the left, to its discredit, frequently dismisses the views of conservative opponents on, for example, abortion, church-state separation, or feminism as irrational bigotry, when the conclusions of most people who hold such views stem from deeply held, and morally reasoned, religious convictions.
Surely "irrational bigotry" and "deeply held religious convictions" are not mutually exclusive categories. The mere fact that you believe something fervently by no means guarantees that you are right to do so. Yet common rhetoric and discourse would have us believe otherwise. To say that a view derives from one's religious convictions is to mark it as off-limits, immune from rational criticism. It's considered somehow "offensive" to question religious beliefs, or to so much as consider the possibility that they might not be well-grounded or rationally defensible. Needless to say, this isn't a good thing for reasoned discourse.
Granted, the quote from Alan Wolfe above isn't so explicitly absurd, as it does sneak in the clause: "and morally reasoned". Assuming this means something like "well reasoned", then it really is mutually exclusive with "irrational bigotry". But then it's this "morally reasoned" clause which is doing all the work, so why mention the "deeply held religious convictions" at all? This window dressing carries no rational weight, the only purpose for it that I can see is the pernicious rhetorical intimidation. You know, the implication that it would be "intolerant" and "offensive" for you to criticise any position that derives from "deeply held" religious beliefs. It's a clear example of passive-aggressive bullying tactics.
Anyway, if we ignore this rhetoric and focus on the substance of Wolfe's remark, all he's done is assert that most religiously derived moral views are "morally [well] reasoned". Is this true? It doesn't seem obvious to me. Conservatives tend to value obedience to authority over freethought, and "obedience to divine rules" seems to be their standard conception of morality. When your ethical understanding is limited to something so arbitrary as "do whatever [the minister says] the Bible says", I really don't think that's a far cry from "irrational bigotry" at all. The fact that religious conservatives hold to their views with dogmatic fervour is no defence. Quite the opposite in fact. These conservatives are irrational precisely because their views are based on "deeply held religious convictions", rather than reflective thought. Wolfe's attempt to twist this vice into a virtue is simply bizarre.