A lesser known lecture by the Martin Luther King, Jr. has implications for America's religious liberties debate. - Image courtesy of Ctankcycles (http://bit.ly/1d6zx7V)

A lesser known lecture by the Martin Luther King, Jr. has implications for America’s religious liberties debate. – Image courtesy of Ctankcycles (http://bit.ly/1d6zx7V)

“USA Today” columnist Kirsten Powers kicked the conservative Christian hornet’s nest this week with her article, “Jim Crow laws for gays and lesbians?,” by arguing that religious business owners should not be able to refuse service to same-sex couples. The column questioned the legitimacy of a recent bill, which passed the Kansas House of Representatives, that would allow religious employers and individuals to discriminate against gays and lesbian customers.

Powers rankled conservatives by accusing Christian business owners—such as the bakers and florists who refuse to serve same-sex couples who are being wed—of double standards. After all, she said, they serve “unrepentant murderers through prison ministry.” In the article, evangelical mega-church pastor Andy Stanley echoed Powers’ sentiment, noting that if companies refused service to every couple entering into an unbiblical marriage, they’d go bankrupt.

Many criticisms of Powers’ piece centered on her comparison of the Kansas law with Jim Crow era discriminations of black people by white people. But there is at least one religious leader from the past who would likely agree with Powers: Martin Luther King, Jr.

In a lecture King delivered in 1961 to an ethics class at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Civil Rights pioneer addressed the issue of whether a business owner in the United States should be allowed to “choose his customers” and those he serves. He responded thusly,

I would say there is a distinction between private property that is purely private and private property that is privately owned but publicly used, publicly supported, publicly sustained. I think there is a great difference between the two…I don’t think anybody should have the right to just come in my house that I may privately own and not leave if I wanted them to leave. I think that that is a private right that we should certainly protect on the basis of the first amendment of the Constitution.

But now if I turn my house into a store—if I turn it into a department store, if I turn it into a lunch counter, or anything like that—then I have certain obligations to the public beyond my particular whims….If a business is in the public market, then it cannot deny access, if it is in the public market, it cannot deny access to this public market. And I think the same thing applies here. It is one thing to say that an individual owns a private piece of property and another thing to say that this property is now a private enterprise where it is actually dependent on the public for its very survival.

And this is why we feel very strong about this, that a man should not have the right to say that on the basis of color or religion one cannot use a lunch counter that is open to everybody else in other racial groups but not to these particular people. He has an obligation to the public….I don’t think America will ever rise to its full maturity until all over this country we say that anybody who’s in a public business cannot deny anybody on the basis of race or color access to that business. He should not have the freedom to choose his customers on the basis of race or religion.

One might argue that King was speaking about race and not sexuality, and we must be careful not to draw too close a connection between the Civil Rights movement and our current conversations about same-sex issues, as some have been quick to do. There are important distinctions between what America experienced in the mid-20th century with regard to race and what we now face.

But we must also consider the context into which King’s words were spoken. The basis upon which many pre-Civil Rights Southerners refused services to ethnic minorities was theological, not just cultural. For them, mingling races was not just improper or wrong; it was sinful.

In the 1950s, “The Alabama Baptist” newspaper editorialized, “We think it deplorable in the sight of God that there should be any change in the difference and variety in his creation and he certainly would desire to keep our races pure.” In 1956, Texas pastor W.A. Criswell, still considered a paragon among some evangelicals, argued before a joint session of the South Carolina legislature that de-segregation was un-Christian.

It was into this context that King argued a public business owner cannot choose to serve certain customers and not others, regardless of religious convictions. He believed a public business must serve the entire public—period. It is not a far leap to see how King’s arguments coincide to our current situation. King’s logic can be boiled down to this: if a business is public, it must be totally public.

We can only conclude—like it or not—that Martin Luther King, Jr. likely would agree with Powers on serving same-sex couples. When it comes to the American marketplace, the ocean of religious convictions stops at the shore of public service.

128 Comments

  1. MLK was a liberal, so no doubt he might have agreed with Powers. However, why should I care what MLK would have thought? Is he an authority on how I should base my worldview?

    The answer is simple: No. The Bible is my ultimate source of authority to discern right from wrong. Not only was MLK not the Bible, he wasn’t even a believer, so why should his opinion on this issue even matter?

    This is a weak appeal to authority to try and justify your stance on this issue. Let’s go back to our liberal heroes to tell us how to think. Not a valid argument. Like Powers, you only show that you are either clueless about what’s really at stake here, or you just don’t care.

    • “Is he an authority on how I should base my worldview?”

      Only if you value the notion of loving thy neighbor, about social justice and how bigotry undermines our democratic way of life. I can see how some people may not like those kinds of messages.

      MLK not a believer? The man was a pastor. A man who embraced Jesus openly and preached his religious faith. It may not be your version of Christianity, but would be highly offensive and incorrect to say he was not a believer.

      The only thing at stake here is the perceived right of some to treat others as less than people.

    • How can you judge if MLK jr. was a Christian or not? What does the Big old Bible say about that… What do you do with contradictions in the bible, eventually you have to chose verse over the other… If you don’t think there are contradictions, I do have a list I’m happy to share!

    • Well, check your bible carefully then. “Do unto others” is in there. Jesus’ teachings to the public about “casting the first stone” is in there.

      And while you’re hung up on Leviticus, read the other prohibitions in there -the things you do every day.

      No, you can’t use the Prince of Peace to justify your bigotry and hatred. Don’t try hiding behind the bible.

    • So make your case instead of calling names’ your reply reveals more of the vitriol in your heart than the substance of the argument you might have. One question ( although I have a dozen), on what basis do you claim that MLK was not a believer?

    • The Bible is the lense through which we see a glimpse of God. Some people think it’s important to worship the lense.

      The judge in Loving v. Virginia also used his Bible as the ultimate source of authority to discern right from wrong.

      “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”
      – Judge Leon M. Bazile, January 6, 1959

      Hard to imagine anything more bigoted and ignorant than those comments.The Supreme Court found against Bazile, 9-0. Any future attempts to legalize religious bigotry in the 21st century will again be found unconstitutional, as were Prop. 8 and DOMA. If there were a nexus between sexual orientation and morality, the lawyers who lost those cases surely would have cited it.

      By what authority did the Bronze-age writers of Leviticus have to pontifcate on human sexual orientation. They knew as much about the topic as they did about the Hubble Constant. That is to say, nothing.

      And why attack MLK? He answered hateful bigotry with non-violence and diginity. It’s why so many millions revere him. And deplore Fred Phelps.

      God is love. The rest is commentary.

    • That is about the least Christian view I’ve ever heard.

      Ever read that bible you like to use as a switchblade???

      I think not.

      Because if you had, you would see how unchristlike you are with your words.

  2. Essentially anti-gay bigots are looking for a new and interesting way to waste taxpayer resources with the Jim Crow 2.0 bill.

