How to treat gays with dignity while respecting religious freedom (COMMENTARY)

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Trevin Wax is managing editor of the Gospel Project and author of multiple books, including “Clear Winter Nights: A Journey Into Truth, Doubt and What Comes After.” Photo courtesy of LifeWay Media

Trevin Wax is managing editor of the Gospel Project and author of multiple books, including “Clear Winter Nights: A Journey Into Truth, Doubt and What Comes After.” Photo courtesy of LifeWay Media

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(RNS) Treating the LGBT rights/religious freedom conversation as a zero-sum game where one can only “win” at the expense of the other is actually a “no-win” for all of us.

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  • Larry

    “Those who support the vendors believe that religious people should be exempted from serving same-sex wedding ceremonies if their convictions are sincere; otherwise, we trample on the religious rights guaranteed in the First Amendment by forcing conscientious people of faith to be complicit in something they believe to be morally wrong”

    Except there is no religious right guaranteed under the 1st Amendment to harm people. Discrimination in your business is a legally recognized harm. RFRA does not protect 1st Amendment free exercise of religion. It protects a nebulous “religious expression”. Essentially to cough up any excuse that their behavior is somehow religious in origin. The people stumping for these “religious protections” don’t have a legitimate concern here. They want license to discriminate.

    Your concern is phony. You say you don’t want blanket discrimination using religion as an excuse, yet you want to empower people to do so.

  • Sandy

    Exactly! Finally, someone has cut to the heart of the matter! Thank you for writing this!

  • David

    One of the best articles written on this subject.
    Very well written and articulated, kudos!

  • James Carr

    Great article !

  • Fourth Valley

    “Except there is no religious right guaranteed under the 1st Amendment to harm people.”

    Refusing to provide a certain service to a ceremony you disagree with is not the same as harming them. And in this day and age, with many people on the side of gay marriage, I see no reason to force compliance on the few who do not wish to associate with the ceremonies in question.

    Should I, a devout Baha’i, be required to provide catering to a Ku Klux Klan event if they ask me? Is refusing to associate with a ceremony my religion finds horrific in this case? In this instance I am indeed discriminating against them for their beliefs based on my own religious convictions.

    Certainly there is nothing wrong with a gay wedding in my view, and racism is an abominable thing, but is it possible to distinguish these cases legally without getting into the bizarre situation in which the law dictates which beliefs are okay to refuse association with and which are not?

  • Larry

    James Carr March 31, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Great article !

    Now we know Mr. Wax is full of crap! Your endorsement says it all. Thanks for putting to rest any pretense he is someone to take seriously.

  • Randy J

    Great article! 🙂

  • Larry

    In none of the cases see did the Christian business owner even attempt to try to work with the customer within religious constraints. So I call BS on that.

    If your regular business to supply goods and services to pretty much everyone coming through the door, with a reasonable request, then it is a harm. It is a recognized form of harm. Its just not all states take it seriously when it comes to gays. Do the same thing to a person of a different faith or race and see what they say. Religious excuse or not.

    Nobody limits these laws to certain businesses or what actions would provide the protection. This is blanket protection for Christians to act as uncivil as they want. One doesn’t discriminate in business because they respect those on the other end of the counter. The “Christians” aren’t looking for a simple accommodation in doing business. They are looking for excuses to act maliciously. Their concerns aren’t worth crap. They just want to act badly with legal sanction.

  • Carlos

    Nicely written article.

    We all need to come up collectively as human beings on having these open dialogues with compassion for one another. We all have a conscience and we should be free to exercise our conscience with love and respect for another.

  • Larry

    “Should I, a devout Baha’i, be required to provide catering to a Ku Klux Klan event if they ask me?”

    Is your catering business open to people of all faiths and beliefs?

    Do you have a better excuse for denying the KKK the business besides your personal distaste for them? [Public safety? Professional reputation?]

    Something other than blatantly discriminatory conduct?

    Even Nazis and Klansmen are entitled to buy food from the general public.

    ” but is it possible to distinguish these cases legally without getting into the bizarre situation in which the law dictates which beliefs are okay to refuse association with and which are not?”

    Yes, find excuses to refuse the business not rooted in personal prejudices. Ones based on ability to do the job effectively, outside concerns. The best way not to run afoul of anti-discrimination laws is not to be discriminating. One can refuse business for all sorts of reasons without discriminating conduct.

  • Patrick

    I’m glad the author feels most Christians would object to “No Gays Allowed” signs on businesses. However, hiding the sign but permitting the sentiment is little improvement. It just means gay customers will get smacked in the face with it when they try to buy from a vendor and get “politely” thrown out the door.

    We don’t want to sue these vendors. Most of the time, we just suffer the indignity and add it to the long list of things we’ve had to endure. I promise you, for every gay that sues, a hundred others took the humiliation without doing anything. We don’t want to sue, but if that’s the only way to change an un-advertised “No Gays Allowed” policy, then so be it.

  • Garson Abuita

    “Throughout history, . . . Jews . . . have taught that complementarity (or opposite sex, male and female) is essential to the nature of marriage; to alter this definition is to facilitate a lie.” Don’t start lecturing me about “respect” then tell me that my religious beliefs are based on a lie.
    As to the legal issues here, as has been repeated ad nauseum:
    (a) The baker-florist cases all have concerned discrimination against customers, in that a service offered to straight customers was refused to gay customers. No merchant is obligated to promulgate any specific message. Thus a Muslim publisher would not be forced to print depictions of Muhammad.
    (b) Membership in the Klan, Planned Parenthood or other similar affinity group is not a protected class. Such claims would fail also.

  • Smith Co

    This question came up elsewhere, so here it goes again — What is the big deal in printing a picture of Mohammed? Why does a Muslim refuse to print a portrait of Mohammed? Because the hadith forbids a Muslim from doing so. To go against the Koran will violate his or her conscience. The muslim is exercising his religious freedom of conscience and he/she should have that freedom to practice his/her religion by refusing to print a portrait of Mohammad.
    An atheist does not believe in Mohammed the same way a Muslim does, an atheist cannot force a Muslim to portray Mohammad that goes against his conscience. What the Muslim cannot do is prevent an atheist from doing so.

