The Supreme Court of the United States agreed this week to consider whether a Denver baker violated the constitutional and civil rights of a gay couple by refusing to sell the two guys a wedding cake.
Let’s hope the court sides with religious freedom on this, not special rights.
For religious freedom advocates, this case is huge. It basically will tell which right prevails in America: religious freedom, as based on God-given rights and constitutional protections, versus gay rights — and, more specifically, versus gay and same-sex marriage rights that came about largely by court battle, not legislatively, as based on the will of the people.
It’s a case that could say, once and for all — if ruled in favor of the gay couple — that yes, indeed, here in America, religious rights are important. But they’re not quite as important as gay rights. They’re only important if they don’t impede upon the wishes and desires of gay individuals.
Christians ought not be forced to toss out their religious convictions just because they have to earn a buck. And you know who else shouldn’t?
Muslims who oppose homosexuality based on religious convictions — and truly, violently oppose, to the point of tossing gays off rooftops and killing them — should also not be forced by government to abandon those beliefs and provide a cake for a gay wedding, a floral arrangement for a same-sex union, a set of calligraphy drawn invitations for a lesbian marriage.
Here’s why: With this Supreme Court case, we’re not talking about a gay person walking up to a Walmart cashier, trying to pay for a store item, but being turned away, due to his or her gayness. That would be obviously wrong, obviously discriminatory, obviously unconstitutional. The cashier isn’t being asked to provide any service that recognizes the gay lifestyle of the customer — that approves or disapproves, either overtly or tacitly. It’s simply an exchange of money for a mass-produced product — a near-faceless, impersonal financial transaction.
But not so with a wedding cake-baking venture, the focus of this high court case.
Not so, by the way, with a calligrapher or a photographer or a florist, or any number of other specialty service occupations where the creator is tasked with designing and providing one-on-one services for a ceremony or occasion that violates religious beliefs.
At issue in court, we’re talking about targeted businesses that provide craftsman-like creative services, run by owners whose religious convictions won’t let them engage in certain behaviors and actions. And among those prohibited behaviors and actions: homosexuality. That goes for endorsing or supporting the behavior, as well.
Just because the high court has recently (and wrongly) determined marriage is a fundamental right does not automatically move it, in the eyes of Christians, from the domain of God. In other words, just because the state has declared same-sex marriage A-OK, doesn’t mean Christians — or Muslims, or those of other faiths — are going to disobey God on this point.
And up until just recently, they wouldn’t have been called to because the LGBT movement wouldn’t have purposely gone looking for trouble where trouble didn’t have to be found.
Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop and the accused discriminator in this Supreme Court case, isn’t the only baker in Colorado. So in 2012, when he told Charles Craig and David Mullins, who were marrying in Massachusetts but celebrating with a reception in Colorado, that he couldn’t design their cake based on his religious beliefs, he wasn’t exactly leaving the gay couple with no recourse.
Craig and Mullins could’ve picked another baker. They could’ve nodded and smiled and retreated in graciousness, recognizing that Phillips, while disagreeing with their lifestyle, wasn’t seeking them out to persecute. They could’ve respected the fact that in America, Phillips has a right to live his life in accordance with his religious beliefs — just as they have a right to their own moral choices.
But apparently, that’s a too-tactful response from an era of bygone manners and courtesies.
Craig and Mullins had to instead shove their gay views down Phillips’ throat. They complained with the state civil rights commission, and won.
Phillips, in response, stopped making wedding cakes and appealed, and here we are, waiting now for the land’s highest court to settle the matter, once and for all, when it hears the case this fall. Do gay rights trump religious rights?
If so, prepare for the floodgates.
Will greeting card companies be forced to write gay sentiments? Musicians be forced to play at gay weddings? Trickle, trickle, trickle — songwriters be forced to create and perform gay love songs?
The lines between free market and government regulation will become even cloudier. So, too, the lines between human right and special interest — between God-given and government granted.
But no matter what the court decides, this politically charged atmosphere makes one thing clear: The losing side is not likely to go quietly into that good night.
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