CSM on LGBT and Conservative Christianity
July 24, 2016 6:04 PM   Subscribe

The first of a seven-part longish read article series from the Christian Science Monitor: How the push for gay rights is reshaping religious liberty in America As gay rights rapidly expand, some religious conservatives worry that their ability to live their public lives according to their faith is being swept away.

A florist caught between faith and financial ruin When a florist was forced to choose between a beloved customer, who is gay, and following her Christian convictions, she made a decision that changed lives and, perhaps, how the law will see such cases in the future.

Behind legal fight over religious liberty, a question of conscience The religious right of conscience was once a powerful legal idea. But when weighed against the right for equal treatment in recent gay rights cases, it has consistently lost ground.

In Mississippi gay rights battle, both sides feel they are losing When Mississippi passed a law defending religious liberties, it felt like overkill to LGBT residents who have virtually no protections anyway. But religious conservatives say they are trying to hold back a tide.

Is wedding photography art? A wrinkle in religious liberty debate. Can refusing to take wedding pictures for a gay couple be a free speech issue, not just a question of religious freedom? So far, courts are saying 'no.'

For those on front lines of religious liberty battle, a very human cost Conservative Christians who have gone to court rather than serve gay clients against their religious convictions have lost their cases, and in some instances, much more.

A push to help gay couples find wedding joy – without rejection Gay couples worry about rejection when they search for wedding vendors. A new suite of businesses is growing to serve them – and head off conflict.
posted by hippybear (200 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
 
some religious conservatives worry that their ability to live their public lives according to their faith is being swept away.

Matthew 6:1: Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

I think that's just about all that needs to be said on the subject.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:12 PM on July 24, 2016 [185 favorites]


To many conservative Christians, that makes America a country they no longer recognize.

They're pining for a day where they could refuse service based on their own prejudices and claim that they're doing God's work. If you want to be part of society then you have to follow society's rules. I doubt they would be ok with being on the receiving end of this treatment.
posted by bshort at 6:16 PM on July 24, 2016 [40 favorites]


The religious right of conscience was once a powerful legal idea. But when weighed against the right for equal treatment in recent gay rights cases, it has consistently lost ground.

This probably has a lot to do with the fact that the word "conscience" is not being used in these cases to mean anything related to the English definition of that word.
posted by IAmUnaware at 6:23 PM on July 24, 2016 [11 favorites]


When Mississippi passed a law defending religious liberties

[citation needed]
posted by kafziel at 6:27 PM on July 24, 2016 [8 favorites]


It's curious that in a story that the CSM headlines as being about "the push for gay rights," the piece has hardly begun before they have to add evidence of erosion of religious protections extends well beyond the context of gay rights, analysts say in order to find some specific examples, which skew quite heavily toward birth control and abortion. Those are not the first things I think about when I hear "gay rights."
posted by layceepee at 6:27 PM on July 24, 2016 [8 favorites]


“If Barronelle Stutzman is a bigot then that means that every wing of historic Christianity – Catholic, Protestant – as well as Orthodox Judaism, and Islam is bigoted,”

(From the second link)

He's engaging in a little hyperbole here, but there's some truth to the idea that many and possibly most religions are bigoted, at least in the sense that the idea that only people who adhere to their beliefs are saved. That doesn't mean that every religion or every religious person is a "burn the Witch" bigot. Just that religions themselves are based on the idea that "we are right and everyone else is wong."

The article kind of demonstrates this. Stutzman actually did have an issue with her client being gay she just could ignore that issue until his marriage. Then her belief that he wasn't the right kind of person (which is bigotry) led to her decision not to serve him.

This doesn't mean she's not a sweet old lady. It's like that old ad council commercial. "You are prejudiced because you think of him as your [gay] friend and not just your friend."
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:31 PM on July 24, 2016 [17 favorites]


I think that's just about all that needs to be said on the subject.

I’m certain that this one biblical verse will resolve all of the conflict!
posted by Going To Maine at 6:35 PM on July 24, 2016 [25 favorites]


Change is a funny thing. It's slow slow slow slow slow and somehow invisible, but then it reaches a certain critical mass and then it is perceived as both terrifying and sudden.

I believe we are living in a dangerous moment in time. It's easy to judge these people (and indeed they should be judged), but I think we should also realise that in general these are not the agitators or the opinion setters, these are ordinary people living in a bubble and currently suffering from culture shock. They are quite vulnerable to politicians and others who want to use what they are experiencing to turn back the clock.
posted by frumiousb at 6:36 PM on July 24, 2016 [43 favorites]


It's curious that in a story that the CSM headlines as being about "the push for gay rights," the piece has hardly begun before they have to add evidence of erosion of religious protections extends well beyond the context of gay rights, analysts say in order to find some specific examples, which skew quite heavily toward birth control and abortion.

Is it really that surprising? In the third link excerpt the phrase "religious right of conscience" is used, and isn't Christian Science predicated on the rejection of convential medical practices? I mean, I do understand that the CSM has a vaunted reputation for editorial independence and one presumes that these stories are scrupulously reported. But performing reportage on a topic that holds the interest of the publisher is not what I myself would term surprising.
posted by mwhybark at 6:37 PM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


It used to be ok to discriminate against people who were divorced, particularly w/r/t housing and jobs. We've moved past that and Jesus had more to day about divorce than he did about homosexuality.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:39 PM on July 24, 2016 [40 favorites]


At Christmas my father was bemoaning the fact that people "supporting the status quo" with regard to trans bathroom access were being described as bigots "simply for supporting the status quo." It was all I could do not to scream, "you grew up with legal segregation! How can you not see how the status quo can be bigoted?" That's all I can think when I see these kind of "but then wouldn't we all be bigots?" arguments, yeah we might all be bigots, how can you not realize that?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:42 PM on July 24, 2016 [89 favorites]


yeah we might all be bigots

QFT
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:48 PM on July 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


A florist caught between faith and financial ruin

There is absolutely nothing in the Bible about refusing to do business with sinners or unbelievers. Nor is there anything in the standards for doing business that says that if you provide flowers for someone's wedding, you must wish them well, tell them that you approve of their marriage, and send them on with your personal blessing. You just deliver the flowers. That's all you have to do, and there is absolutely nothing in the Bible or in traditional Christian practice that prevents this.

So now we're getting to the question: Do we continue to treat everything as genuinely-held religious beliefs even if these practices have been recently invented and just happen to be in accord with the personal prejudices of the alleged believer? Because if that starts to be the case, I'm going to develop a whole host of new genuinely-held religious beliefs, let me tell you.
posted by Sequence at 6:50 PM on July 24, 2016 [134 favorites]


Hey, tell me again, which religion is it that requires it's followers to own a business?
Where in the bible, or any other holy book, is commerce with "sinners" prohibited? Why is selling someone some fucking flowers tantamount to approving of whoever they marry?

So sick of these fucking crybaby conservatives. Wah, I don't my flowers being used in a gay wedding. Fine, don't sell flowers. No one is making you do it.
posted by blairsyprofane at 6:52 PM on July 24, 2016 [38 favorites]


bigot (n.)
1590s, "sanctimonious person, religious hypocrite," from French bigot (12c.), which is of unknown origin
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 6:54 PM on July 24, 2016 [8 favorites]


I don't understand how they're able to to argue that discriminating against gay people is religious liberty without also discriminating against people who have done other things they think sinful: Do they also refuse to provide flowers for people who are cohabiting? Do they withhold cake from felons? Do they refuse to do family portraits for anyone who doesn't tithe? etc. It seems like if you want this to even plausibly look like exercise of religion then there would need to be some internal consistency: We don't serve people who commit sins level 5 or higher. Here are a list of sins my faith holds to be above level 5.

I mean it would probably make most of these businesses go under to cut out all the sinners as possible customers (not to mention likely boycotts from even the non-level 5 sinners who know and love them) but you're committed to your faith, right?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:55 PM on July 24, 2016 [48 favorites]


Former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran wrote a Bible-study book in his free time that reflected his faith’s teaching about homosexuality. City officials decided the booklet was offensive and intolerant. They fired him.

Wait, what? They fired a guy for a book he wrote in his free time? That's not right. That can't be the whole story.

Attorneys for the City of Atlanta said Mr. Cochran was fired because he failed to get the required permission from a city ethics officer before he wrote a book that could be sold commercially.

The requirement is in the city’s Code of Ordinances, and says department heads cannot engage in “private employment” or “render any services for private interests for remuneration” without obtaining prior, written approval from the board of ethics.

and

Cochran's suspension came after some of Cochran's employees complained about internal distribution of his self-published book.


Oh, so he violated the regulations of his job, and was distributing bigoted religious materials to his subordinates. Why is it "their ability to live their public lives according to their faith" means playing by their own rules and trying to interfere in the lives of others? Religious freedom is the freedom to practice your own religion, not impose it on others.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:59 PM on July 24, 2016 [81 favorites]


So now we're getting to the question: Do we continue to treat everything as genuinely-held religious beliefs even if these practices have been recently invented and just happen to be in accord with the personal prejudices of the alleged believer? Because if that starts to be the case, I'm going to develop a whole host of new genuinely-held religious beliefs, let me tell you.

Because of stuff like this, I'm kind of looking forward to the inevitable trials about these laws. Even if the idea of a religious exemption is considered to be ok a priori, the florist's team would still have to prove that a) there is a set of religious beliefs that command the florist to deny service to a gay person, and b) that the florist actually subscribes to that set of religious beliefs. I don't think anyone in the country will be able to meet both of those requirements, if even one, never mind defining what a "sincerely held religious belief" is in the first place such that I can't just make something up the day before opening my shop.
posted by LionIndex at 6:59 PM on July 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


I don't know why someone is asking for a citation here for something they google in 6 seconds, But here I spose? Am I missing some ironic in-joke?
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:03 PM on July 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


The joke is to doubt whether it's really "defending religious liberties."
posted by RobotHero at 7:07 PM on July 24, 2016 [16 favorites]


NOW I GET IT. Thank you. I'm laughing. Oh god how did I not see that.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:09 PM on July 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


From the referenced Mississippi house bill 1523
The sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the belief or conviction that:
I've made this argument before, but once they're making a list of which specific religious beliefs are protected, does that count as the establishment of a state religion?
posted by RobotHero at 7:14 PM on July 24, 2016 [31 favorites]


Well the federal judge who struck it down found that it inappropriately favored some religious beliefs over others in violation of the Establishment Clause.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:20 PM on July 24, 2016 [15 favorites]


Oh, so he violated the regulations of his job

Folks complain about employers finding excuses to fire them and thus discriminate; violating the regulations of one’s job can often be an excuse for discrimination - ah! you violated this niche rule, so now we’ve got you. In the case of this chief, I find it plausible (on first blush) that he wrote up his bigoted pamphlet and got fired for the printing issue when -for printing up and distributing a less-charged pamphlet- it would have been a slap on the wrist.

How do we distinguish these things? The systematic prejudice against QUILTBAG folks and POC makes it easy to assume said prejudice. But in a hot-button political atmosphere it feels hard to trust that.

This surely treads close to JAQ territory, but I find such distinctions difficult.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:20 PM on July 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think this is all because L..G...B.T..Q being who they are and showing who they love violates an inalienable religious liberty of others to not have to feel grossed out by stuff they don't understand, right? I've been looking for that in Bill of Rights but I can't find it anywhere. Maybe it's on the back or something.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:23 PM on July 24, 2016 [21 favorites]


It's actually quite important and not a triviality that a public servant in a position of authority like a police chief get the proper permission and make the proper disclosures before receiving pay from outside sources.

And if he was handing out anti-gay material at work, to his subordinates, well, that pretty much obliterates any line one might hope to draw between private beliefs and one's job.
posted by praemunire at 7:26 PM on July 24, 2016 [33 favorites]


Remember that thing James Madison wrote for the Constitution of the United States? Article VI No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Perhaps We the People need to demand an Article that states "No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any service in a publicly or privately held business in the United States."
posted by pjsky at 7:27 PM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is a very real issue. I've had one friend demoted from a job for refusing to implement a gay- and trans-skewed education curriculum under the guise of anti-bullying. This friend likely will be fired soon. It's a pretty big deal to this friend's family and the entire institution this person's built up and the circle of people curated to work there.

You can say, "Yeah, haha, good, fuck that person." Fine. But people have conscience rights. They had them before there were such things as gay and trans rights. And the Constitution does protect conscience rights--not to be compelled to speak or act.