  • James Carr

    Larry, when you get to the the letter W, please try to grasp the definition of wisdom.

  • Larry

    Since when is discriminating against the customer the only way to refuse a job or deal with a potentially unreasonable situation?

    In none of the cases where the allegedly “Conscientious Christian” refused business to the customer on the basis of their “sincerely held belief”, was there any facts to show they were trying to find a reasonable alternative to serve the customer. One that did not run afoul of their delicate religious sensibilities.

    So feel free to stick those nonsense hypotheticals somewhere painful. The author is full of crap. He is just looking for excuses for Christians to discriminate against gays. He is more than willing to lie about the conduct of the people he is supporting.

  • David

    That’s what I liked about this article.

    We don’t have to agree on our theology and participate in each other’s ceremonies. As human beings we cannot give up on one thing and that is our compassion for one another.

    A Christian must be that shoulder to lean on for LGBT brothers and sisters when they are in need, you can show care and compassion without compromising your belief.

  • Doc Anthony

    Please send a copy of Trevon Wax’s good article to the Indianapolis Star rag.

    And another copy to the NCAA. And another to Charles Barkley, Keith Olbermann, and George Takei.

    Plenty of copies for Gay Bullies like Gen Con and Salesforce.

    Assign TWO copies for every member of the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church), which has unbelievably surrendered their entire denomination over to another religion — the Gay Gestapo Economic Blackmail Company, Inc.

    (I wonder if the Disciples of Christ realize that ordinary un-involved Indiana citizens — say, those on unemployment and public assistance, or those receiving reduced-price school lunches for their kids — could be affected by cutting off money to Indiana.)

    And make copies for the entire state of Connecticut. That’s no joke, the entire state has now officially declared they’re going to “boycott Indiana.”

    (They honestly either need an exorcism or an enema — most likely BOTH!!)

  • Sean

    While this article tries to be reconciliatory, it still seems to present a false dichotomy of ‘Christians’ versus the LGBT community. In reality, most LGBT Americans identify as Christian, along with 83% percent of Americans. There are gay Christians, some of whom have a deep and profound relationship with Christ. So when you say “Christians”, you are actually including a majority of the LGBT community in whatever statement you are making.

    Most Americans are good people who want to be tolerant and find creative ways for all of us to live together. We cannot let extremists on either side of this debate frame the conversation. There is a moderate and compassionate compromise for everyone, where there is no discrimination and someone’s deeply held religious belief isn’t violated. Just look at Utah, they found a way.

  • Barry the Baptist

    Where in this article does the author offer an actual solution to this problem? I see many applauding the article; for what they are applauding, I do not know. There are sentiments here which have been recycled from previous conversations and ideas that are supposed to be captured in supposed “conscientious-freedom” bills, but no proposals for how to move forward.

    Also, the hypothetical at the beginning of the article suggests that marital status and sexual orientation are analogous: they are not. A refusal by the baker to service a homosexual couple is tied into the identity of the couple and the act they wish to commit. A refusal to service divorcées is only tied to the act they are committing. A better analogy would be if a Catholic t-shirt maker refused to service an atheist group who was performing a fundraiser for the homeless. The Catholic would have little issue with the act but might be hesitant to support the group based on their poor representation in religious…

  • Eric

    I honestly hope you didn’t get paid to write this. You should, however, get a shiny sticker award for using the highest number of fallacious analogies in one essay. Let’s count’em out:
    1. “Switch the scenario from a “divorce party” to a “same-sex wedding,” and the vendor may be sued for discrimination or face heavy fines until she is forced to comply.”

    2. Just as we wouldn’t support laws that force a Muslim to print magazines portraying Muhammad,

    3. or a businesswoman who opposes abortion to make signs for a Planned Parenthood fundraiser…

    That’s an average of 1 stupid comparison for every 250 words in your word salad. Or, one per page of about a mere three pages of writing. Congrats!

  • Shawnie5

    “The heart of the problem, for the religious objector, is not the identity of the customer, but the nature of the event.”

    Thank you for stating the nature of the difficulty succinctly and reasonably.

    “On the other hand, I don’t believe everyone in the LGBT community wants to trample over the consciences of people whose deeply held religious convictions prohibit their involvement with same-sex marriage ceremonies.”

    I HOPE this is true…but unfortunately the most vocal give an impression to the contrary.

  • Greg

    Yes, I thought the article was absolutely spot on. Gay activists always want to frame their argument as if their rights are being assaulted. But these same activists have no problem assaulting the religious rights of those they assail. First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” That is pretty broad religious right.

  • LisaB

    I think, in a perfect world, gay people would not want their cakes baked by people who aren’t committed to their happiness. I know I wouldn’t. I would want everyone involved to be committed and have no reservations about what they’re doing so my wedding is happy for everyone.

    Unfortunately, the people who hold objections to participation don’t want to do to the most civil and upfront thing, which is identify themselves as conscientious objectors to providing these services.Gay people shouldn’t have to be humiliated by people whose religious beliefs state they’re not worth serving by personal contact. Put a little “O” with the slash and a rainbow under it in your ads. It will make it clear who will be wasting their time.

    Of course, they’ll lose other people’s custom as well. Gay people have friends and family who would no longer give these businesses their custom. Ultimately, they want it all their way: we get to do what we want without any nasty side…

  • Shawnie5

    “That is pretty broad religious right”

    indeed…and was intended by the founders to be accommodated as extensively as possible.

  • EDGY

    I would like to see what would happen if those who believe that the religious should be able to refuse to do business with anyone under religious objections.

    Let anyone who sells a product or service who wants to pick and choose who they do business with based on their interpretation of a religion stop selling to the general public and advertise that they only do business with those who interpret the same religion the same way and act in a manner that is acceptable to them.

    Then let the market forces take care of the rest. I would venture they would soon be out of business. Then let more reasonable heads prevail so we can get back to commerce based on supply and demand, not on how someone feels about some make believe crap.

  • Shawnie5

    Well said, David.

  • Shawnie5

    Did you even read the article?

  • EDGY


  • Larry

    Free exercise has nothing to so with the “religious acts” by these Christian rule of law hating bigots. Your right to free exercise of religion was always hemmed in where it starts harming others and the public. You have no more a right to discriminate in your business than you do to commit witch burning in the name of your religion. These laws make a mockery of the 1st Amendment and the 14th Amendment equal protection under the law.

