" are guilty of "ugly intolerance" because they criticized conservatives.

Here is the crime of these "progressive liberals." According to Monson, professors and students at Utah Valley University sent a letter critical of the university's president for signing that ridiculous amicus brief.

That's it! They criticized the president who signed this unscholarly, ridiculous attack on gay people. They didn't throw bricks at him, or spit on him. They didn't vandalize his car or hit him with a chair. They wrote a letter that was critical. A letter!

Apparently, the amicus brief is "free speech," but the letter isn't. In fact, according to conservative logic, the letter is not only not "free speech," it is an attack on free speech.

When a conservative speaks, it is free speech. When someone criticizes that speech with more speech, it is ugly intolerance. It is tolerance to publish criticism of gay people, but intolerance to publish criticism of conservatives.

I suspect if someone said adults should be free to marry, except conservatives, that would be ugly intolerance -- and I think it would be -- but when they say adults should be free to marry, except for gay people, it isn't?

The problem with the conservative -- and one reason libertarians should see them as opponents of individual rights and liberty -- is they are incapable of understanding that rights are a two-way street. Conservatives consistently demand rights for themselves, which they then want to deny to others.

The conservative argues that the Christian business owner must be free to discriminate against gay customers, but why have they never said gay business owners should have the right to discriminate against Christian customers? Because, in the conservative world, there are rights for conservatives which don't exist for anyone else.

Consider the whole argument that discrimination is a form of "religious freedom." They want "religious freedom" laws that grant special privileges to people who are religious, but only to people who are religious. Humanists, atheists, non-believers, need not apply.

In all the criticism of anti-discrimination laws dished out by the Religious Right, they have never once said that it should be legal for people to be intolerant of Christians. They have only claimed that Christians should have the right to be intolerant of others.

The misnamed Alliance Defending Freedom, has consistently attacked anti-discrimination laws when gays are protected, but used them when Christians are the alleged victims. They have never called for repeal of anti-discrimination laws as they apply to religion, only as they apply to sexual orientation.

Equal liberty and equality of rights before the law are part of the classical liberal and libertarian systems of thought, but NOT a part of conservatism. At most, conservatives pay lip service to such things, but when the rubber meets the road, the conservative mantra is "Rights for me, but not for thee."

In the end, conservatives are not opposed to "big government." They love big government, provided it uses its might and power to ram Christian morality down the throats of everyone else.

Conservative Michaeld Medved at least is honest:

It's impossible to say that conservatives want 'small government' above all, when most of us want expanded governmental efforts to crack down on terrorists, crooks and illegal immigrants.

Yes, we generally favor 'less regulation' but we also want more restrictions on abortion, pornography and desecration of the flag.

What is it that Monson and that absurd amicus brief are attempting to do? They are defending a government regulation preventing same-sex couples from entering into the marriage contract. When the "progressive liberals" criticized the amicus brief and those who signed it, they didn't demand that government prevent such things. Apparently, that sort of "intolerance" is reserved for conservatives.

Friedrich Hayek warned conservatives are friends of big government, provided it is big in ways that fit their religious agenda. The conservative "does not object to coercion or arbitrary power so long as it is used for what he regards as the right purposes. He believes that if government is in the hands of decent men, it ought not be too much restricted by rigid rules." In other words, conservatives only want small government when they aren't the government.