In the wake of Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita, Greg Sisk, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas, guestblogging at the Volokh Conspiracy, has been presenting "a series of thoughts about why traditionalist Christian (specifically Catholic and Baptist) claimants in religious liberty cases now appear to be the disfavored parties in court." Today he has a summary post of sorts, including an assessment of the heated reactions this claim has received. Sisk believes that
typical claims by Catholics and Baptists–seeking exemption from anti-discrimination rules, licensing and regulatory requirements, etc.–were a shot right across the bow of the liberal ship of state. Critics retort that these anti-discrimination or regulatory provisions advance compelling public interests that admit to no exception. I respond that they are conflating the merits–and thus the scope of religious liberty–with ideological or cultural preferences. And 'round we go.
My vision of religious liberty denies presumptive power to any political agenda, of left or right, over claims of religious conscience. I expect that religious liberty claims by people of all faiths should receive a particularized judicial consideration and not be submerged beneath political platitudes about either "law and order" or "the equal opportunity society." An insistence upon subordinating religious conscience to rigid dictates of the state, in the name of some general policy goal, is the antithesis of religious liberty.
Here is a .pdf of the very long Ohio State Law Journal article presenting Sisk's data.