I’ve been saying this for a while now, but on the most contentious issues of the culture war, namely homosexuality and same-sex marriage, it is conservative Christians that deserve credit for being the most reasonable and peaceable combatants.
A very peculiar story out of Colorado and the response by conservative Christians reveals how rigid those in the LGBT community really are in forcing citizens to affirm their views on sexuality and marriage. According to NBC news,
A Colorado baker is facing a state discrimination investigation after refusing to make a cake with a bitter theme. But a Texas ministry on Thursday disavowed the complaint one of its co-founders filed against the woman who refused to sell him cakes with anti-gay messages.
Marjorie Silva, owner of Azucar Bakery in Denver, said she told the man, Bill Jack of the Denver suburb of Castle Rock, that she wouldn’t fill his order last March for two cakes in the shape of the Bible, to be decorated with phrases like “God hates gays” and an image of two men holding hands with an “X” on top.
Silva told NBC station KUSA of Denver that she later received a discrimination complaint from the Civil Rights Division of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. “After I read it, I was like, ‘No way,’” Silva said. “We’re not doing this. This is just very discriminatory and hateful.”
So, let’s examine the facts of the case. A Christian with an uncharitable, harsh, and derogatory message about the gay community wants such values reflected on a cake that someone else would contract to create. The baker (we’re not told whether this person is a liberal or a conservative, a Christian or not) believes that this message is out of line with her values. So she declined her services. The customer filed a complaint, alleging that Silva is in violation of her state’s non-discrimination code. Silva’s plight is identical to that of other bakers, florists, and photographers who were asked and declined to use their creative talents for the purposes of a same-sex wedding celebration. In the first case, the ruling went after the baker because he discriminated against the gay couple when he said no to their same-sex wedding. How is this not the same kind of discrimination if the complainants state that their religion opposes gay marriage, and they want their cakes to represent that doctrine?
Let us be clear: Silva is right to decline her services. In a free country, she ought not be compelled to create a cake that she believes represents a hateful, wrong, or immoral message. Conservative Christians are asking to be treated in like manner.
Rather than suing her, the provocateur in question could have shopped around elsewhere to see if a different baker would create such a cake. Market forces work to make harsh expressions unpopular and without a vehicle to be expressed. This is as it should beallowing the marketplace to determine what is acceptable speech, not the government. There’s no need to bring the government into this situation. If I were the baker, I would have declined to make such a cake as well. Sadly, by the legal logic of the prior Colorado baker case, the complainants here should win hands down.
Laws should never forcibly compel citizens under any circumstance to partner with speech that they believe is demeaning and wrong. If only the LGBT lobby were as magnanimous as the conservative Christians. But alas, they’re simply not. Using the law, their desire is to extract every available measure of dissent and quash it.
Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian conservative legal advocacy group that defends Christian bakers, florists, and photographers is defending Silva against the notion that she, under legal compulsion, must design a cake whose message conflicts with her values.
So, the conservative Christians are defending the right of Silva to not create such a cake that sends a harsh message toward the gay community. Meanwhile, Christians who want the same freedoms are reviled and legally targeted by organizations purporting to advance gay rights. The irony is rich.
Andrew Walker is Director of Policy Studies at The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and a PhD student in Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.