    There is no way in hell it would ever get passed without spring-loaded injunctions coming out of the woodwork. The proposed bill has zero chance of passing muster under Federal Court standards.

    Colorado had a similar issue in 1995, it got shot down mercilessly by SCOTUS in Romer v. Evans
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romer_v._Evans

    King’s sentiment was echoed in the Civil Rights Act, in every state’s anti-discrimination law and prevailing legal thinking concerning the “commerce clause”. This has nothing to do with religious convictions and everything to do with finding new and interesting ways to discriminate under the color of law.

  3. I would not consider a Christian church a public enterprise. A church is not a lunch counter. I can’t go into a local Muslim temple as demand they marry me and my girlfriend. Its a religious right. The Bible is the ultimate authority and it condemns the practice of same sex marriage.

    • but this article is not in reference to churches, but bakers and florists and the like. The point isn’t to bless same-sex marriage, but to treat people with love and openness, whether or not we agree with their life choices.

    • Why do christians believe they should be allowed to enact their chosen, unproven beliefs into Civil Law?

      The Constitution say you may not.

      So why do you believe that you should?

  4. There is a difference between serving someone and agreeing with their morality and/or catering to their other claims to “rights.” Don’t you think Christians had to serve food or even serve masters who were homosexual in ancient Rome? Let’s remember the difference between what is cultural and what is biblical. Again, there is a difference between condoning a lifestyle and rendering services…. Now, if the LGBT community starts to make demands on other’s religious beliefs/practices (demanding clergy positions, gay church services), then that is an infringement on rights.

    • Those who have raised objections are not objecting to merely serving them. One of them even had a gay employee. It was being forced to use artistic talents for something that went against their conscience-this being gay marriage in particular. We aren’t talking about birthday cakes or something else.

      • Should an artist that is a christian be able to deny service to anyone they find morally objectionable on the basis of their religion or faith? If you say yes, think of the ramifications of such a view. How can you know? Where is the line? Who can stop anyone from claiming faith arguments and freedom of religion in the midst of discrimination of all types.

          • There is a difference between a customer making demands on a private business and the business owner stating something like, “I refuse you service because you’re gay.” The first is impossible to bring to court. The second is not only possible, it is precedented… and not with restriction to sexual identity.

      • This person was under no obligation to make the cake if he did not want to. Or to photograph a same sex wedding if he did not want to. Were the gay people forcing him to at gunpoint? I hardly think so. how were these people being “forced” to do anything? I find your talk highly emotional and devoid of logic.

    • The bible clearly sates that service is not affirmation.

      Had ANY of these ‘christians’ taken the time to read that holy book they like to use as a tool for abuse, they would know this.

      This is bigotry. Nothing more.

      Bigots are always cowards, too. That is why they won’t just come out and say what they’d really like to do.

  5. Our current societal climate seems to be unable to distinguish itself from the obscure, and the fringe refusing to allow freedom for everyone to make sound choices and to respect those choices even if you disagree.

    What Kirsten has raised is a fear of returning to “Jim Crow” type laws in reaction to the fear of others who believe they need to legislate protection for their business, in lieu of the current direction our country is headed. But of course only her fears are valid… the other side of the fear fence well their just bigots.

    There should be protection of private business, like cake makers, to decide based on being a free citizen if they will take on a job or not. If a gay couple came in for a cake for their significant others birthday then ANY reasonable Christian like myself should not refuse that service because they are gay. But say a man comes in asking me to make a cake promoting his porn business… or how about a cake with a Nazi sign on the face at a Jewish bakery? Both my business and that of others should be free to say no… or yes. Would I be discriminating against that man’s right to have the cake he wants? NO… he could go to a bakery that is willing to service his porn business.

    In our day and age activism is the way we destroy lives… some people believe, and not that I necessarily agree, that they need to protect themselves from a larger agenda that is bent on inserting their beliefs and values at the expense of others. All in the name of evolving…

    • Sorry but it doesn’t work that way.

      Private businesses are only private with regards to ownership. They still have a duty to serve the general public. You open a storefront, you advertise in general circulation media, you are telling the public you are willing to serve anyone who can pay for your goods and services.

      As a society we cannot abide by having the free flow of commerce interrupted due to bigotry. We cannot have people becoming laws unto themselves because they want to engage in pernicious discriminatory behavior. This “protection for private business” is nothing more than legalized discrimination. It is Jim Crow 2.0 There is no nice way to spin it. Its merely having one’s bigotry given color of law.

      The agenda you are fighting against is nothing more than the legal right for people to be treated with basic human dignity. It is only an imposition to people who want to act like bullies and want social acceptance for boorish behavior.

      Your examples of the Jewish baker is trite, overused and half-baked. The nazi patron probably CAN sue the baker for discriminatory practices. If you want to selectively choose your customers in a discriminatory fashion, there already is an option available. Sell your goods and services through private closed channels. Private clubs, within a given church, do not advertise to the general public. You won’t make as much money, but that is the price you pay for being a bigot. Lack of social and legal sanction.

      • Keith Pavlischek

        Correct me if I missed something here. But did you just suggest that the Jewish baker who refuses to bake a cake for a Nazi is “a bigot” and that the price he must pay for such “bigotry” is to forgo public advertisement? That he should only advertise in sectarian religious circles. That he should keep his advertising limited to the synagogue.

        Boy, I wonder if Brother Merritt agrees with you on that.

        This is what passes for liberalism and progressiveness these days.

        • The baker certainly is not making a principled stand on moral grounds. The person is simply being whiny and obnoxious. One customer’s money is as good as another’s. Of course the joke with that example is under Jewish Business Ethics, the baker’s objection would strictly be based on whether the nazi paid with cash or Amex. :)

          The price of bigotry is that you can’t hold yourself out to the public if you want to discriminate in your business. Instead of arguing from incredulity and ignorance, take a look at your state’s anti-discrimination laws. They generally make exceptions for private clubs and usually church functions.

          Of course the biggest point that you are desperately trying to avoid with such crappy analogy is that unlike the examples being used, Federal and State laws consider sexual orientation to be a group to be protected from discrimination. What you and the idiots in Kansas want to do is invalidate the Civil Rights Act. Business discrimination is a major part of that law.

          Due to the pernicious and extreme nature of the prejudice against certain groups, legalizing discriminatory practices against them requires varying levels of proof that the government’s interest is more important than the damages caused from discrimination, Frankly the moaning of a bunch of bigoted businesses using the same rhetoric one employed during Jim Crow doesn’t cut it.

          • “The baker certainly is not making a principled stand on moral grounds. The person is simply being whiny and obnoxious.”

