Who should be able to discriminate based on belief?
by: John Tyrrell
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In spite of the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage, there have been several claims of discrimination because some wedding cake makers have flatly refused to make cakes for same sex weddings. They point to their Christian beliefs as their reason for doing so.
I tend to wonder if they should just be left alone in their bigotry. On the other hand, I do feel that businesses should not discriminate.
What is the business they are involved in? Are they in business to promote their personal lifestyle choices? Or are they in business (in this case) to sell cakes.
If they are Christians they should be well aware that Jesus said not a word on same-sex relationships. And they should also be aware that Jesus did have words to say on divorce.
I would ask these wedding cake makers if they sell their wedding cakes to couples, one or both of whom have been divorced one or more times? I doubt there's any wedding cake business that would refuse. Of course not - they are in the business of selling cakes.
I have not heard of any wedding cake maker refusing a wedding cake to those who want a civil ceremony. Yet a religious ceremony is what Christian belief calls for. But the cake makers are in the business of selling cakes - not dictating the form of the ceremony.
Would these Christian cake makers turn down an order for a wedding cake for a Muslim wedding, a Hindu wedding, a Scientologist wedding just because these weddings were contrary to their Christian beliefs? I don't think so. Their business is selling wedding cakes.
Suppose I was a fashion photographer and ordered a wedding cake for a fashion shoot. Would I be turned down? No - they are in the business of selling wedding cakes.
Suppose I ordered a wedding cake just because I liked that type of cake, making it clear I would eat the whole thing myself. Would I be turned down based on Christian belief in the sin of gluttony? Of course not - they are in the business of selling cakes.
If you have chosen to make a living out of selling wedding cakes, then you should be prepared to sell a cake to any customer.
Let's get away from wedding cakes and look at another situation.
The Westwood (not Westboro) Baptist Church in Louisiana has chosen to stop letting various community groups use its facilities to hold meetings. Their reasoning is that if they allow any community groups access, then they would legally be required to allow all community groups including a hypothetical gay group to use their facilities. They are doing this in spite of the fact that apparently they have had to deal with no such requests. (Nor, incidentally, has the local swingers club applied to use the church for spouse swapping parties.)
I suggest Westwood Baptist Church is unwarranted in its fears. A church is different from a wedding cake maker. The wedding cake maker is in business to sell wedding cakes. The church, on the other hand, is in the business of selling lifestyle choices to its customers. And thus the church can legitimately stand up and say we will not serve those who don't accept our product.
Just as the wedding cake maker can turn down an order for cupcakes because that's not what they sell, a church can refuse to accept (for example) people who won't handle snakes on its premises because that's contrary to the product that particular church is selling.
So to answer the opening question... Who should be able to discriminate based on belief? Just those who are in the business of selling belief.
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