    If your deeply held Christian belief is your excuse to treat people like crap, GTFO of open commerce. You are not suited for it. There are ways for business owners to get out of unreasonable situations which do not include discrimination against the customer. Truth of the matter is you are just looking for excuses to treat people like crap.

  • Larry

    Edgy is talking about the only legal way to discriminate in business. Take yourself out of open commerce and do business through selective channels only. He is far more honest than the author’s double talking nonsense.

  • Larry

    Utah’s law is pretty crappy too. It allows discrimination through a number of key loopholes. The entire bill has a poison pill should anyone seek to modify it to make it actually workable to prevent discrimination in a real fashion.

    The only extremists here are the ones claiming their religion gives them a right to discriminate in their business. They abuse any notion of religious freedom to turn belief into license to act badly to others. This article only goes through the motions of being conciliatory, but the author is deeply dishonest. He presents the phony choices of discrimination vs. religious freedom. Discrimination is never ever the proper alternative to a situation one considers unreasonable “due to their faith”. People claiming otherwise are liars.

  • Leo

    Everyone’s taxes pay for the street leading to the doors of a bigot’s place of business, as well as the sewer system, electrical grid, and police force.

    Bigots do not get a free ride on the taxes of those they choose to hate, simply because they’re unable to perform academically-sound Biblical exegesis.

  • Leo

    I’ll assume Trevin Wax would be cool with re-legalizing slavery (Leviticus 25:44-46) and legalizing rape (Deuteronomy 21:10-14), in the name of his freedom of religion.

    Every line of scripture is the literal Word of God, right? Or, is it just the parts that validate your personal bigotries and hatreds, Mr. Wax?

  • Eric

    Tim, please repent of your lies and slander and turn your heart and your life to Jesus Christ. The false idol you worship and the false gospel you preach here have nothing to do with being a faithful Christian. Please, again, repent.

    “Gays mostly want to stop Christian free exercise.”

    Repent of this lie.

    “The one freedom enshrined in the 1st Amendment is being shot and buried in a shallow grave by LGBT and their judicial and political friends who have one thing in common: a hatred of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Repent of these lies, and your gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ will forgive you.

    “We can speak to the biblical nonsense of tolerance of the evils of homosexuality, or we can smile while pop culture and nominal Christians speak of preserving homosexual dignity.”

    Repent of your fear and hatred, and Jesus himself will forgive you. This is simple, Tim. You can’t hate others can claim to love Jesus Christ. Flee your false idols, now!

  • Shawnie5

    If you are appointing yourself poor Edgy’s guardian ad litem…his statement “…and advertise that they only do business with those who interpret the same religion the same way and act in a manner that is acceptable to them” shows that he completely missed the point of the article. As do you, consistently, but I suspect that is deliberate and self-protective.

  • Larry

    No I am explaining his position to the veracity impaired. Its a public service that is sorely in need. Especially in light of the mendacity that passed for this article.

  • Doc Anthony

    Merely offering you some inconvenient truths, Eric. Sorry for the inconvenience, but not for the truths.

  • Eric

    Anthony, I’ve yet to read one word of truth in anything you’ve ever posted. That you feel compelled to at least half-way apologize is a start, however. Now, just repent of every lie and slander you’ve ever written here and go on hiatus for about a year and maybe, just maybe, you’ll come a step closer to believing something true.

  • Doc Anthony

    Not even “one word of truth”, ehh? Really?

    Then permit me to share this one recent Denny Burk article, about the vicious reprisal that the Gay Bullies have done to a 70 year old Christian grandmother and small business owner in Washington State.

    Maybe you’ll find lots of truth in there (most readers will); maybe you will find some stuff that you and your side seriously need. to “repent” of. Hope that prospect doesn’t upset you Eric.

  • Doc Anthony

    Maybe, just maybe, it is time for Eric to repent…already.

  • Diogenes

    No point in commenting on the article, other than to say that the responses, particularly on the part of the so called “progressives” demonstrate the us vs them attitude that the author is imploring us to relinquish. More to my point, why is it that supposedly rational, intelligent, and putatively “superior” individuals are so uncivil, coarse in their language, and arrogant in their tone; you all know who you are.

  • EDGY

    Shawn, I was actually speaking to the issue at large. Too large of a intellectual leap for you? Sorry.
    Regardless of the drivel in the article above, the real issue is that whenever anyone decides to sell a good or service to the public at large, they must be willing to do it without discrimination, regardless of how close they hold the reasons for wanting to discriminate.
    If they don’t want to do that, they only have one choice if they still want to sell a good or service, and that is to not sell to the public at large, but rather let the public at large know they will only sell to those who they decide they don’t want to discriminate against.
    Since you may have difficulty processing, let me further explain that my point about interpretation was that many people get very different meanings from their same religious books. Therefore if they only do business with like minded people, they soon will not be in business. But, perhaps that is better for all of us though.

  • Shawnie5

    One more time, more slowly so you can focus…

    “Like-minded” has nothing to do with any of this. No Christian business owner cares two pins about how any customer “interprets the religious books.”

    They care about what they have to PARTICIPATE in. Period.

  • Hunter


    I can agree with you that there are probably many who use religion as an excuse for disassociation with the homosexual community; however, I believe that disassociation completely and refusal due to a true religious concern can be easily distinguished.

    In the case of the florist who was recently sued, we see that she served her accuser knowing his sexual orientation for almost a decade, but serving flowers for a celebration that she did not recognize as wholesome (while also providing a list of nearby florists to make his search simple) was simply not something that she could do while feeling that she was following the Word of God. You have to understand that most religious groups see marriage as sacred and that there is established a definition of marriage, that is between a man and woman. As a Christian I completely recognize your right to do what you please, but I also recognize my right and my duty to support and stand up for what my God has said.

  • Elle

    Patrick, we don’t want the signs or the attitude.

    There are specific events we cannot in good conscience be involved with. We wouldn’t help celebrate a divorce because we believe it is a sin. We wouldn’t help celebrate gay marriage because we believe it is a sin. We wouldn’t help celebrate racism because we believe it is a sin.

