The Theological Hijacking of Religious “Freedom”

Since the passage and quick “fix” of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) there has been a robust national conversation about the merits and particularities of the such laws.

But noticeably absent from that conversation was any serious dialogue about the relationship between theology and the law.

Why should we publicly debate theology? Isnt that a private concern?

Hardly. Theological commitments are not easily limited to the private thoughts and inner lives of those who hold them. Those of us who study religion are often reminded of what Robert Orsi has referred to as the “power of theology as a component of lived experience.” Theologies tell stories about the way things should be. They make real-world demands.

The problem with ignoring theology in our national conversation about the limits and possibilities of religious freedom is that one side of the argument is using the logic of the law to promote a theological vision.

Here’s an example:

Earlier this month NPR’s Steve Inskeep interviewed Rev. Tim Overton, a Baptist minister in favor of the original measure which, in Rev. Overton’s view, would have permitted denial of services on religious grounds, despite the repeated claims by some lawmakers to the contrary. In the middle of that interview, the minister laid out a major theological claim and he explained how his commitment to that claim shapes his imagination of “freedom” in public affairs.

Here he is in his own words, emphasis mine:

…we are saying that in—you know, all of life for the Christian is about glorifying God. We are worshiping God in the workplace. And so to ask a religious person who happens to own a business to do something that is against their conscience, I just don’t think that squares with the American tradition of freedom of religion.

Let’s consider for a moment his theology. The first part—that all of life is lived as worship before God—is actually a fairly traditional Christian theological claim. It’s a basic claim that on its own could likely be affirmed by wide spectrum of people of faith.

The second part, which makes the individual’s conscience sacred, has long been central to Baptists in this country. In fact, before the founding the United States, Baptist colonists such as John Clarke and Roger Williams were insisting that religious freedom was rooted in one’s conscience and that no one should ever be compelled to follow a particular religion.

What we have here is not some radical position or an outlier in the spectrum of American religious belief and non-belief. Rev. Overton’s views are grounded in his Baptist Christian tradition. Many Americans would certainly find resonance in this view—and leaving aside the claim about God and worship, individual conscience is certainly also a key for many people who hold no religious belief.

So, what’s the problem with this view?

The problem is not so much that there are a good number of Americans who have consulted their theological traditions and decided that it would be against their personal conscience to affirm same sex marriage. The problem is that in the recent efforts of many religious Americans, the law is being used to legislate a vision of freedom that defines religious freedom as “freedom from.”

Unlike the early American Baptists, who faced serious persecution, these advocates seek to use the law to protect their vision of worship in the workplace as a purity ritual. It is a vision of religious expression free from interference in the form of difference, free from the conflicting demands of our common lives, and free from any obligation to our neighbors that we might find uncomfortable.

This effort to use legal exemptions to justify freedom from difference, interference, and conflict is not limited to the events that took place recently in Indiana. Such efforts were behind the monumental Supreme Court extension of religious exemptions to private businesses such as Hobby Lobby and it seems likely to continue.

The idea that one’s conscience should never be challenged, that its freedom is a freedom from an other may benefit from recent legal actions, but it will not support the common good. Some will argue that the solution here is to remove theology from our public discourse. But a better option would be to engage theological claims directly. After all, engagement does not mean agreement.

In fact, I don’t have much in common with Rev. Overton theologically or politically. If I could have sat in for Inskeep on the interview, here’s how I imagine our conversation might have gone. When asked why he supported the law, the minister responded:

I, as a pastor, provide a service to my parishioners, but also to the community at large in officiating weddings. I receive compensation for these services as well as the state issues a marriage license after I officiate a wedding. So if I say no to a same-sex couple or there are issues of divorce in someone’s past that I will not do the wedding, some people are going to say that’s discrimination. But I think most Americans would agree that a pastor like myself should not be compelled by the government to use my speech to support someone else’s perspective. And I think that has parallels to the cake-maker. The cake-maker is using his or her artistic ability to make a cake, and that cake communicates something. I think that cake is speech, and it says we celebrate this union. And to force someone who doesn’t believe that same-sex marriage is correct in the eyes of God, I just don’t think they should be forced or compelled by government to use their speech to support someone else’s perspective.

Inskeep heard this response as helpful since it seemed to support the idea that in such circumstances services might be justifiably withheld under the unrevised law.

But here’s what I might have asked:

Pastor Tim, I appreciate your commitment to your faith and your sense of how such beliefs might shape our working lives, but it seems like you’re confusing ministry with business, and business with ministry. When you officiate a wedding you’re not acting as an individual, are you? Don’t you represent the church you serve? Do you have a lot of gay and lesbian couples who know your position on these issues still asking you to marry them? That seems kind of unlikely.

