December 11, 2017

A Desperate Measure?

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Note from CM: We didn’t have enough strong opinions expressed yesterday(!), so I thought I’d start a discussion on something that’s happening here in the heart of the great Midwest. I don’t normally devote much space to political debates, but since this one is specifically “Christian” in origin and intent, why not? No, I’m not spoiling for a fight. Just anticipating that one might break out. Be careful, please.

• • •

The legislature in state in which I live, Indiana, is sending a “Religious Freedom Bill” to the governor’s desk for signature. Yesterday the Senate passed the bill 40-10, following the House’s action on Monday by which it approved the measure 63-31. The governor says he’ll sign it.

You can read the entire bill HERE. This is the official summary:

Religious freedom restoration. Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest. Provides a procedure for remedying a violation. Specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity or official is a party to a proceeding implementing or applying the law. Prohibits an applicant, employee, or former employee from pursuing certain causes of action against a private employer.

The legislation was fashioned after a federal law called the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act of 1993, signed by President Clinton. Passing such laws in various states around the country is now a focus of many conservative groups in response to recent rulings that have legalized same-sex marriage.

145970946-e1426604521182Why do supporters say we need this law?

Our governor says the bill “is about respecting and reassuring Hoosiers that their religious freedoms are intact.”

One of the bill’s authors stated his underlying concern: “You don’t have to look too far to find a growing hostility toward people of faith.”

A state representative said, “It’s important that we allow our citizens to hold religious beliefs, maybe even those we might be appalled by, and to be able to express those.”

USA Today cites another who supported the bill: “Rep. Bruce Borders, R-Jasonville, spoke about an anesthesiologist who didn’t want to anesthetize a woman in preparation for an abortion. Borders said he believes the Bible’s command to ‘do all things as unto the Lord’ means religious believers need to be protected not just in church, but in their workplaces as well.”

Another supporter called it a “good, tested, protective shield for all faiths.”

However, it is clear that this bill was passed in a specific cultural context and was designed to allow businesses such as bakeries, florists, photographers and caterers who don’t want to provide services for gay couples to act in ways they deem compatible with their religious faith and without government intrusion.

religious-freedom1The bill’s critics, on the other hand, call it a “religious discrimination law.”

One representative charged, “”It basically says to a group of people you’re second rate, you don’t matter, and if you walk into my store, I don’t have to serve you.”

A similar bill in Arizona was vetoed by then-Republican Governor Jan Brewer, who gave this reasoning in her press conference:

Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific and present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated. The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences. After weighing all of the arguments, I vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago.

To the supporters of the legislation, I want you to know that I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before. Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes. However, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want. Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value, so is non-discrimination.

One of the interesting implications for politics with a bill like this is that it threatens to divide social conservatives and economic conservatives, and this could become an even more serious problem than it is now for the Republicans.

Business interests in Indiana certainly don’t like the law. The Chamber of Commerce, as well as several major Indiana corporations, spoke out against the bill, warning that it could seriously affect the state’s business climate. They are concerned about being able to attract the best employees to a state which appears not to welcome all. As the Chamber remarked, “this legislation threatens to undo years of progress we have made in positioning Indianapolis as a welcoming community.” They also expressed concern about the potential costs of litigation.

Others have warned that the state’s sports and convention business could take a big hit. Already GenCon, who brought 56,000 visitors to their convention in Indy last year, has petitioned the governor to veto the bill, suggesting they might seek accommodations elsewhere if it becomes law. A local sports columnist quoted a leader in Indianapolis’s hospitality industry:

“We came out against the bill about two weeks ago, joined several other organizations who are fighting this bill,” said Chris Gahl of VisitIndy. “We feel like anything that could be viewed as making Indy inhospitable or unwelcoming could impact our ability to book future business. We’ve been fielding calls all day from potential visitors and convention people who are concerned about this. We’re not in the business of being a political organization, but anything that impacts our ability to draw conventions and events to our city is an issue for us. We want to be as hospitable a place as possible for all our visitors.”

IMG_3616In response to this legislation, so far more than 500 businesses have signed up for the “Open for Service” campaign to communicate their position of non-discrimination.

• • •

In a nutshell, here’s my reaction.

  • Desperate times apparently call for desperate measures. This is a transparently desperate measure by those who feel they’re losing a “culture war.”
  • The main originators, sponsors, and spokespersons for Indiana’s bill have spoken from a “Christian” perspective. I’m sorry, but I missed the “love your neighbor” part of the law, which I thought was the summary and central focus of God’s Law. I can’t think of anything much more Christ-like than humbling yourself and setting aside your personal objections to serve a neighbor with grace while keeping your opinions to yourself.
  • The law is so vague and open to interpretation that one might posit a number of outrageous scenarios. Could a Protestant baker, for example, refuse to make a wedding cake for a Catholic wedding? Or could a photographer refuse to take pictures of an interracial couple?
  • It is also entirely possible that, if signed, this law won’t amount to much at all. Perhaps what one Indiana legislator said is the real story: “This is a made-up issue. It is made up for the purpose of going in front of a few Indiana citizens and thumping your chest for social causes.”

Comments

  1. Prohibits an applicant, employee, or former employee from pursuing certain causes of action against a private employer.

    What does the above text mean?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “Sign this please. It absolves me from all blame.”
      — Lucy Van Pelt, Peanuts

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      The Devil is in the details, but given the context it likely means that employers are given the right to impose their religion on their employees. Recall the Hobby Lobby affair. You didn’t that that the “religious freedom” in the bill’s name meant religious freedom for everyone, did you?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Local morning drive-time radio calls it “The Sodomite Suppression Act.”

        • Which, to assure its full enforcement, would no doubt require the creation of the Sodomite Suppression Agency.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Isn’t that called The Religious Police AKA “Institute for the Promotion of Virtue and Suppression of Vice”?

          • “Institute for the Promotion of Virtue and Suppression of Vice”? also known as the matawa.

            I remember those guys! I lived around them for 8 years in Saudi!

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Stories I heard about the matawa was that they were often recruited from prisons and the entrance exam was to recite the entire Koran from memory.

  2. Christiane says:

    gosh, for some time now, the phrase ‘religious freedom’ has been co-opted by the right wing as a freedom to discriminate publicly against those who have been ‘identified’ (labeled) as unworthy for public services in businesses that serve the general public . . .

    I know that to the people of right-wing conservative evangelical communities, it doesn’t seem that way, or they say it doesn’t describe what they are actually doing,
    but the truth is that in the process they seem to need to act according to their own consciences, they DO discriminate in our very American society where we have for some time treasured the idea that ALL of us are worthy of being treated with respect . . .

    ouch! I suppose there is a solution, and that it will come to us what to do as a country, but right now, I’m thrilled that people ARE talking about this issue openly and frankly with one another,
    and if only some of those people are open to solving this dilemma at the national level of how Americans take for granted respectful treatment in public, then hopefully only good may come of putting the heads together of those who bear good will in our land. Argue away, folks. Somewhere in the ‘brainstorm’ of ideas that will flow, we may discover an idea that bears light and comes from a place, not of fear or anger, but out of a deeper regard for one another than that which has been expressed and lived out publicly.

    Caveat: who stands to ‘benefit’ most from stirring pots ? are they on ‘both sides’ of the issue? and why do we let them take over the discussion in the first place? . . . take the discussion away from the divisive trouble-makers and reclaim something of our gritty American ability to work things out honorably, with consideration for all involved.

    • Right now people are in the rock throwing stage, lobbing bombs at each other and fighting for primacy. Of course, there are those elements that rub their hands in glee when this goes on, and that makes it even worse. Eventually things will settle into practices that most will just shrug their shoulders over and the trouble makers will move on to something else.

  3. If a small business owner does not want to service a particular customer then there are a number of ways to keep from having to do so.My business does it on occasion here in California. Full disclosure is NEVER a good idea, though, it is best to be as friendly and vague as possible.

    In the case of the bakery in New Mexico where a judge ordered the business to serve a gay couple’s wedding, after which advocacy groups drove them out of business, I have to ask: Who was harmed, the couple who could have gone to a different bakery, or the small business owners who lost their business? Was the outcome fair? Was it JUST? No “coulda, shoulda, woulda’s” please, just a judgement on the final outcome.

    This example is what is motivating the legislation in Indiana. Remember that executive who lost his job at Mozilla? Was THAT just, for a thought crime? People are getting freaked out and don’t know what to do, so they come up with laws such as this one in Indiana.

