Monday, December 9, 2013

Do LGBT rights trump religious rights?

A Colorado judge ruled last week that a Christian baker should be forced to bake wedding cakes for same-sex couples despite the fact that homosexuality violates the baker's religious beliefs. The judge, Robert N. Spencer, also ruled that Jack Phillips, the owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver, will face fines if he continues to try to live his faith by turning away gay couples who want to buy wedding cakes.

"The undisputed facts show that Respondents (Phillips) discriminated against Complainants because of their sexual orientation by refusing to sell them a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage," Spencer wrote.

Last year, David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited the Masterpiece Cakeshop to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception. The couple had planned to marry in Massachusetts and hold a reception in Colorado.

Phillips told the men that he could not bake their cake because of his religious beliefs opposing same-sex marriage. He offered to make them any other baked item, but not a wedding cake. Instead of going to any other bakery that would have baked them a cake, the couple opted to file a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

"Being denied service by Masterpiece Cakeshop was offensive and dehumanizing especially in the midst of arranging what should be a joyful family celebration," Mullins said in a statement. "No one should fear being turned away from a public business because of who they are."

And nobody should fear the government's power to make us deny our deeply held religious beliefs either. But that's exactly what is happening (and not just in this baker's case, but in other cases around the country). What we're seeing is that homosexuals' rights are being given more credence than citizens' religious rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. 

Not surprisingly, the ACLU of Colorado is celebrating the judge's ruling as a major victory for "gay rights." 

"While we all agree that religious freedom is important, no one's religious beliefs make it acceptable to break the law by discriminating against prospective customers," ACLU staff attorney Amanda Goad said in a statement. "No one is asking Masterpiece's owners to change his beliefs, but treating gay people differently because of who they are is discrimination plain and simple."

Phillips was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal firm specializing in religious liberty cases. Attorney Nicolle Martin condemned the judge's ruling.

"America was founded on the fundamental freedom of every citizen to live and work according to their beliefs," Martin said in a prepared statement. "Forcing Americans to promote ideas against their will undermines our constitutionally protected freedom of expression and our right to live free."

Martin said this was simply a case of a baker who declined to use his personal creative abilities to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony. "If the government can take aware our First Amendment freedoms, there is nothing it can't take away," she said.

Martin added that Phillips is a devoted Christian who has an unwavering faith. She said he is a person of such deep faith that he won't even bake Halloween-themed treats – at all.

"He's just trying to live within a certain set of biblical principles because he believes that he answers to God for everything that he does," Martin said. "It sends a message not just to other business owners, it sends a message to Americans – that if the government can take away our First amendment freedoms and tell you what to say and when to say it, there's nothing they can't take away." 

Judge Spencer said Phillips did not demonstrate that his free speech rights had been violated and he said there's no evidence that forcing him to make a cake for a same-sex ceremony would hurt his business.

"On the contrary, to the extent that the law prohibits Respondents' (Phillips) from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, compliance with the law would likely increase their business by not alienating the gay community," he wrote.

But who is this judge to make decisions on what is and isn't good for anyone's business? And who is anyone in a position of public power to tell us we must sell goods & services that violate our conscience? 

While pro-homosexual defenders like to compare this case to the kind of discrimination that black Americans have experienced, they're overlooking one key thing: Nowhere in the Bible does it tell us that there is something wrong with being black, and therefore, to discriminate against a human being for the color of their skin is wrong. But in many places throughout the Bible, we're taught that homosexuality is an abomination.  

Yet the government is forcing us to abandon those beliefs by forcing us to take even a slight part in it -- and that is a serious problem that will only get worse if left unchecked. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see where this trend is heading, including the attempt to force Catholic priests to perform same-sex "marriages". 

In the meantime, where are the lawsuits against Muslim taxi drivers who refuse to pick up passengers who are carrying unopened bottles of alcohol (e.g. a bottle of wine) or who are accompanied by seeing-eye dogs. Muslims refuse to do these things based on their religious beliefs. Where is the outcry against them?

The writing on the wall is clear as to which religion is most targeted for real discrimination here. But imagine a country where a sexual lifestyle carries more weight than a Bible-based belief. Does that look like an America we would want to live in? Think about it.

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