An ostensibly "Christian" bakery decided that it would be more Christian to refuse service than to embrace fellow 'sinners' in the manner their god advised. And as a result, a cake for a homosexual wedding became the centerpiece of a controversy rather than a reception table.
In my last post I touched on a few key questions that I feel are important in understanding this controversy. The one I want to address now, is whether a person can use their religion to ARBITRARILY discriminate? Let's look at the "Christian" bakery. Biblically speaking, there are several verses that denounce homosexuality. Now, I know there is a lot of contention over what these verses actually mean, but let's just give the benefit of the doubt to the fact that the Christian Bible condemns homosexual behavior. Fair enough. The Bible is a rule book in many ways, so it's not unusual to find a lot of rules in it. And a good Christian would naturally want to live by those rules. And there's the problem.
There are a LOT of rules. One in particular, would probably be of prime concern to a devout wedding cake baker: divorce is wrong. And this is a rule Jesus himself made pretty clear....without any of the ambiguity over homosexuality:
1 Corinthians: But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. 12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.
Luke 16:18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Matthew 5:31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Mark 10:2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied. 4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” 5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.’So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”
Yep. You'd have to admit that if you were a follower of this Jesus guy, divorce is pretty clearly a no-no. So, here's my question: If one were to go back into the records of that bakery, could they find where they ever baked a wedding cake for a second marriage where the first marriage did not end in one spouse's death? Given the high incidence of divorce in America, my guess is that they did. And if they did, where was their 'religious belief' hiding at that moment?
Another thing at issue here is something I learned as an HR manager: certain Federal laws (pardon the expression) trump everything else. In other words, a group that is granted 'protected status' under Federal Law cannot be discriminated against while a group who has not been granted such status, can. ( I remember a fictitious HR scenario where one co-worker routinely tormented another co-worker by placing their lunch out of their reach because they were bound to a wheelchair. This was not only an asshole thing to do, but it violated Federal Law by discriminating against a Federally protected group....the handicapped.....and as a result was considered VERY bad. However, I asked our corporate lawyer if the same gravity would apply to the same situation if the targeted victim was not handicapped, but merely short? Nope. Short people are not a protected group.) (Randy Newman was onto something I guess). Race, religion, gender, ethnicity, disability, and age are all Federally protected against discrimination, so if an old, dark-skinned, Philistine male with one leg wanted service from a Christian business......guess what?
Anyway, back to wedding cakes. One group has recently come up with a strategy to sort of stick it to these discriminating Christian bakeries: The Satanic Temple*. They are advocating that people go to these bakeries and order Satanic Wedding cakes! (link)
The idea being that while a Gay couple cannot rely on Federal protection, they....as a religion....CAN! Charmingly brilliant.
But in all honesty......IF.......IF this issue was TRULY about 'religious freedom', I might lean towards the rights of the vendor over those of the customer. After all, the customer can go elsewhere....and maybe that would be the best revenge. There's a great example of this in the life of Harvey Milk, his camera shop, and the fates of pro-Gay and anti-Gay businesses in the Castro section of San Francisco in the 1970s. But I don't believe this is anything more than an attempt to legalize hate towards a selectively targeted group in favor of another group, of one predominant color, and of one predominant religion............and that IS un-Constitutional.
*For more interesting things being done by this 'religion', check out their innovative battle in Missouri (link)