    Some people have said that if a few suffer so that a larger group may have certain rights or benefits then that is the way it goes. It also cuts both ways. Think about the voter ID issue, for instance, it’s the same principal.

    Personally, I think this is all just noise and nonsense. Christians need to look at their business practices and at their chosen professions and then ask themselves “How does this proclaim the Kingdom of God?” Are we more about making sure OTHERS act as a Christian, even if they are NOT? Or is it more important to become “conformed to His image”?

    • Christiane says:

      ‘Christians need to look at their business practices’ . . .

      what concerns me, OSCAR, is that there seems such a vast distance between the desire of some Christian people to live out their faith in one way (perhaps avoiding service to LBGT folks) and the desire of these same Christian people to vote for those whose economic practices are known to hurt the vulnerable in our country

      it’s a strange religion that so starkly contrasts on the one hand taking a stand for ‘our religious rights’ and on the other hand, voting to take away what little economic help there is from those on the fringes of our society whose lives lean so often on the mercy of others . . .

      where’s the integrity in such contrasting positions? I can’t see it if it’s there. It doesn’t make any sense.

      The only connection I can find is that in BOTH cases, the ones who are openly neglected are people with ‘labels’ the far right has identified as ‘unworthy’ of respectful treatment. I can say this because for some time, the far right has viewed the poor in our country in a very negative light. I don’t understand how people of faith can buy into this mentality. ?

      • There IS no “far right”, just as there is no “far left”, these are just labels affixed to scare voters one way or the other. The name of the game is demonize the other side in order to gain, or consolidate power into the hands of whichever party. This is not a parliamentarian type government. The people are represented by the majoritarian center.

        And there is no “righteous” party that cares more for the poor than the other, and if you think so then consider this fact: Two of the poorest states are California and Mississippi, one overwhelmingly Democrat, and the other Republican. I cannot speak to Mississippi, but having lived in California since 1975 I can testify that as Republicans became more and more marginalized, the poverty rate rose more and more, till today it has one of the largest population of poor people in the nation.

        The only connection I can find is that in BOTH cases, the ones who are openly neglected are people with ‘labels’ the far right has identified as ‘unworthy’ of respectful treatment. I can say this because for some time, the far right has viewed the poor in our country in a very negative light. I don’t understand how people of faith can buy into this mentality. ?

        Christiane, respectfully, I think you need to examine who you are listening to and try to put aside your own formulated judgments and look again what ALL parties concerned are saying, why they are saying it, and what, exactly they are REALLY trying to do. The fringes are highlighted in order to demonize the opposition, on BOTH sides.

        I really don’t want to get onto the merry-go-round of arguing politics, I’d much rather stick to the law that CM has decided to post on.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          “Two of the poorest states are California and Mississippi…”

          The US Census Bureau disagrees. California’s poverty rate is 35th, at 13.2%. Mississippi is 50th, at 20.1%. The national rate, by way of comparison, is 12.6%.

          “one overwhelmingly Democrat, and the other Republican. I cannot speak to Mississippi, but having lived in California since 1975 I can testify that as Republicans became more and more marginalized, the poverty rate rose more and more”

          The US Census Bureau disagrees. California’s poverty rate under its most recent Republican governor was 16.9%. It has been falling steadily since. See Table 19 linked from http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/historical/people.html.

          “till today it has one of the largest population of poor people in the nation.”

          This actually is true. Of course California also has the largest population of non-poor people in the nation, what with its having by far the largest population of any state. This is straight from the “How to Lie with Statistics” playbook.

          “Christiane, respectfully, I think you need to examine who you are listening to and try to put aside your own formulated judgments and look again what ALL parties concerned are saying, why they are saying it, and what, exactly they are REALLY trying to do”

          *snort*

        • Dana Ames says:

          A lot of immigrants land in California, and that in itself will affect the poverty rate. I have never known an immigrant person who wants to stay impoverished; every one I’ve known has worked very hard to raise their income and standard of living.

          I’ve lived here since 1963 (age 7). The things that have caused the most problems in terms of economics have little to do with immigrants, and mostly to do with legislative constipation, along with starving our educational institutions at every level since the governorship of Ronald Reagan.

          Dana

          • Right, Dana. But California experts like Richard know better.

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            “But California experts like Richard know better.”

            Oh, come now. You can do better than that. The facts are awkward for your argument, so you need to do some frantic hand-waving to provide distraction as you replace them with ones you like better.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            Well Oscar, you seem to run away from the facts, you cannot answer when it is shown that you clearly had them wrong except to start name calling. That really helps your cause….

  4. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Others have warned that the state’s sports and convention business could take a big hit. Already GenCon, who brought 56,000 visitors to their convention in Indy last year, has petitioned the governor to veto the bill…

    GenCon.
    To those of you who do not know, GenCon is the BIG pencil-paper-funny-dice gaming convention in the Midwest/Great Lakes area. It was started over 40 years ago by TSR — you know, the ORIGINAL Dungeons & Dragons guys? Given the long-standing hostility between Christians and gamers (Satanic Panic Kyle’s Moms), this is somehow very appropriate.

    • I remember well my first Gen Con, back in 1985 IIRC. The convention center in Milwaukee was intermittently besieged by an old-model car garishly painted with hellfires and Bible verses. There was a HUGE speaker mounted on the roof, through which the driver would harangue us about how we were all going to hell for devil worship.

    • Michael Z says:

      I’m in two church small groups right now. One is a Bible study where we discuss the week’s sermon in greater detail. The other is a Dungeons & Dragons group. The collaborative storytelling aspect of D&D is actually a great community builder…

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      “the long-standing hostility between Christians and gamers…”

      Nota bene: between White Evangelical Protestant Christians and gamers. Many other Christians find the hostility to be bizarre.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I would like to point out that “White Evangelical Protestant Christians” have hijacked the name “Christian” without any adjectives to mean themselves and themselves alone.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          Yes, they have. This doesn’t mean that the rest of us have to play along. Quite the contrary, the rest of us would do well to push back against this vile usage.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Take it from the guy with 20+ years in Furry Fandom:
            There is only so much you can do about Loud Crazies who hijack your name and claim REAL LOUD to everyone around (including The Media) that They’re One Of You and You’re Just Like Them. Changing names (“Furry” –> “Anthro”, “Christian” –> “Christ follower”) doesn’t help; nothing prevents the Loud Crazies from hijacking that name, too. Either way, they LOVE to be the Public Face of your Movement, the Center of Attention.

  5. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    The main originators, sponsors, and spokespersons for Indiana’s bill have spoken from a “Christian” perspective.

    This IS Christian Perspective(TM), CM.

    As in Counting Coup on Those Sinners from MY Utter Righteousness.

    “I THANK THEE, LOORD, THAT *I* AM NOTHING LIKE THAT FILTHY FILL-IN-THE-BLANK OVER THERE…”

    Culture War Without End, Amen.

    (Like the Game of Thrones — you Win or you Die.)

  6. Vega Magnus says:

    There is already a divide between social and economic conservatives and it is only going to increase as libertarianism gains popularity and social conservatives keep trying to cling to their disintegrating causes.

    • “social conservatives”, another vague, amorphous, and flexibly undefined scare group.

    • I’ve noticed this. The conservative libertarians I know can’t stand social conservatives.

    • Pretty sure Libertarians are going to be a lot more relevant in the coming decades. Even as faith and social conservatives pass away, the narrative of “freedom from government” is still pretty enthralling to some.

  7. Jonathan H says:

    Speaking in general, it seems to me there’s a distinction between work that has an expressive or communicative component (in and of itself, it conveys something specific to a neutral observer) and work that doesn’t.

    Examples of expressive work might be producing T-shirts with images or slogans, billboards, books and other printed material, cakes with writing, websites.

    Examples of non-expressive work are numerous, such as: landscaping, cakes without writing, furniture, home improvement, medical services, etc.

    I’d prefer legislation that protects business owners from being required to produce expressive work that they choose not to. For example, a T-shirt print shop would be permitted to decline printing a swastika design.

    Non-expressive work, since it doesn’t communicate anything in particular, would not be so protected.

    No doubt there would be some debate about some work and whether it is expressive or not, and maybe about situations where a business is the sole provider for some kinds of work, but it seems like it would be a better place to start than a blanket “No one is allowed to turn down anyone’s business!” or “Everyone is allowed to turn down anyone’s business!”

