A Blueprint for Curtailing 'Religious Liberty'

Dr. Christopher H. Rosik is a psychologist at the Link Care Center in Fresno, California, and a member of the clinical faculty at Fresno Pacific University.
Dr. Christopher H. Rosik is a psychologist at the Link Care Center in Fresno, California, and a member of the clinical faculty at Fresno Pacific University.

In C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, a senior demon named Screwtape provides guidance to his inexperienced nephew Wormwood in the art of tempting and undermining the faith of a new convert to Christianity. Decades have now passed since these letters first appeared in print, and I can imagine Wormwood has grown more skilled in his craft and has accepted a regional position over America. Screwtape, responding to his nephew's inquiry about recent efforts to promote religious liberty, might provide the following blueprint for neutralizing this threat:

My Dear Wormwood,

Since you have sought my advice on ways you might contain and eliminate what the Enemy's followers have dubbed "religious liberty," I offer you the following short list of suggestions that seem to lend themselves favorably to your task. Remember that you are now providing regional oversight, so you must focus not on individual believers but rather take actions that will have a broad, counteracting impact on their community as a whole.

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Creating new constitutional rights and societal laws that further undermine the Enemy's contemptible restrictions on sexual practices is a most laudable accomplishment. You have become quite the celebrity around here with your masterful management of the same-sex marriage issue, and while I would be the first to encourage the obvious pride you feel, you must not let this take your eye off the ball. Making their grandma and grandpa's traditional views of marriage and sexual ideals the moral equivalent of the Klu Klux Klan's view of race was a master stroke indeed but only the beginning. You must act quickly for these moral gains to become embedded deeply into their laws and thereby proactively undercut all future "religious liberty" claims.

Your underlings responsible for the California legislature are deliciously capitalizing on these moral shifts, and their effort to target Christian universities deserve all the resources you can lend them. You must keep fomenting the impression that legislatively valid anti-discrimination concerns only occur in one direction on these matters and that any compromise would be the devil's work (ah, what a sweet irony).

I do have some concern that American society has not yet acclimated sufficiently to our new moral order for you to find success with your bathroom campaign. However, Our Father Below agrees that the potential payoff would be so momentous that it is worth the risk.

It is sinfully pleasurable to imagine the human vermin believing their ultimate personhood resides in their feelings regardless of their physiology, and the Enemy's followers reduced to pleading that their sexual anatomy actual carries real significance.

By all means keep conflating discrimination against an entire class of people with the reluctance to participate in a marriage ceremony. Your subordinates that manage the media are conducting themselves admirably, but they must remain vigilant. The fact that Christian business owners overwhelmingly have been friendly with and provided all other services to those who are now suing them must stay suppressed. The refusal of a private business to provide one service for a specific event when there are dozens of other nearby venders eager to provide it must continue to be equated with the old governmental policies of systemic racial segregation.

You have some great wordsmiths on your team, Wormwood, and I recommend you put them to full use. If we can have the meaning of words move in a favorable direction, then all sorts of wonderful mischief can be accomplished. You can commend whoever inspired Prof. Franke of Columbia Law School to argue recently that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment protects religious belief but not religiously motivated action. If exercising a Christian belief comes to signify only what happens in their heads, then your work to thwart their faith-based actions to expand the Enemy's domain is made infinitely less complicated.

And by all means keep encouraging the use of scare quotes around terms that might aid the Enemy's cause. They effortlessly and brilliantly render terms like "religious liberty" as being utterly bogus, no explanation needed.

Finally, work hard to exploit the fear currently being felt by many of the Enemy's forces. Those believers less closely connected to the Enemy can often be influenced to make remarks against those helping our cause that are so hostile and derogatory a less experienced demon might mistake them for signs of possession. If you can inspire them to do this on social media your impact can be magnified exponentially. Keeping them focused on their fears and not on the image of the Enemy that exists within their opponents serves your purposes well. It's a wickedly enjoyable feat when you can get the Enemy's forces to believe they are serving him while they are actually reinforcing the public impression of themselves we want to create.

If you continue to perform your craft skillfully, I believe the future is bright. Once these types of gains are firmly secured, you can move on to more advanced objectives like the removal of tax exemptions for their institutions. This goal is highly desirable as it not only can stifle giving that serves to implement the Enemy's plans but also punishes larger churches and related organizations with enormous property tax bills. The damaging effects of this and other legal punishments on Christian sponsored adoption agencies, soup kitchens, and rehabilitation centers practically insures the joyous prospect of an increase in social dysfunction and human misery.

Your colleagues supervising our work in Russia should be an inspiration to you. Under the guise of an anti-terrorism rationale (think hate crime in your context), Mr. Putin has approved new laws against the Enemy's followers sharing their faith in homes, online, or anywhere but state recognized church buildings. More impressive still, they must first obtain a government permit.

I know you have to contend with the limiting vestiges of a republic founded on principles of "religious liberty" inspired by our Enemy. Don't let this frustrate you to the point of saying, "to heaven with it." Remember, for Our Father Below one night is like a thousand years. Stay resolute and persevere.

Once you have finished muzzling the Enemy's followers in the public square, you can work on doing the same in their homes and churches. I have it on good authority that Our Father Below will reward you richly when "religious liberty" in America means nothing more than the freedom of believers to proclaim the Enemy's message in their private thoughts.

I trust you are up for this task, Wormwood. The future of your region depends on it.

Your affectionate uncle,


Dr. Rosik is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Oregon and the Fuller Graduate School of Psychology. He is a psychologist at the Link Care Center in Fresno, California, and a member of the clinical faculty at Fresno Pacific University.

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