            Larry, how do you justify this statement? Seems to me that the current trajectory lends itself to arguing against bigotry with bigotry. Freedom means there are opportunities for people to make choices and there are consequences for those choices. I am aware of very few instances where folks have actually been turned away from businesses due to discrimination. Seems like a free system could allow those businesses to go out of business because people chose not to frequent that business. In this case, it seems that a group of people are choosing to force people to serve people they feel they have a moral obligation not to serve. For you to make your statement above suppresses that business owners right to determine what is right and wrong. The real statement being made is that people can be free to do whatever they want as long as the majority agrees with that decision. Bottom line, it creates a circular argument that cannot be defended.

            Yes, people should be free to frequent any public business. Yes, any business owner should have the right to make moral decisions based on her own religious or moral convictions. Yes, this agenda to force businesses owners to suppress their beliefs is bigotry as well and many feel that they are being discriminated against and need legal assistance to retain their freedom. Let’s try to practice what we preach.

          • Free enterprise, the flow of commerce is not truly free if it is tied up by legalized discrimination. Especially when that discrimination is against groups where there are ongoing and organized efforts. Discrimination in business destroys capitalism and turns it into some crony-like system.

            A person who opens their store to the public owes an obligation to the public to serve whomever has the money for the goods and services sold. Once you start making excuses to discriminate, there is no end to it.

            The Civil Rights Act (and state equivalents) have provisions to keep businesses from discriminating because such acts undermine the free enterprise system ultimately. Religious belief is no excuse from it. Given the fact that people can use irrational religious reasons to justify any kinds of acts, it ultimately means that people are becoming laws unto themselves. Where does it end? Religious excuses for racially segregated businesses? People refusing to do business because the customer is Muslim or Hindu? Would such a system truly be free? No.

            Lets throw all the analogies aside here. Ultimately what you are talking about is a legal right to discriminate against gays in business. Gays being a group recognized under our law as one which is frequently the subject of discriminatory practices and organized bigotry. To justify discrimination against them, the government has to have a fairly compelling interest which is more important. To be perfectly honest, the bigotry of a bunch of spiteful business owners is not enough of a justification for me to throw out 50 years of civil rights law.

            Should the bill become a law, it will never get implemented. There is enough Federal case law out there which will invalidate any efforts to do so. Kansas will be plunged into a lawsuit which it will lose and the whole thing will waste taxpayer dollars. All because a bunch of people did not want to take their obligation to serve the public seriously enough

          • Surprising answer from you, Larry.

            But perhaps not so surprising. After all, it’s the same logic that the gay-marriage crusaders are using to bully the Christian businesses these days!

        • So now, a private citizen looking to make a purchase is the same as a hate group?

          Oy vey.

          This is so vile on its face, how do you expect a conversation to ensue?

          I, seeking a cake, and the same thing as the KKK?

          Sorry, brother, you’re a bigot.

      • “Sorry but it doesn’t work that way.”

        Sure it can and has… are you sure you don’t want to rephrase that assertion?

        “Private businesses are only private with regards to ownership. They still have a duty to serve the general public. You open a storefront, you advertise in general circulation media, you are telling the public you are willing to serve anyone who can pay for your goods and services.”

        Hmmm I disagree. Have a source for that interpretation of law somewhere? I live in California in the San Francisco Bay Area If a Christian is known to hold to the traditional teaching in regard to sexuality and I walked into the Castro I can almost guarantee I would not only be refused service in most businesses but would need a police escort out of the city. Yes this has happened.

        “As a society we cannot abide by having the free flow of commerce interrupted due to bigotry.”

        A little help here, a difference in opinion can only be equated to bigotry when the one making the accusation suffers from their own accusation.

        “We cannot have people becoming laws unto themselves because they want to engage in pernicious discriminatory behavior. This “protection for private business” is nothing more than legalized discrimination. It is Jim Crow 2.0 There is no nice way to spin it. Its merely having one’s bigotry given color of law.”

        I understand you don’t like the beliefs of certain people, neither do I… but I can debate, discuss and reason with people if they actually have somewhat of an open mind. You seem to think anybody who disagrees with you is a bigot. That is no different than a bully who after you try and reason with him punches you in the stomach and says “No… your wrong”. It amazes me this selective “tolerance”.

        “The agenda you are fighting against is nothing more than the legal right for people to be treated with basic human dignity. It is only an imposition to people who want to act like bullies and want social acceptance for boorish behavior.”

        Honestly, based on the logic or lack thereof presented in your reasoning you really need to take a step back and make sure you haven’t become the very thing you say you oppose.

        “Your examples of the Jewish baker is trite, overused and half-baked. The nazi patron probably CAN sue the baker for discriminatory practices. If you want to selectively choose your customers in a discriminatory fashion, there already is an option available. Sell your goods and services through private closed channels.”

        Thank you for proving my last point with that retort to my “trite” comment.

        “Private clubs, within a given church, do not advertise to the general public. You won’t make as much money…”

        Firstly, go share that drivel with Canadian Christians who were forced by law to provide services to gay couples regardless of advertising privately or not. In fact because they actually couldn’t target the Church itself they targeted the business attached to the church not covered by the exemption.

        “…but that is the price you pay for being a bigot…”

        Again with the bigot… you do realize that just because you say that over and over again neither does it prove nor support your accusations? What it does do is give us an active example of a bully’s “boorish” behavior in full bloom.

        • Try reading your state’s anti-discrimination laws and then get back to me. Preventing discrimination in businesses has been a government interest since the enactment of the Civil Rights Act.

          If you walked into a business and started a ruckus, the law should come down on you. If you are a paying customer to a business, you are owed a duty to be served. My arguments are essentially the ones used by the Supreme Court when they shot down the alleged right of private businesses to engage in racial discrimination.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katzenbach_v._McClung

          Discrimination is seen as a threat to commerce in general now as it was 50 years ago. I am not raising novel arguments. You are just ignorant of them.

          You are not talking about a difference of opinion. Who the hell are you kidding? You are talking about the denial of goods and services normally available to the general public because of bigotry. Calling it a religious reason or a moral stand does not change what you are talking about.

          You many not like being called a bigot, but it is the most appropriate and honest way to describe the point of view expressed. Irrational, unreasoning hatred of a group based on external characteristics. The fact that you want to legalize discrimination of said group makes such labels more than appropriate.

          • So your position is that those Jewish bakers had better get cracking on those Swastika cakes, is that correct Larry?

          • Doc doesn’t know that many Jewish business people. Most would laugh it off and take their money. Probably charge them a stiff premium due to the lack of swastika cake molds. It would not be making a moral stand to refuse business on such grounds. Nazis need to eat too.

            It was obvious, you didn’t read my post and chose to engage in silly analogy. How is this for an analogy: A real estate refuses to show a Jewish couple homes in a neighborhood because he feels God doesn’t want him to live near those who do not accept Jesus? How about a home lender who refuses a loan to an unmarried couple because the mortgage would be endorsing their lifestyle? There isn’t really any way to look at this as anything less than business segregation given sanction by law?

