"Traditionally, RFRAs were used to protect religious minorities, including the Amish and Muslims. But as conservatives have lost battles over LGBTQ rights (particularly same-sex marriage), they have turned to religious freedom laws in an attempt to carve out methods to continue allowing discrimination."
From a Vox article titled "Mike Pence for Donald Trump's vice president? It's an extra awful choice for LGBTQ rights" that at least tries to reconcile the recent denouncement of RFRAs with the 1990s bipartisan support for religious freedom exemptions.
It's funny to say "Traditionally" when you're talking about legislation that's only been around for a couple decades, and if you make a law like that it has to treat all religious the same. You can't favor one religion over another! You can't pick and choose and be sentimental about the Amish and politically correct about the Muslims and then turn around and reject the principle of exemptions when they're demanded by groups that you like seeing get pushed around.
But there is some reason to judge politicians by what they think they are doing — by their motivations — and not by what the legislation they produce will actually do when its language is applied in real cases and constrained by constitutional law. Back in the 90s, people weren't talking about using religion as a basis for avoiding complying with anti-discrimination laws. And last year, in Indiana, they were.
I'm interested in seeing how these attacks on Mike Pence will play out. People don't seem to do very well at understanding RFRA and the constitutional law that surrounds it. But Bill Clinton is such a central character. As I wrote last year: