Expect to See More Challenges to the Christian Florists, Bakers, and Pizza Crust Makers After the Supreme Court’s Marriage Decision

Image: Olivier Douliery / Getty
Image: Olivier Douliery / Getty

We will see more challenges to the florists, the bakers, and the pizza crust makers. And more opportunities for witness.

This morning, the US Supreme Court is hearing arguments on whether our Constitution requires states to recognize same-sex civil marriages. They will likely conclude that it does. It is worth considering both the coming decision, and also how Christians might think about it and respond to it. And we ought to think through these questions now, rather than in the midst of the media (particularly social media) frenzy that is sure to follow the decision.

Consequences CD Series + Kingdom Values Book

The heated rhetoric over Indiana’s religious freedom law is a preview of what is to come. It’s worth revisiting some of the Indiana rhetoric, to illustrate both the charged nature of the debates and the complexity of the underlying legal issues. Apple CEO Tim Cook called the law a “very dangerous” effort to “enshrine discrimination” and “rationalize injustice.” Kareem Abdul Jabar suggested that it was “a step toward establishing an American version of Shari‛ah law,” and journalist Ben Kepes worried that the Indiana law “feels very much like a prelude to another Kristallnacht.”

Other commentary simply got the facts wrong. Conflicts over religious liberty often involve contested normative views, but there are still some facts. For example, it is incorrect to claim that the Indiana law allowed commercial businesses to discriminate. The text of the statute heightens protections for substantially burdened religious practices, and its original coverage extended to commercial businesses. That would have given florists, cake bakers, and pizza joints that did not want to provide services at a same-sex wedding the ability to raise a religious liberty defense if confronted with an antidiscrimination lawsuit. They may or may not have prevailed—similarly situated businesses have always lost previous cases of this kind. The hypothetical parade of horribles—the restaurant or the real-life auto repair shop that would turn away gay customers outside of a wedding context—would have faced an even higher burden in light of existing case law. No such commercial business has ever prevailed on a statutory or constitutional religion freedom claim of that kind.

But those who supported the Indiana law weren’t free from hyperbole and false claims. Just as it is incorrect to claim that the Indiana law would have allowed discrimination, it’s also wrong to suggest that the law had nothing to do with potential conflicts involving LGBTQ discrimination by commercial business, or that it was identical to other religious freedom laws. In fact, multiple supporters of the law expressly hoped that it would protect commercial business owners like florists and cake bakers from having to provide services at same-sex weddings. We can debate the merits of those protections, but it is false to suggest that supporters of the Indiana law did not contemplate them.

Irresponsible rhetoric from the Left distorted the significance of the Indiana law. But anxious musings from the Right suggested that the law’s defeat meant the end of democracy. Conservative radio host Mark Levin contended that opponents of the bill “hate America.” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins argued that revising the Indiana law to exclude commercial businesses from its coverage “would gut religious freedom in Indiana.” These kinds of claims were unhelpful and irresponsible.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Christianity Today
John Inazu

Encountering Jesus’ Names CD Series + Called for a Purpose Devotional

When you purchase a book below it supports the Number #1 Black Christian Newspaper BLACK CHRISTIAN NEWS NETWORK ONE (BCNN1.com) and it also allows us to spread the Gospel around the world.