    • Robert F says:

      I think you make a legitimate point, about expressive versus non-expressive services. For instance, my understanding regarding the bakery that refused to sell a decorated wedding cake to the gay couple is that they were not refusing to sell cake to gay people; rather, they were refusing to put symbols expressive of approval of gay marriage on the cake, since they believed that do so would move beyond merely providing a neutral service to participating and tacitly supporting an action they viewed as immoral. As you point out, there are limitations to how well such a distinction can cover some significant cases.

    • Brianthedad says:

      Sounds like a reasonable middle way to me.

    • cermak_rd says:

      I could support that to some extent. But only for the expressive part. If a couple you don’t like (maybe they’re Pastafarians) are wanting a decorated cake for their wedding. Then I would say the decorating is an expressive art. But if all they want is a plain iced sheet cake then that I would argue is not expressive and that’s what the bakers in one of these cases did. When they refused to sell a decorated cake, the couple asked for a plain sheet cake and the baker refused to sell that. That’s when they actually crossed the line in that case (New Mexico I think and it was a commitment ceremony, not a wedding as gay marriage wasn’t legal at the time).

      • I’m in full agreement with you. If that’s what the bakery did, it is clearly discrimination of the worst kind, and violates the spirit and letter of the Civil Rights Act.

  8. I’m sorry, but I missed the “love your neighbor” part of the law, which I thought was the summary and central focus of God’s Law. I can’t think of anything much more Christ-like than humbling yourself and setting aside your personal objections to serve a neighbor with grace while keeping your opinions to yourself.

    THAT should be the end of the discussion. The fact that it is not is a sad commentary on the priorities of American evangelicals.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Because American Evangelicals Always Have to WIN WIN WIN.

      And in a Zero-Sum Game, the way for Me to win is to Make You Lose.

    • As much as enjoying poking the whole at evangelicalism, this is really reductionistic. From an evangelical perspective, homosexual marriage is against the law of God and is immoral. I could easily see an evangelical cake baker refusing to make a “happy divorce” cake.

      Loving your neighbor has never meant supporting and promoting their sin.

      Truth be told I’m a post-evangelical atheist, so I don’t really care about the details. I just hate echo chambers.

      • From an evangelical perspective, homosexual marriage is against the law of God and is immoral…

        So is 90% of everything we do in our lives, once inner motivations are taken into account. What I find shallow and “echo chambery” is to harp on the particular sins of those outside our camp and turn blind eyes to our own.

        Loving your neighbor has never meant supporting and promoting their sin.

        Again, it boils down to the question of whether or not Christians can – or SHOULD – impose their morals on those who don’t have them and don’t want them. St. Paul’s answer in I Corinthians 5 was a resounding “NO”. (I had that passage smacked across my face by an unbeliever, back in the day. That’s a lesson I have never forgotten…)

  9. Clearly, as a nurse, my thoughts go immediately to health care issues, more so than cakes and flowers for gay ‘marriage’ ceremonies.

    I don’t think I would go to the mat over making the floral arrangements for a homosexual union, despite my feelings that this is a sad imitation of marriage as known for the last few millennia. If a couple is going through with a party, they might as well pay me to do it, if I were asked…..allows me to pay my rent and contribute to my Church and other charities.

    BUT….I would lose my license and job before I facilitated an abortion in any way, shape, or form. When I worked for the Public Health Department, I was hired with the clear understanding that I would be happy to do pregnancy tests, schedule an OB appointment, and hand out prenatal vitamins. If the young woman (or, more often, the girl) had questions about NOT going through with the pregnancy, or even if she seemed less than overjoyed about the news, I immediately got my pro-abortion supervisor to take over. I couldn’t stand in the way of legal options, but no way was I running with THAT ball.

    • Healthcare…and the diseases that are “God’s judgement” on alternative lifestyles…jeez…

      Bakeries and hobby stores are a red herring.

      This could be huge.

      • What if the banks get involved? Sorry, we here at Spirit-Filled Credit Union won’t do business with your type.

        What if down the road currencies get involved? Sorry, we don’t take US Dollars, we have our own currency.

        What if states want to secede? Doctrine of Separation is our religious right.

        How ironic would it be if Christians ™ tore down the very nation they say they established?

        But this time, we’ll do it right.

        • In hindsight, it should have really, really scared me when I heard former pastors argue that gays should be driven back into the closet, make it illegal like the way it was and the way it should be.

          But I just brushed it off…

          • Pray for me, everyone…there’s a lot of things in my past I need to make peace with, or it’s just going to keep eating me up inside, alternating between depression and rage. Both peace with those groups, as well as peace with myself for allowing myself to get involved.

          • Stuart – praying. ikwym, in so many ways, though the groups i was in weren’t quite as extreme as IHOP. but they were pretty close to that level of crazy, and had definite political ties that scare me, because it’s ongoing.

            anyhow… i went through so much anger in the earlier stages of my recovery from it all, so i hear you.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Stuart — You were involved with IHOP (and not the IHOP I used to work for, which had its own problems)?

            Those guys are right out there with David Icke, Richard Shaver, and Francis E Dec!

          • I don’t know what the prayers of an unrighteous man are worth, but I will pray for you nonetheless.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          How ironic would it be if Christians ™ tore down the very nation they say they established?

          But this time, we’ll do it right.

          “This time We WILL Achieve True Communism!”

  10. The passage that came to mind was this,

    “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

    You had Jesus, who had every right to exert himself as God over everyone that he came into contact with, yet came as a servant, and died a bloody death… those who claim to be his followers fight about their right to not sell people cake.

    Maybe we should worry a little less about our rights as Americans, and look to share the mind of Christ.

    • Robert F says:

      I”m not sure the case that all this grew out of was about refusing to sell cake, but refusing to sell cake with certain decorations, and I think that’s a real distinction. The distinction is between refusing to serve persons, and refusing to perform a certain kind of service, whomever might ask for it. I realize that there is a lot of gray area that the distinction between these two covers.

      • I guess my point is that I think that the freedom that I have as an American has spoiled me to a degree because whenever something comes up that I am uncomfortable with I like to lean on my rights… think of myself, protect my best interests. I think that our light shines a little less bright when we choose to cling to our rights as citizens, rather than laying them down as servants of Christ.

        • Robert F says:

          I understood the purport of your original comment, and I agree with it, to a degree. But I can think of situations in which advocating for one’s personal rights, and the rights of the group one belongs to, would be completely in keeping with living a life of Christian service. I think of the Freedom Marchers, for instance, advocating for the Civil Rights Act, or Catholic migrant workers representatives, like Caesar Chavez, advocating for humane working conditions and decent wages.

          • I think that we do mostly agree. The examples that you site are people standing up for the marginalized and oppressed. I just think that applying that to most of these situations that seem to pop up, is like me, as a white man, complaining about equal opportunity employment. I’m not exactly one who is railing against white male privilege, but I at least know enough to not think of myself as an oppressed people group.

          • Robert F says:

            I tried to offer examples not only of people standing up for the marginalized and oppressed, but of the marginalized and oppressed, many or most of them Christians and speaking from a perspective explicitly informed by Christian ideas of justice, advocating for themselves and their own rights.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        There is much vagueness about what exact case we are discussing. A quick search turned up one in Oregon, in which a motion for summary judgment was recently denied. You can read the ruling here: http://media.oregonlive.com/business_impact/other/BOLI-sweetcakes.pdf. Reading the Statement of Facts, the discussion seems not to have reached the point of decorations. The proprietor asked the names of the bride and groom, and things went downhill quickly from there. So it’s not like there was any discussion of the bakery providing a cake but leaving off the little bride and bride figures from the top.

        • I see. If you sell cakes, then by law you should have to sell cakes to anyone who walks in the door and can pay for one. It’s really that simple. That’s nonnegotiable, as far as I’m concerned.

  11. Robert F says:

    “I’m sorry, but I missed the ‘love your neighbor’ part of the law, which I thought was the summary and central focus of God’s Law. I can’t think of anything much more Christ-like than humbling yourself and setting aside your personal objections to serve a neighbor with grace while keeping your opinions to yourself.”

    My feelings are mixed, not concerning this particular legislation, but on the entire subject; and they are mixed because there are limits to putting aside one’s own objections beyond which it is not Christ-like, or Christ-like service, to go.

    Since I’m in favor of full inclusion of non-heterosexuals people in every facet of social and religious life, the motivation that seems to be behind this particular law strikes me as repugnant. And I’m in favor of full enforcement of the Civil Rights Act.