    But we would be glad to serve the people requesting our services for any occasion that we would serve anyone else – no matter their sexual orientation or personal beliefs.

  • Jack Hartford

    If a person is open for business, they should have to serve each person that comes through the door. Where does the right to discriminate stop? If a small business owner has a right to refuse to bake a cake for a couple based on religious grounds, that person must probe further. Is this is second marriage? Why did the first marriage fail? Are the two both believers? Why do they make cakes for a second marriage where one party had an affair and cheated on the first spouse? Do they even ask about this? Requiring a person to serve all in their business equally has nothing to do with religious liberty. It is the right to discriminate cloaked in “religious liberty.”

    Where does this right stop? What if there are three partners in the cake shop. How do you determine the “religious conviction” not to bake a cake for a gay couple of the business? What if it is a business like Chic-fil-a? Do they have a right to refuse a gay couple chicken when they come in to dine?

  • Troy

    This is not true. In several of these cases the business owners found alternative business that would make cakes, rent halls, take pictures, etc. The agenda wasn’t to work within peoples beliefs, but to punish them for not participating.

  • Eric

    Nonsense. Whether other options exist or not–called it the “separate but equal argument”–is beside the point. If you do business with the public you do not have the right to discriminate against an entire group of people. Period.

  • Cindy

    I am Catholic and I believe that if I participate as a vendor in a homosexual wedding that I am committing a sin. What really troubles me is that I now forced to sin. How do I handle that for myself? How can I reconcile my desire to not sin while the state forces me to sin? And why in the world would a homosexual couple *want* someone with that belief to be part of their wedding event? The answer of “close your business” is not the solution. Does anyone know how legally one can respond to these situations without being prosecuted? It appears that even telling the truth “Yes, I will as I am forced to do by the state but I’m not the best person for the job because I believe you are forcing me to sin” will make one liable.

  • Eric

    Please get off the cross. We need to wood to rebuild the world you helped wreck. After that please repent of your lies, your slander, and your self-absorption. Like so many conservative Christians, you are assuming your tribe and your tribe alone has a monopoly on the true faith. Like so many conservative Christians, too, you want to make these debates all about you, when it’s really about other people and how they should or should not be treated. No one wants to silence conservative Christians. Most of us, though, would like to see you repent and come to believe the gospel.

  • Eric

    Of what, Anthony? I’m not the one lying and slandering a whole group of people. Nor am I pretending that I can love Jesus and hate my neighbor. But I see you are not taking my invitation to repent yourself by remaining silent for at least a year to reflect on your sins. Too bad.

  • Eric

    Hey Diogenes, care to revise you comment in light of the slanders in BeBrave’s comments? Or do you prefer to continue calling for “peace, peace!” when there is not peace? Like the author of this craptastic essay.

  • Ted

    Because we’re sick and tired of being beaten and treated as second class citizens “in the name of the Lord” (while being taxed the same as everyone else) by smug Pharisees who claim they’re just exercising their “religious freedom”.

    You know who you are.

  • Ted

    Stop using public tax dollars to support your business by going pure private mail order, run on electricity from a generator using privately purchased diesel, an outhouse not connected to any public sewer, and a private security service.

    Otherwise, you are forcing me to subsidize your bigoted business practices with my tax dollars, paying for the roads, power grid, sewer, and police which allow your business to operate.

  • Em

    The cake vendor makes wedding cakes. They have to provide their services equally to people. They couldn’t turn away someone based on race, religion, disability, etc. they shouldn’t be able to turn them away for sexual orientation either. The logic of this post is very messy. The cake maker doesn’t provide divorce cakes, not for any of their costumers. It’s equal.
    If they provide wedding cakes, they must do so with out discriminating against certain people. Don’t want to serve the public that doesn’t follow your beliefs? Having a business that serves the public is the wrong job for you then.

  • Ted

    There’s a huge difference between using laws as a shield vs. a weapon. And, typically, the warmongering Roman Catholic 6 of 9 majority on the SCOTUS have weaponized RFRA so they can waste public tax dollars allowing their fellow religionists to shove their bigotries into public commerce (like they shove them into women’s wombs).

  • Eric

    “What really troubles me is that I now forced to sin.”

    No it doesn’t. You aren’t troubled by “sin” or your own alleged complicity in sin. You don’t question the moral state of your other customers. You don’t refuse to do business with them. You don’t refuse to share the road with other drivers who sin in countless ways before and after they drive their car. You don’t refuse to share a church pew with sinners. You don’t refuse to pay taxes to a state that commits any number of sins every single day. You don’t worry about your “participation” in the war, poverty, hunger, violence, lust, adultery, or idolatry in the world you live in, do business with, profit from, enjoy, and help sustain in ways big and small. You don’t really care about “sin,” so stop lying please.

    You care about *appearing* to be a “real* Christian. You care about clear boundaries between “real” Christians and everyone else. You care about excluding the “wrong” people so you can be in the…

  • Ted

    “Nice article” … if you’re a bigot who believes it’s just fine to tax LGBT people for roads, power grid, sewer, and police to support bigoted business.

  • Cindy

    I see. I think your response is that you don’t care if I sin, which is fine. I respect your view. I am only concerned about my soul — and I choose to avoid sin as much as I possibly can. Participating n the event is a sin for me. That does not make me a hater of homosexuals. Why do you think that it does?

  • Ted

    James, apparently you’re still stuck on “B”, failing to grasp the meaning of bigotry, and “C”, failing to grasp the meaning of citizenship.

  • Ted

    No problem, as long as you don’t use public dollars – roads, sewers, power grid, and police force – to do so. By opening a bigoted business using those services, you are forcing non-bigoted citizens to pay for your bigotry.

  • Cindy

    You’re right in what you say. I don’t. It does not matter to me.

    But how I behave does matter — so I choose to avoid lying, stealing, cheating and other sinful behavior. Actively participating in making a homosexual wedding occur requires my behavior. And my behavior in that situation would be a sin. The people aren’t bad. And what they do sexually is their decision as is their decision to “marry.”

  • Ted

    And so long as you do so without spending non-bigoted taxpayer dollars to fund your bigotry, I will agree.

