I have been following the story of Memories Pizza in Indiana, the modest little pizza parlor that has found itself in the middle of a firestorm of virulent criticism after taking the position that it would refuse to cater a gay wedding. The pizza place has never refused to serve gays, and has no intentions of doing such a thing, but the fact that it does not discriminate against gay customers seems to have escaped the attention of the liberal left. There have been threats, and floods of negative reviews, based not on the actual service or pizza or any of the legitimate reasons that businesses get reviews. No, the reviews have been hate mongering against the establishment's decision that to cater a gay wedding would violate their Christian principles. It all comes in the wake of a new law passed by Indiana, a law virtually identical to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed by Congress with an almost unanimous vote in 1993 and signed by Bill Clinton. The law came into being after a Supreme Court decision upholding an Oregon drug law against members of the Native American Church, who claimed that using peyote was part of their religious practice. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act simply states that the government cannot enforce a statute requiring people to violate their religious convictions unless it can demonstrate a compelling interest in doing so and then does so by the least restrictive means possible.
Seems like a pretty reasonable law to me. A person's religion is an important part of who they are, and to expect people to go against their religion, there should be a very good reason to require them to do that. A reason that encompasses the protection of society at large, not from nebulous "That hurts my feelings" complaints but actual harm. Like, say, requiring children to get vaccinated whether or not their religion allows it, or forbidding honor killings even if religion calls for it. It seems like preventing epidemics and murders is a compelling interest of society. Protecting people's feelings? Well, like it or not, the United States is a free country, and the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, not people's feelings. If someone's feelings are hurt, they can speak up and say so, but the government doesn't, or shouldn't, get involved. It's a system that has worked well for hundreds of years, and it's a system that has allowed women to gain the vote and blacks to gain civil rights. It's a system that's breaking down, though, under the onslaught of political correctness and the neurosis-breeding notion that if someone's feelings are going to be hurt, nothing should be said.
Whatever happened to being able to speak up for what you believe in? Being able to take a stand and have the same right as every other American to have your free speech protected? Brendan Eich was forced to resign from Mozilla after a public campaign against him because he donated to oppose same sex marriage in California. Didn't he have the right, as an American citizen, to participate in the political process as he saw fit? Didn't he have the same right as any gay citizen not to lose his job for no reason? No gay person can be fired from their job for advocating same-sex marriage. Why is a person in danger of losing their job now in this country for advocating against same-sex marriage? Wherever you come down on the question of same-sex marriage, surely it must be recognized that without the First Amendment, without the freedom to speak up even though society hates what you're saying, gays would not be gaining the right to marry today. They asked for tolerance and compassion-why can't they exhibit the same?
The argument has been made that a business has no right to refuse service to anyone. Does that argument hold up? There are Muslims who are against same-sex marriage on religious grounds but I haven't seen any news stories about Muslim businesses being harrassed by gays to violate their religious principles to cater or provide flowers or any other kind of service to a gay wedding. Not even the Muslims who flat out refused to bake Steven Crowder a gay wedding cake. http://twitchy.com/2015/04/03/hidden-camera-steven-crowder-tries-to-buy-a-gay-wedding-cake-at-muslim-bakeries-video/And remember the Oklahoma University students and their stupid racist chant? If they walked into a bakery owned and run by a black man and asked him to bake a cake with a little black man hanging from a tree, he would refuse to bake such a thing and he would be upheld in that decision. Not on religious grounds, or any legal grounds at all-he would just say no, and tell them to get out of his place, and the liberal left would break their hands applauding him. They would applaud a vegan photographer who refuses to photograph a deer hunt. So just what's going on here? Why are Christians the only ones being held to this standard?
It's beyond me. I admit it-I don't understand why Christians are held to a different standard than everyone else in America. I do understand one thing. The gays won their point on same-sex marriage. It's being legalized all over the country. They can afford to be magnaimous in their victory-they can afford to allow free speech in the United States. Taking away free speech is not going to protect their victory. It's going to erode it. I know gay people who went to Chik-fil-A after president Dan Cathy said he supported a Biblical view of marriage as being between a man and a woman. They went because they wanted to support free speech, not the restaurant. They went because they were appalled at the backlash against a man speaking his mind about what he believed. They went because they were good Americans. Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty was reinstated, not because his viewpoints on same-sex marriage suddenly became acceptable, but because there was a backlash in his case against the calls for his head on a platter after he exercised his right to free speech. Memories Pizza has collected half a million dollars in donations since they said they wouldn't cater gay weddings. No doubt some of it is coming from people who don't like gays, but the lion's share is much more likely to be coming from Americans who are irked at the idea that they can't say what they want. It's been a cherished right in this country since before we were a country and people are loathe to have that right taken away.
The argument for same-sex marriage was always that it didn't hurt anyone if two people of the same sex wanted to marry each other. That argument doesn't seem to be holding up. Now two people of the same sex can marry each other, and people can get hurt. People can lose their jobs, or their business can be fined, and they can be subjected to hate and death threats, and goverment interference in their religion, and squashing of their right to free speech if they don't follow the party line and agree with everything the liberal left and the LGBT community wants. Surely there is a better way. Let everyone have their say without let or hindrance. Let people participate in the political process, so that the end result is the will of the majority of the people and not special-interest groups. Memories Pizza? Let them have their viewpoint and run their business as they see fit. If they get enough customers to keep their business going after saying they won't cater a gay wedding, fine. If they get so few customers they have to decide between going out of business and catering gay weddings, also fine. Whatever the result, it would be their free choice to decide what they want to do with their lives. And really, isn't that how this whole thing started, with gays asking to be free to decide what they want to do with their lives? Let's see that tolerance extended to everyone.