Behind the "religious freedom" movement that burst onto the national scene last week, thanks to the controversial Arizona bill that finally died by Gov. Jan Brewer's veto pen, are -- perhaps unsurprisingly -- several conservative groups with deep pockets and a national reach.
They quickly deny that there's any vast right-wing conspiracy in play, and they're probably right. The societal forces in motion here go beyond the control of any specific interest groups, and there is evidence that the movement is, at least in part, spreading organically. But the bills that have now brought the issue into the national consciousness do have some common origins.
In the wake of the Arizona's bill's defeat and the simultaneous death of other legislation across the country, these groups appear to be distancing themselves from that defeat. They consult with lawmakers nationwide, they say, on a variety of issues. Nothing sinister in that.
"This whole implication that there's conspiracy going on behind the scenes is really laughable," Greg Scott, vice president at the Alliance Defending Freedom, which consulted on the Arizona bill and a similar Ohio bill introduced a month earlier, told TPM in a phone interview. Another group, the American Religious Freedom Project, told TPM that it had advised Kansas lawmakers on their bill.
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