Where was this Newfound Passion for Freedom of Religion When We Needed It

It’s been gratifying to witness the liberal punditocracy’s sudden and spectacular embrace of freedom of religion sparked by the plan to build an Islamic mosque near the “Ground Zero” site of the 9/11 attacks.

Historically, their primary use for the First Amendment was to cite the Freedom of Speech clause when defending pornographers or flag burners; or to use the establishment clause and the mythological “separation of church and state” mandate as a billy club for driving Christians and their views from the public square.

Suddenly, progressives are zealots for and champions of the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion. Apparently, people of faith ought to be able to build a house of worship pretty much anywhere they jolly well please, no matter what the neighbors think about it.

Here’s the thing about that.  For the last 15 years or so, growing Christian churches all over America have consistently been running into brick walls of opposition when attempting to build new sanctuaries. Cities have thrown up zoning roadblocks, neighborhood groups have pitched fits, and city councils have fought to keep land on the tax rolls.  See here, here, here, and here for example.

Can someone please point me to an instance of any of the lefty pundits and pols that are now sputtering and thundering in high dudgeon about how opposition to the ground zero mosque represents an attack on religious freedom ever uttering a word of alarm about the tens of thousands of instances of churches being thwarted in their plans?

Just one?

You’ll search in vain. But better late than never. I’ll look forward to the support of Maureen Dowd, Keith Olbermann, Peter Beinart and their friends the next time the religious freedoms of a group of evangelical Christians is being impinged by local sensibilities or politics.