            Its not like the arguments expressed in favor of legalized discrimination have changed much since the days of Jim Crow. Its amazing the kind of mental gymnastics one engages in to show that somehow this form of discriminatory behavior is any different than what used to be applied to people based on race, religion and national origins.

            “Well its different because we are discriminating based on sexual orientation not race”. Like that is a valid excuse? No.

            Pretty much everyone who is not a bigoted white christian understands the full effect of making exceptions to Civil Rights legislation on the basis the arguments used. It takes no effort at all to extend this kind of “religious conviction” to denying people goods and services on the basis of race, their religion, or any other excuse one can claim God wants. Anyone in a minority group can see how they would be targeted next under those conditions.

          • Larry I understand the effort in our country to curtail discrimination and the laws and regulations we have put forth in our society. I have fought for equality of races because have experienced discrimination first hand for being of Mexican decent, of having only a High School education, and for living in a certain part of my city. You pretending the law can only be seen from your point of view is arrogant and counter-productive to an adult conversation on the matter.

            “If you walked into a business and started a ruckus, the law should come down on you. ” Something we can agree on. Like I said originally I would have no problem serving gay people at my place of business. I have no hate or bigotry or need to degrade them as people… I can co-exist AS LONG AS I am afforded that same respect. You my man cannot seem to grasp that concept.

            I am not a baker and I am not Jewish.

            …yes Godwin’s Law is helpful in some contexts where it is trite. However, in light of one of the most discriminative times in history that actually led to an effort to use genocide as a way stamp out a whole people group based on some crazy idiots bigotry… I submit to you the only thing trite is your simplistic view of discrimination and as it pertains to commerce.

            It isn’t about commerce… it is about real people… with real convictions…whether you want to give credence to their beliefs or not. I am here discussing this with you today because as a Christian I care for people gay or not. It is a calling that Christ himself says is only second to my love and my devotion to God first and foremost. I am here to struggle with this issue and with people God loves because they are worth it.

            Contrary to your trite judgements of my intent and my beliefs it is much more valuable for me to be a follower of Christ and be true to who I am.

          • Joseph, you are a bigger fool than I originally imagined.

            Once you open the door to legalized discrimination to a given group under such a pretext as alleged religious belief, it can be applied to anyone. Especially if you are of a minority group like yourself.

            What can be used to deny gays goods and services can be used to deny any group when one uses sufficient spurious sophistry and calls it “deeply held beliefs”.

            Its about real people who are too short-sighted and too wrapped up in the notion their bigotry should be given color of law. They fail to think the situation through to its obvious conclusions or are too selfish to care about the effects of their proposals.

            The law only has one point of view on the subject because this issue has been kicked around for over half a century now. It is crystal clear on this subject whether you like it or not. It has always been about commerce. Discrimination attacks and undermines the nature of free markets. Religious belief has never been considered a legitimate reason for attacking the rights of other people.

            Discrimination in doing business can’t be seen as anything else but the constraining of commerce. It is because of those constraints to com You are doing nothing but arguing in favor of private means to enforce segregation and discrimination. There is nothing worthy of respect in such ideas. Its repugnant and very Un-Christian.

      • “The nazi patron probably CAN sue the baker for discriminatory practices…” Well he cannot now, but in the world you envision he could….as you want business owners to be able to exercise no conscience in their business at all…. (or at least no right to conscience against the prevailing liberal viewpoint).

      • What about the restaurants that do not allow one to enter without shoes and shirts on? What about places that require coat and tie? Is the Aston Martin dealer required to let every teenager with a driver’s license a test drive in a new car? Places of business are able to declare “No pets allowed”, “No firearms allowed”….businesses make decisions every day as to who to sell to and who to provide services to. Just because we are dealing with ‘gays and lesbians’, the world is supposed to make an exception???

        And for the commenter who was concerned about Leviticus, I would ask if he has read the first chapter of Romans….

  6. Respectfully, I have to disagree with the entire premise. We’re not talking about refusing gays service at a lunch counter, or even serving them cake. It’s about compelling someone to use their artistic gifts in a way that violates their sincerely held beliefs. Whether or not you agree with those beliefs, it’s chilling that government may be participating in such coercion. It’s also bothersome to me that those of us who believe in defending the traditional view of marriage are now characterized as bigots. Since MLK didn’t support SSM, was he a bigot as well?

    • Jonathan Merritt

      The “artistic gifts” argument is a bit of logical gymnastics used by those who know how flimsy their arguments here actually are. It’s an attempt to carve out a special category that has never existed for certain types of business. Never before has their been an “artistic gifts exemption” or anything like it been a part of the discussion about whether a public business has a right to offer goods and services to certain classes of people and not others.

      • KEITH PAVLISCHEK

        This is surely incorrect, at least with regard to the Elane case. Photography and the collection of photographs into a book is surely an act of artistic expression. One would think that a liberal (or progressive) would support the idea that an artist can refuse to paint, or photograph or sculpt a subject not only because he/she would find it religiously and morally objectionable, but for any reason whatsoever.

        The difference between refusing to serve customers in a restaurant, in retail stores and other public accommodations and refusing to put one’s artistic talents and gifts to work in service of an event or a subject that one finds morally objectionable seems rather obvious

        If a lesbian couple or bi-sexual threesome, or a gay couple or whatever walks into an establishment (let’s say a store that sells photographs and paintings etc.) and wants to purchase a piece of merchandise being offered for sale to the general public (whether a painting, a sculpture, or a photograph), it would (and should) be against the law to refuse to sell that piece of merchandise to a person or group of persons because they are gay, or bisexual, or lesbian, or transsexual or whatever.

        ON THE OTHER HAND, it seems to be patently unjust to REQUIRE, under pain of punishment by Caesar, that the artist (in this case the photographer) put his/her artistic gifts to the service of an event or to produce a piece of art that he/she finds morally objectionable. In fact, at one time– not too long ago– “progressives” and “liberals” would have found this to be a manifestly obvious infringement on freedom of expression.

        Of course, you could deny that a photographer being paid to photograph, edit and publish a set of photographs is nothing like “artistic expression,” which is what you seem to be suggesting here. But that seems rather implausible given the widely accepted notion that photography is an art and is, in fact, an academic subject taught in fine arts departments throughout the nation. It is also an insult to professional photographers. And a double insult to Christian professional photographers.

        Moreover, to make the point with regard to MLK more plausible you would have to show that MLK would not only be in favor of laws requiring service at restaurants, retail stores and the like, but that he would be in favor of requiring black or white photographers, painters, and sculptors to pursue their craft despite strong moral and religious reservations. Maybe he would, but maybe he wouldn’t. In any case, I doubt he would be happy about forcing, under threat of legal sanction and possibly imprisonment (if the fine is not paid) a black tattoo artist (or a body artist or whatever they are called) who refused to tattoo a swastika, a Klan symbol on any white trash, KKK loving cracker who comes along.