  • Cindy

    “No it doesn’t. You aren’t troubled by “sin” or your own alleged complicity in sin.”

    I don’t understand why you wrote that. Yes, I am troubled by sin and I do my very best to avoid sin, although I fail more than I wish. When I go to confession weekly, I confess my sins and beg for forgiveness and do my penance. If I hug and care for a homsexual couple, that is not a sin. If I work with a lesbian that is not a sin. If I have dinner with a gay couple that is not a sin. If I share a road with other sinners, that is not a sin. Why would it be? But if I, myself, actively participate in making a homosexual wedding occur that is a sin and I will have to confess it during Reconciliation. The priest will tell me that when I do repeated sins that I need to assess my behavior and stop doing the same sin again and again. But when I walk out of the confessional, the state that I must sin or lose everything.

  • Larry

    But you don’t avoid lying? You don’t avoid cheating people? You certainly don’t avoid acting maliciously towards others? You just think Jesus will make it OK for you.

    Selling services and goods is not “actively participating”. Its not even “passively participating”. Nobody is inviting you to stay at their wedding as a guest. Its called commerce.

    If you can’t find a way to work in your religious belief into your business without discrimination, close up shop.

    You are obviously too stupid and uncivil to be bothered with dealing with the general public. If you get sued for your behavior, so be it. You can be a good Christian martyr and suffer accordingly for your beliefs. But don’t ask anyone to give a flying crap about your situation. You don’t care about the public, they don’t need to care about you.

  • Larry

    Denny Burk’s views aren’t worth a bucket of cow urine.

    Stutzman was a malicious bigot who broke the local laws and pretended her faith made her do it. She didn’t deserve protection of law and neither do these fictional “well intentioned discriminators”.

    Its amazing how much Christians need to lie in order to pretend their bad behavior is somehow worthy of praise. Martyrbaiting at its purest.

  • Larry


    “I believe that disassociation completely and refusal due to a true religious concern can be easily distinguished. ”

    Liar. None of those situations have occurred. You are dealing with hypothetical situations and fictions in order to counter real harms and attacks. That florist was looking for excuses, after the fact, for treating customers badly. The courts certainly didn’t buy her excuses or find them grounded in anything resembling facts.

    If you have some sort of religious objection to the customer and their reasonable request, you have many courses of action besides discriminatory conduct. This florist did nothing of the type. She is a liar, bigot, and immoral person as are her “boosters”.

    We do not need laws to legalize discrimination in businesses. We had that once already. It was called Jim Crow.

  • Cindy

    Yes, it is about me! That’s the very point! I want to avoid sin. Period. I try. I really do. And, yes, I am far from perfect. But I certainly don’t want to knowingly choose to sin.

    I am not asking you to become a Catholic. I’m not asking to stop these weddings. I’m simply saying that I don’t want to be put in a position where I must sin as this is serious to me.

    I’m not asking you to live your life as I do. How you live is your choice and I have no right to ask you to live any other way. I wish you could respect that I choose to live as a Catholic, even though you may not understand or agree with my choice.

    To sin is a grave thing to me. I know you don’t understand. I wish you would at least try, though. You don’t need to be mean about it. Hugs!

  • Cindy

    @Larry — I’m not sure why you think you know me. Yes, I avoid lying. I don’t cheat people. And I don’t act malicious toward anyone. At least I work hard not to and sure do get upset with myself when I find my human imperfections raising their ugly heads.

    It is certainly not a sin for me to sell a cake off a shelf to a homosexual person or customer. You’re right. And we agree.

    But it’s attending the event as a vendor that is the issue for me — as I am then actively involved in making the event come to life. At that point, I am sinning.

    I don’t take communion at non-Catholic churches. I don’t attend non-Christian worship services. That also is a sin for a Catholic. I have friends who have aborted. I love them always but I cannot condone the behavior because as a Catholic, I believe abortion is murder and a sin.

    It does seem to me though that you are acting with hatred in your heart. I’m sorry that you feel so full of that. I’m sorry if I have…

  • “otherwise, we trample on the religious rights guaranteed in the First Amendment by forcing conscientious people of faith to be complicit in something they believe to be morally wrong….”


    America is a nation of laws.
    I don’t give a damn how ‘deeply held’ your beliefs are.

    You don’t have the right to stop paying your taxes because of deeply held beliefs about Nuclear power.

    You don’t have the right to prohibit black people from eating at your restaurant.

    You don’t have the right to sell Peyote Mushrooms for ‘spiritual enhancement’ in New York City.

    Meanwhile, your “deeply held beliefs” should be laughed out of town.

    “Zombies walked for Jesus to raise awareness about God’s laws regarding homosexuals” – (Matthew 27:52)

    Don’t tell me I misquoted ‘scripture’. The Bible is a joke to be toyed with.

    This disgusting Indiana law is just a new set of Jim Crow Laws!

  • Russ

    I understand that many of you writing feel like Christians are using their faith as bigotry, and that would be wrong. Jack, you make a good point that Christians should be careful of supporting 2nd marriages dependent on the situation, since Jesus often speaks about divorce being wrong in most situations. As a Christian, in Genesis 2 and throughout the Bible, God has clearly laid out that what is correct and good in a marriage relationship is one of commitment between one man and one woman. I believe what is written in the Bible is God’s direction to mankind. Therefore, if I know that something I do would go against what God demands, I am compelled not to go along.

    If I made cakes and someone asked me to make one, I would do so unless it meant I was supporting something that went against God’s mandate. I would not ask them to tell me what it was for. If, however, I know that something is going against what God’s Word tells me, I’m obligated to obey what He says above any…

  • Ben in oakland

    Elle, not believing that Jesus died for your sins is also a sin. Do you service non Christians? Being a Hindu means you’re an idol worshipper. Do you refuse to do Hindu or Buddhist weddings because they are worshipping idols and demons? Jews deny that Jesus ever saved anyone from anything. Do you refuse to do Jewish weddings?

    It is always very telling that when it comes to gay people, a certain class of so called Christian suddenly has an aversion to sin. But they are perfectly willing to boogie down with everyone else.

  • Ben in oakland

    Except for the gays that are Christian, of course.