And about that cake-maker. You seem to be suggesting that every time a business owner sells something, she’s affirming everything her customer might do with the product being sold. Do you really think that? Pastor Tim, you seem to think about religious freedom from everything you don’t agree with. Does your faith ever free you for anything?

Our country has been debating the limits and possibilities of religious freedom for most of our constitutional existence. In 1939, German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote this about his observations of the American theological vision of freedom:

America calls itself the land of freedom. Today this means the right of the individual to think, speak and act independently…The American praise of freedom is more a tribute to the world, the state, and society that it is a statement concerning the church.

If Bonhoeffer was right,  more recently we’ve doubled down on our tribute to the state. Perhaps the growing resistance to these laws will signal to our churches and theologians that it’s time to move beyond freedom from.

It’s time to articulate the responsibilities of our public lives together.

97 Comments

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    In our world of a growing political split, the church seems to be losing some of its power. These laws, and so many of the current issues seem to be about the church looking for ways to turn it around, stem the bleeding. In the past the church was seen as a primary moral authority. Today, not so much. Now the problem for the church is every time they get involved in politics, and everything they do to assert their previous authority, they weaken themselves. Their conservative political alliance probably is doing a great deal to help fiscal conservatives grow their money, but any temporary social conservative political gain will ultimately be lost many times over because the more they do to get control over the people, the more the people will resist.

  • phillinj@slu.edu' NancyP says:

    There are still some white supremacy churches and KKK groups in my state (MO). I look at the attempts to weaken public-accommodation non-discrimination, as applied to LGBT people, to be the thin edge of a wedge legalizing discrimination against non-whites, non-Christians, etc..

    As for conservative church power, it is possible that there could be a resurgence associated with the economic crises which are surely coming our way, with the concentration of wealth and the loss of jobs.

  • Timothy Snyder says:

    Hi Jim, thanks for chiming in here. Certainly what you say is true for conservative churches aligned closely with conservative politics. But the political and social views of a good number of American Christian are quite a bit more complicated than that particular alliance—for example a good number of Mainline Protestants, Catholics and those who identify with other Christian churches also identify as Democrats and about 10% of each of those groups are independents. The conservative alliance has been the loudest for a few decades now, but it’s not the only linkage between faith and politics among Americans today.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    “It’s time to articulate the responsibilities of our public lives together.”

    Our overcrowded world and nation has problems that need to be solved. Freedom might be blocking solutions. Every man for himself and a free for all will make life tough. The rich want to make everything a way for the rich to set up systems to profit more from the others. Social conservatives have been giving political power to fiscal conservatives, and the result is too many social problems in America to list. I think we need higher taxes on the rich like we used to have, and we need nationally sponsored medicine like the rest of the developed world has. We are doomed to a class war until we face up to the fact that the rich have been fighting a class war against us for decades, and we start to fight back.

  • blestou@gmail.com' blestou says:

    “Religious freedom means that the beliefs of some may not be imposed through law on others who do not share them.”

    That’s all that some Christians are asking for…do not impose by the force of law the (religious) view that there is nothing wrong or different about same-sex marriages. It is not an exemption from “everything I disagree with”, but an acknowledgement that we are, in fact, not a monolithic society and some things are so troubling to some citizens that it would be cruel and contrary to a liberal society to force their compliance. There is nothing retrograde about this notion. It is an enlightened understanding of the responsibilities of our public lives together.

    The above definition is not some right-wing code language conveniently crafted to discriminate against others. It was penned by Ira Glasser, executive directior of the ACLU, in 1996. Even a few years after the completely bi-partisan passage of RFRA, this was a consensus liberal position for a pluralistic society debating the limits and possibilities of both religious freedom and civil liberties.

    The problem is not “theological hijacking” of religious liberty, but the liberal establishment’s abandonment of the concept. If only they would return to their historic principles, we could move past these needless and illiberal controversies.

  • equaltime@hotmail.com' EqualTime says:

    I think the argument would be stronger if framed as “personal liberty” vs. “religious freedom”.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    You see the problem as the church (I take it you mean several of the more conservative Protestant churches and orthodox Catholics) as losing power, but in reality the problem is growing state power. In a truly free society the government would not have a need to force small business owners to take part in ceremonies they considered immoral. “Customers” with an agenda wouldn’t be able to sue out of existence small business owners for the same. Ironically an atheist, Robert Tracinski, wrote one of the best defenses of religious liberty in the Federalist: http://thefederalist.com/2015/04/02/indiana-shows-the-left-has-no-concept-of-freedom/. But unfortunately many, perhaps most, citizens don’t seem to understand the growing power of the government and its increasing penetration into all areas of life.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    Agreed! It is sad that many people don’t understand the core problem as the growth of governmental power. See the post by Jim Reed below, he seems to think (along with many on the left) that an ever growing state is the way to solve our problems.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    We have grown too big to be a truly free society in the Republican sense. They see it as an every man for himself no limits contest where of course they keep trying to tilt the playing field a little more in their direction, and it has been working to help the rich get richer. On the other side we have the concept of the common wealth, people working together as a nation to make things better for all, but among other issues that means tax the rich, at least at a level a little above what they re paying now It is a system that was working well a few decades ago. As these things play out, we are being distracted by whatever the rich can come up with, and right now it is religious freedom. The rich have tapped into the desire of Christians to feel they are better than other people, and the rich have discovered if the issue is about their freedom to discriminate, then the nation will be off on that issue for a while and the program of the rich getting richer will be unhindered for a little while longer.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    You make a good point. It is about Christians discriminating against people they look down on. As the primary religious entity in society, they need some kind of acknowledgment from that society that the people in general will accept the moral superiority of the Christian system to judge these matters, even if they are less than perfect in their own individual lives. It is the institution of greater Christianity that is in question here.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    “The rich have tapped into the desire of Christians to feel they are better than other people” You are missing the point of religious liberty laws. A Christian baker refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding is not doing it out of any animus towards gays or a desire to “feel better” than them. His prohibition is directed towards himself. It is much the same as if he refuses to engage in adultery. It isn’t a desire to “feel better” than adulterers, it is a decision to not engage in sinful activity. And if you think increasing the power of the state to totalitarian levels (the direction we are headed in) is a way to bring the “rich” to heel in the service of “the people” then you haven’t been paying attention.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    Maybe not ever growing, but at least we need single payer heath care, and taxes that are a little higher on super rich who are paying little or nothing, and maybe a carbon tax.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    It is the concept of share the wealth, which was not actually a dirty word until the Obama McCain election when the Republicans held town halls and trained us to hate it. That seemed to be the moment when the Republican party went whole hog on “Greed is Good”.

  • Dennis.Lurvey@live.com' GeniusPhx says:

    Christians assume that they speak for 85% of the american population they think is christian, but that’s no longer true. Being born into a family where mom and dad are christian is not the same as ‘being christian’. According to a recent article on the ‘churched and unchurched’ 38% of ‘christians’ have never seen the inside of a church and are irreligious. Only 25% believe in the inerrancy of the bible, the rest think it was written by men who were inspired, or a book of myths/lessons to live by. 30% of those under 30 are irreligious or non believers and 25% of those under 25 are atheist. Christians are leaving the churches to be ‘spiritual but not religious’ in droves. In 13 states the non religious out number the religious and are a close second in 19 more. We are becoming a secular country quickly and a big cause is because a few super religious are writing and passing these outdated laws based on outdated thinking.

  • Dennis.Lurvey@live.com' GeniusPhx says:

    Christians assume that they speak for 85% of the american population they think is christian, but that’s no longer true. Being born into a family where mom and dad are christian is not the same as ‘being christian’. According to a recent article on the ‘churched and unchurched’ 38% of ‘christians’ have never seen the inside of a church and are irreligious. Only 25% believe in the inerrancy of the bible, the rest think it was written by men who were inspired, or a book of myths/lessons to live by. 30% of those under 30 are irreligious or non believers and 25% of those under 25 are atheist. Christians are leaving the churches to be ‘spiritual but not religious’ in droves. In 13 states the non religious out number the religious and are a close second in 19 more. We are becoming a secular country quickly and a big cause is because a few super religious are writing and passing these outdated laws based on outdated thinking.

    Every time someone commits a crime claiming Jesus told them to, kills someone because they are ‘evil’ (superstitious), or murders a doctor with a family for performing a constitutionally protected procedure; another christian throws their wings in the closest dumpster.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    Sharing the wealth should be voluntary and done out of charity, not mandated by government enforcers who think they know better how to spend your money on charity than you do. Often in practice government spending goes towards targeted groups of voters than towards those who really need it.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    The rich follow that philosophy, and in my lifetime the gap between rich and the rest of us has become 10 times larger. The rich keep getting richer, and the middle class has been holding even, or dropping. We no longer even think about the poor because we are too concerned about us. Things were kind of OK until Bush when the common man started losing pensions, and having health insurance cancelled, and then losing jobs and houses. Wall Street was even briefly concerned, but they are doing better now.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    Exactly.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    Why, yes, spending DOES go to targeted groups rather than those who need it. It goes to subsidies for industrial farms, oil producers, military contractors, etc. Not to the American People. The money goes to those who finance campaigns, which is why Citizens United needs to be dumped.

    But, of course, by quoting The Federalist, you have told us that you are a neo-con libertarian. Nuff said.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    The problem with so many people no leaving the church is more and more the church is being left to the religious nuts, and this seems to make the decision to leave the church even better. The churches problems become a self fulfilling prophecy as more and more Christianity is left to the true Christians.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    Okay, phatkhat, let’s deconstruct your post.