        THAT would clearly, it seems to me, to be a violation of that black tattoo “artist’s” exercise of artistic expression, and if he has religious and moral claims, it would constitute a religious liberty claim as well. But then I hold those old fashioned liberal views. But consistency requies that just as I would not want CAESAR to force a Christian black man to pursue his artistic craft over his moral and religious objections, so I would not have CAESAR force a Christian white or black woman to pursue her artistic craft over her moral and religious objections.

        Now, you may say that it is wrong for a Christian artist to refuse to photograph a gay wedding, or in the future some threesome wedding by bisexuals, or whatever. I’m not interested in discussing that question. I am wondering though, why the liberal or progressive position would not embrace the view “I may not agree with what you say, or what you refuse to say, or what you photograph or what you refuse to photograph, or what you sculpt or what you refuse to sculpt, but I’ll defend to my death your right to do (or refuse) to do it. It is a mystery to me why the view I have just articulated is considered “conservative” because it is the very essence of what it means to be “liberal.” Perhaps you can enlighten me on that.

        Finally, I’m shocked that someone like you, who makes so much of the Christian commitment to nonviolence and peace, would actually side with Caesar as the government threatens with violence (not lethal violence) but the violence of fines and the threat of imprisonment, those who object to using their artistic talents in a manner they find objectionable.

        • Its a BS distinction which has never been supported under the law. Commerce is commerce. The government has a duty to keep commerce flowing without being hamstrung by prejudice. Whether one sells goods, services or “artistic talents” they are bound by certain rules of conduct based on how they present themselves to the public. Wrapping one’s bigotry up in religious trappings does not change what it is.

          If you open your business for anyone to call up or walk in the door, you have to serve them if they have the money to pay for whatever is being sold. If you want to discriminate, you have to advertise through more private, closed channels.

          The examples being bandied around in response are ridiculous. A black tattoo artist or Jewish baker would not have the right to refuse service just because the customer asks for something they find offensive. It would certainly be grounds for a lawsuit.

          What the Kansas Republicans want to do is throw away 50 years of Civil Rights Law to appeal to bigots. Since the adoption of the Civil Rights Act, discrimination in businesses has always been an important element.

          • In Nye County, Nevada, prostitution is legal. So, imagine a local photographer in Parumph is asked by the local brothel, the Cherry Patch Ranch, to take photographs of the employees and staff for the establishment’s “Happy Holidays” card.

            Suppose the photograph is a devout Christian, who not only believes that prostitution is immoral, but that the Season that brothel intends to celebrate by sending out its card is sacred.

            Should the photographer have the right to turn down the brothel as a client?

          • KETH PAVLISCHEK

            So, you think that a black tattoo artist should be REQUIRED by law, under threat of penal sanction (state-sanctioned violence), to paint a swastika or a symbol of white Arian supremacy on a white racist, just because the latter is willing to pay him? Boy, I sure would be interested to know whether brother Merritt agrees with you on that.

            In any case, do you really think it is “liberal” and “progressive” to FORCE an artist to paint, or photograph, or sculpt or pursue any other artistic craft if he/she doesn’t want to do it. And isn’t declaring that art is nothing but “commerce” rather, well, bourgeois and capitalist reductionism–reducing everything, including artistic expression, to money and exchange. As if the art of painting or photographic art is equivalent to buying a pack of gum, or a cheeseburger. Don’t see how THAT is liberal or progressive. But maybe you can explain it to me.

            And why are the examples “ridiculous.” Surely you have learned the value of thought experiments, counterfactuals and arguments from analogy from you undergraduate philosophy classes. Rather than merely declaring them “BS” or ridiculous, rather than name-calling, the responsible way to engage in intelligent and informed discourse is to show how the analogies don’t hold water. So, go ahead, give that a try.

          • I’m just curious why Christian business people want to turn away paying LGBT customers.

            I mean, we can come up with ever-increasing examples of mismatched customer/merchant relationships, but this all comes down to Christian merchants not wanting to provide goods or services to LGBT customers.

            But since we’re playing this game, what if people treated other people as they would like to be treated? And what if, instead of pointing out reasons why they aren’t good enough to receive your commercial goods or services, you actually served those customers and then asked them to come again? And then what if they became repeat customers and posted positive reviews on Yelp and told all of their friends about this great business? It’s a crazy notion, I know….

          • The mistake you guys keep making is that the photographer would not be making a principled stand. The person would be merely acting like a self-righteous jerk who don’t want their money.There is nothing moral about such behavior. It is just being whiny and selfish. You do business in a community, you have a duty to serve the community.

            Lets put this in the most honest and simple way and cut through the bullcrap. “We don’t serve your kind here” doesn’t ever fly as an excuse to refuse business to customers if you are open to the public at large. It doesn’t matter what “your kind is” or what lame excuses you give for not serving them [outside of having no money]. The act itself is discriminatory by its nature and is generally something government has an interest in preventing wherever possible.

        • And speaking of MLK’s position, here’s a nice little blast from the past, courtesy of Matt Barber writing in Charisma News Online:

          In 1958, while writing an advice column for Ebony Magazine, Dr. King responded to a young “gay” man looking for guidance. To avoid being accused of “cherry-picking,” here is the exchange in its entirety:

          Question: “My problem is different from the ones most people have. I am a boy, but I feel about boys the way I ought to feel about girls. I don’t want my parents to know about me. What can I do? Is there any place where I can go for help?”

          Answer (Dr. King) : “Your problem is not at all an uncommon one. However, it does require careful attention. The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired.”

          “Your reasons for adopting this habit have now been consciously suppressed or unconsciously repressed. Therefore, it is necessary to deal with this problem by getting back to some of the experiences and circumstances that led to the habit.

          “In order to do this I would suggest that you see a good psychiatrist who can assist you in bringing to the forefront of conscience all of those experiences and circumstances that led to the habit.

          “You are already on the right road toward a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it.”

          Barber summarizes,

          “He recognized it as a “culturally acquired” “problem” in need of a “solution” – a “habit” stemming from a series of negative “experiences and circumstances.”

          …(The) undeniable reality remains that, based upon his own words, Dr. King supported neither homosexual conduct nor “LGBT” political activism.”

      • So, a Jewish baker cannot refuse a neo-Nazi customer who wants him to decorate a cake with these words: “Happy Birthday Adolph Hitler, you should have killed more Jews”?

        Calling into question of the sincerity of your detractors is not really a rebuttal to the quality of their case. And the “never been done before” argument is an argument from tradition, but such arguments we are told, are fallacious when it comes to rejecting SSM. So, it seems strange that you would think they carry weight with anyone.

          • KETH PAVLISCHEK

            No, you may not invoke Godwin’s law. Try answering the question:

            “So, a Jewish baker cannot refuse a neo-Nazi customer who wants him to decorate a cake with these words: “Happy Birthday Adolph Hitler, you should have killed more Jews”?”