    And of course, all of these antigay laws and amendments that have been pushed have been primarily pushed by Christians. Intent on forbidding gay people the free exercise of religion.

    Actual free exercise, as opposed to fake free exercise.

  • Larry

    I don’t think well of you, since you do not approach the situation honestly. You think you have a blanket right to treat people like crap in the name of “fighting sin”. I think you are making up an excuse to treat people in a malicious and immoral fashion and pretending religious belief excuses it.

    If you can’t find a way to work around the situation without discriminating against a customer, you are too stupid to be in business. You deserve to be sued into bankruptcy.

    There is always an option to deal with a situation which does not involve discrimination. Your unwillingness to consider any, means that you are just looking for excuses to discriminate. It makes you both a liar and a bad person.

    You do not deserve respect for your views, you certainly don’t respect others. Its not being hostile, its being honest. The truth is harsh for those not willing to face it.

    “I’m not asking you to live your life as I do. ”
    But you are forcing them to through…

  • Cindy,

    “I am Catholic and I believe that if I participate as a vendor in a homosexual wedding that I am committing a sin.”

    YES! And of course you are sinning – especially according to your Jesus:

    “Do not receive him…or greet him..” (2 John 1:10)

    But what good is this primitive, divisive crap to modern society? WHO NEEDS THIS?

    The Southern Baptists started an entire Church built on this Christian BS:

    “I believe I’m sinning if I serve black people”

    Shame on you!
    Shame on this disgusting primitive christian philosophy in these disgusting churches. And shame on America for keeping so much Jesus around after all these decades – enough with this divisive nonsense.

    Religion is top-grade Stupid.

  • Morality is doing what is right no matter what you are told.
    Religion is doing what you are told no matter what is right.

    “Do not receive him…or greet him..” (2 John 1:10)

    Religion is divisive bunk.

  • Eric

    “If I share a road with other sinners, that is not a sin. Why would it be? But if I, myself, actively participate in making a homosexual wedding occur that is a sin and I will have to confess it during Reconciliation.”

    My point is that you and other anxious opponents of same-sex marriage seem to have a very narrow and highly selective definition of “actively participating” in sin. That is, you don’t seem to see or care about all of the ways you are actively or passively participating in a whole range of other sins every day. If you own a business, do you do business with people who sin? Do you pay your employees with money they use to sin? Do you pay taxes to a gov’t that engages in immoral acts of violence, especially war? This is what I was getting at: it seems that only in the case of gay and lesbians do conservative Christians really have a problem with “participating” in sin (and even then they use a rather forced definition of “participation”).

  • Cindy


    The Bible is a joke –> Okeedoughkee.. How can I do anything but accept that as your viewpoint? You’re free (of course!) to believe anything you want to believe.

    I don’t believe that and I,too, have a right to my belief — no matter how much it appalls you, disgusts you, dismays you or otherwise annoys you. I’m responsible for my soul, not you.

    > You don’t have the right to stop paying your taxes because of deeply held beliefs about Nuclear power. You don’t have the right to prohibit black people from eating at your restaurant. And..peyote.

    I agree. I don’t. None of those examples are examples of sins.

    I think what you are saying, though, is that what you believe is what I should also believe because you have determined that I am wrong and you are right. And you are appalled that I choose to not believe as you. You want to stop me from believing as I do. Right?

  • Eric

    Who else would you refuse to make cakes for? What other sins matter to you? Which ones don’t? Would you refuse to make cakes for idolators? adulterers? thieves? liars? Where do you draw the line between sins you’ll support and sins you refuse to support?

  • Shawnie5

    So what else is new? All of us have tax dollars going toward the support of activities to which we are opposed.

  • Shawnie5

    Um, Larry, but that very situation did occur and was in the news. It involved Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers in Washington State, and her accuser had indeed been a customer of hers for years.

    Seriously, you need to calm down.

  • Shawnie5

    “Do they have a right to refuse a gay couple chicken when they come in to dine?”

    Why would they want to do that?

    And how many times has that happened, d’ya think?

  • Shawnie5

    “Would you refuse to make cakes for idolators? adulterers? thieves? liars?”

    If said cake was designed for the celebration of said idolatry, adultery, thievery and lying, sure. Except how often do people throw expensive parties to celebrate those things?

  • Dea

    So you would rather a person lie? — “I am sorry we are booked up for that day, can’t possibly take another cake commission or photography session.” I’m sorry, being dishonest is also considered as a violation of religious standards so I respect that the business owner is consistent with their own standards. Even though you might think this is a kinder approach I don’t see how it satisfies except in the mind of the couple who somehow have allowed a circumstance of disagreement to make them feel they have been dishonored or harmed.

    If indeed the lie of “all booked up” served the purpose and the couple found another vendor, doesn’t that just prove that there was no tangible harm done — the wedding went forth at cake was enjoyed provided by another vendor. This is an issue of simply wanting to make a point without regard for the feelings and sincere beliefs of another.

  • Larry

    ” Except how often do people throw expensive parties to celebrate those things?”

    Every Hindu and Buddhist is celebrating idolatry in their religious rites and ceremonies.

    The election party of any given Conservative Christian politician is generally a celebration of adultery, thievery and lying.

    Both of those get quite pricey and are not uncommon.

  • Larry

    I was referring to her in my prior post. It did not occur as the martyrbaiters are claiming here.

    Stutzman is a self-aggrandizing lying bigot who continues to embellish her story and alleged motivations with each one of you “Christian” nabobs calling for legalized discrimination. The court didn’t find her actions reasonable and it was a legally recognized harm to the customers. I see no reason to revise my opinion of her or the people using her as an example.

    Again, its a bullcrap argument. There are always ways to do business in light of religious beliefs without resorting to discriminatory conduct.

  • Larry

    Because civility is far better in such a situation than actively trying to harm the customers in service of your religious belief. Your “religious standards” aren’t an excuse to harm people.

    Discriminatory conduct is harm. I don’t have to respect your faith when you are using it as an excuse to treat me or others maliciously. Its like asking to respect ISIS’s faith as they behead you.

    Doing business in open commerce means putting up with all sorts of people. In the interest of making a living, one treats reasonable customers with reasonable requests with respect. Its a responsibility of being open to the public.

