As a rule, your GetReligionistas do not write entire posts about headlines. I will make an exception in this case.
Why? In the past couple of months I have had conversations with a number of mainstream journalists -- both in Washington, D.C., and New York City -- about this whole issue of the "scare quotes" (also known as "shudder" or "sneer" quotes) that editors keep putting around the term "religious liberty" in news coverage of events such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act wars in Indiana.
One theme consistently emerges in these talks: The vast majority of journalists covering these stories believe (a) that these disputes don't have anything to do with religious liberty since they don't affect what happens inside churches, and religion is what happens inside religious sanctuaries, and that (b) what we are dealing with here is intolerant speech and/or hate speech (or actions) and, thus, is not protected by the First Amendment. Good religion is protected, while bad religion is not.
One journalist summed it up this way: This isn't about religion. It's about hate. It has nothing to do with religious liberty, so that's why journalists are using those scare quotes.
This brings us to the following headline in The New York Times:
Rand Paul Tries to Stake Territory as Lone Candidate Who’d Guard Civil Liberties