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Views & Voices

Christian principles not the motivator for the gutless who mask bigotry as ‘religious freedom’

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A wedding is one of the most popular and revered fixtures of modern culture.

Children, particularly girls, are led to romanticize it. Television shows build whole ratings-grabbing boosts around their fictional renditions of it.

Weddings are loved, they are hated, they are dreamed about, they are dreaded. They can be magical and they can be disasters. Whatever they are . . . people remember their own wedding day, good or bad, their whole lives long.

A North Carolina church promotes a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage with the message of marriage as between one man, one woman and God.

They are an important milestone for everyone who has one, and they should be treasured.

Recently, I have been asked to officiate at two weddings. The couples who asked, one opposite gender and one same gender, are both very close to my heart. I am honored and humbled by their requests and take them very seriously. I have been asked to have a voice in the most cherished moments of these friends’ lives, and I will do everything in my power to perform at the level they deserve.

These invitations have given me a moment to ponder about people who, when they are asked to become involved in these sacred events, use the requests as a platform to express bigotry instead.

There is a disclaimer at the end of many movies where woodland creatures appear to be ravaged: “No animals were harmed in the making of this movie.” The illusion that there might be such harm was at the whim of the storytellers, and it is their final intention to let you know that they were fibbing for the sake of drama.

There should be a similar disclaimer at the end of same-sex wedding events: “No Christian principles were violated in the union of these people.” Those are the facts.

The people in this case who would have you believe otherwise are not storytelling filmmakers, they are some of the bakers, dressmakers, florists, and venue managers in the wedding industry. They want you to believe that somehow supporting two people making a lifetime commitment is a violation of their own “religious freedom.”

This is one of the biggest illusionary shell games in public discourse today.

Almost to the case, these offending vendors have demonstrated a complete lack of scruples in any other way toward the very principles they claim to uphold. While they deny service to LGBT couples wishing to marry, they appear to have no problem in ignoring anything else that would fly in the face of biblical standards.

Oregon’s Sweet Cakes by Melissa, which shut its doors last week, showed they would marry pretty much anyone and anything, including even animals, but absolutely no LGBT couples.

Aaron Klein claims that those speaking out against his discrimination used “militant, mean-spirited Mafia-style tactics” to shut them down. 

“I just did not want to be part of her marriage,” he stated, referring to one of the brides he to whom he declined service. 

What are the standards at play in his statement?  Dishonesty — there is no evidence of “Mafia” or any other illegal tactics being used.  Hypocracy — the Kleins want freedom of speech, but do not want those who react to their behavior to enjoy the same freedoms (or to have a choice as to where they spend their money). Delusion — the bride asked him to provide a service for her wedding. I don’t mean to speak for her, but I am positive that she had no intention of having him in her marriage at all.

Let’s look at that Washington florist. She also lacked moral standards.  She had no problem flowering the romance and intimacy of two gay men, which should have been the core of her misguided religious complaint, but then pulled back when the two were ready to declare lifelong allegiance to each other (that is, marry), which actually is supported by the Bible.

I personally did my own digging in one of these cases to see if an Iowa venue, the Gortz Haus Gallery, which rejected the union of two men, would hold the same scrutiny over a celebration of another non-opposite gender union: the “marriage” of two corporations. 

I sent in the request and described an event of a ceremony and reception to be celebrated by two unifying nameless corporate teams. The details mirrored and almost mocked the traditional wedding set up. 

Would Gortz Haus care whether the companies were ethical and moral?  Would they care if there was love involved or pure opportunism?  Would they care about anything other than the fact that Gortz Haus was being offered money to hold the event?

They did not. Betty Odgaard of Gortz Haus Gallery eagerly bid on my proposed event without a single inquiry into the ethical or philosophical standing of either entity in the union. She stated, welcomingly, “By managing setting arrangements and timing, we have had very good success in similar situations.”

Standing up for Christian principles in general is obviously not the motivator for any of these people; taking a stance against LGBT people is.

Even with the most outlandishly anti-gay interpretation of the Bible, not one Bible verse implies that it is wrong to provide services for two people standing up to articulate their love and promises toward each other. Not one.

In fact, there are many references that support doing so: the commandment to love one’s neighbor as one’s self; the commitment and love declared by David and Jonathan; the golden rule; the fact that Jesus himself was a de facto wedding event contributor when he turned water into wine (without making a judgment on the wedding party for whom his service had been performed).

As for the concept of “religious freedom,” it presents its own unique problematic dichotomy.

How can one person’s “religious freedom” be granted at the expense of someone else’s? The existence of multiple “religious freedoms” that are mutually exclusive of one another cannot exist.

The U.S. Supreme Court wrestled with this concept in 1878 (Reynolds v. United States), when it was presented with the case for bigamy on the part of the Mormon Church.

The Court rejected the “religious freedom” argument, citing the “slippery slope” ramification to unfettered “religious freedom,” which could ultimately force, for example, the legalization of religiously sanctioned human sacrifice by those who believed that God mandated it.

