Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Religious Rights Versus Gay Rights

It is becoming clear that LGBT rights are conflicting with religious rights and are causing problems throughout the United States.  The political liberalism that this nation was founded on encourages religious neutrality, not secularism, and tolerance in our government.  In the case of the Klein family, it is evident that this liberalism is intolerant of religious diversity. 

In order to run a business, people must apply for and obtain a permit or license from the state.  This obligates the business people to follow laws, even nondiscrimination laws.  On Monday, September 2, 2013, Aaron and Melissa Klein of Gresham, Oregon closed their family-owned bakery, Sweet Cakes by Melissa.  After refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, the Christian owners are claiming to have been forced to close by violent LGBT threats and protests.  Despite the fact that gay marriage is illegal in Oregon, the lesbian couple has filed a discrimination complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, as it is against Oregon state law to discriminate based on sexual orientation.  LGBT groups began protesting and boycotting wedding businesses in the area, as well as sending death threats the the Klein family.  In addition, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries has decided to investigate the Kleins for discrimination.  The Kleins stand by their decision to not “ somebody celebrate a commitment to a lifetime of sin” and believe that their actions are a warning to Christians in the United States.  While the investigation continues, Christian business owners throughout the country are dealing with similar dilemmas.   
The question here is, do “gay rights trump religious rights”?  Christians in other states who are facing similar situations are charged with, and often convicted for, discrimination based on sexual orientation. While gay and Christian disagreements used to be dealt with civilly, the situation in Oregon has escalated to a violent and illegal level.  Regardless of the fact that the state was on their side and that the Kleins were not convicted of any crime, gay activists employed tactics that were vigilante at best and criminal at worst.  LGBT groups began by telling their story to local newspapers and television news stations.  They furthered their cause by protesting and boycotting wedding venders such as florists and planners, but focused primarily on those who worked with the Klein’s Sweet Cakes by Melissa.  LGBT threats caused wedding businesses to end contact with the bakery.  The goal of the LGBT activists was to shut down this Christian-run, anti-homosexual business.  LGBT activists completely lost their argument when they resorted to sending the Klein family death threats through phone calls and emails.  Death threats were even addressed to the Kleins’ five children, wishing that they would fall ill.  The harassment has forced the Kleins to move their business to their own home.  The violent, uncivil, uncalled for, and illegal acts by the LGBT groups took away from their initial discrimination argument.  Should LGBT activists be permitted to perform criminal acts when discriminated against?  Absolutely not!  Supporters of the LGBT groups argue that Christians, despite their religious beliefs, do not have the right to discriminate; however, I argue that any organization, in this case it is LGBT activists, does not have the right to resort to barbaric and criminal actions.  While it is not Christian to discriminate or to support gay marriage, violence is also not following God’s law either.

When opening a business, in order to obtain a license or permit, one must know and understand state laws.  In my opinion, the Kleins broke the law and should face appropriate penalties; however, this does not give LGBT activists the right to behave as they did.  Two wrongs do not make a right.  While discrimination is illegal and against God’s law, harassment and violent threats is a much more severe crime that requires a greater punishment, in the eyes of man and of God.  I believe that the Kleins should accept the fact that both discrimination and gay marriage are against God’s law.  They also need to realize that they are not participating in the gay marriage, which means that they are not sinning.  They are simply baking a cake.  Discriminating is sinning.  The Kleins should also be forced by the government to bake a wedding cake for any couple, because they have agreed to follow laws before they opened their business.  Christianity does not encourage its followers violate contracts.  The liberal political theory that our government has adopted encourages toleration and neutrality.  LGBT activists work for their cause to be accepted.  In analyzing the case of the Kleins, it is proven that “[t]hose who preach tolerance and diversity are the least tolerant and the least diverse of all” (Starnes 30).  

1 comment:

Tyler J said...

I agree that when opening a business the owner is assenting to abide by the laws of the area in which they are opening said business. I also agree that when baking a cake, you are not participating in nor condoning the celebration of same-sex unions. For these reasons, among others, I too believe Sweet Cakes by Melissa should be fined and/or forced to bake the cake for the lesbian couple.
As for the violent response to the Klien’s decision, the right to peaceably assemble is given to the American people under the first amendment. Peaceable, however, does not include threats. The LGBT protesters who participated in this form of protesting were far overstepping their bounds and, should the Kleins choose to take legal action, deserve to be punished.
I found Liz's comments on discrimination and sinning to be very enlightening. The Kleins, therefore, should not discriminate and make the cake, however they do not have to attend and participate in the wedding, thereby not celebrating.