So there is a very real conflict between two broad federal constitutional rights, one not easily waived away with, "well I'm right and they're wrong," at least not without doing further violence to our Constitution.
posted by resurrexit at 7:37 PM on July 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


The violence against either one of these groups is something that is worth discussing without being dismissive of either side. I have Strong Opinions about which side is right and which side is wrong, but I do think it's worth recognizing that both sides feel their lives and rights are being violated depending which side of the teeter-totter has the most weight in our culture.
posted by hippybear at 7:40 PM on July 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


What does "gay and trans skewed" mean.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:41 PM on July 24, 2016 [79 favorites]


And the Constitution does protect conscience rights--not to be compelled to speak or act.

(a) vis-a-vis the government, not vis-a-vis your employer generally;

(b) does your friend also claim the right to discriminate against black people at their job? Because go back hardly a century and white supremacy was absolutely viewed by many as effectively a tenet of Christianity. There is no meaningful difference in this context between refusing to sell flowers for a gay wedding and for an interracial wedding. So, is your friend down with that idea, too?

Your friend will get their reward in heaven, if God really is as monstrous as they think.
posted by praemunire at 7:42 PM on July 24, 2016 [51 favorites]


It was anti-bullying material specifically implemented to teach elementary children about homosexuality and transgender issues.
posted by resurrexit at 7:42 PM on July 24, 2016


Let me recommend the excellent Fred Clark on among other things, religious justifications for segregation.

The "religious liberty" argument has been used before.
posted by persona au gratin at 7:42 PM on July 24, 2016 [11 favorites]


Not just in the good old days, but there are still people who believe that interracial marriage violates God's will or something.

These people have to be legally coerced to, say, allow a mixed-race couple to book a room at their hotel, even if it means running roughshod over their sincerely held religious beliefs.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:42 PM on July 24, 2016 [12 favorites]




And the Constitution does protect conscience rights--not to be compelled to speak or act.

But as we've been seeing, "Freedom to not be compelled to speak/act" doesn't mesh very well with "Job which requires specific things spoken/acted". Jehovah's Witness nurses & blood transfusions. Christian Science pharmacists & contraception. Quaker infantrypeople & killing. Etc, etc.

I'm really curious what "a gay and trans skewed education curriculum" could possibly look like in this environment, but I have no problem with education instructors speech being proscribed in narrowly specific contexts. I'm sure that an Aryan Nation history instructor would feel that it's an abridgment of their conscience rights to be forced to teach an honest account of the Holocaust, but if it's that important to them, then their beliefs are incompatible with the job.
posted by CrystalDave at 7:44 PM on July 24, 2016 [29 favorites]


It was anti-bullying material specifically implemented to teach elementary children about homosexuality and transgender issues.

And why does that qualify as skewed. You answered what the material was factually about.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:45 PM on July 24, 2016 [48 favorites]


The racial criticism of racist American Christians is legitimate; it was deeply wrong to wrap racism--a weirdly American issue--in the pages of a religious book. And Christians are paying the price for that sin now. Sort of like crying wolf, I guess. There is now a fundamental threat to traditional Christians' religious liberty in the form of the advance of the sexual revolution to the point of fundamental rights. But to a lot of people, hey, we've already heard that argument before. And so now an elderly woman florist who doesn't want to celebrate or assist in the solemnization of a gay wedding is basically no different than a Klansman.
posted by resurrexit at 7:50 PM on July 24, 2016


Let me also say that some of the most devout Christians I know are gay. And married. Including my former priest. These are serious followers of Jesus.

I pray Christianity purges itself of this bigotry. As I do with many other areas of life, I'm hopeful because of what I see in the younger generations.
posted by persona au gratin at 7:51 PM on July 24, 2016 [17 favorites]


As I do with many other areas of life, I'm hopeful because of what I see in the younger generations.

But we have to wait for elderly florists to die before it really takes hold.
posted by hippybear at 7:53 PM on July 24, 2016 [12 favorites]


And so now an elderly woman florist who doesn't want to celebrate or assist in the solemnization of a gay wedding is basically no different than a Klansman.

That is correct.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:54 PM on July 24, 2016 [95 favorites]


She is using a distorted interpretation of her religious text to justify her bigotry.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:55 PM on July 24, 2016 [24 favorites]


Skewed would be mandatory gender transition for all students and only gay dating allowed, which nobody asks for because it would be blatantly forcing kids to live genders and love in ways that are not right for them. One side does want to make that sort of imposition: the religious side.
posted by idiopath at 7:56 PM on July 24, 2016 [50 favorites]


I'm sure that an Aryan Nation history instructor would feel that it's an abridgment of their conscience rights to be forced to teach an honest account of the Holocaust, but if it's that important to them, then their beliefs are incompatible with the job.

But we're not talking about some fringe lunatic beliefs here; the OP is specifically about traditional--as in believed everywhere by everyone in our American society up until very, very recently--Christianity. Many people still hold those beliefs about sexuality, the nature of the human person, etc. These aren't some faddish whims of a place and time like the Jim Crow Southern US. They're wide-ranging, foundational elements of beliefs beyond mere US borders.

So I get what you're saying, but the This is different than the That.
posted by resurrexit at 7:58 PM on July 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


And so now an elderly woman florist who doesn't want to celebrate or assist in the solemnization of a gay wedding is basically no different than a Klansman.

And if you show up at a hotel on your honeymoon, your reservation isn't nuked from orbit because in the receptionist's eyes you shouldn't exist.

Also medical care.

Do you have a short list of what services you wish your friend could withhold from queer people, or is it only the right to an education and to buy flowers?
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:58 PM on July 24, 2016 [65 favorites]


hippybear: great post btw! Maybe. I'm heartened by the amazing advances in LGBTQ rights in the last decade. Here in CA 8 years ago! we took away marriage equality. Now we are here.

Maybe we can set things to rights so the florist will be around to see it.
posted by persona au gratin at 7:58 PM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


There is now a fundamental threat to traditional Christians' religious liberty in the form of the advance of the sexual revolution to the point of fundamental rights.

Based on what? Where in Christian doctrine does not providing services for somebody based on their perceived sinfulness come up?
posted by LionIndex at 7:59 PM on July 24, 2016 [23 favorites]


Maybe we can set things to rights so the florist will be around to see it.

The florist doesn't want to see it. That's the point of these articles, really.
posted by hippybear at 8:00 PM on July 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


And so now an elderly woman florist who doesn't want to celebrate or assist in the solemnization of a gay wedding is basically no different than a Klansman.

That is correct.

That is not correct. If we can’t differentiate between such extreme degrees of bigotry, we have a problem. That doesn’t put either in the right, but it does change the nature of their wrong.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:00 PM on July 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


hippybear: you'll like that Fred Clark post I linked, I suspect.
posted by persona au gratin at 8:00 PM on July 24, 2016


I just tried to conjure the words as to how said elderly florist would be marginally different than said hypothetical, average Klansman and have basically decided that the difference would place her somewhere around dues-paying-but-maybe-not-kerosene-cross-constructing members and/or Klan-parade-spectator-that-nods-approvingly so it's really not a difference that's worthy of note in my book so why am I trying to make excuses, even marginal ones, for hatred and persecution in the first place.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:02 PM on July 24, 2016 [33 favorites]


in the form of the advance of the sexual revolution

Advances in the scientific understanding of how our bodies work have happened, just like in every other field of study, but like, queer people existed since the dawn of time before those advances in our understandings were made.

So if I read this right...in a way what you're saying is, it's a problem for LGBT people to now be asking for the same expectation of implicit rights that straight people have always enjoyed, even though both straight and queer people have existed since..the literal beginning of our species.

Why is that a problem?
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:02 PM on July 24, 2016 [46 favorites]


I'm not sure how different refusing to provide flowers for a wedding is from refusing service at a lunch counter other than she was happy to sell them flowers (food) for anything that wasn't their wedding.
posted by hippybear at 8:03 PM on July 24, 2016 [15 favorites]


the OP is specifically about traditional--as in believed everywhere by everyone in our American society up until very, very recently--Christianity

American society has never been a monolith, and it has DEFINITELY never been a Christian monolith. Characterizing "traditional" Christianity as fundamental to the American experience is straightforwardly inaccurate. If that's the assumption you're starting from, you need to back way the heck up and refresh your memory of this continent's history.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:04 PM on July 24, 2016 [78 favorites]


No, she is as prejudiced as a Klansman. Even though she is a woman, and elderly, and a florist. Which of those things means she's not prejudiced?

It certainly is worth distinguishing between being as prejudiced as a Klansman, and as violent as a Klansman. I do not suggest that refusing to sell flowers should have the same penalties as lynching. That's the difference.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:06 PM on July 24, 2016 [42 favorites]


"Older people's bigotry was deeply wrong, but my bigotry is a fundamental belief that must be protected."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:06 PM on July 24, 2016 [43 favorites]


As you all know I'm pretty freakin' Christian. But what bothers me about the refusal to serve gay couples, etc., is that in American culture, the right to practice one's religion has always, always been intimately tied up in the right to retreat from civil society. The Amish, for example, are exempted from social security because they reject all of the benefits of social security. The more extreme end of free practice rights, where they conflict with civil society's rules, have always been recognized as a right to totally refuse to participate, not as a right to do whatever the fuck you want and still participate in general civil society.

Illinois has some lawsuits pending from the Christian bakers and venue-providers who want to refuse gay couples but still be regular businesses otherwise. To me, if they want to refuse to provide services to citizens of this state because they happen to be gay and engaging in legal gay marriage, well, whatever, that's their dumb business decision. BUT the many benefits the state provides private businesses -- from roads to incorporation to limits on personal liability to the right to sue those who dine and dash to the ability to enforce private contracts in public courts -- should be rescinded from those businesses that refuse to do business with all citizens of the state (whose rights are protected by law). The state's not actually here to provide you with a beneficial business climate; it's here to serve and protect and promote the interests of its citizens. If you want to refuse gay business, you can withdraw from civil society, as religious minorities in the US have done since its founding, and you can refuse to participate in the protections civil society provides for commerce. You can operate in the happy libertarian world where your word is your bond and your ability to strongarm people is the limit of your ability to enforce promises of payment or performance. And if that works out for you, great! And if it doesn't, you can access the courts the state has established for the convenience of its citizens at exactly the moment when you start providing equal access to your services for all citizens of the state. PROBLEM SOLVED.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:07 PM on July 24, 2016 [162 favorites]


But we're not talking about some fringe lunatic beliefs here; the OP is specifically about traditional--as in believed everywhere by everyone in our American society up until very, very recently--Christianity.

Everywhere? By everyone? No.


No.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:08 PM on July 24, 2016 [45 favorites]


Narrative Priorities, I'm speaking solely about the touch points of conflict in the OP--obviously this means the issues of marriage and the nature of the human person. Of course I'm not asserting total doctrinal alignment across Christian denominations. But no Christians anywhere, America or elsewhere, strayed far afield on those issues until very recently. That's all I intended.
posted by resurrexit at 8:09 PM on July 24, 2016


"Traditional" Christianity would actually be full-on Catholicism, as the Lutherian schism is a relatively recent development across the 2000+ year history of the church. And that's not what the first waves of white settlers who created the US were, really. (We'll leave out the Spaniard migrants for the sake of this arguments, as is typical in most discussions of Who Settled America.)

From my understanding, the early waves of US settlers were religious minority fundamentalists who were so extreme that their home countries couldn't stand them anymore so they shipped them off to the frontier of a new continent. Correct me if I'm wrong.

We still live with the legacy of those attitudes today.
posted by hippybear at 8:09 PM on July 24, 2016 [13 favorites]


Eyebrows: even the Amish are bound by the 14th Amendment, right?
posted by persona au gratin at 8:09 PM on July 24, 2016


as in believed everywhere by everyone in our American society up until very, very recently--

Man my generations of atheist-and-Native-American-and-otherwise-religiously-lackadaisical American ancestors are super-surprised right now.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:10 PM on July 24, 2016 [41 favorites]


These aren't some faddish whims of a place and time like the Jim Crow Southern US

Dude you are not even pretending to argue in good faith here anymore.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:11 PM on July 24, 2016 [50 favorites]


That's exactly what the OP is about--I can't actually "argue" at all anymore without being presumed to be in bad faith. OP is good and worthy of reading; my thoughts are not. Night, all.
posted by resurrexit at 8:13 PM on July 24, 2016


Oh, yeah! I get it now, they are specifically narrowing the frame down to goddless queers wanting to barge in on their jesus marriage. We all actually get satan married so we should be good to go. Glad I could clear that up for everyone. Next thread!
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:13 PM on July 24, 2016 [12 favorites]


You compared a century of violence and discrimination to a "faddish whim" which is a shit thing to say, it wouldn't matter what religion you were.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:17 PM on July 24, 2016 [74 favorites]


resurrexit, it's interesting you bring up trans and same-sex issues as part of an anti-bullying program. We had a manufactured controversy about this very thing in Australia last year! (manufactured because the vast majority of parents and schools didn't care).

