One reason Donald Trump was able to put together a coalition big enough to get him elected as president was that there were so many single issues about which different groups of people were exercised. They cared much more deeply about that one issue than a whole range of other issues, on which they may have disagreed with the Republican nominee. This is one explanation for Trump’s lead among Catholics.

Particular concerns among Catholics included life issues, of course. Many people voted against Hillary Clinton despite disagreeing strongly with Trump’s personal behaviour among women or with his views on globalisation.

Another issue which no doubt motivated a large number of people was that of the threat to religious liberty and freedom of association coming from legislation and court judgments. America has had its fair share of controversies in relation to Catholic adoption agencies and the right of people to sell products to whomsoever they like.

As the spotlight turns to elections and political developments in Europe, the question is whether such issues will dominate here sufficiently to change the outcome of elections, perhaps leading to victory for candidates who otherwise have unpalatable views.

Indeed, the threats to religious liberty and freedom of association are arguably greater in Europe than they are in the US. Three cases illustrate the problem.

In the first, which has been widely reported, a Northern Irish couple who manage a cake shop were asked to bake a cake for a gay person. They did not actually know the purchaser was gay. They were asked to put on the cake the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”. After discussion within the family firm, the customer was told that the order could not be fulfilled.

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