    But, if I were a baker, and a neo-Nazi couple came into my bakery and asked me to decorate a cake for their impending nuptials with a swastika, I think I should have the legal right, based on my religious convictions (as well as other values I share with the wider human community) to refuse them, with full disclosure of my reasons.

    I’m sure there are other examples of the same sort of situation, perhaps more subtle ones. But the net result is that I’m conflicted about the subject, and I’m not sure it is merely about “culture wars.” The general question is, What should be the limits of the exercise of personal conscience, and how would that work out in the course of everyday living and interaction? The question for Christians might be, What does it mean to serve, and how much of personal religious conviction is it right and faithful to put aside in Christ-like service to others?

    • Robert F says:

      Or, how do we know when we have moved from merely putting aside our personal convictions to putting aside Christ?

      • flatrocker says:

        Robert F.
        This is possibly why the legal winds are blowing away from it being a religious liberty issue and to a freedom of speech infringement. There has been granted a wide berth of interpretation concerning the fundamental right of free speech and what that expression may look like. In conjunction with these broad interpretations, there comes along a right that sometimes gets overlooked for its basic obviousness. No one can be compelled to participate in an expression of speech should it violate their conscience (re: mandatory reciting of the pledge of allegiance).

        The more compelling constitutional argument in my mind is does a patron have the right and power to compel a baker to participate in an event that can be construed as an exercise in speech. And does the baker have a constitutionally guaranteed right to refuse to participate in said speech – whether it’s a gay wedding cake, a nazi swastika cake, or providing Star of David infused bacon wraps for the reception from the hallal butcher.

        But then again, this is not as fun as fighting the culture war for our christian rights. Onward soldiers, march on.

        • Robert F says:

          I think you’re right about freedom of speech being central to sorting out this issue, and I think a couple of my other comments here are in line with that. But freedom of speech doesn’t help in the example mentioned in the post concerning the anesthesiologist refusing to participate in the abortion procedure. How do we, as a nation, sort that out? How do we, as Christians, handle that?

          • flatrocker says:

            Or the ultimate in anesthesizing – as assisted suicide becomes legal and more mainstreamed in a hospital setting, can medical professionals be compelled as a condition of employment to assist in the suicide?

          • I don’t know, but my cynical side already sees how the leadership would frame it, as standing up for your religious and truth, dare to be a daniel, he who denies me before god, are you ashamed of the gospel, is jesus christ your savior and lord?

            etc

            i want to hurl

          • oh but for 10 righteous young samuels to rise up and strap on the bomb vests of justice and take upon the sword of salvation…

            for many are called, but few are chosen

            here am i lord, send me

          • maybe the NSA is watching the wrong group of young people…christians terrified of being monitored because, deep down inside, they know they are no different than the islamists…

            but that’s not true…because we’re right.

          • Christian photographers who don’t want to serve at a gay wedding are basically the same as ISIS? That is absolutely ridiculous even by the standards of what the iMonk comments section has become.

    • But, if I were a baker, and a neo-Nazi couple came into my bakery and asked me to decorate a cake for their impending nuptials with a swastika, I think I should have the legal right, based on my religious convictions (as well as other values I share with the wider human community) to refuse them, with full disclosure of my reasons.

      Robert, that would not be a problem almost ANYWHERE unless the issue was non heterosexual in nature. THAT seems to be the touchstone for conflict these days.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        Of course not all that long ago it would have been a mixed race couple.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Sex makes people stupid, and even the mention of Homosex disconnects every neuron above the brainstem.

  12. turnsalso says:

    Though it may not be very charitable of me, I say if they pass the law, we in Ohio would love to have the qualified employees and profitable companies that may be looking for new homes…

    • cermak_rd says:

      Same thing with their neighbors to the east over in Illinois. We’d love to have the eastern edge of our metropolitan area a little closer to home.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      Not all that long ago, Ohio was considering a law which would not only ban same-sex marriages, but would prohibit same-sex couples from any of the appurtenances of marriage. In other words, it would prohibit corporations from extending healthcare benefits to same-sex partners. The corporate community had much the same reaction as in this case, for the same reasons.

  13. It’s interesting to contrast the notions of religious freedom the Hoosier and Arizona bills embody and the simultaneous “crackdown on Sharia law” that pops up every so often in this or that state here in the US.

    Granting the general consensus that we don’t want to allow religious enclaves to have their own separate civil law system (a la the Ottoman Empire), does anyone seriously think that a hypthetical Muslim restaurant owner who refused to cater to a Baptist wedding would get a pat on the back from the sponsors of this bill?

    Perhaps it was such considerations the governor of Arizona had in mind.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      The point of the bills banning Sharia Law is that in general you can enter into a contract which includes a stipulation incorporating the legal system under which it will be interpreted. Usually this is something fairly banal, such as stipulating the laws of a specific state, but sometimes the stipulation is to something more exotic. Orthodox Jews sometimes do this. If a dispute arises, they would go to a mutually agreed upon rabbi for arbitration. Note that arbitration clauses are also bog standard. The hysteria over Sharia Law is merely an attempt to limit what arbitration clauses can be inserted into contracts. As an unregenerate leftie, I can think of arbitration clauses that indeed should be ruled unenforceable. This isn’t one of them, so long as they are genuinely freely entered into. (Google on “contract of adhesion” for a discussion of one sort of contract not truly freely entered into.)

      The trick with these laws is to make them narrow enough so that they aren’t prohibiting routine arbitration, while at the same time not being so explicitly religiously discriminatory that they will fall to a First Amendment challenge. I don’t know if any jurisdiction has managed to thread this needle. The discussion is mostly about posturing for the base.

      As an exercise for the reader, consider from the conservative perspective the appropriateness of the government placing restrictions on the rights of parties to freely enter into contracts.

      • Thanks for the legal insights, Richard. Much to consider in the way of details there.

        At the cultural level, I think part of the “shock” regarding Sharia law is that most Christians in the US have utterly no conception of traditional cannon law as historically practiced by the RCC, EO, Anglicans, or Orthodox Jews, among others. That a religious body could have any serious legal say over how their lives are conducted just seems plain weird. (That of course doesn’t mean that a given church/denomination won’t exhibit extremely strong cultural coercion — just not in a legally binding manner.)

  14. Robert F says:

    Does anyone know what the position of the Roman Catholic Church is on this legislation, or if it has expressed a position? I’m asking because I’m curious if this is legislation motivated mostly by the concerns of the culture warring evangelical right, or if there is a significant overlap with the concerns of Roman Catholics.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      Good one. Gotta be careful of the banner you wave.

    • In lieu of actual thoughtful discussion and debate, lets post a meme and let that be the end of it. I believe that accepting ‘pictures worth a thousand words’, slogans and talking points as legitimate discussion – no matter the topic – goes a long way in explaining why this debate often turns ugly. If I scream my slogans louder than you, and if my memes are more viral, I WIN!

      Except, we all loose.

      My $0 .02, We have to separate the civil aspects of rights and speech and expression from the higher law, Love. Christians, on the one hand, might have a completely legitimate fear of their civil rights beings narrowed. But on the other, we are held to a higher standard. What did Jesus say about walking a mile with someone? Remember the context of that statement? A Roman soldier could, by law, conscript a person to carry his gear for 1000 paces (a roman milion). Going further would violate the rights of those being conscripted. Looking at it through the lens of 21st century Americans, we would say being forced to do something for someone who’s culture and lifestyle was opposite of my beliefs was a violation of my religious freedom not to associate with those with whom i disagreed. But what does Jesus tell his followers to do when an Dirty Roman compelled us to carry a load for a mile? Walk with him, but explain the entire way why he was wrong and going to hell? Walk with him, but as soon as the civic duty was complete turn a walk away with out speaking? No, he told his disciples to Love. Do something unexpected. Walk another 1000 paces, carrying that heavy load further than civil law requires…much further than their moral sensibilities deemed reasonable. Go further, do more, be different, shock your enemies.

      At the end of the day, I don’t mind being on the wrong side of history if I am fighting for what is right. Our founding Fathers, after all, could have been found on the wrong side of history if it weren’t for help from the French. What i fear the most, however, is being found on the wrong side of Love. MAybe we should just grit our teeth and bake a cake…or two.

      • I don’t like it when Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount are turned into a new kind of law, applicable in all circumstances, throughout time and in all places.

