Tuesday, March 31, 2015


I am not sure I can agree with the principle that there are so-called "Christian or Jewish or Muslim" businesses. There are secular businesses that are owned by religious people.

Therefore when someone opens a public, secular business, no matter how religious the owners are, they must sell what they have or provide services to those in the public who come to them.

Therefore the owner of a hotel can't discriminate against those who want to register there according to their race, belief or marital status or lack thereof.

A business that caters to the public cannot discriminate against those they feel are living immoral lives.

However, I have seen signs in businesses which say, "No shoes, no shirt, no service." Is this discrimination?"

Certainly a Jewish Deli and a Muslim Deli need not provide pork to those who demand it. But these are technically secular businesses catering to a particular class of customer. But anyone can buy what is provided. One doesn't have to be a Muslim or Jew.

Can a cake decorator refuse to place a gay couple plastic couple on top of the cake or write an obscene word on a cake?

And what about a florist or caterer who is asked to cater the reception of a satanic wedding? Can a business owner object?

The more serious question has to do with houses of worship who must discriminate when making their facilities available to others outside their religion. Are there legal protections for houses of worship.

For example, my parish has a large gym facility that we could rent out to make money for our school. We could rent it our for wedding receptions, banquets and sports to others. However, what if a gay couple who got married elsewhere wanted to rent our facility? What if a Catholic who has an impediment to being married in the Catholic Church, marries elsewhere and then wants to rent our facility for their reception, or have their illicit wedding performed by some other official in our facility?

I allowed a Lutheran who went to our Catholic high school to have a Lutheran wedding in our church as an ecumenical outreach as their Lutheran Church building was too small. I made sure there were no impediments from the Catholic point of view for this couple to be married even in a Lutheran ceremony in our church building.

Can I do that now that some Christian Churches also allow same sex marriages? In our city of Macon there are two male Episcopal priests who are gay and living with one another and it is accepted by their bishop and congregation. Can I allow an that Episcopal Church to have weddings at St. Joseph Church?

So is there a difference between a Christian who owns a secular business and the Church which might try to make money with its facilities? Can either discriminate under secular law?


Rood Screen said...

What the hell are we talking about here? This is all just too crazy. People need to keep their disordered fetishes to themselves, and stop asking decent people to affirm this nonsense.

Anonymous said...

I would want to start from the other end. I have a moral obligation to not aid and abet sin, i.e., I should not help someone procure an abortion or profit from someone procuring an abortion.

Let us say I run a hotel and 30% of my clientele is legally licensed prostitutes. One day, I have a conversion and no longer want to profit from sin. What does it say about our laws if my only recourse in order to uphold my religious convictions is to no longer do business with anyone?


Anonymous said...

Father, I am not surprised to hear the story of the 2 Episcopal priests in Macon---the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta has a hard-left bishop. (Their diocese, unlike the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta, includes Macon and Columbus.) Unfortunately many Southern Episcopal dioceses now resemble their arch-liberal northern counterparts. The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, which includes the southern and eastern parts of Georgia (Augusta, Cordele, Dublin. Albany, Savannah and the coast) is not quite as liberal, but even there I have heard complaints about their current bishop, who previously pastored a parish in the very liberal Episcopal Diocese of Washington (the district, not the state).

As I recall, in his final months as bishop (of Savannah), Raymond Lessard authorized use of the cathedral down there in 1995 for the ordination of the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, Henry Louttit. But when Louttit retired in 2010, his successor (Scott Benhase) was ordained at the Savannah Convention Center...wonder if the fact the chief consecrator was their very liberal presiding bishop (Catherine Schori) had anything to do with that?

RFRA still being hotly debated 85 miles to your northwest in Atlanta at the Gold Dome (State Capitol)---stay tuned as final 2 days of our legislative session can hold surprises!

Православный физик said...

The problem with the whole "religious liberty" argument is rather simple: One chooses to act within their own belief system, wha about their rights to act within theirs....So thusly if someone who believes abortion is okay wishes to promote it because it's their religious belief, they'd be free to do so. In other words, one is imposing on their rights just as much as they are on ours...or something to that degree.

