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The following was written by Kelsey Dallas for the Deseret News. To read the full article, click here

Matthew Lee Anderson tries not to lose sleep over being hated.

He began to see the value of this approach three years ago at a St. Louis college, after he’d discussed his opposition to same-sex marriage.

As the event wrapped up, a graduate student approached him, demanding to know how he could be so cruel. Anderson, a popular evangelical Christian writer and thinker, walked the woman through his religious and legal arguments again.

“We probably talked for 45 minutes or an hour. At the end, she said, ‘I still think you’re a bigot, Matt,’ and my heart sort of sunk,” he said. “She went on, ‘But you’re a likable bigot.’”

It’s strange that “likable bigot” could ever feel like a compliment, but we’re living in strange political times, according to activists, analysts and researchers following contemporary religious freedom debates. Gays and lesbians are labelled deviants when they seek inclusive policies. Christian conservative legal organizations appear on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups alongside the KKK. In Supreme Court cases, religious freedom law is called a license to discriminate.

“There’s demagoguery on both sides,” said Jonathan Rauch, a senior fellow in governance studies for the Brookings Institution.

Name-calling has always been an effective strategy in a fight, as any kid on an elementary school playground could tell you, said Bruce Thornton, a professor of classics and the humanities at California State University, Fresno. But in political debates, harsh labels have additional power, and few politicians and advocacy organizations today seem able to resist.

To read the full article on the Deseret News, click here