        Forget about the case at hand; I’m not comparing. But based on your understanding and interpretation, Martin Luther King, and those other Christians who followed him in the march toward the Civil Right Act, should have just gone along and obeyed their white oppressors, offering to carry even more than the burdens that were already imposed on them, and certainly not informing them and the rest of American society just how evil such oppression was. And Rosa Parks should not only willingly have gone to the back of the bus, but she also should have offered to have herself dragged along behind it.

        No. That cannot be right.

        • That can’t be what Jesus wants; but if it is, to hell with him: my God is not Blake’s Nobodaddy.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “Blake’s Nobodaddy”?

          • William Blake’s parody of oppressive, patriarchal, punishing sky-gods, who expects humans to scourge the needs of their own souls and bodies, and to squelch their own desire for liberation and freedom.

          • Thus we have the modern Atheist, who is against that God. I’ve never met an Atheist who is against Jesus, because Jesus doesn’t exist in America much anymore.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            And the modern Christianese Culture Warrior, who has made that God his God. (As well as those More Calivinst than Calvin.)

            Contrast Blake’s Nobodaddy with a god-figure from current pop culture, Princess Celestia from MLP:FIM — benevolent, approachable, even playful.

        • I firmly believe that reading the Sermon on the Mt as a new set of laws and some sort of code that I have to strive for is wrong and leads to a basic misunderstanding of God’s work in our lives. But, I do, however, believe that Jesus commands us in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere to Love. Do you disagree with that? As a follower of Jesus, I believe I am held to a higher standard than Civil Laws. The problem I see in my own life is when I become more concerned with My Rights as a citizen than I am with my responsibility to be an imitator of Christ. If I’m going to err, I’d rather err on the side of Grace.

          Obviously, there are times when Love requires civil disobedience. But I think you equating a baker in AZ to Rosa parks is offensive, at best. Actually, the beginning of my comments I stated that sloganeering and shout downs were the norm from both sides of the debate. You suggesting that the institutional oppression of a people is equal to what is happening now pretty much proves my point.

          • Robert F says:

            Read my comment: I explicitly said that I was not equating the two, so, unless you are intentionally misreading, and reading into, my comment, there is nothing to be offended by. Unless, of course, you find it convenient and enjoyable to take offense.

            Please tell me when you determine the obvious line at which Christians should stop being doormats and go over into activist phase; I’d love to see an outline of your criteria.

            And remember that legislation applies equally to hard and soft cases.

            • Robert, IMO there is no chapter and verse for this. I suppose decisions must be made by wisdom and in terms of opportunity. Why did it take nearly 100 years for the civil rights movement to reach critical mass? It would have been just as righteous a cause in 1870 or 1920. Even by that time, we’d been searching our consciences over slavery and its attendant injustices for more than a century and fought a Civil War besides.

              Those who argued for this so-called religious liberty bill don’t have that kind of history on their side. They have a long record of religious and cultural privilege instead. That’s one reason their whining seems so misguided and petty to me.

          • Robert F says:

            Your understanding of god is the same one preached by pious slave-owners to their slaves in the antebellum South, the one who told them to go the extra mile, to give up their cloaks, to obey there masters as they would obey God, and to keep quiet the whole time. The God who preaches liberty to the captives, and freedom to the enslaved, and truth shouted from the rooftops, is altogether other than the one you commend.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “Gather round and hear me tell
            How pious priests whip Jack and Nell,
            And preach all sinners down to Hell
            In hopes of Heavenly Union —

            “They baa like sheep, dona like goats,
            Then seize their Negroes by the throats
            And choke, for Heavenly Union…”
            — somewhere in The Autobiography of Frederick Douglass, probably one of the appendices

          • Robert F says:

            CM, once again, I was not comparing the two. I was objecting to a sketch that Lane gave, based on the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, of what the Christian life should look like and how Christians should behave, because these very sentiments have been used by so many in power to oppress those who were at their mercy. His proof texting argument holds no weight, as far as I can see.

          • Right, Robert, you did say you weren’t equivocating. And then you proceeded to equivocate.

            You want me to tell you when Christians should stop being doormats? Since when have white Christians in this country been doormats? Are you a doormat? Obviously, there are times to stand up, when civil disobedience is called for. When is that? I’m not sure. I suspect that time is when I’m standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Not sure the fact that I might be offended that a couple of gays are getting hitched meets that criteria.

            I’d ask you, when do you draw the line and stop loving? If I refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple, shouldn’t I also refuse to bake one for a divorced couple? Or not bake one for a child’s birthday when his parents are living in sin? What if I know that neither bride nor groom are virgins?

            If a group of people used a scripture to oppress another group, does that prevent me from ever using that scripture again? I wasn’t using the extra mile narrative as a proof text. I was drawing an analogy. However, all I was saying is that we should strive to Love. Sorry that doesn’t hold weight.

          • I apologize for my tone, Lane. I’ve seen a lot of things justified by invoking the word “love,” outside and inside of Christian circles, sometimes with justifying theology attached. I’m sorry for my overreaction. I can get pretty irrational.

            Personally, I would happily bake a cake for a gay couple, or a divorced couple (I’m part of a divorced couple myself). As I’ve said, I’m in favor of full inclusion of non-heterosexual people in every facet of church and social life. And love, when it’s real, holds more weight than anything else can.

      • Ok lane try these thoughts.

        This issue has nothing whatsoever to do with religion. This is about equality under the law. A secular civic concern. No religious liberty is threatened whatsoever. What is threatened is religious privilege.

        As an individual we can associate with whom we will, worship with whom we will, in the manner we prefer. But as soon as we enter the public sphere we must treat everyone equally under the law. There is no secular opposition to gay rights. What there is, is religiously sanctioned bigotry.

        I’m not concerned about history. I am simply appalled at the spectacle of christians fearing and hating while draping themselves in piety. Principled hatred! Ha!

        • Maybe if you’d read the whole thing, you’d see that we pretty much agree. Sorry I suggested that this discussion calls for more than memes. It obviously struck a chord. But don’t let me stop you from ranting, there is a shout down to win, after all.

          • lane what makes you think I didn’t read it all? And this is not shouting. THIS IS SHOUTING.

            My meme struck a chord. An Augmented 4th no doubt.

      • You can’t evoke Jesus in these types of discussions. He doesn’t exist. This is about God and how holy he is.

      • Is the walk the extra mile scenario really comparable, though? No disagreement that it’s good and loving to inconvenience yourself for the sake of even a hostile stranger, but is that what this is?

        I might question the love of the baker for his neighbour if he was refusing to bake a birthday cake for a gay client or something, but a wedding cake opens a whole category of moral questions that are deeply tied to the conscience of the individual, that I don’t think can be so easily labelled as ‘hate’. Would you hold it against the baker is she refused to bake a cake that depicted pornographic material (homo/hetero/etc) for a client?

        • Why do so many Christian discussions always bring out “teh p0rn” as their endgame?

          How about this…should a Christian baker refuse to bake a wedding cake for a clearly pregnant unmarried couple?

          “Sorry, unless your first kiss is at the altar and everyone knows you aren’t wearing that white dress ironically…

          …you know what, here’s a blanket, I expect this back shortly after your wedding night as proof, otherwise you can’t have your cake deposit back.”

          • man, i don’t know, this is my first online christian discussion, so i thought the porn thing was pretty clever.

            You win 🙁

          • Even with the pornographic thing, it’s a slippery slope. Some may consider a depiction of a kissing couple “pornographic”…and I’m sure they’d have verses to support that view.

            Learning not to underestimate some things…

          • Robert F says:

            Osti: forewarned is forearmed: On this blog, trotting out the pornography card is a sure conversation killer, as is comparison of current events in the US with the goings on in Nazi Germany (although this last is applicable to many blogs).

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Why would anyone need a porn cake when they have the Internet?

          • Robert F says:

            Because whipped cream doesn’t taste too good on flat screen monitor?

          • Rick Ro. says:

            Stuart, again you’re pulling out the slippery slope card because it suits your argument, but I believe you don’t let people use that argument when it suits theirs. The porn cake is a good question – what happens when you’re asked to design and ice a cake that offends you? Nazi logos. Gas chambers. Sacrificed babies. Clearly there should be something in place that allows a person to say, “I can’t do that. Please go somewhere else.”

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Why do so many Christian discussions always bring out “teh p0rn” as their endgame?

            Because Christians are just as messed-up sexually as everyone else, they just show it differently.

        • Are Nazi, Porn and Child Sacrifice cakes even a thing? Or are they just convenient straw men arguments?