Now that brings us to three questions that we need to answer:
1) Do we have a right to someone else's skills or labour?
2) At what point is it okay to use discrimination?
3) What role, if any, should the government play in this?

a. I would say to the first that we do NOT have a right to someone else's skills or labor. (The obligation to help neighbour is an entirely different point). We can't demand charity, or demand a particular good or service. I could ask for a piece of marble cake, but no one is under an obligation to give me (or sell me) a piece of marble cake (now one might argue it's a good idea to get me the cake, but that's another discussion)...Reason being? What if you're unable to fill the task? I can't ask for the impossible. If one doesn't know how to bake a cake, how can I ask for it....Of course one might say my analogy isn't perfect because in these situations, it's clear they can...

b. A society that doesn't discriminate to varying degrees would fall apart....Do we not put criminals in jail? This is a form of discrimination (in the positive sense). I think since we've been bombarded with discrimination in the negative sense, we tend to forget it can be used in a positive way as well. Do we not choose freely who we associate with? One can't force someone to speak to someone they don't wish to speak to. Yes, this is a double edged sword, but I'd argue instead of whining to the government, waaa, waaa, waaa every single time people choose not to associate with one another, perhaps one should go search the lands for someone who will associate with whoever it may be...(or in this case sell goods)

It's relatively obvious that the uproar is more about power, than it actually is about discrimination. There are a number of places that will bake cakes, do "gay marriages" and people that wish for these things can very easily find these people (there's this thing called the internet)....

With ownership does come a responsibility to exercise some type of discretion (discrimination) for particular things. You would not sell a gun to someone who threatens to kill people. A cake is not a right, one can get a cake from anywhere.

c. The (federal) government shall not pass a law prohibiting the free exercise of religion....I can agree that individuals that are religious own businesses. Religion is of course both a private and public act. And the government should protect this (with due limits).

A last point on this rant, one does not have a right to be protected from a jerk. One has a right to self defense, but if people so choose to act with their wills as jerks, they can't be forced with the law to act opposite of this.

As a society, I tend to think that we look to others to solve problems which should be solved at the local level. The Church in her infinite wisdom has given us the principle of subsidiarity, perhaps it should be looked at.

Sorry for the long rant Father, but I think these things need to be said.

Marie said...

I did not see the seriousness of this problem until I found myself right in the thick of it.

You see, I have a two-bedroom rental unit on the ground floor of my house. I took a "want renters" ad on Craig's List, being careful not to offend any unmarried couples [hetero-or-homo] with my ad. I find interviewing inquirers quite challenging. I think it's harder to look for ideal tenants for an apartment without breaking the law than renting out a hotel room for a few nights or baking a cake for a gay wedding.

I usually start out by asking, "How many of you will be living in the apartment?" and the answer usually tells you what you need to know:

If it's "Oh, just me and my fiancé," that's a red flag. That means they're not married. Or, " Just me and my partner," - in California, you know they're gays. Then I pray. Oh, God, help - what should I do without appearing to be breaking the law?

I usually say there are others who have made appointments to see the place and I'd like to show it to all of them before deciding whom to give the unit to.

Then I know I can turn down the unmarrieds without having to give the reason why.

Anonymous 2 said...

It is good to spin out some hypotheticals in testing the implications of the law. So, let me suggest another one:

A Fundamentalist Christian owner of a bakery refuses to make a cake for a Catholic wedding because the owner believes that the Catholic Church is the great Whore of Babylon and the Pope is the Antichrist? The owner is afraid of going to hell for helping to promote the activities of the Great Whore and the Anti-Christ and leading souls to perdition. Should the owner have the right to refuse as part of his or her religious freedom? If your answer is no (and it may in fact be yes), how do you distinguish this case from those other cases in which you would want Catholics and others to have the right to refuse to serve gays and other disfavored groups? Remember that the distinctions have to be legally (as opposed to morally) supportable.

I do not yet have any good answers to the issue currently under discussion and am just trying to advance that discussion to get greater clarity as we try to puzzle our way through this.

Anonymous said...

If you remove the ability of individuals to discriminate based on behavior, you have just taken the governor off the decency valve and effectively killed the culture and civil society. It may seem nice and tolerant and accepting at first, but as was pointed out previously, subsidiarity is destroyed. The remaining means to regulate and order society is government.


George said...

Any law (or rule) that does not allow for reasonable exceptions is probably a bad law. If a woman is a caterer or an event planner and some one wants her services for a get together where there will be exotic dancers performing should she have to accept their business? Or what if it is a pornography convention? Should a sign painter or buildboard owner be required to put up "I support abortion" or "I support same-sex marriage" if those positions run counter to his or her religious convictions? A law that applies absolutely without any allowances will end up doing as much harm as it seeks to prevent.

Paul said...

Anything called "religious freedom" these days equates to, In the minds of many: bigotry, hate, the Crusades, the Inquisition and intolerance.

If the same bill had been called (to borrow nebulous liberal language) "freedom of expression" it would have been... crickets.

Standing for something means being in the way of the onrushing mob who reek with the stench of (false) "freedom". Be prepared to be trampled underfoot.

If a Jewish deli can be allowed a pass how about a *Catholic* or *Christian* bakery? There are many more things that people request for a cake than gay couples.

