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June 17, 2014

Religious Freedoms Sacrificed at the Altar of Political Correctness

For a number of years now, I have made the argument that the debate over legalization of same-sex marriage is a zero-sum game. One side will win, the other side will lose because, so long as government defines the legal terms of marriage there can be, in practical application, little chance of co-existence between the religious and the secular viewpoint. If homosexuals and their supporters succeed in getting government recognition and sanction of same-sex marriage, of necessity it becomes a showdown between equal protection arguments on one side, and freedom of religion and association on the other.

In the drive to normalize homosexual relations and codify same-sex marriage, those with moral and religious objections (not all objections are religious) are promised that there will be a peaceful co-existence, and that churches and people with religious objections will not be forced to violate their principles and convictions.

However, that is an easily debunked lie, a tempting panacea as thin as gossamer and about as strong. The pro-homosexual advocates have extended this rhetorical “compromise” for years as they attempt to build support for their cause, yet the truth is that once government grants protected status to sexual orientation, the gloves will come off and demands will be made to revoke religious exemptions. After all, they will argue, why should someone’s religious viewpoints trump the law?

If you doubt this “slippery slope” argument, just look around you.

In Colorado, despite the fact that same-sex marriage is still prohibited there, the state’s Civil Rights Commission recently ruled that Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, a local, family-owned bakery, must not only provide cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies in violation of his religious beliefs, but he must also overhaul his store policies to accommodate the directive and force his employees to attend mandatory “sensitivity” training regarding the policies.

Phillips has stated his intention to engage in civil disobedience and refuses to comply with the order, holding firm in his belief that his constitutional right to freedom of religion, freedom of association, and freedom to form contracts supersedes the demands of the Colorado PC Police.

Phillips’ saga is just the latest in a long line of legal and ideological battles over the same-sex issue. The Supreme Court last month refused to review the case of Elane Photography, LLC v. Willock, in which photographer Elaine Huguenin politely declined to provide a quote for services for a same-sex wedding ceremony.

Huguenin received an email from the plaintiff in 2006, which stated, “This is a same-gender ceremony. If you are open to helping us celebrate our day we’d like to receive pricing information.” Elaine Huguenin replied to the email stating, “We do not photograph same-sex weddings, but again, thanks for checking out our site! Have a great day.” Court testimony shows that Huguenin’s refusal of services was in the context of a wedding ceremony only, which would violate her religious beliefs, and that she was willing to provide services in other contexts. Other reports show that Huguenin had also previously declined to accept clients who requested she photograph nude images, or images depicting violence.

However, despite the polite decline, which was absolutely devoid of judgment or condemnation of the plaintiff’s lifestyle, Willock took great offense and decided that, despite the fact that there were dozens of other photographers in the area willing to provide the service, Elaine Huguenin must be persecuted and destroyed for the crime of holding a religious viewpoint which rejects same-sex marriage, and an example must be made of her. And an example was made. The New Mexico Supreme Court found Huguenin guilty of discrimination (again, despite the fact that same-sex marriage was illegal in that state), and ordered her to pay nearly $7000 to Willock in damages.

To add further insult, in its ruling, the New Mexico Supreme Court declared that being forced to act in violation of her religious beliefs is “the price of citizenship.”

The message to Christian business owners who operate their businesses in conformity with their religious beliefs is clear…"Nice business you have there, buddy. It sure would be a shame if anything happened to it…“ Lawsuits, harassment, and boycotts have a way of shutting businesses down.

Oddly, these rulings seem to be inordinately one-sided, with Christians practicing under traditional religious doctrines and values being forced to comply with the new Code of Politically Correct Conduct. It would be interesting to see if these same PC standards would be imposed over the objections of other religious and moral viewpoints. For example, in the name of non-discriminatory supremacy, could the owner of a halal butcher shop be forced to provide pork products (which are forbidden to them) for a Christian church barbecue (halal being the portion of Islamic Sharia law which dictates, among other things, what foods may be eaten, and how they must be prepared)? Could a black baker be forced to provide cupcakes for the yearly banquet of the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan? Could a Jewish undertaker be forced to perform a cremation, which is forbidden by the Torah?

In his insightful book "Liberal Fascism”, Jonah Goldberg captures the heart of the problem. He writes, “The danger posed by the multicultural welfare state is that by subscribing to values relativism it creates a climate where…Christians would be fools to not compete for control [of government]. For example, if the public schools are going to indoctrinate children to a moral vision, parents cannot be blamed for wanting that vision to be theirs. Much as with state interference in business or other realms of life, once the classical liberal vision of the state as a dispassionate arbiter and adjudicator is discredited in favor of a mommy state that plays favorites, it is only reasonable for people, groups, and businesses to compete for mommy’s love.”

And that brings us full circle. As I noted above, so long as government is in the business of sanctioning marriage and defining its terms, it places Christians (who hold moral and religious objections to same-sex marriage) and pro-homosexual advocates on a collision course to determine whose vision reigns supreme. Lawsuits and societal bullying are now the weapons that the pro-homosexual crowd use to wage war against religious belief which they find offensive (remember Brendon Eich, ousted as CEO of Mozilla, a company he co-founded, for the “crime” of supporting traditional marriage as the law of the land?).

And that is why, though I harbor no animosity towards homosexuals, and have openly declared my belief that they should be treated with the utmost civility and respect despite religious and philosophical differences, I continue to advocate for traditional marriage as the only recognized marital bond under the law. Marriage is not about romantic relationships, it is about creating a legal and cultural framework which binds a father to the children he helps create. By definition, homosexual unions can not create children, no matter what our moral stance on homosexuality.

Government has placed the forces of tradition Christian beliefs, and the forces of the PC/secular/pro-homosexual viewpoint, in direct conflict with each other, like gladiators in ancient Rome fighting to be victorious and live another day. It sets up a situation where there is little chance for compromise. Much like the abortion issue, once taken out of the hands of the state, and placed in the power of the federal government, the issue becomes extremely polarizing because it creates a “winner take all” scenario. And much like Obama’s worthless executive order prohibiting federal funding of abortions, which was used to entice pro-life Democrats like Bart Stupak to cast the final votes needed to pass the Affordable Care Act (and which has now been essentially discarded as the Obama administration and their allies use federal regulations and sleight-of-hand to federally fund abortions), leftist promises of religious protections aren’t worth the breath expended to articulate them. Religious objections must and will be crushed.

And that is a tragic outcome for religious freedom, and for freedom in general.

In 1772, in arguments submitted in Robin v. Hardway, founding father George Mason declared, “All acts of legislature apparently contrary to natural right and just are, in our laws, and must be in the nature of things, considered as void. The laws of nature are the laws of God; Whose authority can be superseded by no power on earth. A legislature must not obstruct our obedience to him from whose punishments they cannot protect us. All human constitutions which contradict his laws, we are in conscience bound to disobey. Such have been the adjudications of our courts of Justice.”

Hundreds of millions of Americans hold a sincere religious belief that marriage is, and can only be, between a man and a woman, and that God approves of no other. In the name of “equality” and “tolerance”, citizens of this great country, a country founded to escape the tyranny of King George, a country established in the pursuit of religious liberty, are now being forced to choose between obeying their government, and obeying their God. That is a choice that no government, operating under moral authority, should force its citizens to make.

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