          • Okay. We’re talking about anti-discrimination laws here. This becomes an issue, not because of a state being a marriage equality state bug because these particular states have added sexual orientation to state non discrimination laws. Nazi hate speech isn’t included in these anti-discrimination codes. So…

          • KETH PAVLISCHEK

            “But since we’re playing this game, what if people treated other people as they would like to be treated?”

            Well, I know of no intelligent moral theory that requires me to treat other people as they would like to be treated. It would mean that I should abuse, perhaps, the masochist? Or praise the genocidal maniac who things he deserves to be praised for his evil deeds.

            Perhaps what you mean is that we should “do unto others as you would have them to do unto you.” If THAT is what you mean, then I agree, but you see, Jon, that is EXACTLY my point.

            Just as I would not want an individual or the government to violate my conscience by forcing me to produce a work of art that I find objectionable, so I would not force another person or call on the government to force to force that person (under the threat of penal sanction) to produce a work of art or violate THEIR conscience.

            Why do you find THAT objectionable? Come to think of it, why does Brother Merritt find that objectionable.

          • I can see a Mel Brooks joke somewhere in this example. The fact that a Jewish World War 2 veteran wrote “Springtime For Hitler”, and made the only “Anne Frank” joke in cinematic history, has to be shoehorned somewhere here. :)

        • Of course the joke you Bible thumping nabobs would miss is that “Jewish Business Ethics” would not consider the act objectionable as long as the nazi customer pays with cash :)

          Of course the Jewish baker would probably warn the nazi customer that due to the kosher baking techniques, there is a strong possibility the cake may have a fecal smell to it. :)

          You think turning down business because you find fault with a customer is a principled act of moral conscience? No. It is being a whinybaby or a bully. Everybody’s money is the same color. There are no excuses for engaging in business discrimination. Least of all against a group specifically referenced in state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

  7. Mlk was indeed a minister , and a columnist for ebony magazine, for witch he called homosexual activty a problem, and suggested that the person get psychological help, as far comments about jim crow, to compare what we as black folk went thru and ignore and disconnect the history that lead to jim crow law , is disrespectful to the highest degrees, to and reduce it to a life style based on a sexual act is deceptive and sinister in nature, We all can make up opinions, but you can’t change facts, this appear s to be a decoy that stems from kristin powers misunderstanding of princple and applications of Scripture, God is love , and love doesn’t always agree with you , however love will show whats wrong and help you fix it , such was the cases of Jesus christ, his true services was that he able to accept repentance for the sin and forgive sin on behalf of his Father, however on the condition the person was to go and sin no more,

    • Yep. Also, unsurprisingly to many of the bigots out there, the NAACP and every civil rights organization unequivocally supports marriage equality and gay rights as well.

      Even many try to distinguish themselves from the segregationists of old, the people who were on the receiving end of those prejudiced practices recognize the common threads here. Discrimination is discrimination. Bigots like to give their prejudice color of law and don’t give up that power without a fight.

    • Yes. Bayard Rustin, actually. But MLK’s own public position (as written in Ebony Magazine, no less!) was that homosexuality was a problem that required psychological services to help unravel.

      • “I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King’s dream to make room at the table of brother and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people,”
        -Loretta Scott King
        http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2006-01-31-letters-king_x.htm

  8. My own wedding cake cost a couple hundred dollars. I can’t believe how many bakers want to turn away paying customers from gay people. I guess they don’t want to pay their employees or their bilks or their taxes.

    • Keep in mind, these new laws (or proposed laws) aren’t limited to wedding services. They are much more sweeping. You just have to say you have a religious objection.

    • KETH PAVLISCHEK

      Typically, we praise those who are willing to forego financial benefits and even suffer financial disabilities out of strong moral conviction. Why should this case be an exception to that general moral sensibility even if you support SSM or find gay marriage, or plural marriage or whatever morally unproblematic?

          • Let’s put it this way… Can a business that turns away customers and doesn’t make money sustain itself?

          • Thew fact that guys like yourself want to treat the Civil Rights Act like toilet paper?

            What is next? Christian Identity members engaging racial discrimination in business because they feel that God hates black people? That is exactly the logical conclusion of the argument being posed. Using “religious freedom” as an excuse to deny freedom and human dignity to others.

            I don’t think there is anything being missed here.

    • What I can’t believe is how many LGBT are just dying to give their money to a “homophobic” business…to the point of appealing to the courts for the privilege of doing so.

      How about instead going the much-publicized “Chick-Fil-A” route and make a dramatic show of refusing to give one dime to a business that “peddles hate” or somesuch??? Voila…problem vanishes.

        • But that didn’t save Chic-Fil-A from getting bullied by the gay activists.

          Gay Activists don’t want compromise, they want capitulation. They are fascists on steroids, and they should be resisted by anyone claiming a Christian (or Jewish, or Muslim) label.

        • CFA does not create a new specific item for each customer. It has products that is produces and sells them to everyone. A baker making a wedding cake is making a special item for a special event. You can’t compare apple and oranges.

          • Let’s be honest. The failed legislation in Kansas went beyond artistic wedding services. It included emergency medical services. It included any type of business or employee.

        • True that. But both are “homophobic,” no? So why not withhold your money from both? Why withhold it from the one who wants it, and force it into the pockets of the one who doesn’t?

          • I get your point. I’d rather support businesses that don’t view me and mine with disdain.

            Then again, Kansas’ bill would’ve allowed individual workers and government staff to refuse to serve LGBTs. What do you do if you have no staff to provide basic services?

            Also, I live in the Midwest. I come from a small town with one grocer, one florist, one pharmacy, two restaurants, one rec hall, etc… I would guess that there are lots of communities like this in Kansas.

            What do you do when your community theoretically has no other commercial options?

          • If Chick-Fil-A were the only fast food in your town, would you give them your money or cook up a chicken sammich at home? Most of the CFA-haters I’ve heard talk wouldn’t dream of patronizing them under ANY circumstances. But the same crowd cheers cases like this. It’s a disconnect I can’t help but notice.

            I wish this business would have agreed to bake the cake, while making clear how morally unacceptable they found it. Thus requiring the prospective clients to show what is really more desirable to them: to withdraw financial support from a “homophobic” business, or to deliberately force a violation of conscience upon the owners. My guess is that the business would only have had to bake the cake once…maybe not even that…and the rest of the country would have heard nothing about it.

          • Who knows? I might. Just like I might go to Chick-fil-A in a hypothetical situation now where we have guests who really like that food. Then again, you don’t get too many fast food chains settling in 1,000 person communities.

    • This commerce argument is interesting… yes it is a valid issue. It is NOT the outstanding issue for both sides of the aisle.

      You guys don’t like the Jewish example even though it is completely relevant, evidenced by your argument of Jim Crow segregation…but I digress. So here is another example for you to chew on. Say I go into a bakery in the Castro and order a cake that says “God hates _ags!”. Should that baker take the money or stand on his morals and beliefs?