One rationale for the inclusion of same-sex and trans issues into our Safe Schools program was that, for trans or same-sex attracted kids, our schools are in fact anything but safe: the data demonstrates that these kids receiving more bullying and harrassment, and at a higher intensity, than other children. And they are grossly over-represented in statistics on youth mental health and suicide.

Even our reactionary, right wing government - despite the vocal criticisms of some of its most privileged members (old white men? How did you guess!), had to acknowledge the program was sound and healthy. Your "friend" should be fired: they are incapable of performing their job, and it's coming at the expense of the mental health and physical wellbeing of their charges - there is a duty of care here, and they are eschewing it, because their beliefs are more important than the safety of children.

FFS.

I won't even get into your completely ahistorical rendering of Christianity and its history. tl;dr lots of people have believed in different types of nonsense at different times in history for a variety of wacky reason - this anti homo/transphobic shit is just as mediated and shaped by the broader culture as any of the other type. When that nonsense hurts people, the state has an obligation to step in.
posted by smoke at 8:23 PM on July 24, 2016 [91 favorites]


But performing reportage on a topic that holds the interest of the publisher is not what I myself would term surprising.

Curiously, I have just noticed that the original commenter I sought dialog with used the word "curiously," not "surprisingly," and that I appear to have responded to the comment based on a sort of, well, curious, dyslexia in which the actual word inscribed by my interlocutor has been replaced in my perception by an entirely different partial synonym. I regret the error, which is mine alone.
posted by mwhybark at 8:23 PM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


"But everyone believes (or believed) this" is a weak justification for bigotry. It puts you on the side of slave-holders and societies that believed husbands couldn't rape their wives. It should be a sign to any thinking person that you're on the wrong path.
posted by Mavri at 8:25 PM on July 24, 2016 [43 favorites]


Attorneys for the City of Atlanta said Mr. Cochran was fired because he failed to get the required permission from a city ethics officer before he wrote a book that could be sold commercially.

The requirement is in the city’s Code of Ordinances, and says department heads cannot engage in “private employment” or “render any services for private interests for remuneration” without obtaining prior, written approval from the board of ethics.


Sorry, this is as bullshit as the time it was used in Canada back in 2006: Minister stops book talk by Environment Canada scientist. It was the same bullshit logic too: we don't like something you did on your own free time, so as your employer, we're going to go after you for it because we own every part of your life.

Mr. Cochran may be a bigoted jerk, which can be a firing offense, he can be a bigoted jerk proselytizing to his co-workers, also a firing offense, but don't fire him for the thing he really does have a right for: producing religious works on this own time. Even if they are sanctimonious doggerel. Because employers don't own you, they just rent your time. And that's true for religious conservatives or climate change researchers.
posted by bonehead at 8:41 PM on July 24, 2016 [15 favorites]


I feel the same way about marijuana laws. Even though I live in a state where pot is legal, my employer can still demand I pee in a cup and be fired if the results of the test are not to their liking. Even if I smoked on a Friday afternoon and didn't come in to work until Monday morning.
posted by hippybear at 8:44 PM on July 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


frontier of a new continent. Correct me if I'm wrong.

The dutch were cool. I got this book from the library and literally* inhaled it.

* sorry
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 8:49 PM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


and literally* inhaled it.

You're lucky your employer can't test for that. :P
posted by hippybear at 8:50 PM on July 24, 2016 [9 favorites]


I'm reminded of two phenomena I believe to exist.

First, if you live a socially filtered life, perhaps interacting almost exclusively with people of similar social beliefs, you may well miss the gradual change of culture. In other words, if you don't interact much with the larger society you may be shocked and frightened by what appears to be a dramatic change in attitudes towards LGBT people when, in reality, it's been gradually happening over several decades. Put more bluntly, if you're being forced to operate outside of your conservative religious bubble after a long period of isolation the world is going to look very different than what you're used to seeing.

Second, I really do think it to be true that if you're used to living a privileged existence the sudden onset of equality feels like oppression.

I guess what I'm saying is that despite being on the receiving end of a lot of cultural shit, thanks to being gay, I'm trying to give folks the benefit of trying to understand why they feel the way they do. In my experience most people(*) are like oobleck, they resist if you push too hard but often yield to the gentle approach.

(*) There are always exceptions, of course.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 8:51 PM on July 24, 2016 [16 favorites]


what appears to be a dramatic change in attitudes towards LGBT people when, in reality, it's been gradually happening over several decades

Ellen DeGeneres comes out. 1997

Matthew Shepard is hung on a fence and left to die. Gains national attention and sympathy. 1998

These two events set the US on the path toward HAVING to acknowledge the LGBT people in their midst.

There's been a lot of other touchstone moments along the way, but these two events were pretty singular in causing the social change in the US culture.

A lot of battles had been fought (and lost or won) in the previous 3 decades (Stonewall was in 1969), but much of the gay culture was content with living outside of or in parallel to the mainstream culture for a long time.

But these two events, it felt to me (I came out in 1990), were total game changing events for mainstream US culture. Things have snowballed over the ~20 years since then. And here is where we stand today.

Where is our Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)? Still not passed by Congress. We remain unequal beings in the light of Federal law. But we've made a lot of progress. Even if we can't necessarily buy flowers from our favorite florist.
posted by hippybear at 9:00 PM on July 24, 2016 [15 favorites]


traditional--as in believed everywhere by everyone in our American society up until very, very recently--Christianity

This is one of the most narrow minded and offensive and flat out wrong statements I've seen on this site in YEARS.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:01 PM on July 24, 2016 [65 favorites]


Freedom From Religion is all I want
posted by monkeymike at 9:02 PM on July 24, 2016 [21 favorites]


Because religion isn't about spirituality, it's about tribalism. It's a way to form bonds between non related people and we evolved it because our social structure got too complicated for the family groups of other apes. Religion is fundamentally incompatible with tolerance and diversity, it's all about conformity and giving disparate unrelated people a way to form kinship bonds.
posted by fshgrl at 9:14 PM on July 24, 2016 [19 favorites]


a century of violence and discrimination

Three blood-soaked centuries, with the entire course of American history warped around it. Merely counting to the formal end of Jim Crow, that is. Calling it a "faddish whim" is just...incomprehensible.

Mr. Cochran may be a bigoted jerk, which can be a firing offense, he can be a bigoted jerk proselytizing to his co-workers, also a firing offense, but don't fire him for the thing he really does have a right for: producing religious works on this own time.

There is also a very serious concern about maintaining both the appearance and the reality that a public servant is able and willing to serve all the public, without discriminating. I hate to use the analogy so often because I'm aware there are problems with it, but I doubt many people on this forum would have a problem with a police chief who had published a book on supposed inherent black genetic inferiority losing his job. How could you possibly trust such a person, being paid to protect and serve the public, to protect and serve all the public? Yes, this needs to be implemented thoughtfully and with restraint, but it's not an absurd expectation to have of high-ranking public employees in particular.
posted by praemunire at 9:21 PM on July 24, 2016 [17 favorites]


Those poor bigots.
posted by adept256 at 9:29 PM on July 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Religion is fundamentally incompatible with tolerance and diversity, it's all about conformity and giving disparate unrelated people a way to form kinship bonds.

Can we please not add the evo psych blanket dismissal of religion to this thread?
posted by teponaztli at 9:29 PM on July 24, 2016 [16 favorites]


"But we're not talking about some fringe lunatic beliefs here; the OP is specifically about traditional--as in believed everywhere by everyone in our American society up until very, very recently--Christianity. Many people still hold those beliefs about sexuality, the nature of the human person, etc. These aren't some faddish whims of a place and time like the Jim Crow Southern US. They're wide-ranging, foundational elements of beliefs beyond mere US borders. "

I'm really having a hard time parsing this. Those "faddish whims" of the Jim Crow South were based on slavery written into the Constitution -- what makes them faddish?

As for the first part, here's a list of the Oldest Jewish Congregations in the United States. You'll note how many predate the founding of the Republic itself. And, really, prior to World War II, the US's more-or-less official self-definition of Christianity excluded a whole awful lot of Christians, including Catholics, who were subjected to state-sponsored attempts to convert them to the RIGHT forms of Christianity, so talking about how "everyone" believed certain Christian beliefs is wildly problematic, because today's largest Christian denomination -- nearly 70 million Catholics, compared to less than 20 million Southern Baptists, the next-largest denomination -- weren't even considered Christian.

(Fun fact, the oldest mosque in the US was in North Dakota (of all places) and founded in 1929. Reform Judaism has its roots in South Carolina. Even progressive Methodism's roots come in rural and frequently Southern bits of the US that you really wouldn't, these days, think of as progressive. The past is a fascinating place!)

That said, I don't buy this either: "Religion is fundamentally incompatible with tolerance and diversity" given that the history of the Civil Rights struggle in the US is the history of the Black churches and their religious allies. Without religion in the US you just don't have an abolitionist movement and you just don't have a Civil Rights movement and if your current church isn't a hotbed of progressive politics and subversive tolerance and deliberate diversity, well, you're kinda going to the wrong sort of church. I mean who am I to judge and shit, whatever, but you're going to the wrong sort of church with the wrong sort of resident Jesus, if he's not flipping the fucking tables and driving protesters into the street full of righteous rage at injustice, it's probably the wrong Jesus.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:29 PM on July 24, 2016 [85 favorites]


There is also a very serious concern about maintaining both the appearance and the reality that a public servant is able and willing to serve all the public, without discriminating.

So fire him for that. Don't use a craptacular rule-bend, like "you made money by publishing a book we own the rights to".

Codes of conduct are common for many jobs, including the job I have now. Many civil servants have these, teachers being one of the biggest examples. If this is what he's guilty of fire him for this.

Conflict of interest codes can be used to ensure that outside work (typically consulting) doesn't interfere with the perception or reality of conflict with performance of the job. I've had co-workers disciplined for taking work, even owning investments they should not have.

That's not the same thing as "we own everything about you, every idea you think or line write down" clauses. Even if the "we" is the taxpayers and the "you" are public servants.

That's the two-faced nonsense inherent in this. If he's done wrong, fire him for what he's done wrong. Call him out publicly for being a bigot, then fire him for it, based on professional misconduct.
posted by bonehead at 9:33 PM on July 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


That's the two-faced nonsense inherent in this.'

The two-faced nonsense in this is that in a majority of US states, someone who is in a relationship with someone of the same sex (whether it be long-term or casual) can be fired if that sexual activity is discovered, and they have zero legal recourse for their firing.
posted by hippybear at 9:38 PM on July 24, 2016 [14 favorites]


That said, I don't buy this either: "Religion is fundamentally incompatible with tolerance and diversity" given that the history of the Civil Rights struggle in the US is the history of the Black churches and their religious allies.

Right. A common religion allowed people with disparate backgrounds and experiences to see each other as equals and allies. That's what religion does. I'm not saying it's all bad but religion itself is ultimately a group of people who think they are right about same pretty fundamental stuff vs that other group over there that is wrong about the same stuff. It's not like religion is the only way people identify but ultimately a truly modern democracy requires people in it to all see each other as equals. I don't know if we'll ever get there or stay there if we do. Under stress people revert to splintering into groups and they will change a lot of things about themselves to do so.
posted by fshgrl at 9:39 PM on July 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


The whole framing of "religious liberty" is annoying and needs to be taken apart.

People respond to the story of a harmless loner taking on the establishment. Thus these stories are carefully framed as some poor florist who just want to be religious.

The thing is, the florist is not alone. In many of these cases they have the state legislature and the governor behind them. And that means they have the majority of the local population, the chief of police, their friends and pastors, the other florists. These are cases of discrimination against a minority, by the majority.

That's the problem with the libertarian defense of discrimination: the victims can't just go to another florist. Majority discrimination can easily be such that the minority can't get services anywhere except maybe in their own neighborhood.

I have sympathy for religious people, but I don't think homophobia is religious. (And I think most denominations will jettison it in a generation or two.)
posted by zompist at 9:44 PM on July 24, 2016 [32 favorites]


I'm still wondering where the advances in the sexual revolution are happening that were brought up earlier in the thread. I already scour babeland and autostraddle and thought I was up on the latest.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:47 PM on July 24, 2016 [11 favorites]


It was anti-bullying material specifically implemented to teach elementary children about homosexuality and transgender issues.

So she's about to be fired for refusing to teach children that queer and trans* folks are real humans with all the rights that go along with that?

Good. She SHOULD be fired for refusing to do her godsdamned job. If she wants to teach according to her religious views, she can go teach at a school that is run by people with those same views.

That goes for everyone else whining about their "religious liberties". You don't get to trample on everyone else's rights because your supernatural friend says so. Do your job or GTFO.
posted by MissySedai at 9:47 PM on July 24, 2016 [51 favorites]


That's exactly what the OP is about--I can't actually "argue" at all anymore without being presumed to be in bad faith.

