By Michael Brown
The more you see something shocking, the less shocking it appears, and the more something outrageous happens, the less outrageous it seems to be. That is how a culture becomes desensitized, and that is how the abnormal becomes normalized. But when it comes to the government’s attack on our religious freedoms, it is our sacred duty to remain shocked and outraged. Such things cannot continue to happen in America if we are to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.
According to the Washington Supreme Court, when Christian florist Barronelle Stutzman declined to do the floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding, she violated the state's anti-discrimination laws, since she allegedly discriminated based on her customer’s sexual orientation by refusing to participate in his wedding ceremony.
Attorney David French is correct in emphasizing how this ruling should affect us (he penned these words shortly after the verdict was announced): “If you care about the Bill of Rights, the rights of conscience, or even the English language, there’s a chance that this morning you felt a disturbance in the Force — as if the Founders cried out in rage and were suddenly silenced.”
As French clearly explains, “she was not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. She was making a decision not to help celebrate an action, a form of expression. She would no more celebrate a gay wedding than she would any form of immorality, gay or straight. To dispense with her argument, the court did what numerous progressive courts have done: It rewrote the law. It rejected what it called the ‘status/conduct’ distinction, and essentially interpreted the word ‘orientation’ to also mean ‘action.’”
In a million lifetimes, the Founders could never have countenanced such an outrage. In fact, I doubt that the leading pioneer gay activists could have countenanced something this extreme when they launched their movement less than 50 years ago.
It is imperative, then, that we not lose our sense of shock and outrage just because things like this are becoming increasingly common. For the sake of our kids and our grandkids – not to mention for the sake of our contemporaries – we cannot become desensitized.
What the court has said in Washington echoes what other courts have said around the country: Regardless of your religious or moral convictions, you must participate in gay weddings if your business provides any service related to such events. Otherwise, you are guilty of discrimination. (This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other examples of the government or corporations or schools punishing Christians for their faith.)
What this means is that a gay couple could go into a bakery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, home to tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews who primarily live and do business among themselves, that couple could ask the devout Jewish baker to bake a cake for their wedding, and that baker could be put of business if he refused to comply. (Stop for a moment and try to imagine this scenario in your mind. It really is unthinkable.)
Or that same gay couple could go into a bakery in the most religious part of Dearborn, Michigan, home to tens of thousands of Muslims, some of them very religious, and a Muslim baker could be put of business for declining to participate in their wedding. How could this be?
Are religious Jewish photographers required to shoot Christian weddings under penalty of law? Of course not.
Are devout Muslim photographers required to shoot Hindu weddings under penalty of law? Obviously not.
Why then are Christian bakers and florists and photographers required to provide their services for gay weddings under penalty of law?
To say it again: This is an absolute outrage, and to shrug our shoulders with indifference is to insult Jesus, to insult our Founders, and to insult our brothers and sisters in the faith.
What if a Christian woman went into the store of an Orthodox Jewish woodworker, asking that craftsman to make a crucifix for her to wear around her neck, then taking him to court when he explained that, as a religious Jew, he could not take her order, since that would be sacrilegious for him. Would the courts really rule for the Christian woman and claim that the Orthodox Jewish craftsman was guilty of discrimination based on religion? To do so would send shockwaves through the Jewish community nationwide, and rightly so.
What if this same Christian woman went into the store of a religious Muslim printer, asking him to print flyers declaring, “The Koran is wrong. Jesus really is the Son of God”?
When she took him to court for declining her business, would the courts really rule on her behalf and claim that the religious Muslim printer was guilty of discrimination based on religion? To do so would send shockwaves through the Muslim community nationwide, and rightly so.
The Washington ruling is no less outrageous and should send shockwaves through the Christian community nationwide.
What the courts have effectively done is to elevate sexual orientation to the most privileged status – trumping freedoms of speech and religion and conscience – and to rule that, businesses must not only serve gays and lesbians but also must participate in their lifestyle choices, with severe penalties for failure to comply.
Remarkably, when a gay baker declined to make a cake with a biblical verse against homosexuality and the case was taken to court, the court ruled in favor of the baker and against the Christian. How can this possibly be?
I wrote on Thursday that Christian leaders must not be silent about the Washington ruling, calling for specific points of action.
Today, I’m saying something even more basic: If you are a person of faith and conscience, you must not lose your outrage.