Under the cover of night, there is an army marching upon the heartland. Flying a flag of rainbow righteousness they are playing a devious, House of Cards level game of “Capture the Moral Compass“. Like the White Walkers of the North, they are scaling the walls of that moral high ground, bent upon corruption. Unsure if you will hear them coming? Listen out for the strains of Liza Minelli and Cher.
A ridiculous analogy filled with cliché and stereotype? Oh, we must be talking about the latest bit of discriminatory legislation masquerading as religious freedom.
I didn’t want to. I wanted to finish working on my book, start softening the callous that seems to be forming on my left buttock from sitting too long. I tried. I really did. But as I came across an “article”–someone posted to a friend’s FB page in reaction to the latest legal events in Indiana, my fingers could sit still no more.
The “article” highlighted a case from a few years ago in which a small Christian bakery was forced to shut down due to boycotts from the LGBT community after they refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple. The lesbian couple filed a suit and talked to the media because….well, it’s against the law to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in Oregon. Let me set the record straight. If there were threats, that was wrong. If there was physical harassment, that was wrong too. But as it was Fox News, you’ll need to take that with a mine’s worth of salt. But a boycott?
Let’s start with: You reap what you sow.
If you own a private business and you make sure your customers know you will refuse them service based on the fact that their lifestyle doesn’t mesh with YOUR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS (YOUR beliefs, not those of the State or the Government, or the Universe), and then you lose business? That is NOT a question of religious freedom. That is called reaping what you sow. Or if you’d rather, an eye for an eye. You refuse to serve, they refuse to patronize. If they happen to have a bigger, better organized, more musically inclined demographic? Such is life.
Or how about this one: People in Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones:
Are you a baker who doesn’t believe your buttercream should be used in a gay wedding? Are you a florist who didn’t want your nosegays to be taken quite so literally? Are you a small business owner who fears that the army of gay and lesbian couples marching through Indiana clamoring for festive fondant is a sign that the end is nigh? Well then, you’d better make sure your bakeries are made of glass and your floral displays include the first stone to throw. Because if you want to refuse service on the basis of someone’s lifestyle not meshing with your interpretation of the scriptures, you’re going to have to turn away a hell of a lot of people. If you want to hide behind your bigoted bag of religious freedom tricks, you’re going to have to take it all the way to prove it’s not discriminatory. Because if it’s only gay and lesbian customers? Well, Hoosiers, we have a problem.
Let’s go back to this one, because it’s too good not to: You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
You want to discriminate, but you cry foul when you lose business? So…you want the right to refuse someone service on the basis of your own beliefs….but you want to do it in secret so that it doesn’t affect your business. Oh, that is sneaky.
A gay blogger suggested that private business owners be allowed to discriminate openly...as long as they post notices letting potential customers know ahead of time. You know, sort of like the whole ‘blacks aren’t allowed at the counter’ thing, but updated in the cloak of religion. So go ahead. Pick and choose who you do business with, but let the rest of us know so we know not to ring your bell when we’re looking for lilies or cruising for cake. Because you know what? You don’t get to have your cake and eat it too! Don’t you remember anything your Mom taught you?
It works both ways. If you get to refuse, then so do I. Because my beliefs are not the same as yours. See how that works?
Here’s the thing. Religious freedom is not under threat. No one is telling Christians how to lead their lives in America. Contrary to right-wing Christian fundamentalists who actually ARE trying to legislate how others live their lives. No one is telling anyone they can’t believe in God. Any God. No one is saying someone can’t attend church or synagogue or mosque. NO ONE IS SAYING THAT. Religious freedom in the United States means being able to practice your religion (or lack thereof) and not be persecuted by the state. It doesn’t say you have the right to discriminate against others on that basis. Religion does not trump law. You know what happens when it does? Take a look at Sharia law or Germany in the 40s.
Christianity is not under threat from an army of well dressed men singing Cher. Just because a gay couple is allowed to marry or adopt or ORDER A CAKE FROM A BAKERY does not stop you from doing so. Whereas these bills, like the most recent one in Indiana, do just that. They STOP someone from the very thing we are supposed to guarantee: the freedom to live the life of THEIR choosing. Not your choosing. Not the State’s. Not the Government’s. Not the Universe’s.
If there comes a point in time when Christians in America are being thrown to the lions for going to church or for praying to God, I will join the call to stop that too. Under a flag of righteousness. And possibly singing Cher.
Until then? Glass houses are a bitch to keep clean.