Uh, it's not the fact that you are arguing; it's that your argument is so ludicrously weak that it's very hard to believe you honestly hold that view.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:03 PM on July 24, 2016 [29 favorites]


if he's not flipping the fucking tables and driving protesters into the street full of righteous rage at injustice, it's probably the wrong Jesus.
I actually got goosebumps reading that bit, Eyebrows!
posted by Harald74 at 10:21 PM on July 24, 2016 [8 favorites]


That's exactly what the OP is about--I can't actually "argue" at all anymore without being presumed to be in bad faith.

Actually trying to help rather than pile on, you might think about the language you use. Your writing in this thread reads to me as terribly loaded, which is hardly indicative of good faith, though I expect it might just be the jargon you're used to in whatever your community is.

I mean, " a gay- and trans-skewed education curriculum under the guise of anti-bullying" is not the language of good faith, even if those are the preferred terms inside your community. At least, as long as what you mean by that is "a curriculum that exhorts students not to treat gay or trans people worse than straight or cis people." If that's what you mean, you should say that rather than seeming to expect people outside your community to accept the loaded terms your community thinks are the acceptable ways to refer to things.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:57 PM on July 24, 2016 [50 favorites]


Religion is fundamentally incompatible with tolerance and diversity, it's all about conformity and giving disparate unrelated people a way to form kinship bonds.

Depends on the religion. If one's only experience is with monotheistic faiths that follow a book, it'd be easy to believe that; poly- and pantheistic religions, especially those without a specific pack of writings that are "the only true scriptures," tend to be more open. The religion itself may be about finding community and kinship, which does indeed require some kinds of conformity*, but that doesn't connect to any requirement to be intolerant of outsiders, other than declaring, "they are not of our people; they do not worship our gods."

* The conformity required by some Pagan sects is near-imperceptible to outsiders.

That said, the problem here isn't whether religion (or: the religion in question, US evangelical Christianity) is inherently intolerant, but whether people have mistaken their community standards for religious ones.

The bible says thieves are sinners, too--and unlike gay sex, there's a commandment about that--but I don't notice many Christian businesses refusing to sell to convicted thieves, or refusing to rent to them, or denying them the chance to adopt children or visit their partners in the hospital.

I could dredge up bible verses and get into the debate about whether or not the bible actually forbids gay sex as we know it--but that's secondary. I'll grant that people believe it does, and I am not enough of a hypocrite to claim that someone else's religion "is really" what I, an outsider, think it would be by a strict reading of the text. However, inasmuch as they do admit their bias is based on religion... why should they be allowed to discriminate?

Can I, a Pagan, insist that "the stars are aligned this month" so that I cannot do business with Scorpios? Can I rent houses, but insist that once a month I will perform a full moon blessing on the properties, and make that twice a month, full and new, for Christian renters who "disturb the energies?" Can I insist that all land belongs to Mother Goddess Gaia, and therefore I am allowed to sleep in other people's yards because I have the blessing of the Goddess?

They want to refuse to distribute birth control pills - are they okay with vegan Pagans refusing to sell meat, and not losing their jobs? Are they okay with Muslim pharmacists refusing to distribute insulin made from pig serum?

The question isn't, "do we have religious freedoms," but "where religious convictions clash with other people's legal rights, where do we draw the line?" And I've found that Christians who want to insist on "their religious rights" to discriminate, are usually appalled at the idea of granting the same level of rights to other religions.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:34 PM on July 24, 2016 [44 favorites]


I think one problem with "the Florist is not a Klansman" approach is that the Klansman (or the virulent misogynist or the murderous transphobe or whatever) is not some kind of unique monster separated from community and humanity; he is an extreme example of hate and bigotry enabled and emboldened by "nice people" in the community whose "everyday" hate and intolerance give him the comforting illusion that he's "just doing what everyone would do if they had a chance." The Florist, by expressing her bigotry, does take part in the more physical bigotry of her more extreme bretheran; she's just politer.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:46 PM on July 24, 2016 [52 favorites]


Resurrexit, does your friend live in Washington State? We here have a new health and wellness curriculum that includes teachings about gender and sexual identity, and which has been widely and poorly described as "teaching transgenderism to kindergarteners." (Let's ignore for the moment the fact that that sentence doesn't even make any sense.)

I live in Washington State. I have a child entering kindergarten next year. I have reviewed this new curriculum. And what the instructional goals are for kindergarten are . . . basically they are just "There are a lot of different ways to express gender. You have to be kind to everyone." That continues essentially unchanged, but with deeper cognitive skills required (discuss vs. understand vs. explain, that sort of thing) until you get to middle school, where they add "Students will identify people in their community whom they can talk to about questions they may have regarding their own gender identity." In high school they add specific information on transgender topics, including the difference between biological sex and gender and the various influences on gender expression and roles. And that's literally it! I have talked to so many people who are upset about this, and not one of them is willing to tell me what it is they're so upset about. It's like they're mad as hell that the schools are saying "trans people exist, and you have to be nice to everyone." That's not consistent with the Christianity I know.
posted by KathrynT at 12:59 AM on July 25, 2016 [53 favorites]


I am one of those feared and hated godless liberals who wishes that every single President would strike "God bless the United States of America" from every speech from here on out, get the word "God" off of our money, take God out of the Pledge, drop Bible swearing from courtroom procedure and inaugurations, etc. etc. I nearly had an aneurysm listening to Ben Carson at the RNC the other night. And in my life I have often been guilty of painting all of the devout Christian conservatives with a broad brush--they're close-minded, intolerant, angry, spiteful, uneducated, whatever.

But I'm much older and wiser now, and to me it doesn't make sense to just insult and bully people who are scared or even filled with anger. I think that being cruel to these people just entrenches and reinvigorates their intolerant convictions. Deriding their strongly held beliefs as bullshit fairy stories or sneering at their devotion to a magical sky friend is a hurtful thing, and hurt people put on armor and isolate themselves from other viewpoints. I'd much rather model the behavior I'd prefer to see in them--be tolerant, self-educate, attempt to build bridges instead of walls. That doesn't mean that we should allow public servants or business people to run roughshod over the ideal of a secular democracy that provides equal protection and rights to all members of society. When private faith spills over into the public arena, such challenges must be met with vigorous legal defense.

This emphasis on private faith is the most striking insight in this thread for me. People can believe what they want, even if those beliefs are deeply bigoted and wrong-headed. But we have to fight for a strong, thick line dividing conscience from public action. If your conscience prevents you from doing something--selling a wedding cake to or signing a marriage license for a same-sex couple, for example--then you should be allowed to take that stand. But conscience and sincerely held beliefs often come with consequences. Look at the whistleblowers charged with violating the Espionage Act or the people who risked and/or went to prison for objecting to the draft. If you can't abide by the law of the land due to your religious convictions, then the privilege of a particular job or entrepreneurial enterprise may not be open to you. I think one of the greatest mistakes we've made in the history of our country is allowing so many exceptions to laws for religious reasons. Undoing that legacy will be extremely difficult and I don't think there's much of an immediate mandate for it. For now all of my hopes rest on those brave people who try to make positive changes from inside their big tents rather than running off and pitching their own.
posted by xyzzy at 1:13 AM on July 25, 2016 [21 favorites]


I kinda feel sorry for the florist and most of the rest of the foot soldiers of the religious right. Its hard to lose, especially when you've been propagandized for decades. Most of them will end up old, bewildered and alienated from society or pondering how much guilt they personally need to own for standing up for what they believed true.

The antichrists that have been spewing this bullshit to gain political power or wealth, they on the other hand make me wish there was a Hell.
posted by ridgerunner at 2:12 AM on July 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


take God out of the Pledge

Honestly, I'd be happy with simply no longer making children swear a literal oath of loyalty each day at school. That's some serious side-eye behavior from the perspective of basically any non-dictatorship.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:19 AM on July 25, 2016 [33 favorites]


There is absolutely nothing in the Bible about refusing to do business with sinners or unbelievers. Nor is there anything in the standards for doing business that says that if you provide flowers for someone's wedding, you must wish them well, tell them that you approve of their marriage, and send them on with your personal blessing. You just deliver the flowers. That's all you have to do, and there is absolutely nothing in the Bible or in traditional Christian practice that prevents this.

So much of US conservative christianity is just batshit. Can't serve sinners like gays, but we love the military! Never mind that killing is unequivocally prohibited in the ten commandments, and you really have to go searching for anything resembling condemnation of homosexuality in the bible.



The systematic prejudice against QUILTBAG folks and POC makes it easy to assume said prejudice.

Oh god does the term 'quiltbag' ever make me shudder and wince. Yeah, I get that it's a 'cute' pronounceable acronym, but precisely that makes me hate it with a violent passion. I am not a fucking quilt bag. Those letters are letters in an acronym and should be pronounced as such, because they stand for distinct and different things. It's way too close to so many dismissive epithets and slurs.



But we're not talking about some fringe lunatic beliefs here; the OP is specifically about traditional--as in believed everywhere by everyone in our American society up until very, very recently--Christianity. Many people still hold those beliefs about sexuality, the nature of the human person, etc. These aren't some faddish whims of a place and time like the Jim Crow Southern US. They're wide-ranging, foundational elements of beliefs beyond mere US borders.

I think you're both overestimating the prevalance of 'traditional' lunatic fringe beliefs and racism. The former is not as universal as is often claimed, and the latter was absolutely mainstream in the US.
posted by Dysk at 2:25 AM on July 25, 2016 [11 favorites]


I could dredge up bible verses and get into the debate about whether or not the bible actually forbids gay sex as we know it--but that's secondary. I'll grant that people believe it does, and I am not enough of a hypocrite to claim that someone else's religion "is really" what I, an outsider, think it would be by a strict reading of the text.

As an insider then, let me assure everyone that anti-queer bigotry based in Christianity is total bullshit.
posted by Dysk at 2:27 AM on July 25, 2016 [17 favorites]


If you can't abide by the law of the land due to your religious convictions, then the privilege of a particular job or entrepreneurial enterprise may not be open to you. [...] I think one of the greatest mistakes we've made in the history of our country is allowing so many exceptions to laws for religious reasons.

The USA is a majority-Christian country with Christian accommodation baked into the laws. There are all sorts of facially-neutral laws that were (are) used to discriminate against non-Christians, from the "blue laws" that mandate Sunday closing to various laws regulating dress and so forth. As a matter of historical fact minorities do not generally win exceptions to laws for religious reasons; in fact "Jews have never won a free exercise (or RFRA) case in front of the United States Supreme Court."
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:42 AM on July 25, 2016 [11 favorites]


There are all sorts of facially-neutral laws that were (are) used to discriminate against non-Christians, from the "blue laws" that mandate Sunday closing to various laws regulating dress and so forth.
And there are small but consistent efforts to strike or modify these. NYS is undergoing a blue law overhaul which starts modestly (but meaningfully) by extending the sales period for alcoholic beverages on Sundays. By stating that we need to reduce the possibility for lawful exemption I am by no means stating that Christians-only laws aren't already on the books. Those need to be addressed, too.
posted by xyzzy at 3:04 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


These aren't some faddish whims of a place and time like the Jim Crow Southern US. They're wide-ranging, foundational elements of beliefs beyond mere US borders.

The marginalization of PoC was a wide-ranging, foundational element of belief in the US. If it was a whim of place and time, the "place" was half the country and the "time" was almost 200 years out of the 240 the country has been in existence. And that's not counting the 100 years as colonies beforehand and the de facto Jim Crow laws all over the country that still exist today. If you're trying to a pick an example of something that was a "fad" you chose one of the worst examples.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:20 AM on July 25, 2016 [20 favorites]


The whole framing of "religious liberty" is annoying and needs to be taken apart.

Okay, let me have a go at that then.

When I was 12 or so I found out that 1) churches received a bit of tax money here in the Netherlands based on how many people identified as part of that church in the registration kept by the civil administration, and 2) due to my grandparents insistence I was baptized and identified as member of a protestant church in said administration. Since I even then considered myself to be atheist, and didn't want any money to go to them, I went to town hall and had that registration removed.
Next up, pastor from a church decides to visit, and asks me if I believe in God or not - and I use an easy way to shut that up that I had discovered: "I do believe in God, but I do not believe in his ground personnel". Exuent pastor stage left.

And there's part of the taking apart: believing some things about the nature of reality that have zero evidence for them is one thing. Getting together in groups and talking to each other about that in such a way that it leads to treating those who do not share your opinions about the nature of reality is quite another.

