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Crushing Barronelle So #LoveWins™

You have probably heard the news from Washington state: [1]

A Richland florist who refused to provide flowers to a gay couple for their wedding violated anti-discrimination law, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The court ruled unanimously [2] that Barronelle Stutzman discriminated against longtime customers Rob Ingersoll and Curt Freed when she refused to do the flowers for their 2013 wedding because of her religious opposition to same-sex marriage. Instead, Stutzman suggested several other florists in the area who would help them.

“We’re thrilled that the Washington Supreme Court has ruled in our favor. The court affirmed that we are on the right side of the law and the right side of history,” Ingersoll and Freed said in a statement.

Stutzman and her attorneys said they would appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. They also held out hope that President Donald Trump would issue an executive order protecting religious freedom, which was a campaign pledge.

Stutzman called the ruling “terrifying when you think the government is coming in and telling you what to think and what to do.”

I would be surprised if SCOTUS agreed to hear the case, but who knows?

Here is a key part of the ruling:

The decision to either provide or refuse to provide flowers for a wedding does not inherently express a message about that wedding. As Stutzman acknowledged at deposition, providing flowers for a wedding between Muslims would not necessarily constitute an endorsement of Islam, nor would providing flowers for an atheist couple endorse atheism.

A wedding between Muslims or atheists is still a wedding between a man and a woman, which Stutzman believes to be good. Because she is a Southern Baptist, she believes that same-sex couples cannot marry, and that homosexuality is in some sense sinful. What same-sex couples do is not analogous to what sexually complementary couples of other religions, or no religion at all, do. You may believe her to be wrong, but unlike racism, hers is a religious belief that is deeply rooted in the Bible, as well as in history and anthropology. It was not even a matter of significant controversy until recent decades.

The Court seems to believe that homosexuality is in the same category as race: morally insignificant. No orthodox Christian can believe that. I don’t think that orthodox Christianity requires one to refuse to arrange flowers for a gay wedding, but it’s not my place to tell another Christian (or Jew, Muslim, Hindu, et al.) that they have to violate their conscience to do so, any more than I have the right to tell her that she must violate her conscience by arranging flowers for the wedding of a man and a woman who have been living together prior to marriage, however prudish I may find that to be. Because sexuality is categorically different. 

Anyway, that’s that. Never mind that Stutzman knew her customer, Rob Ingersoll, was gay, and had been kindly serving him for a decade or so. In this story in the Christian Science Monitor [3], Ingersoll talks about how Stutzman, a gentle grandmother (I met her last year), broke the news to him:

As part of the preparations, Ingersoll went to his favorite florist to ask her personally if she would handle the flowers.

At that brief meeting, Stutzman reached across the counter and took hold of Ingersoll’s hand. He would later recall to Freed the words she used: “You know I love you dearly. I think you are a wonderful person, but my religion doesn’t allow me to do this.”

In response to Ingersoll’s request for a referral, she suggested three local florists from among a dozen flower shops in the area. They talked a bit more, then hugged, and Ingersoll left the shop.

So he went and got the ACLU on his side, and he sued the hateful hag. Because #lovewins™, or something.

David French, who is a lawyer, describes the injustices that the Washington courts have inflicted on Barronelle Stutzman [4] on behalf of these two spiteful narcissists:

The pretext for overriding the florist’s rights to free speech and religious liberty was Washington’s so-called “public accommodations law,” which required the owner, Barronelle Stutzman, to provide goods and services to customers “regardless” of their sexual orientation.

Let’s be clear, according to the plain language of the law and the undisputed facts of the case, Stutzman did nothing illegal. She had always consistently and joyfully served gay clients, including the man who ultimately decided to bring potentially ruinous legal claims against her. On each of those prior occasions, however, she was not using her artistic talents to help her clients celebrate an occasion she considered immoral.

In other words, she was not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. She was making a decision not to help celebrate an action, a form of expression. She would no more celebrate a gay wedding than she would any form of immorality, gay or straight. To dispense with her argument, the court did what numerous progressive courts have done: It rewrote the law. It rejected what it called the “status/conduct” distinction, and essentially interpreted the word “orientation” to also mean “action.”

