This is my own comment at a threat at Lawyer's Guns and Money on the topic of the "Weaponization of Religious Exemptions." The whole thread is very much worth reading, as is the original post, but I just wanted to pull out my own comment here because its pretty much a standalone.
I’ll come back and read the whole thread, and perhaps someone has said this already, but the modern incarnation of the RFRA (weaponized, as you’ve pointed out) is the logical extension of the percolation down of a kind of neo confederate “nullification” policy vis a vis what is seen as a hostile state. Added to the Protestant vision “every man a priest” you get “every man a legislator, Judge, Jury, and Executioner in his own home and his own business.” The power to determine who will be accorded full rights of citizenship–even of humanity–devolves, in this model–to the lowest level of society: the angry white male evangelical citizen (and there can be various permutations of the atomic basis).*
Its no accident that we see the rise of these laws precisely at the moment that an angry, white, shrinking, soon to be former majority starts to see the chance for its own values prevailing slipping away. Previously individuals members of the right wing could assume that their values would become ascendant again eventually, or that the government was in their control, but since the election of Obama the writing is on the wall. Now that they know for a fact that the government composed of blacks, queers, and aborting lesbian women is going to demand equal treatment everywhere the revolt is on and the demand to extend the sphere of privacy and autonomy beyond the right wing body, to the right wing houeshold, and now to the right wing place of business and/or township is exploding outward. The only way to prevent Holder and Obama and whatever demonic females come after from infiltrating and controlling life-as-we-knew-it in the heartland is to authorize the right thinking individual to deterine for himself what laws will apply. Same as it ever was. No shirt, no shoes, no homo.
*That is the monad or atom at the base of this, the free standing individual, can sometimes be a white male evaneglical, or an angry black republican, or an angry gun toting home schooling mother. But the impetus is the same: the notion of equality, comity, fraternity, and democracy stops at the individual’s doorstep whether that is physical, domestic, or corporate.