I think when we're talking about "religion" here it's not about what you believe about the nature of reality, it's how you use group-think to abuse that believe to exclude others from enjoying the reality you do share.
posted by DreamerFi at 3:24 AM on July 25, 2016 [9 favorites]


Resurrexit, does your friend live in Washington State? We here have a new health and wellness curriculum that includes teachings about gender and sexual identity

Holy shit that sounds amazing. Go Washington!
posted by Dalby at 3:49 AM on July 25, 2016 [6 favorites]


>>These aren't some faddish whims of a place and time like the Jim Crow Southern US. They're wide-ranging, foundational elements of beliefs beyond mere US borders.

>The marginalization of PoC was a wide-ranging, foundational element of belief in the U.S.


Slacktivist, for whatever it's worth, has a pretty recent post up about how within living memory the evangelical right depended on the argument that their support for segregation and racial discrimination was derived from biblical authority — curse of Ham and all that — and that therefore the civil rights movement was a rejection of biblical authority.

The claim that discrimination against LGBT people is biblical in a way that racial discrimination isn't requires grotesquely retconning the history of right evangelism in America.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 4:52 AM on July 25, 2016 [49 favorites]


Right. A common religion allowed people with disparate backgrounds and experiences to see each other as equals and allies.

No, religion also united Christians and Jews (definitely NOT the same religion). In the Civil Rights movement, religious Jews like Abraham Heschel were inspired by the teachings of their religion to actively work for civil rights of people with whom they did not share a religion (for the most part - there are many Jews of colour, of course).
posted by jb at 5:21 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


NYS is undergoing a blue law overhaul which starts modestly (but meaningfully) by extending the sales period for alcoholic beverages on Sundays.

I arrived in NY State on a Sunday, and on my first grocery trip that afternoon I put some alcohol in the cart. The cashier yelled at me in a way I have never before or since been yelled at in a store -- it was an unusual experience, and I think it came out of me not just being an attempted lawbreaker in her eyes, but also in my attempting to break religious rules. So I'm glad to hear that there is some liberalization of those rules going on. It was anachronistic when I lived there, and that was some time ago.

Slacktivist, for whatever it's worth, has a pretty recent post up about how within living memory the evangelical right depended on the argument that their support for segregation and racial discrimination was derived from biblical authority — curse of Ham and all that — and that therefore the civil rights movement was a rejection of biblical authority.

I knew that religious reasons were central to many defenses of segregation and especially anti-miscegenation laws. I wasn't alive then, but I don't remember reading about "religious freedom" being used as the excuse for continued non-compliance with civil rights laws after those legal changes happened, in the way that it is being used now as the excuse for continued discrimination against LGBTQ people. I hope it continues to lose in court because there is no good reason to give people such an easy out on civil rights compliance.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:38 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was born in the 1970s and grew up in a mainline Protestant congregation in the US Southeast that was never anti-gay or anti-abortion during my childhood. However, let us never forget that the modern Evangelical religious right in the US and their arguments about "religious liberty" and "conscience" were founded by Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, et al, not in response to Roe v Wade like they try to tell us, but in response to school integration and court decisions that said that even "religious" schools could not be de jure segregated.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:40 AM on July 25, 2016 [11 favorites]


Honestly, I'd be happy with simply no longer making children swear a literal oath of loyalty each day at school. That's some serious side-eye behavior from the perspective of basically any non-dictatorship.

Yeah, that nonsense has no place in schools. I never said it as a child - just sat quietly. It got some raised eyebrows, but that was pretty much it. I was well aware that I had a right to NOT say it.

My sons never said it either, and there was never much fuss about it until after 9/11/01. Then the harassment started. It came to a head when Younger Monster was a sophomore in high school. He sat quietly during the pledge, as was his custom, and his teacher started railing at him, closing his rant with "I hope you have to go to war so you understand why this is important!" Ernie's response was "My great-grandfather went to war against a regime that thought forced political speech was important. We don't say the pledge at my house, because forced political speech is wrong. I'm not saying it, and you can't make me." He got sent to the Dean, who called me and asked me to tell Ernie to start saying the pledge to "keep the peace". He got a history lesson and a "Fuck you, I will sue if you continue harassing my son."

Children have the constitutionally protected right to NOT say the pledge in school. West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943) summed it up quite nicely: "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us."

In the state of Ohio, teachers are explicitly barred from harassing, punishing, or otherwise singling out students who exercise their right to not speak. That law, surprisingly, was signed by a Republican governor. Bob Taft was not the greatest, but he at least got that much right.
posted by MissySedai at 7:06 AM on July 25, 2016 [57 favorites]


So if the belief that homosexuality is a sin allows one to refuse service to someone that doesn't, does that also imply that a pacifist should be supported in refusing service to military personal? If a scientist refuses to work on instruments of death, should the government be forced to hire them at a weapons lab anyway? Funny how none of these "religious liberty" bills mention pacifism, despite "Though shalt not kill" being explicitly a direct order from god.

If this is not about bigotry, where is the spirited and wide-spread defense of this belief?
posted by Zalzidrax at 7:10 AM on July 25, 2016 [11 favorites]


Even if the idea of a religious exemption is considered to be ok a priori, the florist's team would still have to prove that a) there is a set of religious beliefs that command the florist to deny service to a gay person, and b) that the florist actually subscribes to that set of religious beliefs. I don't think anyone in the country will be able to meet both of those requirements, if even one, never mind defining what a "sincerely held religious belief" is in the first place such that I can't just make something up the day before opening my shop.

The problem with this is that I'd rather the government not become entangled in determining what religious beliefs are real and which aren't, because it strays a little close to establishment for my taste. Under the Sherbert standard imposed by most state RFRAs, the case against accommodation isn't a slam dunk. Compelling a business owner to sell to whoever asks could conceivably be conceived as a burden on free exercise, especially when the business pertains to something that people view as an inherently religious practice (i.e. marriage). This is substantively different then refusing to sell to any sinners, because the sale promotes a public subversion of religious purpose. Nor does it seem to me that compelling the business to provide the requested services is the least restrictive means, unless the customer can show a pattern of refusals from alternative providers. The argument of photographers and other religious artists that anti-discrimination laws unconstitutionally compel speech also seems persuasive to me. This is why, despite the plight of its sympathetic plaintiffs, I think Scalia's decision in Employment Division v. Smith to severely limit religious exemption as a matter of the Constitution was correct, and why the proliferation of RFRAs since then has proven to be a double-edged sword.
posted by enjoymoreradio at 7:13 AM on July 25, 2016


There are two forms of conscientious objection (religious or otherwise): objecting to a law that would cause harm to another person, and objecting to a law that would cause harm to your belief system but allow another person to live as a full citizen. It's the latter that has no place in a just society.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:14 AM on July 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


I have talked to so many people who are upset about this, and not one of them is willing to tell me what it is they're so upset about. It's like they're mad as hell that the schools are saying "trans people exist, and you have to be nice to everyone."

They're probably scared that talking to kids about LGBTQ issues will magically turn their otherwise totally straight kids gay or trans. They also seem to have some sort of magic age in mind that they can't clarify about when kids "should" be learning about social issues. I've been talking to my kid about all the ways people can be families and love each other since he's been cognitively able to get it, and when he went through a phase of asking lots of questions about being a boy vs being a girl, I gave him my best effort at also explaining trans 101. The proudest moment of my parenting life so far was when he came home from kindergarten one day last year telling me that kids on the playground said two boys couldn't get married and he told them "yes they can!" I find it so morally repugnant that people think "elementary children" can't be taught how to be decent human beings about queer issues, like they are unspoiled flowers who will be tainted by learning that some women love women, etc. He came home talking about Lincoln getting shot in a theater around President's Day, and I don't see anyone getting upset about kindergartners learning about a president getting shot in the head. Anyway, this parent of an elementary child is A++ on anti-bullying programs that are "gay and trans skewed." The earlier the better.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 7:18 AM on July 25, 2016 [30 favorites]


It really pisses me off that the CSM is playing the game of false equivalences here. Apparently no one writing these balanced articles about the carefully and painstakingly protected owies of the "religious liberty" crowd has read the 2016 GOP platform, which is very open and clear about the intent of the party, if in power, to do the following:

— "Restore to the Court a strong conservative majority that will follow the text and original meaning of the Constitution and our laws."

— Reverse United States v Windsor.

— Reverse the "lawless" Obergefell v Hodges, in which "five unelected lawyers robbed 320 million Americans of their legitimate constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman."

— Endorse "the First Amendment Defense Act, Republican legislation in the House and Senate which will bar government discrimination against individuals and businesses for acting on the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This Act would protect the non-profit tax status of faith-based adoption agencies, the accreditation of religious educational institutions, the grants and contracts of faith-based charities and small businesses, and the licensing of religious professions — all of which are under assault by elements of the Democratic Party. We encourage every state to pass similar legislation."

I look forward to the seven-part CSM longread series in 2018 about the countless lives that will be ruined if the GOP gets anywhere close to achieving even one of these goals.
posted by blucevalo at 7:22 AM on July 25, 2016 [18 favorites]


Efforts to stop anti-gay bullying are more than people having religious objections to the gay... They are explicate endorsements of bullying. Bullying occurs within a context of complicity of school officials and administration.

When I hear the refrain 'boys will be boys' that the defenders of bullies inevitably use... I want to punch the person in the face*, shrug, and say 'boys will be boys'.

* Being a pacifist doesn't mean I'm immune from violent tendencies, it just means I suppress them.
posted by el io at 7:24 AM on July 25, 2016 [9 favorites]


It's telling to me that "conscience clauses" have been invoked more frequently in the last few years to abstain from serving LGBTQ people, but rarely when it comes to serving atheists or people of other religions and denominations (although with growing islamophobia, that could change.) The Christians involved in refusing to sell pizza, flowers, cakes, and photos are picking and choosing the doctrinal differences and heresies they're willing to become political martyrs for.

It makes little sense to me that a store willing to play good samaritan and not ask questions when I buy stuff for my devotional practices would get prickly about my friend's same-sex marriage.

On preview: blucevalo nailed it. "Defense of marriage" was a bait and switch in the 1990s, criminalizing a non-existent right in the service of creating legal standing to deny any form of equality on the pretext that adoption and non-discrimination laws are respecting the equivalent of marriage. "Religious liberty" is the post-Obergefel attempt at a replacement.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:27 AM on July 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure how different refusing to provide flowers for a wedding is from refusing service at a lunch counter other than she was happy to sell them flowers (food) for anything that wasn't their wedding.

I think the answer to this depends on whether you are talking about these respective refusals in the abstract or comparing actual examples of the behavior in question.

Refusing service in a lunch counter was an example of a business owner following a law that mandated segregation, resulting in a widespread refusal to serve African Americans. The tangible result of this, as many first-person records of the era attest, is that often blacks in Southern states had a hard time finding a restaurant where they could sit down and eat.

The refusal to sell flowers for a wedding was the action of an isolated business owner and was unlikely to keep folks planning gay nuptials from finding flowers for their events.

The difference doesn't justify the bigotry of the florist, but I do think the level of harm resulting from acts of prejudice is relevant, especially when you are considering whether state intervention to prevent them is a good idea. Is it enough to simply get rid of laws that impose segregation, or do you need laws that actively sanction it? I think the answer to that one is "It depends."

In the abstract, the two things are quite similar. In the real world, there are important differences.
posted by layceepee at 7:29 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also depending on where you live I think it is very possible for gay people to find very few accessible wedding vendors. If you live in a town with one flower shop, is it a reasonable burden for you to have to go 25, 50, more miles to find a vendor who will serve you?
posted by nakedmolerats at 7:46 AM on July 25, 2016 [12 favorites]


If you live in a town with one flower shop, is it a reasonable burden for you to have to go 25, 50, more miles to find a vendor who will serve you?

And if you're daft enough to say "yes" to that, how about 75 miles? 100? 200? Where does it stop?
posted by DreamerFi at 7:53 AM on July 25, 2016 [8 favorites]


> The difference doesn't justify the bigotry of the florist, but I do think the level of harm resulting from acts of prejudice is relevant

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

- Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
posted by rtha at 7:56 AM on July 25, 2016 [10 favorites]


layceepee: The difference doesn't justify the bigotry of the florist, but I do think the level of harm resulting from acts of prejudice is relevant, especially when you are considering whether state intervention to prevent them is a good idea. Is it enough to simply get rid of laws that impose segregation, or do you need laws that actively sanction it? I think the answer to that one is "It depends."

I don't buy that. Most of the United States is still de facto segregated. In my home state, what happened was that the collective action of businessmen, community groups, and when necessary, scolding, harassment, and threatened violence produced much of the same effect.