    Besides, the “my religion prevents me from participating” is dishonest anyway. You are lying. There is no such thing as “well intentioned discrimination”.

    You don’t get excuses to engage in discriminatory conduct in business. But if you can act in a way which doesn’t appear discriminatory, or better yet don’t even try to discriminate at all, all the…

  • Larry

    “Why would they want to do that?”

    The same reason you want legalized discrimination in business. Treating a customer like a human being violates your delicate religious sensibilities. God wants you to treat people like crap.

    Its owner Dan Cathy. He has publicly stated he believes gays do not deserve to be treated like human beings because Christ tells him so.
    But unlike yourself and other Christians claiming “strong religious belief”, Cathy is not stupid or dishonest enough to engage in damaging discriminatory conduct in his stores. He is not so overcome with religious derangement that he will sabotage his business and harm the public by engaging in discriminatory conduct.

  • Shawnie5

    Ironic, isn’t it, that the poster who calls everyone she disagrees with a “liar” or “dishonest” is advocating dishonesty as a routine business practice?

    Which is why I would never trust people who constantly go around calling others liars any farther than I could throw them. They are quite obviously judging others by themselves and it says volumes. I had a relative like that once — lied all the time but constantly accused others of lying and hated to be called a liar worse than anything else.

  • Shawnie5

    So you’re claiming that the client she turned down WASN’T her longtime customer?

  • Shawnie5

    Or perhaps, more simply, selling a chicken sandwich in a restaurant is not endorsing or participating in an immoral act…

    Still waiting for examples of homophobic restaurants throwing gay customers out — particularly in states with RFRAs. LOL!

  • Larry

    Shawnie, I am saying that I will rely on the news reports as the case was going on. Not the bullcrap after the facts she wrote to embellish the story or the bullcrap circulating around conservative Christian media looking to make a martyr out of her.

    She violated the anti-discrimination laws and paid the price. Tough luck. I don’t see any need to give her behavior legal sanction. There are no legitimate excuses to engage in discrimination in your business.

  • Larry

    No Shawnie. I am advocating not discriminating in your business.. Find some other course of action.

    Anyone who thinks there is a legitimate excuse for business discrimination for it is a liar, idiot or both. If you tell me, “my religious beliefs forbid me from doing business with this person” you are lying to me already. You are simply looking for socially sanctioned excuses to say, “We don’t serve your kind!”.

    The moral judgments of someone supporting discrimination under the color of law mean absolutely nothing to me. Feel free to judge away.

  • shawnie5

    “If you tell me, “my religious beliefs forbid me from doing business with this person” you are lying to me already.”

    Except that is not what I’m telling you, nor is anyone else here. You just keep insisting that this is what we really mean, because it’s easier to argue with a straw man than to debate on the merits. Lazy in the extreme.

  • Larry

    Here you go Shawnie, you have been served.
    “Indiana Restaurant Owner Admits to Discriminating Against Gays on Radio”

    “Bigoted Restaurant Tells Gay Couple: “We Don’t Serve Fags Here””

    “Gay Couple Kicked Out of Texas Restaurant”

    Shawnie, there is a website called Google which is very good for looking up stuff like this. I suggest you try it once in a while.

    Do you have any other lame excuses for business discrimination?

  • Larry

    More insult to injury:

    Kansas Restaurant Kicks Gay Man Out, Tells Him “No Gay Eating Here”

    “Oklahoma restaurant owner says he won’t serve gay or black customers”

    Yep, Christians love to act like raging d-bags and discriminate against gays in their businesses. Not that you ever had a problem with that Shawnie.

  • Shawnie5

    So the news reports at the time said that he wasn’t a longtime customer?

  • Shawnie5

    I’ve been served all right — a platter of baloney.

    While you’re exploring the wonders of Google, you might also want to double-check what you pull up.

    First of all, two of your cites referenced the same incident in Texas, and while the waitress was rude to the customers in question, neither was refused service.

    The Oklahoma incident involved no denial of service whatsoever, but simply some derogatory comments by a restaurant owner about gays and blacks which prompted some nutjobs (probably much like yourself) to subsequently come up with some vague and unverified accusations of discrimination — after the fact of course.

    The Indiana incident involved no denial of service whatsoever, but an anonymous call-in to a radio show which is quite possibly a “Ronald” type trying to make trouble.

    Lastly, the “Franton, Kansas” incident was a complete hoax as there is no such place as Franton, Kansas.

    When are you going to stop embarrassing yourself?

  • Nick

    Might I humbly suggest that the first way to treat “gays” with dignity and respect is to stop referring to us as “gays” and instead dignify our personhood by calling us “gay people.” We are people. Real people, with real lives and souls, bearing a real Image of God. Just a thought…peace.

  • RH

    “Everyone’s taxes pay for the street leading to the doors of a bigot’s place of business, as well as the sewer system, electrical grid, and police force.”

    Those streets lead right past it to, you don’t have to stop at their business that’s your choice. The sewage and electrical aren’t paid by taxes, the owners of the business pay monthly for sewage and electrical. The police force is a public service for all. The owners of the business also pay the same taxes as everyone else.

    Here’s a thought:
    You find it offensive that a Christian business refused to serve a same sex event, Because of this you think this business should be forced to serve something they disagree with. That’s just as discriminating as the original issue, who decides whose right outweighs the other?

  • Danny

    Is it the ceremony that is putting Christians off? Because otherwise, as I see it, using the same logic, I see no line between refusing dinner to a gay couple and refusing to cater their wedding.

  • Dave


    RFRA laws are more important than you realize. Rather than being concerned with the hypothetical let’s look at some actual RFRA cases:

    A Sikh was allowed to keep her federal job in Houston- Nov. 4, 2014
    40 Christian churches LOST their case against the City of Chicago – Aug. 20, 2003
    A Muslim man wins case against Arkansas – ruling by Supreme court Jan. 20, 2015

    The rulings for these cases came down to … drumroll please … you guessed it, RFRA laws. Despite the gross amounts of misinformation in the media, these laws don’t discriminate. That’s why Bill Clinton and even Obama have signed RFRA laws.

    If you were actually concerned with reality, you need to protest against Connecticut’s RFRA laws, which are much more arbitrary than Indiana’s.