There is a a news report out of California that a Christian campus group is being "unrecognized" by Cal State because the group has a requirement that the head of the group be a... Christian. There is no such requirement for membership in the group.

I wonder if the requirements to be elected President of the USA (35 years of age, natural born citizen) is unConstitutional? Uh, wait a minute...

Anonymous said...

The Bill doesn't have to be called "Religious Freedom" but "Freedom of Conscience". Here's a hypothetical, suppose someone goes to a black baker and says I want a Confederate Flag cake that says something against blacks. The baker refuses and runs them out of the store. Is the baker at fault? Can he be sued?

Daniel said...

"Disordered fetishes" -- i.e., an unhealthy interest in other people's lives.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2 at 5:25 pm said: "A Fundamentalist Christian owner of a bakery refuses to make a cake for a Catholic wedding because the owner believes that the Catholic Church is the great Whore of Babylon and the Pope is the Antichrist?"

In truth, if this happened to me, I'd go somewhere else to buy a cake. So yes, I think that would be alright. But if every cake maker in town did that, well, yes, I'd have a problem with it.

What's the difference? Freedom of the individual business owner to accept or reject a client. When blacks faced discrimination, often no white business would serve them. That is a uniformity that actually demonstrates discrimination. But gays mostly don't face this type of discrimination (not sure about smaller towns). If this bakery won't take your business, the next one probably will.

And here is where the agenda is so telling. The people who are being discriminated against aren't just happening to walk into the businesses and getting sent away - they are deliberately targeting businesses to create an issue. They are using the law to browbeat society into submission to their totalitarian ways. Sad when a group of angry hateful people (and I don't mean the business owners!) use the law to abuse the law.

I have a feeling this is going to come back to bite them, even though right now they seem to be getting their way.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Macon is primarily a Protestant town, but very ecumenical. There are some Protestant towns in the south that aren't ecumenical. Let's say no one will cater a Catholic wedding because the Catholic Church represents the anti-Christ and Catholics aren't Christian. Let's say the owner is a Muslim and will not serve Catholics.

It seems to me when someone opens a public business, they can't discriminate.

Where I wonder, though, is about catering. A caterer can say no to some requests because they may have a prior commitment or the job is too big for them or too small.

As far as a florist providing flowers for a gay wedding, all they have to do is provide these, have someone pick them up or deliver them. Most florists don't know what the flowers are for typically. A dozen roses to a gay lover?

I think if a person doesn't want to serve the public and all who are considered the public, they need to find a new occupation or vocation.

When I worked at Macy's I objected to the fact that they decided in the 1970's to open on Sunday. I objected that Christians flocked to shop on Sundays.

I would object to being forced by government to open my business on Sunday.

Anonymous said...

One more thing: In general, the law of contracts implies that any time you go into a store or place of business, when you propose to purchase the product there, you are entering into a contract with the seller. Technically speaking, each buying/selling contract is completely voluntary for both parties, and either party can refuse to enter into a contract for whatever reason. I the buyer, don't like your selection of roses, so I refuse the contract; you the seller don't take American Express credit cards, so you refuse the contract; I the buyer think your shop is messy and it turns me off, so I leave, refusing the contract; you the seller think I am messy, smell, and have a belligerent attitude, but you must sell to me anyway? The law says yes, you do. And there is where I think the weakness in the laws are.

I get that laws to protect blacks who were kept out of the marketplace because of their skin color were created to prevent refusal of contracts based on skin color. But that override of normal human exchange has exposed the fallacy that you can legislate fairness into the marketplace. The truth is, in human relations, you cannot force people to enter into contracts they do not want to enter into, even for "fairness" sake. What results is an authoritarian and totalitarian system. And that is becoming more clear now that other "protected classes" want to jump on the bandwagon, using laws that were an attempt to mitigate blatant unfairness in the marketplace toward race to acheive "fairness." In reality, there is no end to the "protected classes" that could be introduced. And the result is this: if people cannot run a business without intrusive regulation and oversight, if they cannot control the contracts they choose to enter into, they just won't open businesses. Ultimately, this is bad for any economy.

The news of intimidation and economic destruction of business owners by a protected class will only make business owners leave the marketplace, or not enter it to begin with. Some might say, GOOD RIDDANCE, we don't need those kinds of business owners, but really, is that the kind of country we want, where a small minority tyrannizes the majority and begins to limit the ability of persons to be free from government interference? Why not just have a dictatorship then, where some one person or small group makes all the laws, and changes them at will? Because those forms of governments ultimately fail, because people want to be free.

I think we need some grown ups to be in charge who can see where these kinds of court decisions lead, how they will really affect our future, and start thinking about whether this actually is a problem that needs to be solved, or if it is that activists are simply abusing laws meant to protect them.