    “It goes to subsidies for industrial farms, oil producers, military contractors, etc. Not to the American People.” That is an argument for reducing government spending, not increasing it. Government spending always tends to go that way. If you were familiar with public choice theory you’d understand that. Dumping Citizens United, which would impinge on freedom of speech, won’t change that. What it would do is help protect incumbents, which is okay if that is your goal. It isn’t mine.

    But, of course, by quoting The Federalist, you have told us that you are a neo-con libertarian. Nuff said.”
    “Nuff said” if you are more interested in trying to ignore evidence you don’t like. That is apparently your goal when you make statements like that. Whether I’m a “neo-con libertarian” or whatever you think I am is irrelevant to the debate.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    Yes, the gap expands and the rich get richer at the same time the size of the state is increasing. Think there may be a connection there, Jim?

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    “Christians assume that they speak for 85% of the american population they think is christian, but that’s no longer true” It is also irrelevant. I’m not sure about other Christians, but as a Catholic if I refuse to take part in a gay “wedding” I am saying something only about myself.

    “We are becoming a secular country quickly and a big cause is because a few super religious are writing and passing these outdated laws based on outdated thinking”
    In a free society “super religious” people with “outdated views” would free to live by their own moral standards with minimal interference from the state. Governments that didn’t allow such deviation from official orthodoxy have already been tried in the 20th century, with often murderous results. I would say those embody the real “outdated thinking”.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    Dumping CE is NOT going to impinge on free speech, because Money =/= Speech. The Kochs, et al, have a right to the same free speech as I do. But why should they be allowed to buy elections? They certainly bought the election for my disgusting new Senator, Tom Cotton, among others. But, the incumbents you object to are no doubt the Bernie Sanders (Sanders/Warren 2016!) and those like him who seek to make the playing field a little more level.

    And that is all I, a social democrat, have to say to you, a free-market (LOL) libertarian.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    “Dumping CE is NOT going to impinge on free speech, because Money =/= Speech” Yes, phatkhat, it will. In effect your side of the aisle is claiming that once people form a group (aka a corporation) they loose their freedom of speech. And explain to me how the Kochs “bought” an election. Are you saying that anyone who listens to an ad paid for by Koch money looses their ability to think critically? That isn’t a very high opinion you have of your fellow voters there, and even if you are correct banning some groups from participating in politics isn’t going to help.

    “And that is all I, a social democrat, have to say to you, a free-market (LOL) libertarian.”
    Yes, you certainly don’t want to be infected by any “politically incorrect” views that might challenge your cherished beliefs, do you. It’s best just to close out ideas that might cause you discomfort.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    It’s the Republican philosophy. Talk small government, and make laws to help them get more rich.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    I said I would not reply, but I will. I am old, my friend. I started adult life a half century ago. I was a flag-waving conservative republican. Over the years, which included a stint in the army and many years stationed in Europe, I changed my mind. I’m open to new ideas, if they are good ones, but yours are neither new nor good. Trickle down doesn’t.

  • Dennis.Lurvey@live.com' GeniusPhx says:

    I say we let the market decide, and the market is deciding (to leave the church in favor on no religion).

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    That means you’re not much older than me, and believe me, your ideas are not new either, and I don’t see much good about a statist philosophy.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    Jim, you do realize we’ve had a Democratic administration for the last six year? Yes, I’m not a big fan of Republicans, but I usually vote Republican as the lesser of two evils.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    That also implies that religious business owners get to make their own decisions if they don’t want to participate in ceremonies they consider immoral. If they loose business because of that, then okay. But the government shouldn’t force them to participate under some “public accommodation” theory nor should “gay rights” activists be able to drive them out of business via law suit.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    Even with their anti-science insanity?

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    That’s one approach. Every business could say what classes of people they do or don’t want to serve. We used to have that kind of system, but it turned out to be a problem because large parts of the country didn’t want to serve blacks, and didn’t want to let them drink from the water fountains or use any restrooms. We are just trying to find a way of avoiding our society going back to that level.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    Most of Jim Crow was enforced by the state, it wasn’t unusual for private business owners to want to do business with blacks but were prohibited by state law. And that was somewhat of a unique situation (hard cases make bad law), what you are suggesting is that freedom of association should be violated on a regular and ongoing basis.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    That is a sword that cuts both ways Jim, and the left is at least as anti-science when it suits them: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-liberals-war-on-science/. Scientific American is hardly a bastion of conservative thought.

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    …it wasn’t unusual for private business owners to want to do business with blacks but were prohibited by state law.

    Which is exactly why the federal government had to step in and force the states to ditch Jim Crow. Religion, however, remained free then and will remain free when gay marriage is federally mandated.

