The Fine Line Between Freedom of Religion and Discrimination

Every morning I go to the same donut shop. Well it is more of a bakery but I go there just for the donuts. The owner is very nice. A little timid the first time she waited on me but it may have been the amulet I wore and still wear around my neck. She is a Christian lady. I can tell because of the dainty little gold cross she wears around her neck. I've come to expect some push back in this small community. Although I have experienced my share of discrimination for one thing or another, I keep on keeping on. Not everyone is going to disappoint me. Right?  

It's now been a little over a year since I started going to this bakery. The owner has warmed up to me and calls me by my first name when I walk through her door. It's nice and the boundaries don't seem to exist any longer. I couldn't wait to see her this morning. I have exciting news! I'm going to get married!!! I can't think of any one else to bake the cake for my special day but Lisa. 

I walked in with a gleam in my eye and a song in my heart, "Guess what Lisa?!" She looked up from her register with that warm smile I have come to love. "He popped the question!!! We are getting married in September!". Lisa walked over and gave me a hug and congratulated me. "I want you to bake my cake." The hug ended very quickly. The timid Lisa was back and I mean BACK! "I'm sorry. I can't make your cake. I don't feel comfortable being a part of your rituals." She then turned around and went back behind the counter. Rituals?
It's a wedding! "Lisa I come in here everyday and you have no problem taking my money for donuts and coffee yet you can't bake a cake?! I can't believe you are discriminating against me because you don't agree with my lifestyle! I'm suing! I'm telling everyone I know not to ever do business with such a narrow minded zealot!" I stormed out of her store hurt and angry vowing never to go back. How dare she deny me a cake on my special day? 

Although some may have had a similar experience, my story is fictitious. I'm not getting married and I don't like donuts. Plus, I would never have asked her to bake my cake in the first place. You know why? Because that would be one of the most insensitive things I could do to someone. I know she has convictions and I know how Christians feel about Pagans. Why on this green earth would I think it was ok to expect her to be a part of a sacred event? Because she is a business owner and has to serve everyone? She does her part. She sells me donuts every morning and treats me with respect. Besides, why would I go to her to bake my wedding cake instead of a close friend who makes bomb ass cakes and accepts my beliefs? She doesn't have a donut shop but she does bake cakes. Get what I'm saying? 

I'm sure by now you all know where this post is headed. I didn't really pay much attention to what was going on in Arizona. Then I read an article. Someone was sued because they refused to photograph a gay wedding. It was against her religious convictions to be a part of their ceremony. Holy Hell!!!! Now they can't get married because she won't take the pictures! So they sued. Come on... I thought to myself while reading this article, what if it was a pagan couple? A pagan straight couple? My wedding? How would I react? I know, freedom of religion is protected under all state and federal laws and sexual orientation is protected by federal and some states.Yet there is still a strong connection. Both groups are considered sinful. 

The argument out there is that there is no room for discrimination of any kind. I get that and I support it. Sadly, there truly is a fine line between religious freedom and discrimination. 

I belong to several diverse groups on Facebook and I decided to ask the question to a varied religious group, but specifically to the Christians in the group, "Would you feel the same about providing wedding services to a pagan couple as you would a gay/lesbian couple? If so, why?" Then I went the pagan group I am in and asked them, "What would you do if a baker or photographer refused service in regards to your wedding because they did not want to support or be a part of the event due to religious conviction?" As expected the pagan group came unglued. "I would sue!" "I would tell everyone I know not to do business with such a closed minded person!" "I would not put up with such discrimination!" Then some stated they would go somewhere else. There are bigger battles to fight. Some even said it would bring bad energy to their special day. Some agreed with me and figured it would be best to find someone who didn't feel weird about the event.

I know this post will not bring all communities together in love and harmony. If anything I will get some back lash from some. I think I am posting because I feel for both sides. All sides. It is time for people to stop spending so much time forcing their views on others and just accept each other for who they are. It doesn't mean we go hang out after work or have play dates with our kids. We live our own lives. Like the Lisa in my story; that photographer isn't the enemy or a bad person. If Lisa was real I would still buy my donuts from her. She wasn't afraid to draw the line and didn't compromise her faith. She was exercising her religious right.

I'm going to close with the one and only Christian response I received from the other group. To be honest the only response from that group. 

 I think the question has to be asked, what is the Christian really promoting by refusal of either of these? There were the "untouchables" in Jesus's day as well, and Jesus went right up to them and associated with them.

How is the Christian really to witness to anyone but his own choir unless they step outside their "comfort" zone. Christ wasn't interested in the comfort zone and I'm beginning to believe the comfort zone is more hindrance to growth than anything else.

A Christian certainly isn't doing God any favors by refusal of business to a homosexual or pagan or Muslim. You're certainly not going to make God any more Holy by refusing someone. 

Rather, I'd turn the question around. As a Christian I'd say, "I'll be happy to photograph your wedding, service, meeting, but I am a Christian, are you comfortable with that? I'm not here to judge what is your business as this is a business transaction, but are you ok with someone of my convictions at your service or will it be a distraction for you? Because ultimately this is your event, not mine, and I don't want you to feel any weirdness with my presence there." 



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