I don’t frequent the Fox News website very often. Who has time for that? But every once in a while I just have to dip in to see what’s going on. This week, I discovered that Tom Starnes is not at all happy with the gays for helping shut down Sweet Cakes bakery in Oregon.
The incident began when the owners, Aaron and Melissa Klein, refused to bake a cake for the impending nuptials of a lesbian couple, all because of Jesus:
“I believe that marriage is a religious institution ordained by God,” [bakery owner Aaron] Klein is quoted as saying. “A man should leave his mother and father and cling to his wife … that to me is the beginning of marriage.”
Specifying that he does not consider himself to be anti-gay — “I’ll sell [gay people] stuff…I’ll talk to them, it’s fine” — Klein went on to note, “I’d rather have my kids see their dad stand up for what he believes in than to see him bow down because one person complained.”
The couple filed a complaint with the state, alleging that they were discriminated against based on sexual orientation.
On Aug. 31, Sweet Cakes was forced to close up shop. According to Starnes, the Kleins were bullied into closing. Those horrible LGBT activists bullied them and bullied other companies that did business with the bakery. All because the Kleins are good Christians.
Following the bakery’s closure, a sign hung on the door of the former business residence.
“This fight is not over,” the sign read, according to the report. “We will continue to stand strong. Your Religious Freedom is becoming not Free anymore. This is ridiculous that we can not practice our faith. The LORD is good and we will continue to serve Him with all our heart.”
Hmm. Weird syntax, but the intent is clear: they will persevere through the power of Christ. Maybe their faith will make the impending discrimination investigation. I doubt it. However, according to Starnes, the fact that this investigation is actually a thing is a complete miscarriage of justice.
Commissioner Brad Avakian told The Oregonian that he was committed to a fair and thorough investigation to determine whether the bakery discriminated against the lesbians.
“Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that folks have the right to discriminate,” he told the newspaper. “The goal is to rehabilitate. For those who do violate the law, we want them to learn from that experience and have a good, successful business in Oregon.”
In other words, Christians who live and work in Oregon must follow man’s law instead of God’s law. But in a show of benevolence, the state is willing to rehabilitate and reeducate Christian business owners like the Kleins.
Uh, yeah, bro. Yeah. That’s how the law works. That’s how living in pluralistic society works. We live in a country that supposedly recognizes the rule of law. There are practical reasons why society can’t allow people to just go around only living according to laws espoused in their particular religious texts, not least of which is that not everybody believes the same thing. Even people who ostensibly practice the same religion don’t believe the same thing. The only way the system can even begin to be fair and impartial is to have rules that apply to everybody in the same way.
The Kleins and Starnes seem to think that the ability to discriminate against LGBT people with impunity is necessary to fully practice Christianity. They aren’t the only ones, either. After a spate of highly publicized suicides of gay teens, Christian groups moved to ensure that religiously sanctioned hate was not bullying under state law.
I see a lot of parallels between the anti-anti-bullying efforts and Sweet Cakes. In both cases, there is an entitlement to impose a privately held belief on another person or group of people. I don’t think it takes too much imagination to realize why this is wrong. You don’t get to treat people like crap just because you’ve interpreted your religion a certain way. It’s not fair, and it’s no way to run a just society.
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