    To believe that the federal government doesn’t have an interest in equal treatment of its citizens is to believe in the tooth fairy. If the act of baking a cake violates somebody’s conscience, perhaps they should take farming or something and give up interpreting the Bible badly.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    I’m not sure why equal treatment of its citizens means the rights of business owners must be abrogated. My point is that Jim Crow was unusual, and perhaps (and I’m not entirely convinced of even this) it was okay for the federal government, in that case, to partially suspend freedom of association. But despite your assertion, yes, you are proposing that freedom of association should be infringed. None of the cases have involved a refusal to serve homosexuals, in the manner that under Jim Crow was prevalent in the south, but a refusal to participate in homosexual wedding ceremonies. That is a huge difference. What has perhaps justified due to the huge historical injustices done to blacks is not a good basis for having the state interfere in all areas of commercial life.

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    You need to read up on freedom of association. It has to do with individual rights when joining groups. It has nothing to do with the rights of business owners to pick and choose the classes of people it will serve. If a business is in the business of offering wedding cakes to the public, it has to serve everyone in the public sphere. To say that baking a cake is equal to participation in the wedding ceremony is to say that you’re an established writer because you’re commenting on this article. The baker doesn’t even attend the ceremony.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    I am saying one approach is to let businesses all list what groups of people they do or don’t want to serve. But that reminds us of what that type of society ultimately leads to.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    ” It has nothing to do with the rights of business owners to pick and choose the classes of people it will serve” None of the cases involving florists, bakers, or photographers have been about business owners “picking and choosing” which classes of customers they will serve. They have been about business owners declining to participate in or facilitate ceremonies they consider immoral.

    If a business is in the business of offering wedding cakes to the public, it has to serve everyone in the public sphere”
    Why? Because you assert it? That certainly seems to be the take of incipient totalitarians, such as Sally Kohn. The practical effect would be to drive from commercial life anyone who doesn’t adhere to official orthodoxy, which is perhaps the underlying motive.

  • jimbentn@verizon.net' Jim 'Prup' Benton says:

    I find myself in a difficult position on this. I am a strong supporter of SSM and LGBT rights overall — I mentioned one of many reasons in an earlier post, that I grew up in a lesbian household. But I have problems with the ‘wedding cake cases.’
    Not on the ‘religious freedom’ question. Enough people have demolished it already, I won’t add to it here. In fact, I believe many of the plaintiffs have been conned by one of several ‘religious law groups’ into using the religious argument, which these lawyers know — or should know — is a sure loser. These groups are pretty well known for taking on losing cases that do little good for their clients, but which multiply the contributions the firms get for ‘fighting the good fight.’
    However, I think these clients could — under certain conditions — win the case on ‘political speech’ grounds. The argument against them is that they are discriminating on the basis of sexual identity, refusing to serve gay or lesbian customers. If this is true overall, they should be penalized by the law — and there should be a nationwide law,
    But what if the bakers state — and prove — two things. First, that they have and will continue to serve gay and lesbian customers in any other way, knowing they are gay. Second, that they would refuse to make the wedding cake — even if it were to be ordered and paid for by a straight friend of the couple.
    I will very much appreciate correction on this, but I would find it very hard to argue against the bakers, were they not to argue ‘religious freedom’ but to argue that a person may not, for whatever reason, be forced into making a political statement they disapprove of. (There is a long history, legally, of ‘speech’ including action, even if conducted silently. And the various cases involving the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 40s and afterwards, as well as some from the McCarthy era seem to be in favor of that argument, and I’ve heard no convincing one against it.)
    And let me insist that I am speaking strictly legally here. If the community wishes to show their displeasure by refusing to patronize the business, more power to them.

  • Funny kind of faith Overton has that has his god ordering him to be rude to people different from himself.

    I don’t think that’s called Christianity. Mickeymouse solipsism, more like…

    -dlj.

  • Joseph,

    So we’re clear then, it has noting to do with religion, it’s all Robert Taft and Everett Dirkson in drag?

    Repeal the New Deal and everything will be OK, is that what you’re telling us? Or would that just clear the decks for you to attack the 13th and 14th Amendments, and go all Stonewall Jackson about the Fed on us?

    -dlj.

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    The New Mexico photographer defended herself based on free speech grounds in 2013. It was shot down by the NM Supreme Court. Later, the US Supremes declined to hear the case, again presented on free speech grounds.

    I don’t think free speech came up at all in the oral arguments the US Supremes heard last Tuesday, from either the pro or con side. That’s probably a good indication that it’s not seen as a defense.

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    Why? Because you assert it?

    I hope you don’t seriously believe that. You might want to look into the law and court decisions that do assert that businesses selling goods and services to the public have to offer them to all of the public, and not withhold them from a certain class of people.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    Once again, no one is proposing that goods and services be withheld from a certain class of people.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    Virtually all major religions have traditionally held homosexual acts to be immoral. Whatever your view of homosexual weddings, it should be clear that most people who still hold traditional religious views would have moral problems facilitating a homosexual marriage. Attempts to force them to participate are really a form of tyranny. The 14th amendment, like the bill of rights, was originally meant as a prohibition on the government taking certain actions, not something that mandates what private citizens must do.