  9. Joseph Prestamo

    Thanks for the article, Jonathan. Very interesting thoughts. Personally, I agree with MLK. As a Christian, as a business owner, I would be even more excited to serve someone with whom I might disagree because of the opportunity to love unconditionally as Jesus would.

    However, I think Powers may be a little too quick to shrug off what it means to provide a service. If you are a wedding photographer, and, as a business owner, you define a wedding as only between a man and a woman, a gay couple is actually asking you to provide a different service. They are calling to question a very fundamental definition on which your company may be founded. It seems to me that the cries for equality often skip over this most fundamental aspect of the discussion: does one believe a same sex marriage and an opposite sex marriage to be the same thing? It seems plausible that one could consider both to be of equal value to society, without believing they are the same thing.

    That being said, this kind of semantic discussion is admittedly starting to sound dangerously close to the racially charged language of segregation. Separate is not equal, right? At any rate, if I were marrying another man, I sure as hell would not want to comb through websites to avoid the non-gay-friendly florists.

    • And that last paragraph illustrates why penalizing discrimination in business is an important government interest. It restricts the flow of commerce to people in an unnecessary and socially unacceptable manner. .

    • Does it matter if one views a gay marriage as less than a het marriage for the purposes of photographing it? Or making a cake? Or supplying flowers?

      I wonder if businesses go through as much hand-wringing when challenged with the notion of a non-religious het wedding? Or a non-Christian wedding? Or a wedding with different cultural expectations?

      Just some thoughts…

    • Maybe, as MLK’s own words in Ebony Magazine clearly indicate, there’s a psychological problem going on with “marrying another man.”

      Maybe, given America’s constitutional freedom of religion for everyone, adherent-owned businesses (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc) should NOT be forced by the government to celebrate, validate, and affirm psychological (and spiritual) problems just because the customer thinks they’re A-Okay.

  10. Wrong to compare what African Americans went through to what Homosexuals go through today. We are all sinners, but discrimination based on color is not the same as choosing not to provide services because of someone’s life choice.
    As someone married to a service provider, and someone who shares her beliefs quite often through her business, providing services to a homosexual couple, would hurt the message and mission of her business which is to Honor and Glorify each day.

    I don’t have to accept something because society says so, Peace with God means more to me then making sure society says I’m a good person.

    • Love the sinner but hate the sin.it all comes down to what you believe sin is. Gods great grace is the same for the saint as for the sinner. I had a business in the UK and I would welcome and serve anyone BUT it did not mean that I agreed with all that person stood for. Come on folks. What would Jesus do?

      • Would Jesus bake a Swastika cake for the local Aryan Day Celebration?

        Would Jesus spend two hours at a Gay Wedding making a ton of photographs in order to help the happy couple celebrate a wedding that’s directly opposed to God’s express intent and design?

        Sorry, don’t think so. “Anything Goes” was NOT one of Jesus’s commandments!

        • Would that not be turning the other cheek?
          Meeting hate with love?
          Turning away from the sword?

          Of course Jesus would bake the cake and gently remind the customer that his hatred would lead nothing but more hatred in return.

  11. What seems to be the issue is whether someone should be forced to affirm something with which the fundamentally and convictionally disagree. The issue is not whether a business owner should serve homosexuals; the issue is, should a business person be forced to support same-sex marriage. Does Hobby Lobby have a right to refuse to provide birth-control to its employees? if we take Ms. Powers point of view, Hobby Lobby, a business owned by Christians, somehow has an obligation to provide birth-control, regardless of the owners’ convictions. The church does not close its doors to sinful people; if we did, no one, including the staff, would be able to come. We do have the right, though, to refuse to perform same-sex marriages. A cake-baker has the right to refuse to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. Refusing service on the basis of race and refusing service on the basis of behavior are different issues altogether. No one chooses their race. People choose how they express themselves sexually.

    • FINALLY, THE FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE! Thank you for your clarity. Being discriminating on the basis of behavior is NOT the same as bigotry on the basis of race. Disapproval of sodomy is not bigotry.

  12. KEITH PAVLISCHEK

    Here is the fundamental issue with regard to Elane case, from the PETITION FOR A WRIT OF CERTIORARI

    http://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/ElanePhotoCertPetition.pdf

    “Petitioner Elane Photography, LLC, a small photography business owned and operated by a husband and wife in Albuquerque, New Mexico, tells stories and conveys messages through its photographs and picture-books. Elane Photography serves all classes of people, but its owners object as a matter of conscience to creating pictures or books that will tell stories or convey messages contrary to their deeply held religious beliefs.
    Elane Photography declined to create photographs and a picture-book telling the story of Respondent Vanessa Willock’s same-sex commitment ceremony because those images would convey messages about marriage that conflict with its owners’ religious beliefs.
    Respondent Willock promptly found a different photographer, and then filed a complaint alleging that Elane Photography violated the state public-accommodations statute. The New Mexico Human Rights Commission concluded that Elane Photography violated the statute, and the New Mexico Supreme Court agreed.

    The question presented is:
    Whether applying a state public-accommodations statute to require a photographer to create expressive images and picture-books conveying messages that conflict with her religious beliefs violates the First Amendment’s ban on compelled speech.”
    The differences between the commentators on Brother Merritt’s blog here boil down to competing claims. On the one hand are outright assertions that Elane is a bigot, and that she has no 1st Amendment right to refuse to photograph this same sex ceremony. I disagree as does Francis Beckwith. It does not seem to me that she is a “bigot.” Moreover, I have argued that my view is a traditional liberal and progressive understanding of broad protections for controversial free speech and artistic expression.

    Now, it SEEMS to me that Brother Merritt is suggesting that Elane has no 1st Amendment claim here and that she should LOSE her as a matter of principle. I say that it “seems” as thought Brother Merritt believes that, but it is not really clear to me. I simply infer this from what SEEMS to follow from his blog post here.

    But maybe I’m wrong. I wouldn’t want to ascribe to Brother Merritt a view that he really doesn’t hold. So, I would very much like to hear Brother Merritt’s views on this case. Does her claim merit even a modicum of respect? Or is she merely a “bigot” as some claim here, and is her argument morally equivalent to the bigotry of racial segregationists in the Jim Crow South? Do you see a relevant constitutional (and moral) difference between laws, on the one hand, requiring that retail stores (for instance) must accommodate all customers and laws (on the other hand) requiring an artist to participate in an event and to create a photo album for an event and a ceremony for which she has religious and moral objections?
    As I said above, I find it rather incomprehensible why a liberal or progressive would not defend a broad understanding of freedom of speech and freedom of expression and hence defend Elane’s right here. Can you help me out here? Can you explain why it is “liberal” to restrict here freedom of speech and expression rights in this case?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Well, not so well researched, Jon. Merritt should have included MLK’s direct words in Ebony Magazine (1958).