          • Rick Ro. says:

            Nazi cakes are a real thing. (As are swastika tattoos.) And yes, there’s a bakery here in Seattle that offers genitalia cakes and such, so I assume there might be a cake client who would desire such a thing from a normal bakery.

            So what would you do if you owned a bakery and someone came in requesting something that offended you? Would you have the right to refuse serving them, or should you do it regardless of how offensive you find the design?

  15. The right to refuse to do business with anyone, for any reason, is an absolutely essential and basic freedom. It was lost in this country over fifty years ago. If you do not have freedom of association, you do not have freedom.

    • So we were wrong to overturn Jim Crow laws?

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        This is the (or at least ‘a’) libertarian position. This is why many racists are attracted to libertarian ideology. This is not the same thing as saying that all libertarians are racists, but there is an awful lot of overlap. Hence those old Ron Paul newsletters that Ron Paul so unconvincingly claimed he had known nothing about.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      While you figure out how to answer Chaplain Mike’s legitimate question, I should point out that there is nothing, either in the Constitution or the Bible, which overtly indicates that business owners have the right to do or refuse business with anyone, for any reason. Want to insist that the concept of “freedom of association” extends to any business transaction? Try selling alcohol to a 20-year-old or refusing emergency medical care to someone because you don’t like their skin color or sexual orientation. There are limits to how much these perceived rights can and should extend. There always have been, and those limits are there for legitimate reasons.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Want to insist that the concept of “freedom of association” extends to any business transaction?

        Maybe in Galt’s Gulch…

        • Marcus Johnson says:

          Although the thought of doing so gives me no pleasure, I feel like I have to read Atlas Shrugged now, just because it seems so many people are talking about it, and I’m completely left out.

          This is the same feeling, by the way, that drove me to listen to Taylor Swift’s albums.

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            I have long since made my peace with being completely left out. I think it was the day I was standing in a supermarket checkout line and realized I had no idea who those people on the magazine covers were; and furthermore, that I didn’t care. The not caring was tremendously liberating.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            There’s a blog called “Daylight Atheist” that’s snarking Atlas Shrugged chapter-by-chapter, in much the same way as Slacktivist has been doing Left Behind. (Like Slack & LB, this way you don’t have to read it yourself, he’s taking the SAN loss for you.)

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/series/atlas-shrugged/

            “Who is John Galt?”
            Hell if I know, but since November 2008 the guy’s got more Celebrity Impersonators than Elvis.

  16. Marcus Johnson says:

    One of the bill’s authors stated his underlying concern: “You don’t have to look too far to find a growing hostility toward people of faith.”

    My response to this legislator: No you don’t, but whose fault is that? Smack a dog enough times, and she’ll get hostile. Why focus on muzzling or restraining the dog, when the real problem starts with the person abusing the dog?

    I think I also commented on this a couple weeks ago, but I still don’t see how contributing to a wedding ceremony demonstrates support for the marriage. Even if I bought into the premise that marriage, as a sacrament, should only be between a man and a woman (which I don’t), the ceremony is not part of the marriage vow. Neither are the photo sessions, or the bridal gowns, or the tuxedo rentals, or the catered meals, or the honeymoon resorts. Folding these items into the marriage vow itself seems incredibly sacrilegious, and it conflates the concept of marital vows to something very superficial, even under a conservative view of marriage.

    • A lot of atheists or people of other faiths would be glad to have the work of building and furnishing churches.

      • turnsalso says:

        And the Church should be in the business of helping people out. What better way than to give them gainful employment for a while?

      • I’ve heard that some atheists and agnostics even serve on WORSHIP teams!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      My response to this legislator: No you don’t, but whose fault is that? Smack a dog enough times, and she’ll get hostile.

      Because this has been redefined in terms of Power Struggle alone.

      And when whatever-it-started-as has become Power Struggle, there are only two possible end states: MY boot stamping on your face or your boot stamping on mine. And the only way to prevent the second is to make sure of the first. Top or Bottom, Hold the Whip or Feel the Whip, Kill or be Killed. Forever.

      (Aside: Ever wonder if the Gospel was given to provide a third alternative to the above duality?)

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        Aside: Ever wonder if the Gospel was given to provide a third alternative to the above duality?

        Maybe that shouldn’t be an aside, HUG. Maybe that should just be the main argument.

        • Christiane says:

          MARCUS, it has been the main argument for about two thousand years.

          • Marcus Johnson says:

            Can you explain that to the Indiana legislature? Apparently, they didn’t get the message.

          • There is no Gospel message because Jesus doesn’t exist in modern America. OT and Paul, that’s all we get.

          • Robert F says:

            It has been the main argument for two thousand years, but where has it been consistently lived?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            There’s always somebody who doesn’t get the message.

            Just there are Soooooooo many of them today….

  17. Why not just pass a law making it illegal to be mean-spirited?

  18. cermak_rd says:

    I like the response of the open for business community. I as a consumer don’t want to buy from people who aren’t inclusive.

    One thing I don’t get is that these anti-discrimination ordinances were passed years ago (Peoria had one before the state of IL. Reminded me of the old line about something playing in Peoria). So why weren’t these objectors arguing against the legislation then? In public? It seems what many people want is the right to discriminate privately without having it be public that they support discrimination. Well, it doesn’t work that way.

    I am, however, all in favor of Christians further tarring themselves as being unpleasant people (sorry UCC, ELCA and TEC, y’all really need to rebrand yourself or something).

    • Perplexed by the tar brush on the ELCA unless the extent of your experience is Steve Martin. It is a brand I always look for on the Lutheran signboard, and I imagine Missouri Synod does the same thing for opposite reasons. In any case, I would think the last thing most ELCA people could be accused of is being unpleasant.

      • cermak_rd says:

        No, no, no! I love the ELCA. What I meant was that they unfortunately get tarred with the worst elements of Christianity even though they themselves are non-discriminatory and inclusive. That’s why I said those groups needed a rebranding campaign to try to express the fact that Christianity doesn’t have to consist of small people acting small.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          The UCC tried that some years back. The television campaign advertising that everyone was welcome there was considered so inflammatory that some networks refused to run it.

          • Robert F says:

            They should try again.

            “God is still talking.”

          • Richard, I can’t imagine how bad that could have been, in spite of the UCC’s good intentions. But somehow James Watt comes to mind. He was Secretary of the Interior under Reagan, and he answered his critics (who said he wasn’t inclusive enough) with, “My goodness, I’ve got every kind of minority on my staff you can think of. I’ve got a black, I’ve got a woman, I’ve got two Jews and a cripple!”

            He was out the door shortly thereafter. 😀

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            At least Watt went out the door with style.

            He announced his resignation to the media outdoors on a ranch wearing Western garb, after which his wife and he mounted horses and rode off into the sunset.

  19. David Cornwell says:

    Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, is carefully positioning himself far to the right because of his Presidential ambitions. He is doing this on any number of issues that include education, labor, balancing the state budget, healthcare, and making a trip to Israel. Not long ago he attempted to start his own news agency within the framework of the state government. This quickly brought a ton of negative national attention, and he had to drop it. I’m sure there is more.

    He thinks God may suddenly speak choosing him to be our next great leader. He has managed to stir up a hornet’s nest on some of these issues, but to him this is all to the good. It gets national attention, and the notice of the Koch brothers. And next Sunday he will have likely have some preachers bouncing around their pulpits, pounding their bibles, and denouncing the evils of the approaching persecution of the righteous and doom.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      He thinks God may suddenly speak choosing him to be our next great leader.

      Yet another guy who KNOWS God has him personally on speed-dial.

  20. Marcus Johnson says:

    For those folks who are comparing baking a cake (with a swastika) for a Neo-Nazi couple and baking a cake for a same-sex couple, there are a couple pretty evident factors that establish a faulty analogy in your argument:

    1. Neo-Nazism is a socio-political movement that has been placed on the watchlists of civil rights organizations and law enforcement agencies across the globe for its advocacy of violence, hate, and genocide (and, paradoxically, denial of the Holocaust). Same-sex couples have not been identified this way. The two groups have nothing in common.

    2. If a Neo-Nazi couple came into my shop and asked me to bake a cake with a swastika on it, I would hope that, as a cake designer, I would be smart enough to have a portfolio/display book of cake design options (none of which would include a swastika) so that the couple would not only know my range of expertise, but would also know what their options are if they choose to hire me. Many tattoo artists have the same policy. The only reason why I would get backed into a corner to put a swastika on a wedding cake would be if I had done it before, and it was in my book of cake designs. If that is the case, then it’s my fault for creating the design in the first place.