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    The 14th amendment, like the bill of rights, was originally meant as a prohibition on the government taking certain actions, not something that mandates what private citizens must do.

    Doesn’t the 14th amendment prohibit government from creating classes of citizens with different and/or unequal rights and privileges under the law?

    And once again, baking a cake doesn’t facilitate a marriage and nobody is forcing them to participate. If wedding cakes are the problem, they can sell every other kind of baked goods except wedding cakes. Problem solved.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    “Doesn’t the 14th amendment prohibit government from creating classes of citizens with different and/or unequal rights and privileges under the law?”

    Yes, the government. Not private citizens.

    And once again, baking a cake doesn’t facilitate a marriage and nobody is forcing bakers to participate. If wedding cakes are the problem, they can sell every other kind of baked goods except wedding cakes. Problem solved.”
    The state should not be deciding those questions, and people shouldn’t be able to sue over it. One bakery, run by a married couple, has already been shut down and their main source of income destroyed. In an extraordinary example of vindictiveness the plaintiffs are still coming after them for approximately $138k, which a judge has incredibly granted. And oh yeah, the couple has 5 children and is having trouble paying their bills. So much for it’s “for the children” as leftists like to say.

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    As Timothy Snyder, the author of this article, tried to point out, you’re basing your case on mixing business with religion and then demanding ‘freedom from’ the rules that govern every other business owner who doesn’t hold the same religious convictions, and regardless of how this “freedom” affects the rest of society.

    The business of a bakery is to sell baked goods and wedding cakes to those getting married. It’s not politics and it’s not religion – it’s business. Should the people who supply the ingredients for the cake also worry that a fraction of those ingredients might end up in a cake at a gay wedding? Do you think a seller of church pews worries that the butts sitting in them are attending a gay wedding and that might make them participants in the wedding itself?

    I know you want me to feel sorry for the poor family who had to shut down their bakery. But whatever their religious convictions, their actions were political and certainly not business-like. It’s a perfect example of asking for it for no good reason.

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    The state should not be deciding those questions, and people shouldn’t be able to sue over it.

    Have you noticed how your favored rules and laws only point in one direction – yours – and to hell with everyone else. How Christian.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    “As Timothy Snyder, the author of this article, tried to point out, you’re basing your case on mixing business with religion and then demanding ‘freedom from’ the rules that govern every other business owner who doesn’t hold the same religious convictions, and regardless of how this “freedom” affects the rest of society.”
    Really? So morals and business don’t mix? IG Farben was just selling Zyklon B in the early 1940’s, it had no moral significance beyond a business deal.
    I know what Timothy Snyder was trying to say. I disagree. His way of thinking is a recipe for totalitarianism.

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    IG Farben was just selling Zyklon B in the early 1940’s, it had no moral significance beyond a business deal.

    I’ll never know how I missed the similarities between these two items:

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    “Have you noticed how your favored rules and laws only point in one direction – yours – and to hell with everyone else. How Christian.”
    You are the one arguing for more state interference in private business, not me. I’m not even taking a specifically Christian stance (although I am one) on it. Your remark makes no sense.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    They are both moral issues. I take it your stance is that your moral code is the only one that is legitimate.

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    Let’s discuss moral codes and state interference in religion. When Indiana passed its RFRA Act, I didn’t see the Federal government get involved. I saw outraged citizens in all states, other state governments and business owners protesting Indiana’s actions. And this is where the demand for the Supreme Court stepped in to resolve the issue.

    People in the US don’t tolerate inequality and discrimination well. While you may call it “religious freedom”, what you’re really asking for is “freedom to discriminate”. When a group of Christians demand freedom to discriminate, they are forcing their fellow citizens to validate theologically dubious religious beliefs as being of a higher priority and more important than beliefs in equality and fairness.

    You’ve got at least two problems. 1. You’re linking Christianity with discrimination. 2. Most people are against accommodating your demands.

  • crzylmy@gmail.com' Smknws says:

    …we are saying that in—you know, all of life for the Christian is about glorifying God. We are worshiping God in the workplace.

    How about glorifying the IMAGE of god in all mankind ? Genesis 1: 26

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    We are worshiping God in the workplace.

    Only if you work in a church.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    Those people should not open public accommodation businesses that provide things like cakes, flowers, and photographs, if that is the case.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    Public accommodation laws have been a settled matter since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And yes, they DO apply to privately-owned businesses.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    Nope. A cake is morally neutral.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    You’re advocating for a return to Jim Crow, with GLBT people being the new class against whom it is acceptable to discriminate (or, as they would have said during Jim Crow, n*****s) … and deep down, you know it.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    Yeah, you are: when you say that a bakery (a public accommodation) that makes wedding cakes should be able to withhold provision of that service to gay people.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    A Christian baker refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding is not doing it out of any animus towards gays

    Liar.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    You can always tell a Randtard, but you can’t tell him much.