  • Larry

    RFRA laws are not a necessity in any of those matters and have been a mess from the outset. This version of it makes a mockery of any claim of religious freedom and is specifically designed to enable discrimination.

    RFRA was a crap law made in response to a decent SCOTUS decision. I don’t like any of them. They screw up 14th Amendment arguments by placing the burdens on the wrong parties.

  • Larry

    So that leaves 2-3 stories linked where it was the case of being denied service.

    Nobody is going to use “religious freedom” as an excuse to deny goods and services to gays, riiiiight. No I won’t buy that bridge you have for sale. This law was written specifically for the purposes of general discrimination in business under the pretense of religious belief. Any amendment to the contrary or to “clarify” that was not the case was shot down in committee.

    Any other lame excuses you want to give?

  • Larry

    You say so.

    It certainly didn’t make a bit of difference to the triers of fact at the time. She discriminated against the customers. Not a nice or reasonable thing to do. Tough luck.

  • shawnie5

    So what was anyone lying about? The guy was her longtime customer and suffered no discrimination whatsoever until the objectionable event in question. The fact that her beliefs weren’t accommodated doesn’t mean she was lying about anything.

  • shawnie5

    Nope, Larry, that leaves no cases at all. Five empty cites. Nobody denied any service, even in places where there are no laws protecting gays from discrimination.

    Geez, one might possibly say you were being dishonest. ROFL!

  • Eric

    Wow, Anthony. That is one moving story. I mean, I threw up in my mouth a little when I read it. Of course, I do that almost every time I read something by Burk, which isn’t often fortunately. If this is the best you have, an op-ed by an academic hack like Burk about a woman who knowingly violated the laws of her state because Jesus told her gay marriage is icky, then I’m afraid whiny wanna-be martyrs indeed have it tough in America.

  • CMR

    Dea is 100% correct… I have family members that are gay. I love them and respect their rights to live their lives as they see fit. I am also a devout Christian, living MY LIFE the way I best see fit. I do not discriminate against them. We get together when we can, eat meals or just stay in touch regularly, you know, LOVE…. BUT I could NOT, in good faith and with a clear conscience, attend a same-sex wedding… I don’t want to HARM anyone but I will not HARM my relationship with God in favor of ONE DAY of participating in something HE has condemned… I truly believe this.
    So, if a business owner cannot “participate” in good conscience then GO SOMEWHERE ELSE! and YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO SUE the business for discrimination…. You aren’t “harmed” you just want to make an example out of the “nasty” business owner…

  • Sue

    Better retract that claim Shawnie. You can’t speak for every Christian business owner.

  • Sue

    You seem to be stretching the truth yourself Shawnie. The rudeness that was shown, and that you acknowledge, is certainly not willing, polite, up-to-reasonable-standards service.

  • Greg

    Yes, we are not talking about basic human rights here, as was the case with people of color. We are talking forcing devout Christians to participate in a way of life that violates that person’s relationship with Almighty God, forcing vendors to participate in their sins. To me the First Amendment is clear: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” I don’t see how it gets any clearer than the basic text.

  • Diogenes

    Missed what BeBrave said, but that doesn’t nullify the requirement that we be civil even as we disagree. I HATE ad hominems, but I will say this, and others of my ilk will agree, the continuous use of the term ‘liar’ and ‘crap’ and ‘BS’ is wholly uncivil, adds nothing to the force of the response and merely demonstrates pride, hubris, and an unwarranted sense of superiority. To both the orthodox and the heterodox I urge humility; as the traveler cried out to God in the midst of the thunderstorm, ‘Oh LORD, a little less noise and alittle more light.”

  • Shawnie5

    THAT’S your objection? You want me to agree that one instance of rudeness (NOT denial of service) in a restaurant makes that we’re all looking for “excuses” to deny service to gays (even in places where excuses are not required)? I’ll consider that when you agree that the multiple instances of pro-gay rudeness and vandalism at Chick-Fil-A (a business that never “discriminated” against any gays at all) proves that all gays want to harm us for our religious views.

    Yeah…didn’t think so. Bye.

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  • Sue

    Nice try at a sneak exit Shawnie. Hello!

    Seriously, get with the times already. Religious extremists like you are on the wrong, and losing, side of history here, and homosexuals and their rights are, well, on the right side.

    Don’t be such a sore loser.

  • Ben Plumley

    as a person who grew up, immersed in the Anglo Catholic tradition of Jesus’ example, it is incomprehensible to me that any Christian who claims to follow Jesus thinks it’s OK not to serve a section of society. Let’s call a spade a spade: it is discrimination. And it goes counter to everything Jesus taught. You are not trying to justify Christianity. You are trying to justify bigotry.

  • Larry

    “Yes, we are not talking about basic human rights here, as was the case with people of color.”

    And yet if you do the same thing to someone on the basis of race, that you would to a gay person, you would be hauled in front of a court for violating every state’s civil rights laws. So obviously the act is the same and harmful.

    You even unironically even use the same exact arguments used to justify racial discrimination in business: Religious objections, freedom of association, “separate but equal”.

    We are talking about basic human rights. The right not to have to deal with segregated markets and discrimination by businesses. The same rights civil rights leaders sought 60 years ago.

    There are no excuses for a business to discriminate against customers, period. There is always an alternative course of action to take which does not require such blatantly harmful conduct. You are only using religion as an excuse to say, “we don’t serve your kind”.

  • john

    Trevin; You might want to consider stopping the “comments” section. Too much hate and foul language.

  • Shawnie5

    Who’s exiting? I’m right here and, as expected, you offered no answer.

    “Seriously, get with the times already.”

    I used to tell my mom and dad that when I was about fifteen. How old are you?

    “Religious extremists like you are on the wrong, and losing, side of history here”

    “Wrong side of history” (a favorite cliche of those who know little history) AKA, argumentum ad populum — AKA as “everybody’s doing it.” How old did you say you were again?

    Marx had future history all neatly mapped out, just like you “progressives” do, and his devotees murdered millions for being on the “wrong side of history.” Communism is dead and buried, BTW.

    History is cyclical, not linear. You can’t be on the wrong side of a circle.

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