    I should point out, though, that if a Neo-Nazi couple or a same-sex couple, came into my shop, selected a cake design that I had previously created, and asked me to bake for them, I would be more than happy to do so. Business is business, and the baking of the cake itself does not constitute an endorsement of their personal beliefs regarding marriage or Neo-Nazism.

    • Of course there is a huge difference. But, so far as I know, Naziism is not prohibited in the US, and so long as they break no existing laws, Nazis have the same rights as Christians, Muslims, Republicans, Democrats, et. al. That is, they have the right to be treated equally before the law, and places of public accommodation, like private businesses, are required by law to treat them equally.

      As to your second point, that is one way of handling it. But what about the young couple who came into a NJ bakery a few years ago and wanted a cake inscribed with their young son’s name for his birthday? What was his name? Hitler. And his parents had given him that name in honor of the very historical figure we know so well.

      • Didn’t social services intervene in that family shortly afterward? I remember reading something about it.

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        i concede that, in all fifty states, neo-Nazis have the same rights as everyone else to be treated equally before the law, and that public businesses are required to treat them equally. Sometime, in another discussion, we need to discuss why same-sex couples don’t have the same protection as neo-Nazis, but I digress…

        Personally, I wouldn’t have any objections to printing the word “Hitler” on a cake. I’d probably do it for free, too, as I would assume the parents are probably going to need the cash later for either therapy sessions and/or bail money for their child.

        • Robert F says:

          Couldn’t agree more: the same-sex couples should absolutely have the same protections, and, speaking from an ethical perspective, are far more deserving of those protections.

  21. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Local morning drive-time radio has picked up on The Religious Freedom Act(TM).

    They refer to it as “The Sodomite Suppression Act.”

    • The Sodomite Suppression Act is a separate act written by a nut job in CA.

    • An excerpt from the actual text of the Sodomite Suppression Act:

      “Seeing that it is better that offenders should die rather than that all of us should be killed by God’s just wrath against us for the folly of tolerating-wickedness in our midst, the People of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”

      • Wow. Just…wow. It’s Jonah!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          God-talk meter just spiked off-the-scale.

          Anyone God-talks that much, check to see what he’s hiding.

      • This is certainly the viewpoint of someone on the extreme fringe of fundamentalism. But I have to wonder – how much of evangelicalism’s “culture war” mentality is driven by a similar fear? “If we let the liberals/gays/atheists have their way, then God will judge our nation for its wickedness and we will lose our comfy, happy lifestyle!”

        • …extreme?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          “If we let the liberals/gays/atheists have their way, then God will judge our nation for its wickedness and we will lose our comfy, happy lifestyle!”

          “If I don’t take your balls, the SS will have mine.”
          — Concentration camp doctor doing assembly-line castrations in Leon Uris’ QB VII

        • Yes, I don’t think for one second that the bloodthirsty individual who wrote the Sodomite Suppression Act is on the same level as those who wrote or support the Religious Freedom Act that is the topic of this post. Not for a second. Of the many who support the bill in Indiana (and I’m sure there are more states to come) I’d be willing to bet that most don’t actually wish ill upon anyone. They just want to be true to their faith and think that this legislation is needed to protect that regardless of any consequences – legal or otherwise.

          I do think it fair, however, to wonder at the degree to which the same theology of hell and fear of divine wrath/judgment are at the foundation of both approaches when the rubber really meets the road.

  22. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    “This is a made-up issue. It is made up for the purpose of going in front of a few Indiana citizens and thumping your chest for social causes.”

    Because all you need to do is play Teh Gay Card and the Born-Agains line up to back you 1000% in the voting booths.
    Stimulus –> Response.
    Stimulus –> Response.
    Stimulus –> Response.

  23. I do see this more in terms of free speech, but don’t think that the writers and supporters of the law see it that way. From the perspective of the writers and supporters of this law, I keep asking myself what’s REALLY to be gained? Assuming it passes, any cultural or economic pushback will be seen as “being persecuted for righteousness”. If it isn’t signed into law, it will be seen as “being persecuted for righteousness”. Either way, the underlying issue (and it is seen as an “issue”) is unaffected and day to day existence doesn’t change for most people. People just become a bit more separate and have clearer ways to “other” people. And it’s certainly not going to open anyone up to the gospel (however defined).

    Given the underlying beliefs/theology that lead to a Law like this, what is it really about? I think it’s a manifestation of (1) the protection and building up of group identity in the form of scapegoating (we get defensive when our values are threatened – and our response has little to do with the good of the “other”) and (2) the fear that any kind of “tolerance of wickedness” will result in divine wrath and torture, either in this life or the next. A law like this would seem to be a natural outgrowth given that backdrop, and it can be (and will be) presented as “loving” in the sense of “warning of and fleeing from the wrath to come”. Regarding (1), I think that we all have a propensity to respond that way.

    Other than the writer of the Sodomite Suppression Act in CA (google it) being a lone lunatic (so far…) and it being embarrassingly unconstitutional, the (fear based) motivations are largely the same. Evangelicals just tend to be a little more stealthy and indirect about it than fundamentalists.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And regarding (2), it sounds like a variation on the Wretched Urgency dynamic, with the same “God holding his Ezekiel 3:36 Hell gun to your head with one up the spout, hammer back, and safety off.”

  24. When “love God” is more important than “love your neighbor”…

    Bring GenCon to Minneapolis.

  25. A few months ago I was asked to create graphic and illustrated art for a gay wedding. I’ve had absolutely no problems in the past with working for gay clients, and one of my closest friends and frequent collaborator in the business is gay.

    After prayer and consideration, however, I felt I could not take this job, not because the client was gay, but because I could not put my heart into engaging creatively in a project that affirmed a mode of life our Father has delegitimized. I’d refused other gigs on similar grounds because of content I found overtly violent, pornographic, or blasphemous. These decisions harm no one but myself, and they are not considerations I would have had just a few years ago when I was a young, agnostic, bisexual freelancer fresh out of college.

    Montreal is worlds away from the cultural and political context of Indiana. Maybe if I had more first-hand experience with the ‘religious right’, I’d think differently, but as it is, I think it’s really sad how quick some of you are to cut down your brothers and sisters in judgment. If this is actually a meat-sacrificed-to-idols kind of thing, and you guys really do have the more mature view, would it hurt to exercise more grace towards those of us who are ‘weaker’?

    • thanks for posting this; well said

    • Rick Ro. says:

      Funny, but I’ve noticed “more mature” tends to turn into “more correct and right” instead of “more gracious.” Your point is well made.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        And that is in regards to ALL Christians, not just ones here. Maturity, instead of bringing greater grace, tends to bring “greater righteousness” aka self-righteousness. I include myself in this.

    • but because I could not put my heart into engaging creatively in a project that affirmed a mode of life our Father has delegitimized.

      And that is your right as well as your interpretation of scripture.

      The problem tends to be when people don’t recognize it as an individual right as well as just ONE interpretation of scripture.

    • If this is actually a meat-sacrificed-to-idols kind of thing,

      The difference between Paul and the leaders did not attempt to create a binding law prohibiting meat sacrificed to idols. This isn’t a feelings thing; this is a law thing.

      makes me sad

      As does this proposed bill to me and many others.

      • Well, I wasn’t addressing the law aspect of this scenario. I don’t really have the insight to speak about how Christian morals and secular law ‘should’ interact, so I tend to be all feelings.

        To your other point about how Christians have differing views of scripture, I was trying to explain why I’d made the decision I did in my own life in the hopes that Christians who interpret scripture differently wouldn’t be so quick to pull the trigger on each other. Maybe I was motivated by hate and don’t realize it? but I really was trying to do my best in that situation.

        • Who said anything about being motivated by hate?

          Not all differing views of Scripture are valid, either. For instance, a view of Scripture that necessitates silencing by any cost all other views of Scripture should not be tolerated.

          …which is an extremely slippery slope I really would rather not go down.

          • Rick Ro. says:

            Slippery slopes tend not to be slippery, at least when they involve ideas we agree with. They tend to become slippery when they’re ideas we are opposed to. It’s a bit intellectually dishonest to pull out the slippery slope card when it suits your position, but not let others use it when it suits theirs. Either everyone gets to pull out the slippery slope card, or no one does.

          • Robert F says:

            One pulls out the slippery slop argument, then another, then another: pretty soon we’re all ass over teakettle…

          • Wanting wedding photographers to lose their jobs isn’t enforcing your views by law?