And when we consider the Tennessee law permitting denial of already insufficient mental health services, the projected scope of this principle goes well beyond flowers. Can, as an example, a religious hospital deny services or refuse to recognize same-sex spouses as having power of attorney?
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:57 AM on July 25, 2016 [6 favorites]


My quick and dirty (so to speak) way to test for discrimination with the consciousness clauses with refusal of service to LGBT people is to substitute some other class. If you refused to do this for Asian Americans, would people think you were bigoted? Is it legal to refuse this service to disabled people? (Let's take the flower lady and say she believes in eugenics and that people with disabilities should not reproduce - does that mean that she can object to a wedding if one person is in a wheel chair?)

Also, it really gets on my nerves when the pill and Plan B are described as abortificants. They aren't. I don't care what you consider. The pill does not block implantation. Also, given the number of miscarriages, even if it did, there would still be less dead embryos with women on the pill than off of it.

Who am I kidding? Ignoring science is one of the raisons d'être of the religious right.
posted by Hactar at 8:01 AM on July 25, 2016 [14 favorites]


And my point was that given that Christian business owners are routinely operating in secular and multicultural communities across lines of significant doctrinal difference, the choice to draw a line in the sand on same-sex marriage strikes me as a rather arbitrary application of their claimed principles.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:06 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Isn't this a crime against capitalism? What kind of conservatives are these people?
posted by jonmc at 8:14 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is substantively different then refusing to sell to any sinners, because the sale promotes a public subversion of religious purpose.

This distinction you are drawing, "promotion of a public subversion of religious purpose," is not really in the case-law and in any case doesn't make sense. Why should it be more constitutionally protected for a person to refuse to provide a service because it promotes perceived public sinfulness than because it promotes perceived private sinfulness? The protectability of the belief has to be the same regardless of whether it pertains to state practice. Unless, of course, your real interest is just in protecting people's discriminatory practices in a world where the state is perceived as being (horror!) tolerant, and otherwise you don't care that much.

Anyway, historically, western Christianity has not permitted divorce, and some denominations still regard it as sinful, with possibly a few minor exceptions. OK to refuse to sell flowers for the wedding of a divorced person remarrying?

As discussed above, interracial marriage has long been regarded as sinful, and still is by many. OK to refuse to sell flowers for an interracial marriage?

Practically every denomination of Christianity, branch of Judaism, and branch of Islam to this day condemns adultery. The vast majority of people regard it as wrong even outside of organized religion--at this point, it has to be more than the number of people who regard same-sex marriages as sinful. OK to refuse to sell flowers to an adulterer, when you are actually selling them the "means of the crime?"
posted by praemunire at 8:17 AM on July 25, 2016 [9 favorites]


Conflict of interest codes can be used to ensure that outside work (typically consulting) doesn't interfere with the perception or reality of conflict with performance of the job.

I'm guessing you've never actually worked in enforcement? Without a rule of disclosure, it becomes impossible to determine whether a person is complying with the rules. Especially in situations where you don't necessarily have the resources to monitor people independently. That's why you need a rule for disclosure that is nearly as strong as the underlying substantive rules.

And you keep weirdly skipping over the part about complaints about "internal dissemination," which, if you think it's acceptable for a police chief to be handing his subordinates in a work context religious tracts that declare some of those subordinates to be inherently sinful...I don't know what to say.

I'm comfortable with his firing on any or all of those grounds. I'm not sure why you think it's only legitimate if a particular reason is identified.
posted by praemunire at 8:27 AM on July 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


minorities do not generally win exceptions to laws for religious reasons; in fact "Jews have never won a free exercise (or RFRA) case in front of the United States Supreme Court."

It's worth noting, though, that Muslims have.
posted by praemunire at 8:33 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Throughout this whole debate, an argument has been that legal recognition of same-sex marriage in my congregation, or at my city's courthouse, is disruptive to the congregational practices of the churches next door. Which I think is a stretch.

I have my own ethical and religious obligations that I try to live in daily life (imperfectly, but they exist). And those obligations have required significant career and life choices for accommodation. I can't walk into a restaurant and demand that I only work on salads. I can't walk into the Coast Guard recruiter across the street (ignore my middle-aged dumpling status) and demand that I never get trained to use a firearm. I'm a big believer in reasonable accommodations in the job. But reasonable still means doing the job.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:55 AM on July 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


The real reason people don't like gay and trans people is because they think we are disgusting. Really, that's it. So instead of just forcing people to admit that, let's instead allow the religious right to have a big ass nationwide referendum on religious freedom because a few conservatives can't get past that gay and trans people make them feel squicked out.

"Religious Freedom" from feeling grossed out by people you think are disgusting is pure bigotry and I'm tired of all the intellectualizing and over moralizing over this. If you think gay and trans people are gross and you don't like us you're a bigot and that's your problem to solve not mine to hide from your bigoted eyes.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:03 AM on July 25, 2016 [48 favorites]


The owners of the bakery, Edie and David Delorme, have told reporters that they seek to run their business in a way that honors God and promotes godly values. The bakery declines to produce tobacco-themed cakes, cakes promoting alcohol, risqué cakes, and cakes that would celebrate a same-sex wedding.

I'm trying to envision a tobacco-themed cake. Is this something Jesse Helms would have ordered?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:03 AM on July 25, 2016


Holy shit that sounds amazing. Go Washington!

It both is and isn't amazing, tbh. It's great that we have a curriculum that acknowledges that trans people exist, that gender presentation exists along a spectrum, and that gender roles are culturally mediated. But on the other hand, I find it a little sad that even something this neutral and bland and low key is considered super progressive and boundary-pushing. (The gender stuff is in the Sexual Health section, under "Self-Identity," in case you're having trouble finding it.)
posted by KathrynT at 9:09 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


I know I don't speak for all LGBTQ folk, but this ending paragraph from the florist story really sticks in my craw:

In a less litigious time, the dispute between Barronelle Stutzman and Rob Ingersoll might have been resolved with a tearful reunion and a mutual understanding that friends can have significantly different beliefs but that those differences don’t have to result in conflict – and litigation. That they don’t have to result in victory for one, total defeat for the other.

It's not about the litigation, CSM. Even without going to trial, a "friend" who tells me that they deeply, sincerely believe I should not have the full legal rights of a marriage is not my friend. It is disingenuous to call this "different beliefs" when one belief is contingent on my continued existence as a second-class citizen.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:12 AM on July 25, 2016 [25 favorites]


> But reasonable still means doing the job.

I told this story the last time we had a go-round on this issue (and resurrexit's points have not changed in the least, though at least the last time he left out the part about Jim Crow being faddish): Friend of mine got his dream job as a state park ranger. He loved this job. Then he found out that he would be required to supervise prison work crews, and he believes it is immoral to use prisoners in this way. He quit his job. He is now doing other things that do not require him to violate a core belief.

Perhaps teachers who view it as a violation of their religious beliefs to be required to teach children that gay and trans* people exist and that it's not okay to pick on them should consider teaching in schools that don't require them to violate those beliefs.
posted by rtha at 9:13 AM on July 25, 2016 [27 favorites]


I'm trying to envision a tobacco-themed cake. Is this something Jesse Helms would have ordered?

Why struggle to envision when you can just Google? The link is just a tobacco-themed cake, it's a tobacco-themed wedding cake.
posted by layceepee at 9:13 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Friend of mine got his dream job as a state park ranger. He loved this job. Then he found out that he would be required to supervise prison work crews, and he believes it is immoral to use prisoners in this way. He quit his job. He is now doing other things that do not require him to violate a core belief.

I'm not sure your argument is doing what you want it to do, because I didn't have much sympathy for the anti "anti-bullying" teacher, but I sure wish you friend could have kept their job as a park ranger.
posted by layceepee at 9:16 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Public means public. If you're going to serve the public, you serve all of the public - whether you're selling sandwiches, hammers, books, or flowers.

No one gets to be quizzed on who is going to eat the sandwich, "uh, before I make this sandwich, will it be eaten by black people, white people, Jews, girl scouts, gays, Methodists or nudists? Will you be using this hammer in a gay home to hang gay pictures?"

If I want to order 10 books for my book club, the bookseller doesn't get to ask who the participants are. Is it a Christian, African American, Lesbian, or ESL book club? Cause if it's a gay book club, we can't sell you 10 copies of To Kill A Mockingbird.

And if I want rose and peony centerpieces on 10 tables plus a bouquet, it shouldn't matter whether it's for my mother's retirement party, my daughter's quinceaneras, or a wedding (of any stripe).

Vendors are not blessing, cursing, praising, or participating in any of these exchanges. You're selling a fucking product or service to someone who wants to buy it. I don't need to know my florist's, sandwich maker's, or dentist's religious beliefs and they don't need to know mine. Your religious views are not these flowers, this sandwich, or those photos.
posted by shoesietart at 9:20 AM on July 25, 2016 [17 favorites]


Perhaps instead of upscaling, it might help to have a lower-stakes example.

Let's say a particular teacher believes that video games are inherently brain-rotting, that the same content presented in a video game suddenly becomes harmful to the child instead of educational. If their school adopts a curriculum that includes a segment with an educational video game about the topic, is the school justified in firing that teacher for refusing to teach the curriculum appropriately?

Seems logical enough to me. If the teacher feels that strongly, then they are not doing the job for which they were hired, and if they want that to change, they need to get on about changing the curriculum instead.
posted by Scattercat at 9:31 AM on July 25, 2016


> I'm not sure your argument is doing what you want it to do, because I didn't have much sympathy for the anti "anti-bullying" teacher, but I sure wish you friend could have kept their job as a park ranger.

Me too, and so does he. I'm not sure what you think my argument was supposed to do but failed to do - can you elaborate?
posted by rtha at 9:41 AM on July 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


I somewhat disagree with the "it's just selling a product; there's no personal involvement." Especially in products that involve art - whether that's cake decoration or taking pictures or arranging flowers - the creator puts their personal touch on it, which is presumably how they got to be successful in their field.

I can understand not putting your art, your personal sense of identity, toward a purpose you find repugnant, and even more wanting to avoid supporting one you find spiritually immoral. This is a serious issue, and I don't like it when it's dismissed with handwaving. And it's also not reasonable to say, "just don't be in that business, then." They got into that business because it fulfills them; they enjoy making others happy with their particular set of skills.

The world will not be a better place if every anti-gay florist, baker, and photographer goes out of business. We won't have a better nation if every homophobic schoolteacher quits tomorrow.

That doesn't mean I think they should be able to discriminate. I suspect that, like much of the racist discrimination that was legal in the past, the majority of people and companies will realize (slowly) that their objections were founded on smoke and mirrors... they feared that "gay marriage" meant something that it does not. I'm hoping that, by being forced to support (however indirectly) these marriages -or rather, by being penalized for not doing so, so that others are too scared not to work for them - they will discover that same sex marriages will not cause the downfall of society and the end of their communities.

It's against my religion to put my art toward a purpose I find immoral. It's against my religion to force other people to create art that violates their sense of self and their highest truths. Art is sacred, and it's literally a desecration to demand it via threat of violence or financial ruin.

And yet. I agree with the rulings that penalize these people for refusing these jobs. Art is not the only sacred aspect of our lives and our communities. This isn't quite an "omelette needs broken eggs" analogy, but it's close; some art is incompatible with other art, and the masterpiece that is a couple dedicating their lives to each other in love and trust, needs to be acknowledged as important enough to sometimes override other people's values.

(Sorry about the wall o' text. I sometimes get carried away on religious topics.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:43 AM on July 25, 2016


Commercial Art *is* commerce. You can't refuse to sell or make art for a person based on an intrinsic part of who they are.

"gay and trans" are not philosophies or morals for *anyone* to decide are somehow in violation of their principles.

My orientation, identity and sexuality are not part of your moral decision making compass. Do you get that?
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:49 AM on July 25, 2016 [13 favorites]


We won't have a better nation if every homophobic schoolteacher quits tomorrow.

Really? Are you sure? I would have to respectfully disagree with you. I'm sure countless gay students that have to be in these classrooms would as well.
posted by el io at 9:52 AM on July 25, 2016 [22 favorites]


We won't have a better nation if every homophobic schoolteacher quits tomorrow.

Putting the sudden teacher shortage aside, yeah, we will have a better nation if every homophobic schoolteacher quits tomorrow.
posted by archimago at 9:53 AM on July 25, 2016 [21 favorites]


rtha, I thought your argument was intended to provide support for the notion that people who find their work requires them to do something that violates the conscience should find another job.

It's very hard for me to adopt a standard based on ethical principal in this type of question and stick to it. I had a friend who was just starting out as a doctor. He didn't want to perform routine circumcisions on baby boys, and that made it hard for him to find a job. I was proud of him for trying to find a position where he could honor his conscience.

He also didn't want to perform abortions, and I thought, "What a dick,"

Public means public. If you're going to serve the public, you serve all of the public - whether you're selling sandwiches, hammers, books, or flowers.