  • crzylmy@gmail.com' Smknws says:

    Sorry i thought the word was Glorifying
    But i can worship if i want to from anywhere i happen to be on the planet , would God ignore me if i was unable to be in any house of worship .
    just wondering if my 70 yrs of talking to God has been for naught ?

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    Your right to “worship anywhere you happen to be” does not include the right to discriminate in public accommodation.

    Just so you know.

    Oh — please revisit Matthew 6:6. Thanks.

  • crzylmy@gmail.com' Smknws says:

    BIG smile

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    I ask this in all sincerity: do you have some sort of cognitive deficit?

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    “Let’s discuss moral codes and state interference in religion. When Indiana passed its RFRA Act, I didn’t see the Federal government get involved. I saw outraged citizens in all states, other state governments and business owners protesting Indiana’s actions. And this is where the demand for the Supreme Court stepped in to resolve the issue.”

    A small cadre of outraged activists would be a better description. The “business owners” protesting were large corporations (funny how they are usually considered evil by your side of the aisle most of the time) who are quite comfortable getting cozy with state power as a way of keeping out smaller competitors and getting government contracts.

    “”freedom to discriminate”. When a group of Christians demand freedom to discriminate”

    What is wrong with discrimination per se? We all discriminate all the time. Virtually every restaurant discriminates against people with no shirts or shoes. Bars will discriminate against patrons who get too drunk, or become rowdy. If you are having a family gathering you will discriminate against non-family members.

    they are forcing their fellow citizens to validate theologically dubious religious beliefs as being of a higher priority and more important than beliefs in equality and fairness in the public sphere.”
    Uh, no. No one is forcing anyone to validate anything. All of the cases have been about small business owners declining to take part in ceremonies they consider immoral.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    Zyklon B was morally neutral. It was developed by a Jewish chemist as an insecticide. A shotgun is morally neutral. If I use it to shoot clay pigeons, that is entirely benign. If I use it to shoot a person that is a much different matter.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    In other words, if you don’t adhere to official orthodoxy you should be run out of business. It is too bad you don’t see the totalitarian implications of your position.

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    Joe, the business owners as a group all had large events scheduled in Indiana, events that bring in many needed dollars to Indiana. My mentioning that these businesses owners protested in no way implies an endorsement of them. It was a statement of fact. Period.

    I hope you can see the difference between kicking barefoot and drunken idiots out of a bar and public discrimination against a group of people based on misplaced moral disapproval. But I’m not sure you can.

    Speaking of facts, it doesn’t look like you’re interested in giving up your biases and deeply cherished beliefs in favor of learning reality and how it works on the ground. This might be one of the reasons why your side has lost this fight big time. But it’s your decision to continue in the same manner, and what you believe “neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg,” so have at it.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    It’s too bad you don’t understand the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    It’s too bad Libertarians are inherently stupid …

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    You Randtards always make me laugh.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    “I hope you can see the difference between kicking barefoot and drunken idiots out of a bar and public discrimination against a group of people based on misplaced moral disapproval. But I’m not sure you can.”
    You made a blanket statement that discrimination was wrong. And no one is proposing that homosexuals be kicked out of anywhere. “Gay marriage” has pretty much won, it is legal in most states and there is a fairly good chance that the Supreme Court will legalize it. But apparently you, and most of the posters here, believe that not only must it become legal and that everyone must accept it but they must also support and celebrate it, at least publicly. No space is to be left for small business owners who find it morally objectionable to support gay wedding ceremonies. I’ve heard of sore losers before but you are a sore winner. Not only should such people be run out of business they must be bankrupted even after that.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    Whatever. I’m not a big admirer if Ayn Rand, but I guess you think anyone who doesn’t think the state should be all powerful is a “Randtard”.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    I don’t consider myself a libertarian.I agree with a lot of, but not all, of their ideas. BTW, libertarians are better educated than the general population, but I guess anyone who doesn’t buy into your statist philosophy is, in your world, inherently stupid.
    The Civil Rights act of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin. It doesn’t say anything about being forced to celebrate gay weddings. Looks like your the one who doesn’t understand it.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    I’m always amused by “liberals” (they really aren’t, they’re statists pretending to be liberals) who think they are able to read minds.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    “You can always tell a Randtard, but you can’t tell him much.”
    I’ve noticed when people cannot articulate good arguments, or more likely they don’t really have any good arguments they start resorting to insults.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    It’s not an insult; it’s a statement of fact.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    It also references sex/gender, which you have conveniently left out of your discussion. Refusing to provide services based on the genders of the customers is a violation.