            I’m not really a fan of this legislation – it’s too broad and can be used to justify too much. I think Jonathan H’s distinction between “expressive” and “non-expressive” work is helpful and a possible way forward. But don’t pretend that forcing things by law is something only the other side does.

          • “One pulls out the slippery slop argument, then another, then another: pretty soon we’re all ass over teakettle…”

            Slippery slop, it doesn’t get any more disgusting than that.

          • I do have a tendency to preemptively strike out against the common slippery slope rhetorics, because more often than not they are instant conversation killers as the Party Line gets firmly entrenched. It can be fun to watch someone realize I already spoke their next point and turned it on them, lol.

          • All you’re doing (over and over in these comments ) is making cartoon caricatures of your opponents and throwing the most extreme versions of what you disagree with at them, no matter how loosely related it is to the topic at hand. It’s not clever or insighful. It’s just an underhanded bad-faith debate tactic, and I’m sure you cry foul when it’s used against you.

          • They don’t feel like cartoon caricatures when I’ve spent the last 30 years of my life living with these people, and I’m quoting them back verbatim. I’m not making any of this stuff up. I’ve lived it. I can point to churches, individuals, leaders, organizations, and dig up first hand accounts with all this rhetoric attached to it.

            Which is why it’s so effective when I throw it back. And they yelp.

          • Okay, I guess everyone to your right is all basically the same and deserves to be grouped in and demonized with the worst elements of your past. And actually, they’re basically the same as suicide bombers too.

            It’s like a right-wing talk show host who says “Stalin and Mao!” whenever someone raises even mild doubts about contemporary capitalism.

    • “I think it’s really sad how quick some of you are to cut down your brothers and sisters in judgment.”

      You can take the boy out of fundamentalism, but it is a lot harder to take the fundamentalist out of him.

      • It seems like the progressive Christians who criticize the religious right most loudly (which is certainly not above criticism – I’m not even all that conservative) and who pride themselves on being so far above politics tend to line up with the mainstream secular left (at Slate, for example) on almost everything.

        • I sorry to say I think you’re right about the left (heh), Osti, Jon, and Joel. And when their bigotry is pointed out to them (which I’ve done on occasion), the left-leaners don’t see it any more clearly than the right-wingers did when the criticism was reversed.

          Specks and planks in our eyes on both sides of the issues, for sure.

          Osti, just for a smile and headshake, I’ll relate an experience I had when I was teaching in Canada back in the early 70s. I asked the students to write an essay on something — can’t recall what — and I was startled that a good third to half of the essays came back with statements that Indians (First Nations to you) were drunk, dirty and disgusting. I pointd out to them that this was an example of racial prejudice. They were shocked but kind, as Canadians tend to be. Patiently and gently they explained that I was mistaken: the *US* was a racially prejudiced country, but *they* were just stating a plain fact: Indians are drunk and dirty.

          Despite this, and despite the fact that I was repeatedly blamed for the Vietnam war, I loved Canada, and often wish I’d stayed there.

          • Canada *is* pretty cool.

            There still tends to be a latent racism that exists, particularly towards the Inuit, in my area. Things like the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, however, are positive examples of a society starting to recognize its sins (residential schooling horrors in this case), even if the conversation isn’t quite mainstream yet.

            And trudat about us all needing to be mindful of the planks in our eyes. I’m betting I’ll probably have a lot to be embarrassed about myself on that day we’re all reconciled in truth and clarity.

  26. If I were to walk into a labeled kosher bakery or deli or whatever and request a non-kosher food item, my rights and their rights aren’t being denied.

    If I were to walk into a bakery or deli and ask for a kosher item, it’s 50/50 whether they can provide, but either way, my rights and their rights aren’t being denied.

    If a distinctly labeled Christian ™ bakery wants to deny a homosexual couple a cake…I tend to lean toward that being their right, just as a Christian bookstore wouldn’t sell satanic books or whatnot.

    If a not distinctly labeled one way or another bakery that just happens to have Christian workers/owners chooses to deny a paying customer of whatever product they want because of their socio-political-econ-religious beliefs…

    There is a huge problem there. Many huge problems, in fact. But the consumers rights are definitely being violated and they are being discriminated against.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      These comparisons seem muddled. No, of course no one’s rights are being denied when a store doesn’t sell them an item that the store doesn’t carry. That is far removed from the discussion at hand. How about if that kosher deli refuses to sell to goyim? Where would I go when jonesing for a knish?

      • No idea, but I’m sure Arby’s carries them.

      • Robert F says:

        There are hundreds of “roach coaches” in New Jersey that carry knishes…granted, they’re not the best knishes, but…

    • Guerilla surgeon says:

      When you’re in the marketplace you sell whatever it is you DO sell to anyone that comes in the door pretty much – by law. Otherwise we wouldn’t have to sell things to black people, or Hispanic people or women, or Muslims, or Sikhs or evangelicals for that matter.

      • So if your bakery doesn’t sell same sex marriage cakes you shouldn’t be forced by the government to do so or put out of business by protesters as the lady in New Mexico? It seems to me that is the intent of this law, though the law itself is probably poorly written. The lady in New Mexico had served the gay couple that sued her for years and says she would continue to serve them. She just didn’t want to do their wedding. She is now out of business and probably bankrupt. Sounds fair and just to me and certainly indicates there is no need for laws like the one in Indiana, because she was obviously just being a mean bigot and refusing to serve them because they were gay.

  27. How long until we come to an in-nation fight between Christians, Hardline vs Mainline, ala Protestants vs Catholics back in Ireland during the Troubles?

    I think I’ve already chosen my side, but I don’t know…push comes to shove, I’d shove hard back.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vm2fCn6g1wU

    • Robert F says:

      Rebellion is a legitimate response of oppressed human beings (but let’s not say that too loud, lest those who only think they’re oppressed find motivation in it).

    • Rick Ro. says:

      We will be fighting the common enemy of Islam long before that, me-thinks. 😉

    • I seriously wonder about the prospects for civil conflict here in this country within a generation – enough so that I can’t in all honesty make a joke of it. 🙁

      • I think part of the motivation for joking about it arises from having that fear (I do, too).

  28. OldProphet says:

    My 3 cents(prices are higher in SoCal). Ah, the desert of California, a beautiful place to live! The state of California, not so much. All 7 statewide offices are Democratic. Both houses are Democratic. Basically its become a one party ruling everything, and thru do. But the issue is, to the victors go the spoils, which in this case, is the laws passed in this state. I might not like it, but that’s the way it is. As to this Religious Freedom Law being discussed, I think its idiotic and bigoted and discriminatory. Why does the government always have to butt in with these types of laws? How often does government act in ways that cause discrimination and schism? Why on earth does government think they are the true arbiters of morality and truth? Are their times where Christians must stick their guns about certain types of business transactions? Yes, for sure. Isn’t there a way for these issues to be rrsolved? Back to SoCal. We have more wacky laws than anywhere else so this issue is a real problem. But until a real, fair, and responsible government is the majority in this country, we will continue to have these types of irresponsible laws being passed and foisted upon us.

  29. (sigh)

  30. Pastor OP says:

    (sigh,sigh)

  31. I always enjoy the comments here. The self righteous left condemning the right for being self righteous. It restores my faith in the human race.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      Accusations of self-righteousness are … well, you know what’s coming 😉

    • OldProphet says:

      Daryl: I’m on the right, a Libertarian to be exact. I always think the government is wrong on the personal types of issues

      • OldProphet, I would agree and if the government would stay out of it from both sides I would see no need for a law like the one proposed in Indiana. I’m enough of a Libertarian to want the market to handle such things as much as possible. Unfortunately the government is always needing to fix things and when they fix one thing they create three other things they must then fix.

    • You’re right. It’s pretty much why Jesus said (paraphrasing), “Everyone’s got a plank in their eye.” Unfortunately we’re too busy pointing out the specks in everyone else’s.

  32. “The law is so vague and open to interpretation that one might posit a number of outrageous scenarios.” And why couldn’t a Muslim owned business deny services to christians? I’m sure your states good christians would like that.

    But hey, part of me says let the bill go through. This isn’t the Jim Crow south anymore where the businesses who want to discriminate are backed by a majority… No, in this day and age, those businesses that want to discriminate will have to settle for living very meagerly or maybe going out of business as they will be deserted. But I doubt the thoroughly spoiled/entitlement minded christian business class will like that either… Besides religious privilege, economic “blessings” from God are also sacred… being poor is a sign of godly failure… what a bind.