A Piece of Cake - Island of Sanity

Island of Sanity

Tolerance & Bigotry

A Piece of Cake

There have been a number of cases now where a business has refused to perform some service related to a gay wedding, and the business owner has then been sued or prosecuted for discrimination. A bakery refused to make a wedding cake, a photographer refused to take wedding photographs, etc. In at least a few cases the business was driven into bankrupcy by fines and/or lawsuits.

The position of the business owners is that they should have the right to refuse to participate in activities that violate their religious beliefs. The position of the other side has been that this is discrimination.

So to those who support legal action against a business owner who refuses to provide services for a gay wedding, let me ask you: Here are a few scenarios that seem comparable or analogous to me. In which of these do you think the business owner should be prosecuted, and in which do you think he should have a right to refuse service?

  • A heterosexual couple order a wedding cake from a bakery. The baker learns that one of the pair has previously been divorced, and his religion teaches that remarriage after divorce is a sin.
  • A heterosexual couple order a wedding cake from a bakery. The baker learns that they are members of a group that practice polygamy, and the man already has two other wives. The baker has religious objetions to polygamy.
  • A gay couple order a wedding cake from a bakery. The baker says that he no longer bakes wedding cakes for anyone to avoid this controversy.
  • A gay couple order a wedding cake from a bakery. The baker says he does not bake wedding cakes and never has because he has concluded this is an unprofitable business activity.
  • An officer in the Ku Klux Klan orders a cake for his son's birthday party. There are no plans for it to be different from any other birthday party, i.e. it will not be a Klan rally in any sense, just a birthday party for someone whose father is a leading, outspoken Klansman. The baker is African-American.
  • A Nazi group wants to hold a birthday party for Adolph Hitler and order a birthday cake with "Happy Birthday Adolph!" written on it. The bakery owner is Jewish.
  • Same Nazi group as above, except the bakery owner is an atheist, but nevertheless objects to Nazism on (non-religious) moral grounds.
  • Someone asks a catering company to cater their party. They specifically request that ham be served. The caterer is a Muslim, and so has religious objections to serving ham.
  • A man seeks to buy a pornographic magazine from a bookstore. The owner refuses to sell such magazines because she is a feminist and considers them demeaning to women.
  • A smoker wants to buy cigarettes from a convenience store. The owner believes that smoking is immoral.
  • A church contacts an advertising agency and asks them to help produce a series of ads promoting their religion. The advertising agency is owned by an atheist, and he doesn't want to assist in promoting religion.
  • An anti-abortion group tries to hire a lawyer to bring charges against an abortion clinic for violating health and safety regulations. The lawyer is pro-choice, and believes that the claimed violations are trivial and the group is just trying to use them as a tool to shut down the abortion clinic for ideological reasons.
  • A motorist seeks to buy an SUV from a car dealer. The dealer tells him that he only sells electric and hybrid cars because he is an environmentalist. The motorist insists that he special-order the SUV if he doesn't have one on the lot.
  • A state passes a law allowing business owners to refuse to provide services in cases that violate their religious beliefs. A business announces that it will refuse to do business with that state government to protest this law.

If you said that in some of the above cases, the business owner should have a legal right to refuse to perform the requested service without being sued or prosecuted for discrimination, what's the difference?

If your answer is, "because there's nothing wrong with a gay wedding, they should have the right to get married, but in case X there's a valid moral or ethical objection": Is it then your position that it is the right and responsibility of the government to decide which moral and religious views are valid and which are not, and to impose the government's preferrred religion on everyone by force of law, under threat of fines and imprisonment? If not, please explain how you reconcile the idea of freedom of religion with the idea that, at least in this case, religious views that you disagree with should be illegal.

© 2015 by Jay Johansen


Mrs. J. Heckler May 17, 2015

I am personally a Christian, and as such I witness to as many non Christians as I possibly can. However I do not believe any longer that is is possible or even right for the government to try to pass morality laws onto the people of this country. You simply can not legislate morality.
I didn't always feel this way. It has been a matter of growth and understanding of the world that has brought me to my newfound beliefs. I still strongly believe Abortion is wrong. However it is wrong for ME. I can NOT think of any person who has the right to decide what any and every woman should decide what to do with her body. God has obviously decreed it wrong. But I was not named a judge in the Bible, nor was I named one in this land of ours. No man or woman has the right or judgement to decide what is right for every woman in every circumstance.
Just as in every other situation you cited above it has been common practice for the government to try to legislate morality and it doesn't work. We fight back like trapped rats.Nobody can decide for each individual company what is right for them. Certainly not our government. They have put their noses far too deep into our lives as it is.Deciding our morals and how we run our businesses has already been done. It didn't work.

dale May 28, 2015

But the writers whole point is that in this case, the government is legislating immorality. The government is saying that Christians MUST participate in immoral activities, or face fines or jail. Maybe the writer would like the government to make gay marriages illegal, but that's not what this post is about.

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