    So, who doesn’t understand it again? Oh, yeah … a Randtard called Joseph Lammers.

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    No space is to be left for small business owners who find it morally objectionable to support gay wedding ceremonies.

    Allowing moral objections toward a certain group of people in the public sphere creates an apartheid type of society that good governments and citizens cannot condone in a society that was built on the principles of equal treatment for all.

    Have you read any basic political science books or attended PS classes?

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    None of the cases involve refusing to sell wedding cakes to homosexuals. What they involve is refusing to sell wedding cakes to celebrate a homosexual wedding.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    I just did. It said, when you pray, to pray in private. It didn’t say to celebrate homosexual weddings.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    Yes, I’ve read quite a bit. Let me put it another way. Typically, when we had a draft, people with religious objections to fighting in a war were exempted. I read of one case years ago when a member of a pacifist sect who had a lawn service was “dis-fellowshipped” (their version of excommunication) from his church because he had a contract to cut the grass at a local Air Force base, and this was considered an unacceptable entanglement with the government. I would have no problem with such a contract, because I’m not a pacifist, but I think that if the government required such people to take military contracts when offered it would be an unacceptable level of state interference in freedom of contract and freedom of association, plus a violation of freedom of religion. You are acting as if your position is the only legitimate one, as if no political thinkers would agree with me. Well, it isn’t, and many would.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    It references sex, and you are correct, the version I read didn’t include sex. It doesn’t reference gender, which is grammatically incorrect when you use it in regards to people anyway. I don’t know of any cases in which business owners refused to serve someone because of their sex, but since you seem to think you are intellectually and morally superior to virtually everyone perhaps you are aware of such cases. If a business owner was refusing to serve someone because of their sex, whether male or female, unless it was originally set up as a single sex business I would tend to agree with you. But, none of these cases are about that, are they.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    You are either deliberately obtuse or a total dumbfuck. I’m leaning toward the latter.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    It’s official; you are a total dumbfuck.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    Am I supposed to be impressed because you can use vulgar language? I know 10 year olds that can do that better than you. You are totally misreading that passage. I’m not even using particularly religious arguments. And you are no where near as brilliant as you seem to think you are.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    Fiona, you haven’t made a single statement of fact yet. You seem to think insults and vulgarities are “statements of fact”. I really don’t care, since you don’t seem to be able to engage on anything above about a 5 year old level is getting rather boring “debating” (if you can call it that) you, so until you actually make a valid argument I’m going to ignore the rests of your posts.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    Really? I haven’t made any statements of fact? That’s fucking laughable. Not only have I made statements of fact, I’ve backed them up with references … which is more than you’ve done YET.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    Your tone policing is duly noted and dismissed.

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    I cant figure out what you’re saying about the landscaper and his contract to cut the grass for the military. Are you saying his pacifist sect was wrong for dis-fellowshipping him or the military was wrong for requiring a contract?

    I suspect the latter, and while I’m not a huge fan of the military, landscaping contracts are common in the personal, public, and government spheres. I live in a townhouse association, and we have such a contract. It protects the landscaper from us arbitrarily holding him hostage for payment and allows him to plan his budget and workforce on a yearly basis. It protects us from arbitrarily being held hostage to unreasonable demands and allows us to plan our expenses.

    It’s a voluntary contract, as the contractor is free to either sign it or not sign it. The same with the military contract and the guy cutting the grass. Freedom of association has nothing to do with it, either way you look at it.

    I know you’re educated and articulate, but I question where you learned civics and poly sci lessons, other than from libertarians, which haven’t been embraced by the society we live in or the laws we live by.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    “I cant figure out what you’re saying about the landscaper and his contract to cut the grass for the military. Are you saying his pacifist sect was wrong for dis-fellowshipping him or the military was wrong for requiring a contract?”
    Perhaps I should have explained it further. What his fellowship did was an internal matter, up to them. Since in this country membership in a religious body is voluntary, that is a matter between the landscaper and his church. My point is that if the state had stepped in and required the landscaper to take military contracts (admittedly a hypothetical in this situation) it would have been a violation of both freedom of association and religion. My point is that members of religious organizations with such beliefs should be given space to live out their lives as their faith requires, even if most of us don’t hold to the same beliefs. As I stated before, since I’m not a pacifist I would have no problem with such a contract or even serving in the military if I was in such a circumstance, but people with those convictions should be free to follow them.

  • joelammers2000@yahoo.com' Joseph Lammers says:

    “I know you’re educated and articulate, but I question where you learned civics and poly sci lessons, other than from libertarians, which haven’t been embraced by the society we live in or the laws we live by.”
    Obviously I’ve been influenced by libertarians, and many years ago I might even have called myself one but I would not consider myself one today. And I’m under no illusions about what rules our society lives under. I just happen to disagree with many of them

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