      But then again, doing so would have gotten in the way of his thesis, now wouldn’t it?

  13. My mother was a cosmetologist and owned her own shop. She was the only employee. She, as the sole owner, had the right to turn away business as she saw fit (say she wouldn’t do the hair of a gay couple who were getting married). She was not a bigot nor a racist but she was a devout Catholic and believed in the Bible’s and the church’s definition of marriage. (one man & one woman) That is her constitutional right! Free market capitalism WORKS. If you turn away too many customers your business fails! If a business owner is willing to take that stance and that chance it is purely up to them and not the gov’t or the LGBT activists/sympathizers. There are plenty of other businesses that don’t have a “problem” with LGBT’s. Take your business to those who are friendly and accepting. If you want to punish the moral objectors, take your money elsewhere. We can’t and SHOULD NOT be allowed to shove our beliefs down others throats! Christians shouldn’t do it and neither should the LGBT community… that’s not the way to win people over, not on either side…

  14. Does Merritt not engage the comments at all?

    There are certainly some unserious comments here, but it seems to me that at least Beckwith and Pavlischek have offered serious criticisms that should be engaged if we are to take Merritt’s argument seriously.

  15. How does Merritt manage his rationalizing. He opposes contraception and abortifacients, to say nothing of actual abortion, even to save a mother’s life. Yet he defends the presumption that Martin Luther King would serve same-sex couples. I agree that MLK would have and should accepted gays fully. And I assert that everyone else ought to do likewise. Love and marriage follow orientation, and orientation is certainly not chosen. So where’s the argument?

    Remember, many gays do as terrific a job of raising kids as any straights, but their sex is certainly contraceptive, isn’t it? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I defend contraception. I defend very early abortion. And I defend abortion at any time to save the life of a mother. But Merritt does seem inconsistent if not confused.

  16. Jonathan,

    I think it would be a good idea for you to write a companion piece criticizing the fake hate/anti-gay discrimination stories already coming out of Kansas:

    http://topekasnews.com/kansas-restaurant-kicks-gay-man-tells-gay-eating/

    This one is already all over the place in spite of being obviously made up.

    • It was indeed obviously made up — down to the name of the community which many have noted doesn’t exist. It’s a parody website. Unfortunately those are increasingly more and more difficult to identify.

  17. Great article Jonathan. You must be doing something right as evidenced by all the vitrolic comments by those who claim to be Christ-like. Sadly, such comments turn people off to Christ.

  18. Jonathan, as a sexual minority who holds to a traditional Christian ethic on homosexual practice and a musician who gets asked to played at weddings, I can’t agree with you on this. Race is ontologically rooted, while sexual lifestyle is a construction based one’s interpretation and appropriation of his or her attractions. And, it is therefore a more complicated ethical matter. And because lifestyle is an ethical choice, it is not in the same class as race. There is no one-to-one correspondence between race and sexual identity. It is only partial.

    I don’t at all advocate homophobia or discrimination on the part of public businesses (at a lunch counter) in so much as that business extends to how a human being should be properly dignified (eating, lodging, etc.). I should not be refused services as a sexual minority. But, individuals should have the right to refuse services for a ceremony because it is an issue of ethics, conscience, and choice. Serving a gay couple at McDonald’s is a good way to love a neighbor. Compelling someone by law to provide services for a ceremony that violates their conscience is domineering and not Christian. Even if it is right before God, Paul would interject that the conscience of the weaker brother should be respected.

    Offering my services at a same-sex wedding would violate my conscience as a Christian and force me into celebration of a lifestyle that I cannot condone and stand in antithetical opposition to the life of discipleship to which Christ has called me. For that matter I wouldn’t play for a wedding between a woman and a cat, a wedding between two cats, a wedding for two women and a man, or even for a divorcee who was seeking remarriage even though the other spouse was seeking reconciliation. Marriage is too sacred to me and too indicative of the gospel and the final redemption of the church by its groom (Revelation) to be modified by the historical artifacts of culture in 2014.

    I don’t think this is an easy issue to resolve either way, but we can’t reduce it to unqualified service in the domain of same-sex weddings.

    • Cats?… Oh brother…

      How about a wedding between two cats?

      And seriously, do you interview all of the straight couples getting married to make sure there’s never been a divorce in their background before you’ll play for them? I call bull…

  19. Jonathan some of tried to make the commerce argument and I find it interesting… yes it is a valid issue. It is NOT the outstanding issue for both sides of the aisle.

    A couple of people don’t like the Jewish example I gave in an earlier post, even though it is completely relevant, evidenced by the argument of Jim Crow segregation revisited…but I digress.

    So here is another example to chew on:
    Say I go into a bakery in the Castro and order a cake that says “God hates _ags!”. Should that baker take the money or stand on his morals and beliefs?

    Bye the way… I would refuse to serve that person and I am not even gay. Screw the money or the commerce.

  20. Jonathan, thank you for your thoughtful article. The backlash grieves me. Your voice, along with others crying in the wilderness, is a crucial one. God bless you.

  21. Thank you, Jonathan. I found this from the Sojourners website and find it so sad that many feel the need to personally attack someone who shows Christian love rather than piling on with more hatred.

    I find it incredible, continually, that this (small subset of) Evangelicals feel righteous and justified by singling out one small group and choosing to specifically say, “you are not worthy of being in my presence,” while everyone else with sin (all of us) gets a pass.

    We hear about the bakery owners who want to exclude service to gays and lesbians getting married. But, what you never hear about is those bakery owners denying service to young straight couples currently living together who are about to get married. Young straight couples with kids about to get married. Young straight couples currently having sex about to get married. What about the young man about to get married who watches child porn? Or the young man about to get married who is secretly a rapist or worse? They all get a pass.

    There is no biblical justification for hatred. It does not exist.

    I don’t understand what it is that makes some of these people feel justified in this crusade, but I can only wonder. Is it about something in their own lives they’re trying to hide? Is it a way to feel better about themselves by ganging up on a group whom they consider to be inferior? Who knows.

    But it doesn’t matter what your opinion on homosexuality. Is it a sin or is it not. It does not matter. This is still the exact same thing that people (most of whom were associated with the church) did to blacks many decades ago.

    Jerry Falwell, Evangelical Icon, spoke out for segregation. Many, many, many church leaders did. They used bible verses to justify their stance then, too. In the 1600’s they condemned Galileo because he dared to say that the earth wasn’t the center of the universe. They used the Bible to tarnish him as a heretic an liar.

    This story is as old as time. Find one minority group and use the Bible as a defense to judge and alienate them. Consider their sins to be unforgivable while God sees you as righteous and clean.

  22. When Christ fed the multitude on that Galilean hillside with a couple of fish and a few pieces of bread, the disciples did not go around with questionnaires to determine who was “worthy” of benefiting from God’s grace as manifest in that miracle.

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