Five Arguments that STILL Don’t Give You the Right to Control Another Person’s Conscience

Ugh, I didn’t want to write this post…  The internet is positively saturated with articles and opinions about Indiana’s new RFRA law, so surely this horse is juuuuuuust about dead, right?

But something occurred to me.

Some people bake delicious wedding cakes. And some folks are gifted photographers (whose talents are sought by straight and gay couples alike). And some people deliver pizza and some own cozy bed-and-breakfasts and some arrange flowers, and many of them are busy washing their store windows and sending emails and writing checks so their employees can eat…

So they don’t have the time to stop and write a defense for themselves and send it to busybodies who think they know how to run the business the “right way.”

It’s people like me who have been given the gift of expression.

So I suppose, like the small business owners in my home state of Indiana, I need to get to work.

—–

You–person who does NOT own the bakery or the photography business or the pizzeria or the bed-and-breakfast–you have no right to decide how those businesses operate. 

You are not an honorary manager in their Ethics Department.

You are not simply an unpaid staff member in charge of Gay Customer Relations.

The Moral Police isn’t a real thing–and even if it were (and if you were the chief), you still wouldn’t have jurisdiction over Mr. Jones’ Flower Shop.

YOU’RE NOT IN CHARGE.

So, though your understanding of right/wrong may be super impressive, or Bible-supported, or lawyer-endorsed, or all of the above, you cannot force your understanding of “right” on a business owner who feels the thing would be “wrong.” 

Mmmmmmmmkay?

Yes, I’ve heard all of your excuses.

1. This country is reverting back to the 1800’s!!!!!!!!

But, no, the new law doesn’t change anything on the legal front. And it only reiterates that business owners still have some rights to make decisions in their own stores. Of course, if next year rolls around and we start seeing gay men being branded and made to wear collars while plowing Mike Pence’s cotton fields, then you can say “told ya so.”

But something tells me you’re getting worked up over nothing.

If anything, all the hullabaloo over something as standard as religious freedom only goes to show how our priorities have changed in two centuries… Now we assume that certain groups need to be “protected,” while others should be “regulated.” We believe that gay couples need freedom because they will do nothing with it but love each other–while, on the other hand, business owners with too much freedom will turn into raging, homophobic freaks.

So, tell me, are our prejudices really better than they were in the 1800’s, or just different?

2. People’s consciences aren’t really bothered by servicing (or officiating) gay weddings; they’re just hateful bigots!   Wow.  Are you positive about that?  There’s literally no way to prove what another person feels, so I don’t have much to say on this point. Except, just because you’re 100% comfortable with the idea of supporting a gay wedding doesn’t mean others are.  Do you have to assume the people claiming religious exemption are just liars covering up their hate?

You can’t even give them a little credit?

3. Religion doesn’t give you the right to be a bigot. No–it’s the Constitution that does that. True liberty means having the freedom to be a jerk. It means some of us will make bad decisions and harbor ridiculous, hateful ideas, and there’s nothing the rest of us can do except say, “Hey, you’re a jerk!”  and stop associating with them…

But, when we start writing laws to force those bigots to act like we think they should, then we’re skating thin ice. We’re sacrificing freedom, a little at a time, because we believe that enforcing our morality is more important than allowing jerks to walk free.

4. Jesus ate with thieves and prostitutes–of course he would bake a cake for a gay wedding! Well, let’s be clear. Jesus dined with sinners while teaching them how to change.

He ate with the thieves–He didn’t pat their heads and help them plan who to rob next. He talked with the prostitutes; he didn’t ask the Disciples to open their bedrooms so the whores could entertain their clients more comfortably…

See, if you think baking a gay-wedding cake is similar to eating with sinners, that’s fine. But there are people who feel it’s actually closer to enabling the sin than just tolerating it. They don’t want to actively participate and endorse something that is wrong.

Most craftsmen put their heart/soul into their photos and flower arrangements, and they just can’t do their job as well when they’re asked to celebrate something immoral. There’s a big difference between spending time with people who sin, and stamping it with your small seal of approval…

5. Jesus would “go the extra mile” and bake two cakes!
Well, if you’re really convinced of that, then great! Go further than you have to go! Bake twelve cakes for everybody who threatens to sue if you don’t!

But, there’s a difference between sacrificing your time/energy in the name of love…and sacrificing your conscience, when you believe something is wrong.

If someone demanded that you steal food to feed the homeless, would you?  (Would you shoplift double what they asked?)

If a nurse’s employer forced her to help an elderly person commit suicide, should she offer to pull the plug on someone in the next room, too?

“You came to me for one abortion. But I’m going to offer you a discount on your next one, too! Because I’m a doctor who loves Jesus.”

At some point there will (or at least should) be a line eventually that you won’t cross, because Jesus didn’t mean for us to SIN  in order to show “love” for the nonbelievers.  If someone has a restless, guilty conscience over something, maybe it’s actually the voice of God they’re hearing? Maybe they’re not simply stalling because walking another mile would be a pain in the butt?

Maybe it actually would be wrong for them to continue doing it, when their conscience says no?

—-

Look, I get it. There are different opinions about how Jesus would handle today’s controversies. Some of us believe Jesus had a clear mission with standards, and others believe He was the ultimate, enabling, people-pleasing, Yes Man, who cared more about “nice” than “truth.”

That’s fine.

If you own a bakery, then you can provide cakes for as many gay pseudo-marriages as you want, and tell yourself that hundreds of souls will be saved as a result. (And you Christian doctors can keep scraping tiny humans out of their mothers, too. Since that’s what Jesus would do…)

But when all of this stuff comes up for vote, how dare you use the law to tell others how to feel?  How dare you talk about the “marginalized” and the “oppressed” and “social justice” while ignoring the humanity and basic freedoms of an entire chunk of the public:

business-owners-with-more-sensitive-consciences-than-you?

You–who do not own the bakery or the photography business or the flower shop–you are not an honorary member of their Ethics Department.  And even though you’re absolutely, very, totally positive about what “Jesus would do,” you cannot force others to act like Him…

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