Being Christian Doesn't Give You the Right to Discriminate

Conservatives have spent a lot of time recently asserting their right to illegally discriminate, which they like to call "religious freedom". The problem is that these conservatives seem to have different standards depending on whose rights are being discussed.

A perfect example of this issue comes from an article titled "How the far left's legal goals put everyone's freedoms at risk" recently penned by the director of the Freedom of Conscience Initiative for Alliance Defending Freedom, Jeremy Tedesco. The basis for this opinion piece is a lawsuit where Tedesco's client, Masterpiece Cakeshop, was determined to have discriminated against a same sex couple for refusing to bake them a cake for their wedding.

Tedesco believes that his clients should be able to discriminate based on their biblical belief that homosexuality is a sin despite the fact that such actions are against the law. The reality is that Masterpiece Cakeshop has the right to refuse service. They just don't have the right to do so based on who the person is. To counter this, Tedesco argues that his client is an artist and that "Like many cake artists and individuals in other artistic professions, Jack objects to artistically designing and creating cakes that celebrate things that violate his beliefs."

Unfortunately, like many other defenders of biblical bigotry, Tedesco doesn't seem to fully grasp the difference between the company's first amendment rights and discrimination. Artist or not, the cake is the product or service that his client provides. Jack and the staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop are free to refuse to make any cake they see fit. No customer can force them to make a cake they don't offer. For example, if Masterpiece Cakeshop only makes vanilla cakes, they cannot be sued for refusing to bake a chocolate cake. Having said that, if a homosexual couple and a heterosexual couple entered Masterpiece Cakeshop and requested the same cake it would be discrimination to bake that cake for the heterosexual couple but refuse to make that same cake for the homosexual couple simply because they're gay.

This is also true of wording for the cake. Masterpiece Cakeshop has the first amendment right to refuse to write anything supporting gay marriage, just as they have the right to refuse to depict bible verses or the Confederate flag. The reality is that denying service based on the service is not the same thing as denying service based on the person.

Of course beyond that, Tedesco makes no mention of the hypocrisy his client is displaying. Being gluttonous is also a sin according to the bible. Would Tedesco be willing to defend Masterpiece Cakeshop if their sincerely held religious belief was that they won't provide wedding cakes for overweight couples? Beyond that it should be noted that the bible never says gay marriage is a sin. If Masterpiece Cakeshop was following their religious tenets, they would inquire about the sexuality of all patrons before providing service. Not doing so compromises their religious beliefs and exposes how fraudulent their religious convictions really are.

Not surprisingly, like most biblical discrimination advocates, Tedesco thinks he has a situation that exposes the hypocrisy of those demanding equal treatment for all. Tedesco writes, "Suppose a fine art painter advertises to the public that he or she will make oil paintings on commission, and then a patron contacts the artist and requests that the artist paint a commissioned picture that celebrates gay marriages, and the artist refuses, saying, 'I won't do that. I don't believe that." - Is that discrimination? The answer again is no.

The artist can deny service based on the content of the service. In this case the "celebrating gay marriage" is the content and is therefore protected by the first amendment. What the painter can't refuse to do is paint a picture for a homosexual couple simply because they are homosexual. That is discrimination and that is what his client, Masterpiece Cakeshop, did and why they lost their case.

Perhaps the best way for people like Tedesco to understand the implications of the position is to ask them if they would support a bakery that refused to provide a cake for a Christian wedding that didn't include any wording, despite making that same cake for an atheist couple. If Tedesco got his way, this sort of discrimination would be perfectly legal.

In the end, the fight here is not about religious freedom. The courts have already determined what is and isn't covered, and arguments like the one presented by Jeremy Tedesco show an ignorance to the facts in order to feign oppression. The real fight is over who is protected by discrimination laws. So while Tedesco can lament adding "sexual orientation" to the protected classes of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex, his concern over "protecting only those with 'acceptable' views and permitting the government to present dissidents with a terrible choice: coerced agreement or forced silence" should fall on deaf ears since nearly every law on the books does this exact same thing.