While no one in our modern society is suggesting that people lose their physical lives over “religious freedom,” those who wrap their bigotry up in this phrase are essentially condemning LGBT couples to the loss of their emotional life.

These naysayers would sacrifice the happiness, hopes, security, honor, and dignity of the lives of people in their community purely on the basis of their own personal, albeit inconsistent, belief system. They advocate that others should lose their life well-being in a sacrifice to their own particular belief in God.

This is not religious freedom. It is not principled. These people are running scared from the fact that the world around them has changed.

Recently, the New Mexico State Supreme Court ruled that these bigots can express whatever they think and feel, and that they can believe as they wish. They can hang a sign. They can run advertising. What they cannot do is deny prejudicial service and interfere in the loves of others.

However, to achieve a greater sense of true Christian love, our courts, churches, and people must now discard the “conventional wisdom” of decades past and drop these baseless prejudices.

That does not take public aggrandizing and self-victimization. What it takes is guts.

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17 more reader comments:

  1. It’s the sad screams of those realizing they will be left behind. Do not pity them.

    Posted on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 2:36am
  2. Finally! Just because I’m religious doesn’t make me a biggot!

    Posted on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 2:39am
  3. Religious people scream that we are making them accept being gay as not wrong and that they have to support I disagree you can believe it’s wrong all you want I could care less,and you can go on with your life as you see fit,but it’s stops there you don’t get to tell others how to live their lives or try to get laws passed to make our lives miserable, you can have thoughts and beliefs but that’s all you get you don’t get our rights and freedom.

    Posted on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 3:24am
  4. Way to not read the article...

    Replied on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 4:37am
  5. Your words are well said !

    Replied on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 1:31pm
  6. If you are using your religion to hate and judge people, you are a bigot. Pride comes before a fall. All of you so-called Christians who think and act like you are perfect and without sin, and therefore put yourself in the very seat of God’s throne of judgment, will have to answer for your own actions when you meet your creator. Remember the Good Samaritan? The Prodigal Son? All of the people Jesus helped and healed? Never once did anyone stop and question their sexual orientation befor helping/saving them. You cannot cherry pick parts of the bible you like and leave the rest. If you did, you would still be living kosher as an orthodox Jew and marrying off your daughters for livestock. No one can be a true Christian with a hate-filled heart. Even thinking about bringing harm to people is sin. If Jesus was here today he would weep over the treatment his GLBT children have suffered…the bullying, the assaults, the murders… It all starts with a hateful heart. That is a tool of Satan, not Jesus. You can defend your actions all you want, but hate in the name of religion is blasphemous against the One who created us all.

    Posted on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 4:47am
  7. Why does equal marriage bother anyone. I don’t care who you marry and how many people you marry is immaterial to me. So called Christian bigots make me sick. Get over yourself and leave other people alone.

    Posted on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 9:14am
  8. I just went to your home page Christian wedding photography. Please note that if you were open anywhere in Europe or the UK, you would be done for your homophobic attitude. It’s called hate speech here. You would cease to exist. You’re a disgrace.

    Posted on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 9:19am
  9. Nobody says you have to change your religious beliefs, they are just stating you can’t deny other people equal rights. You may believe whatever you want. You run a business to make money, not for religious purposes

    Posted on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 11:40am
  10. Mask Arian Nation sensibilities..

    Posted on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 11:56am
  11. If you live in a state like Oregon then you are breaking the law law says you have to provide service to anyone regardless off gender,race,religion, or sexual orientation. If not they yes you are perfectly allowed to not provide service to anyone, but it’s also our right to tell people about you. And BTW I really hope you aren’t taking pictures of couples that have had sex before their wedding or have been divorced and are remarrying or people who have cheated, after all you wouldn’t want to cherry pick now would you?! You either bible in the whole Bible or none of it.

    Posted on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 12:35pm
  12. Great article!

    Posted on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 4:47pm
  13. just love how they think they can tell everyone what a real marriage is and how they use a book of made up crap and lies

    Posted on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 5:04pm
  14. Fantastic piece! A must-read for ALL Americans.
    Mike Philbrook

    Posted on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 8:16pm
  15. I truly think there is a movement afoot to draw out the fake christians and it is about time. I also feel that it is the LGBT movement that it bringing the fake christians to lite. In my opinion they need to be thrown to the lions.

    Posted on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 10:50pm
  16. the Christian bible marriage vows say…those whom god hath joined together let no man put asunder. not… those who be man and woman only whom god joined together. and if god hath already joined them together who the hell are you to put them asunder??!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 12:49am
  17. ATTENTION “SPECIAL RIGHTS”, ANTI-LGBT RELIGIONISTS: Kids who don’t play well with other kids in the Schoolyard of Life often turn into BULLIES if they refuse to amend their abusive ways towards others. And those who remain obstinate after good counsel is administered to them must either be DISCIPLINED – or outright EXPELLED for the Common Good!

    Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 2:39am