by Nathan A. Cherry
We’ve all heard of a Christian being sued for effusing to take part in a same-sex ceremony. Sure you have. There’s a baker in Colorado, a photographer in New Mexico, a florist in Washington, these are just a few of the many people being attacked by LGBT activists and the government for refusing to violate their religious convictions. (If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, click here.)
Have you ever wondered what would happen if a straight person was ‘discriminated” against by a homosexual simply for being straight, conservative, or Christian?
Wonder no more.
Not long ago Alan Sears, the president of Arizona based legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, was turned down by a photographer when asked to take a family photo for a Christmas card. Yes, the photographer decided to discriminate in order to voice opposition against discrimination.
Alliance Defending Freedom is a conservative, religious organization that seeks to defend the religious freedoms of individuals and company’s against attacks by LGBT groups and the government. In fact, they are currently representing that photographer in New Mexico I mentioned as her case makes its way to the Supreme Court. It’s a strange sort of irony that Sears is defending one photographer against discrimination charges while experiencing discrimination himself.
At this point, a same-sex couple or homosexual individual would have hired a lawyer, filed charges, alerted the press, met with Al Sharpton, and held a support meeting with GLAAD. What did Alan Sears do? He said, “That’s ok.” In a recent article Sears responded to his experience:
“We’re talking about human dignity. It violates someone’s dignity to require them to create images that violate their core beliefs. I think I’m a pretty nice guy, and my family are kind folks, but to require this woman to portray me in a loving, family-centered way that is contrary to her views and her conscience, I think it would be an act of violence against her dignity.”
What a novel approach! Rather than suing someone to make headline news for a week and further agitating tensions among people, Alan Sears said, “oh, you don’t want to take my family’s picture because it would violate your conscience and core beliefs. Sure, no problem, we’ll find someone else.”
This is a perfect picture of what tolerance should be. This is respecting the conscience and moral rights of another person with a divergent view and walking away. The idea that it is somehow “tolerant” to sue someone for a disagreement is absurd. And it is certainly not tolerant to try to force compliance among people that have a moral or religious objection to participation. Acts such as these are the height of intolerance and will ultimately reduce freedom for every person rather than securing more freedoms.
In the cases cited above, the baker, photographer, and florist all stated that their religious convictions prevent them from taking part in a same-sex ceremony. They believe that using their God-given talents to celebrate a homosexual wedding would violate their most deeply held religious convictions. The First Amendment to the Constitution protects, not just spoken speech, but any conveyance of a message. In other words, baking a cake is a form of speech and carries with is a message. Arranging flowers is a form of speech and carries with it a message. And no one can doubt that photography is a form of speech and carries a very powerful message with it. Clearly, to the logical analyst, the First Amendment protects anyone from being forced to convey a message that violates his or her religious convictions.
Incidentally, isn’t it interesting that pornography is protected under the First Amendment as “free speech” but a wedding photographer cannot use the same First Amendment to protect her religious convictions? The case from New Mexico could potentially have a positive impact on the wedding photography industry, or a negative impact on the pornography industry. Either way the case will prevent both from remaining untouched.
This incident proves once again just how “tolerant” liberals and those seeking to redefine marriage truly are. Had this been a gay couple seeking a family photo only to be turned away due to the core beliefs of the photographer, this story would have been another to make national headlines. The fact that it was a conservative being turned away in light of the photographers core beliefs means it’s no big deal. The double standard and hypocrisy is glaringly obvious and should be addressed by LGBT activists clamoring for equality. Is this their definition of equality?
Sadly, the threat is growing so rapidly that states are being forced to seek protections for religious convictions on an individual basis. In Kansas a bill has been introduced to protect people from lawsuits should they cite their religious convictions as the reason for refusing service. The bill has been described as a religious freedom measure:
“The bill would bar government sanctions when individuals, groups and businesses cite religious beliefs in refusing to recognize a marriage or civil union, or to provide goods, services, accommodations or employment benefits to a couple. Anti-discrimination lawsuits also would be barred. Individual workers and government employees also would get some protections.”
Unfortunately it appears that this bill is dead on arrival in the Kansas Senate and won’t be moved any farther this legislative session. But support is growing for such a bill in Kansas and in other states that see the writing on the wall. Tennessee has also introduced a similar bill saying they want to make sure to protect the conscience and religious freedom of businesses.
I find it sad to think that here in America we need to pass bills to protect the religious freedoms of individuals from both the government and lawsuits. But this fact should be evidence that the LGBT agenda is not merely a distorted form of equality, it is to force acceptance of their lifestyle among all Americans. If homosexuals truly wanted equality they would respect the religious freedoms of citizens in the same way Alan Sears respected the core beliefs of the photographer that did not want to photograph his family. This is true tolerance.
A very real threat to professionals in the wedding industry exists. As rogue judges strike down voter approved marriage amendments the livelihood of real people is now in jeopardy. I can’t help but wonder if and when this will happen in West Virginia now that there is a challenge to our DOMA law and our lawmakers seems uninterested in defending marriage in our state. If our lawmakers aren’t interested in protecting marriage will they be interested in protecting the religious freedoms and consciences of citizens and businesses?
No one should be forced to violate their moral or religious convictions. At times this will put people at odds with each other when they realize a difference in viewpoint exists. But that’s what makes us so wonderful – we are free to disagree. If the freedom to disagree is removed we are no longer free, we are servants to whatever authority forms arbitrary laws. Everyone, conservatives, liberals, heterosexuals and homosexuals alike should fiercely defend the right to disagree with one another and walk away with mutual respect. It’s the only thing separating us from the rest of the world.