ON JUNE 26, 2006, then-Sen. Barack Obama took the stage at a conference hosted by the Christian social justice organization Sojourners and gave what would become the defining speech on religion of his young career. With Americans increasingly curious about this rock-star politician with the funny name, Obama discussed how he had found a deep faith during his time working with black church leaders as a community organizer in Chicago. "The questions I had didn't magically disappear," he said. "But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt that I heard God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will and dedicated myself to discovering His truth."
It was enough to give many Christians hope that the future president would have their backs. But a decade later, as Obama's tenure at the White House draws to a close, those who believe in the importance of religious liberty and free association have few reasons to celebrate. Despite his protestations on that day that "secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square," many will remember his presidency for the many times he insisted that his fellow religionists do just that.
Early in his first term, to get some key pro-life lawmakers to support the Affordable Care Act, Obama signed an executive order reaffirming his support for the Hyde Amendment, a policy that prohibits federal dollars from paying for abortions. Six years later--and without a word of objection from the president--the Democrats wrote into their official platform a call for that restriction to be repealed.
The federal Office of Civil Rights recently took the authority upon itself to issue what it considers to be binding guidance requiring public schools to let children use bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their gender identities instead of their anatomical sex. By foreclosing the possibility of locally tailored solutions, the move angered more than a few parents who think they should have some say in the rules that govern their kids' schools. Enforcement of the requirement has been temporarily stayed and the Supreme Court is set to hear the case in the coming year.
For the time being, sexual orientation is not considered a "protected class" at the federal level. But during Obama's terms in office, several states were emboldened to expand their anti-discrimination laws in ways that implicitly targeted Christian organizations. In Massachusetts,...