I don't agree, and I don't think this is the current law in most jurisdiction, which I think is good news. In providing services that are public accommodations, it's illegal to discriminate against members of protected classes--you can't discriminate based on race, religion, age or (in some places) sexual orientation, but you can legally discriminate for a host of other reasons. I think the distinction between legal and illegal discrimination is sensible.

When I adopted my dog from a pet rescue service, I had to fill out and application and let someone come into my apartment to satisfy them that I would provide a good home for a beagle. They wouldn't just serve all the public--they would discriminate on the grounds of criteria they considered relevant to the particular service they were trying to provide. I think that's a good thing.
posted by layceepee at 9:54 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Especially in products that involve art

Now all we need to do is define 'art.'
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:59 AM on July 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


I don't mean, "we won't have a better nation without homophobic schoolteachers." I mean that throwing them all out tomorrow would leave us with years of not enough teachers, and we are better off curtailing the worst of their excesses, reeducating some, and gradually replacing the rest.

I do agree that requiring them to teach materials they dislike or find another job, is a very good interim step.

You can't refuse to sell or make art for a person based on an intrinsic part of who they are.

I can refuse to make art based on who someone is. (I won't write fanfic for bigots.) Selling it is a much more complicated, and is a big part of why I'm not in a commercial art business.

I find "I won't make cakes for gay weddings" repugnant. I don't find "I won't do tarot readings for Christians" repugnant. If there's a difference between those approaches, it involves some hair-splitting that isn't easily fixed by legal fiat.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:02 AM on July 25, 2016


You can choose to not sell art for for someone based on moral or philosophical grounds, that's completely your prerogative. Go back and re-read what I wrote.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:05 AM on July 25, 2016


When I adopted my dog from a pet rescue service, I had to fill out and application and let someone come into my apartment to satisfy them that I would provide a good home for a beagle. They wouldn't just serve all the public--they would discriminate on the grounds of criteria they considered relevant to the particular service they were trying to provide. I think that's a good thing.

Unfortunately for your argument, people throw ridiculous tantrums about basic requirements for adopting dogs every single day. If there were criteria that weren't things like 'does this person agree that dogs should have constant access to water and shelter' then it would be smeared all over the news.
posted by winna at 10:06 AM on July 25, 2016 [7 favorites]


By which I am not defending bigots' rights to refuse service; I'm just saying that any criteria for service are rigorously examined and that I think is a good thing.
posted by winna at 10:07 AM on July 25, 2016


Religion, Gender (Sex), Orientation, Class or Race should not be allowed to be part of the moral or philosophical equation when it comes to deciding how you run your commerce.

And free speech means you can do whatever you want on your own time. That's not a part of the discussion and is 100% settled in favor of the individual's right to free speech. Which Art that is not for sale is covered by that.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:10 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I view my programming as an art. I put a personal touch on my code. When I release it, does my personal involvement vanish?
I know civil engineers who view their craft as an art. When they build bridges, is there no personal involvement?
What is your definition of "art", and what is your definition of "personal involvement"?


Code is art. Engineering is art. Or at least, they can be, and I leave that up to the individual making them. We are all artists, or we can be. (This would be a matter of religious ideology; I am not trying to change anyone's dictionary.)

My definition of art is broad, and my definition of personal involvement is subjective - nobody else can tell you whether or not you have a personal involvement in a project.

And it is reasonable for a community to say, "your art is no longer welcome here; the principles by which you make it are no longer acceptable in this community. Change your principles, or change the way you express them through your art, or stop making your art, or leave." Which is what's being said to these people, and I am glad it is. I just understand that it's not as simple as "just don't pay attention to what's being done with your art after you make it."

I am very, very happy we have reached a point where we can say to people: your art is not welcome if it carries a message of homophobia, of transphobia, of discrimination and a wish for oppression and exclusion of some people.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:11 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I find "I won't do tarot readings for Christians" a troublesome stance to be taking. Replace the word "Christian" with "Jews" or "Muslim". I can't go there with you.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:13 AM on July 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


Gay people know how to eat a wedding cake, they don't need to be vetted in the same way you would when determining who should be allowed to adopt a pet.

smash cut to a wedding montage of gay couples gleefully rubbing cake on each others' foreheads
posted by poffin boffin at 10:14 AM on July 25, 2016 [8 favorites]


How the push for gay rights is reshaping religious liberty

Honestly, at this point, every time I see the word "liberty" I assume the worst. It's like the word is being coopted to mean "whatever action someone wants to do without having to consider its effects on other people."
posted by teponaztli at 10:15 AM on July 25, 2016 [10 favorites]


> rtha, I thought your argument was intended to provide support for the notion that people who find their work requires them to do something that violates the conscience should find another job.


Yeah, okay, you got it. Yes, that is my point. Sometimes your job can accommodate your beliefs (and/or expression or practice of them). But if the core job duties are duties that violate your religious beliefs/conscience, then yes, you need to go find a job that will not do that.
posted by rtha at 10:16 AM on July 25, 2016


The protected class thing is important.

I was trying to test my own sense of when someone should have the right to deny service - and being already pro-LGBTQ rights, I started thinking of groups I don't automatically support. And it comes down to "protected class". I think a baker should be able to refuse to make a "Happy Birthday, Hitler" cake, but not to refuse to make a "Welcome to Jesus!" cake, or even a "Satan Lives!" cake.

Religion is a protected class; politics is not.

Already businesses refuse to serve people not wearing shoes or shirts, or even for not wearing a tie; they are required (in my province) to refuse to serve alcohol to someone who is intoxicated. None of these are protected classes.

How we define protected class is another kettle of fish, but sexual orientation or gender identity are not edge cases (as opposed to religion and/or political affiliations - and I don't know if the latter is a protected class, though it is grounds for refugee status.)
posted by jb at 10:20 AM on July 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


A bias against Christians is not equivalent to a bias against Jews or Muslims. A Pagan who refuses to practice divination for Christians (I don't, but I know people who do) is basing that decision on years of experience with many kinds of Christians - because if they're in any majority-English country, they grow up with that.

There's a difference between bias based on extrapolation and prejudice, and bias based on personal experience and past history. And a difference between bias that excludes minority groups, and bias that reduces the options of members the majority.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:21 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I find "I won't do tarot readings for Christians" a troublesome stance to be taking. Replace the word "Christian" with "Jews" or "Muslim". I can't go there with you.

The judiciary does distinguish between those groups though, via suspect classification. The criteria are:
- The group has historically been discriminated against or have been subject to prejudice, hostility, or stigma, perhaps due, at least in part, to stereotypes.
- They possess an immutable or highly visible trait.
- They are powerless to protect themselves via the political process. (The group is a "discrete" and "insular" minority)
- The group's distinguishing characteristic does not inhibit it from contributing meaningfully to society.
Due to the first bullet point, Muslims are differentiated from Christians. As for LGB people,
“the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals held sexual orientation to be a quasi-suspect classification”, i.e. it meets some but not all of the conditions. AFAIK, trans people haven't been classified under this system, though gender presentation seems to fall under the gender umbrella for protected class, and gender falls under the quasi-suspect heading.

Granted, these are criteria for assessing governmental action. However, I think they are useful guideposts for sussing out why refusing to make a neo-Nazi wedding cake is different from refusing to make a gay wedding cake.
posted by Maecenas at 10:27 AM on July 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


I find "I won't make cakes for gay weddings" repugnant. I don't find "I won't do tarot readings for Christians" repugnant. If there's a difference between those approaches, it involves some hair-splitting that isn't easily fixed by legal fiat.

Well, in the first case there are a ton of examples of people that won't make wedding cakes for gay people... And I've never heard of a Tarot reader refusing to serve someone.. That being said, one could argue that a Tarot reading is a (Pagan) religious act, and no one has asked clergy members to perform ceremonies against their wills, so I'd say there is a pretty big difference between the one (real world with examples) discrimination and the other (hypothetical without any real world example).
posted by el io at 10:28 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


If your art is made as part of acting in an official religious capacity and you are refusing to serve another person based on their religious views, then knock yerself out. No one can stop you.

I don't like the idea of a religious official acting in a religious capacity being able to extend that to other protected classes, but I don't know if that's settled law or what.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:33 AM on July 25, 2016


I keep coming back to the fact that as a lesbian, I don't particularly relish the idea of patronizing a florist or baker or hotelier or whatever who thinks I should not have basic human rights. I have no interest in supporting the business of a bigot. Treating this whole thing as "the gays are forcing themselves on Christians" is foul in the way it frames the act of asking for basic human rights as one of aggression and oppression. Annika Cicada already said it so well: Religion, Gender (Sex), Orientation, Class or Race should not be allowed to be part of the moral or philosophical equation when it comes to deciding how you run your commerce.

All I want is to be able to purchase goods and services like anybody else. Without having that tension in the back of my mind, constantly waiting to be turned away because I'm a lesser person in the eyes of the retailer I'm dealing with. I don't want their bigotry or my sexual orientation to factor into a damned business transaction.

Gay people know how to eat a wedding cake
Okay at our wedding my wife and I had no idea what to do when we were supposed to cut the cake. It turned into quite the awkward performance, with us glancing at our caterers every step of the way - "DO I CUT THIS NOW? NOW? WITH THIS THING? LIKE A REGULAR CAKE SLICE OR JUST A TINY BIT? OKAY IT'S CUT CAN WE SIT DOWN? OH, DO I PICK IT UP WITH MY HAND? SHOULD I USE THE THING? CAN I EAT IT NOW?" - maybe it's fortunate that we weren't vetted for our cake-eating prowess beforehand.
posted by DingoMutt at 10:38 AM on July 25, 2016 [17 favorites]


> I'm not sure your argument is doing what you want it to do, because I didn't have much sympathy for the anti "anti-bullying" teacher, but I sure wish you friend could have kept their job as a park ranger.

Your sympathy is irrelevant to the legal issues at stake. Others feel tremendous sympathy toward the bigoted elderly florist or the Catholic pharmacist. It doesn't matter.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:39 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's a difference between refusing to put a particular message on a cake vs. refusing to sell a cake to someone. Granted, I don't know what the actual jurisprudence on this is, but for example, I'm fine with someone refusing to put Fuck Jesus! on a cake as long as they are consistent with it and will refuse to put Fuck Satan! and Fuck Allah! too. I.e., if they have a particular set of standards that doesn't discriminate according to creed, color, or sexuality. So if they won't put "Congratulations X and Y" for no other reason than they don't approve of X and Y's relationship, that's a problem.
posted by tavella at 10:43 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


All I want is to be able to purchase goods and services like anybody else. Without having that tension in the back of my mind, constantly waiting to be turned away because I'm a lesser person in the eyes of the retailer I'm dealing with. I don't want their bigotry or my sexual orientation to factor into a damned business transaction.

This reminds me of a friend of mine who was with his partner at a nursery shopping for plants for the yard of the house they had just bought. The owner of the place followed them around the whole store, always an aisle or so away, watching them with beady daggers for eyes. They were made to feel so uncomfortable by this that they eventually left. The only reason that they could think for this behavior is that he pegged them as a gay couple and wanted them to be uncomfortable and leave.

But then, I've been kicked out of restaurants for reaching across the table and touching the hand of the man I was with.

These sorts of aggressions, micro- and not, are just sort of the fabric of life for a lot of LGBT people. They aren't going to stop anytime this generation, I don't think.
posted by hippybear at 10:44 AM on July 25, 2016 [7 favorites]


When I was in the fog of new love my wife and I made out pretty much everywhere...without a care.

But as that has lifted and the reality sets in that my wife and I are a queer lesbian couple I have started feeling very self-aware and conscious of my surroundings when my wife and I are affectionate in public.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:49 AM on July 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


In most of these cases, the business are choosing to participate in a secular market that is both multicultural and interfaith. Some of y'all think me and mine are damned; I personally think your religion is theological gibberish. Somehow that's never come up when I order stuff for funerals. Why is it an issue for weddings?

I typically ask nothing more than to create a variation of one of the two dozen patterns you have in a book on the counter. I have a rule when it comes to the important celebrations of my life. If you're not "family," you don't get to have an unsolicited opinion. My purchase of one of your cakes or arrangements is not a consultation.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:51 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Somehow that's never come up when I order stuff for funerals.

Ugh, in that case you've been lucky, then. Never mind the horrorshow that (once? still? I am embarrassed not to know offhand) awaited the families and friends of people who died of AIDS -- just tryin' to bury someone without a whole mess of religion is still a dicey task in some parts of the country.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:55 AM on July 25, 2016 [6 favorites]


Thoughts on the Utah compromise?
posted by blue_beetle at 11:20 AM on July 25, 2016


Thoughts on the Utah compromise?

I don't see how sex discrimination (gender or orientation) serves any purpose for living out the principles of your religion. It's like, using your religion to get in another person's pants and then discriminate against them based on how you imagine they use their sex parts which is rapey as fuck IMO.

