Conservatives rail constantly about the "handouts" that they claim government is giving the poor. Instead of making the poor work for their income, they are creating (as George Will puts it) a "culture of dependency" where the poor just mooch off the government. One conservative described it as "hard" vs. "soft" America, where the liberals were willing to coddle the poor while conservatives gave them "tough love," thus making them more likely to succeed.
I could spend a couple of columns arguing with this claim and its distortion of the liberal point of view. But let's ignore all that for the moment. There's a point here.
Keep in mind that these same conservatives are the people who believe that a constitutional amendment against gay marriage is a good idea. They are the same people who support government-sponsored prayer in schools. They scream and shout about the removal of "under God" from the official incarnation of the Pledge of Allegiance. In other words, they battle any effort to disestablish religion, despite the constitutional injunction to the contrary.
There's the major inconsistency in conservatism. Conservatives, through this so-called "moral" legislation, seek to establish a sort of moral welfare state. They exhort government to give religious "handouts" to people, whether they want them or not. While in their mindset it is bad to give people economic handouts, it is perfectly okay to tell them how to live their lives.
Conservatives are somehow deluded into believing that religious belief must be validated by appropriate government legislation. Somehow, removing "under God" from the official Pledge is an assault on the religious faith of people. Therefore, people must be coddled by putting religion in the Pledge. I think this is a severe underestimation of the religious willpower of the average American. I don't think that any of the religious people I know would be any less inclined to believe in God if God weren't in the Pledge.
The culture of religious dependency - the idea that the religious beliefs of Americans are dependent upon validation by the government - doesn't exist yet. But conservatives want it to exist. Their constant complaints about "taking God out of the public sphere" are evidence of this. A reasonable person recognizes that only Americans can take God out of the public sphere. But conservatives wish to attribute to the government a power which it does not possess - yet.
Continued unchecked, though, moral legislation will create a culture of dependency. By the constant government endorsement of monotheism, conservatives want to make people look to the government for help when determining what to believe. How is this any different than giving economic handouts - the very things that conservatives (wrongly) deride liberals for doing?
To use the language some conservative commentators use, liberals believe in religious "toughness." We believe that religion flourishes when people are forced to come about their beliefs on their own. Conservatives believe in religious "softness" - i.e. that religion is best given to people directly by the government. The choice is clear. Religious entitlements or freedom of conscience?