I think it's a compromise that was made out of pragmatism at a state level and not on something that I believe should be used as a template for a national model.
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:46 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Your sympathy is irrelevant to the legal issues at stake. Others feel tremendous sympathy toward the bigoted elderly florist or the Catholic pharmacist. It doesn't matter.

If that's the case, why do you suppose a Google search for "sympathetic plaintiff" yields thousands of hits, many of them coaching lawyers how to identify them, or how to defend a client against one of them? If it were possible to try two cases with the same legal issues in front of identical juries, it might turn out that sympathy for the individuals involved was quite relevant to the outcome.

And that was my point. When it seemed to me the person whose job was at stake was engaging in anti gay and anti trans bigotry, my feeling about whether their personal ethical convictions were relevant were pretty clear to me. When it was the case of a park ranger who found themselves required to supervise a chain gang in a state park, I took a different view.

You might insist that the legal issues are all that matter, but they are not all that matters to me. And I don't think they are all that matters to a lot of people.
posted by layceepee at 11:47 AM on July 25, 2016


> Thoughts on the Utah compromise?

"The bill, however, does not address what has become one of the most divisive questions on gay rights nationwide: whether individual business owners, based on their religious beliefs, can refuse service to gay people or gay couples — for example, a baker who refuses to make a cake for a gay wedding." NYT link
posted by rtha at 11:51 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


From the Utah Compromise link:

"The risk is that traditional believers and their religious institutions may eventually be relegated to pariah status -- officially recognized as 'equal citizens,' while in practical reality marginalized and penalized for their faith."

That's exactly why it won't really work, and the compromise needs to be "everyone must be treated with equal dignity and respect in the public sphere and everyone needs to keep their thoughts on people's private lives to themselves."

Because without legal protections, the only tools people have to get equal treatment are societal tools - shaming people, pressuring people, embarrassing people: treating them as pariahs and outcasts until they are willing to treat all of their fellow citizens with equal dignity.
posted by Zalzidrax at 12:03 PM on July 25, 2016


We should center the "hunted and murdered" sentiments on the right folks: Trans POC are in the hunted and murdered stage and trans children are in the "kill 'em in the cradle" stage and it behooves us all to care about more than just our own self interests.
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:04 PM on July 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


(the caring about our own self interests is aimed at people who have privilege who don't have to care about others, That's not meant directly @you Odinsdream...)
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:06 PM on July 25, 2016


Why should it be more constitutionally protected for a person to refuse to provide a service because it promotes perceived public sinfulness than because it promotes perceived private sinfulness?

It's suppose "public" wasn't the right word to use there. My point is that a sale of goods for use in what religious people consider to be a holy sacrament implicates their religious beliefs more than a sale of goods for personal secular use to persons whom you deem to be sinful. From the perspective of a religious objector, requiring the former compels their participation in a sinful practice, while the other does not.
posted by enjoymoreradio at 12:41 PM on July 25, 2016


I don't particularly relish the idea of patronizing a florist or baker or hotelier or whatever who thinks I should not have basic human rights.

I totally agree. I also don't want to eat a cake made by someone who hates me just because of the potential for them to harm me via the cake.

However: It's important to call out their hatred. As Annika Cicada has made the point, people are dying every day because this rhetoric is spewed.
posted by archimago at 1:08 PM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


100% agreed, archimago.
posted by DingoMutt at 1:22 PM on July 25, 2016


Thoughts on the Utah compromise?

They got it half right.
posted by kafziel at 1:25 PM on July 25, 2016


The Rapture happened. Nobody went anywhere.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:52 PM on July 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


I can understand not putting your art, your personal sense of identity, toward a purpose you find repugnant, and even more wanting to avoid supporting one you find spiritually immoral.

Compelling argument for not mixing art and business, there.

The world will not be a better place if every anti-gay florist, baker, and photographer goes out of business. We won't have a better nation if every homophobic schoolteacher quits tomorrow.


Yes it bloody will!
posted by Dysk at 2:24 PM on July 25, 2016 [12 favorites]


And that was my point. When it seemed to me the person whose job was at stake was engaging in anti gay and anti trans bigotry, my feeling about whether their personal ethical convictions were relevant were pretty clear to me. When it was the case of a park ranger who found themselves required to supervise a chain gang in a state park, I took a different view.

And that's fine. I also, personally, take a different view. But the *law* needs to take the *same* view or else it's not actually a tool of justice, it's just a tool of a more palatable flavor of discrimination.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:59 PM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


(In case I am misunderstood, being so far from the original comment: I am not in any way saying that religious business entities should be permitted to discriminate against LGBT people or any other community. I am saying that if you have strong moral or ethical convictions of any stripe, and they prevent you from conducting yourself in public enterprise for the purpose for which you've been hired, most likely what that means is "you need to get yourself a different job." Sometimes this will mean that people with convictions we admire will ALSO need to get a different job, and this is okay.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:08 PM on July 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


Religion
Race
Class
Gender (Sex)
Orientation

Each of those axes has an intrinsic element and external oppressions.

Religions have long used race, orientation and sex to oppress LGBT people. LGBT folks can't structurally oppress religions. Religion gives "acceptable folks" implied rights and seeks to deny those implied rights to whom they deem as "unacceptable folks".

Religions should not be granted the power to decide what the implied rights are for all people in this country then be allowed to externally oppress along another axis of an established class because the religion says they can.

That may be how it's been done but we all know it's not right.
posted by Annika Cicada at 4:06 PM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's suppose "public" wasn't the right word to use there. My point is that a sale of goods for use in what religious people consider to be a holy sacrament implicates their religious beliefs more than a sale of goods for personal secular use to persons whom you deem to be sinful.

I find it significant that this is almost exclusively invoked when we're talking about LGBTQ people (when visible), and not the use of goods for non-Christian sacraments.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 4:33 PM on July 25, 2016


One of the problems we keep running into with these "does so and so have the right to refuse service to members of a marginalized group cause their religion demands they stay marginalized" debates is that there's this assumption that selling something to someone on the market is somehow tantamount to you doing them a solid or whatever, as if you only sell stuff to your friends.

Really, though, the whole idea with the market is that it allows you to trade with people you don't necessarily like. You don't ask your friends to pay market rate for your time, at least not if you're an asshole. You don't demand your underage children pay rent on their rooms, unless you're an asshole. Market rate is what you charge when you really don't care at all for the person you're trading with.

If you think selling a commodity item to a customer — a commodity item that the customer could easily get somewhere else — is an expression of support for that customer that violates your religious beliefs, you have grievously misjudged what a market is for.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:10 PM on July 25, 2016 [9 favorites]


Religion gives "acceptable folks" implied rights and seeks to deny those implied rights to whom they deem as "unacceptable folks".

I dislike "religion" being used as a euphemism for "Christianity" or "Abrahamic monotheisms." Last I checked, Hindus, Buddhists, and Pagans weren't trying to take away rights from people who don't follow their religions.

One of the very frustrating aspects of all this, is that all of us on the LGBT side of things are aware that most of the people claiming "religious beliefs" as a reason to discriminate, are just deeply offended that they have to acknowledge that gay and trans people exist and have full citizens' rights. They don't actually show any signs of a spiritual objection to LGBT people or activities; their spirituality doesn't run that deep. Their "bible-based" objection doesn't extend to the hundreds of other aspects of modern life that the bible speaks out against - divorced people, women teachers, using churches for business, off the top of my head. OTOH, they do object to things the bible has no problems with - like slavery and polygamy.

I am somewhat sympathetic to "I don't want to be hired to do something that's against my religion, and I don't want to give up my business entirely." It's a reasonable statement, in abstract. In practice, though... I'm not buying the current pack of arguments. The special religious exemptions end when they cause harm to other people, and if someone can't do their art without hurting people, they should learn new art skills.

I want the current pack of "I want to pretend I live in a community where same-sex couples never marry" people to be sued into poverty or forced to quit, so that the rest who believe that will shut up and just do the job, so that in twenty years, today's babies and kids will not be able to understand what the problem was.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:19 PM on July 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


Last I checked, Hindus, Buddhists, and Pagans weren't trying to take away rights from people who don't follow their religions.

Consider checking again. India, for example has a lot of interesting history, and areas of current religious/ethnic conflict. Never mind the treatment of LGBT people in places like Bangladesh, often justified with appeals to religion.
posted by Dysk at 5:24 PM on July 25, 2016 [12 favorites]


My point is that a sale of goods for use in what religious people consider to be a holy sacrament

Most Protestant denominations do not actually regard marriage as a sacrament.

From the perspective of a religious objector, requiring the former compels their participation in a sinful practice, while the other does not.

So, are you going to refuse to sell beds to adulterers? The notion that sale of an item to someone who then uses the item in a sinful fashion constitutes participation in the sin would allow the entire economy to be crippled. If you take an even moderately comprehensive notion of sin, there's virtually no object or service in the world that can't be used in a sinful way.

Ultimately, you're going to have to face the fact that the bigots in this case treat gay marriage as somehow uniquely objectionable, and that gives the lie to their talk of pure conscience. Jesus said not word one about homosexuality. Whereas oppressing the poor? Oh, that's a private matter. In fact, many of the same people seem to be under the impression that Donald Trump is a model of godliness, and would happily sell him any good or service needed for his next marriage.
posted by praemunire at 6:53 PM on July 25, 2016 [7 favorites]


Goddamn it, so much Yes in this thread!
posted by newdaddy at 7:08 PM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have something unusual to share here. If you called me a Pentecostal you wouldn't be egregiously inaccurate, in the specific sense that I buy into the idea of God speaking directly and intelligibly to individuals - and I've spent lots and lots of theological effort and mental energy testing the legitimacy of that phenomenon. As far as I can tell it's A ThingTM. In the context of my experience of Christianity I've seen some... unusually serendipitous stuff.

All of which is only to provide background for this anecdote. I'm a sometime member of a community (not this one) where there's a very well-known and very, very respected trans woman, in terms of her contribution and intellect and far-sightedness and just generally everything. Many years ago, fairly recently after her public transition, I asked publicly about her well-being - and came up short for a pronoun. I'm going to describe this next in my own terms, because I trust everyone here to provide their own context as appropriate: the Holy Spirit said to me "Call her a she. That's the pronoun."

So there you have it folks. Jesus says use the pronoun people ask you to use.

Note: the following are all derails: cessationism, spiritual gifts/validity thereof, my lack of authority in pronouncing that over other Christians. I'm aware there are a few trans people in this thread and thought they might appreciate this. That's all.
posted by iffthen at 7:51 AM on July 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


the Holy Spirit said to me "Call her a she. That's the pronoun."

Wait, like, in audio form?
posted by Greg Nog at 3:43 PM on July 27, 2016


"Call her a she"? The Lord's grammar is a little wonky and objectifying. I guess He is a native ancient Hebrew speaker, English must be a bit awkward.
posted by Dysk at 1:05 AM on July 28, 2016


Pretty sure Jesus spoke Aramaic... His Father probably spoke Hebrew, though. Zero clue what the Holy Spirit spoke... Sumerian?
posted by hippybear at 1:15 AM on July 28, 2016


They're all the same anyway, hippybear.

Boom! Trinity joke!
posted by Dysk at 1:17 AM on July 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


And yet, they aren't!

Thus is the mystery of the Trinity!
posted by hippybear at 1:18 AM on July 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I mean, what are you? Unitarian?
posted by hippybear at 1:19 AM on July 28, 2016


I guess I am. Those kinds of (to me) minor differences aren't really something we make a big thing of in the Danish church generally.
posted by Dysk at 1:24 AM on July 28, 2016


I do worship at the cheese danish church often, but I agree, minor differences in what kind of danish I consume is not a big thing.
posted by hippybear at 1:29 AM on July 28, 2016


Fun fact - most danishes are in fact of a French or Viennese pastry tradition, not the Danish one. Danish pastry is way nicer than danishes.
posted by Dysk at 1:33 AM on July 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Most of my danish consumption is of conspicuously low quality, and generally is meant to get me a sugar burst of energy and not actually because I want to consume a quality pastry.
posted by hippybear at 1:34 AM on July 28, 2016


> All of which is only to provide background for this anecdote. I'm a sometime member of a community (not this one) where there's a very well-known and very, very respected trans woman, in terms of her contribution and intellect and far-sightedness and just generally everything. Many years ago, fairly recently after her public transition, I asked publicly about her well-being - and came up short for a pronoun. I'm going to describe this next in my own terms, because I trust everyone here to provide their own context as appropriate: the Holy Spirit said to me "Call her a she. That's the pronoun."

Here's a book for you. It's insane and wrong, but it's insane and wrong in that delightful way that only things that are insane and wrong and from the 70s can really pull off.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:57 PM on August 2, 2016


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