To understand how nonsensical and dangerous this is, one need merely apply it to other categories of expression. Is it now racial discrimination to refuse to bake a cake with Confederate flag icing, since the person asking for such a cake will almost always be white? Is it gender discrimination for fashion designers to refuse to “dress” Ivanka or Melania Trump? They’re women, after all.

French says that the state Supreme Court compared what Stutzman did to Jim Crow. It’s fatuous nonsense. French points out that in the segregated South, black Americans were widely denied access to goods and services. Here?:

The gay couple in this case had no trouble finding flowers. Stutzman even recommended other florists who would have been happy to help them celebrate their wedding. So, given the absence of any real harm, the court said that the state had a compelling state interest in punishing the “independent social evil” of discrimination toward a “broader societal purpose: eradicating barriers to equal treatment of all citizens in the commercial marketplace.”

That’s it right there: the state religion. It reserves for itself the exclusive ability to name, define, and eradicate “social evils,” and heaven help the individual citizen who disagrees. There is no need to show a traditional, legally recognized harm. There is no need to prove lack of access to alternative artistic expressions. There is only the need to show that the business owner won’t use her unique talents to help celebrate the sexual revolution.

You should read his entire piece. [4]

Last summer, I met Barronelle Stutzman, and interviewed her. Look at and listen to this video of her to get a sense of the kind of woman she is. [5] When I was with her, the serenity of her bearing conveyed the granite strength of her religious conviction. This Southern Baptist woman shall not be moved. The state court has made it possible for the plaintiffs to sue her personally to cover their legal fees, which will probably go up to a million dollars. Understand: they aren’t satisfied to destroy this 72-year-old woman’s livelihood, but they also want to bankrupt her.

Because #LoveWins, always.

The Catholic philosopher Michael Hanby said last year of Barronelle Stutzman: [6]

I am deeply aware of how scandalous, even how obscene, it seems to speak of martyrdom from within the relative safety and prosperity of the liberal West, while so many of our brothers and sisters elsewhere in the world are dying for the faith. I have no answer to this powerful objection, and so I am also aware of the famous remark of Wittgenstein, “whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” And yet the suffering of a Barronelle Stutzman does not become less real simply because liberal order has perfected the art of bleeding its victims slowly and invisibly through ten-thousand bureaucratic paper cuts, rather than with the sword or lions in the Colosseum. Certainly we must be grateful for that, and yet there is a peculiar challenge for Christian faith and witness in the fact that liberal order diffuses its power quietly, almost imperceptibly, without blood or spectacle or responsibility. It creates a real possibility that one’s sufferings may be visible only to God, so that it will always be possible to say, as many of our Catholic brethren seem only too eager to say, “Move on, there is really nothing to see here.”

Attention must be paid. What they do to her today, they will do to you tomorrow. Count on it. Will you and I have the courage to pay the price Barronelle Stutzman is paying? Will you and I at least stand with her and help her pay the financial cost her persecutors will levy on her? In The Benedict Option [7], I write:

A Christian family might be forced to sell or close a business rather than submit to state dictates. The Stormans family of Washington state faced this decision after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a state law requiring its pharmacy to sell pills the family considers abortifacient. Depending on the ultimate outcome of her legal fight, florist Barronelle Stutzman, who declined for conscience reasons to arrange flowers for a gay wedding, faces the same choice.

When that price needs to be paid, Benedict Option Christians should be ready to support one another economically—through offering jobs, patronizing businesses, professional networking, and so forth. This will not be a cure-all; the conversion of the public square into a politicized zone will be too far-reaching for orthodox Christian networks to employ or otherwise financially support all their economic refugees. But we will be able to help some.

Given how much Americans have come to rely on middle-class comfort, freedom, and stability, Christians will be sorely tempted to say or do anything asked of us to hold on to what we have. That is the way of spiritual death. When the Roman proconsul told Polycarp he would burn him at the stake if he didn’t worship the emperor, the elderly second-century bishop retorted that the proconsul threatened temporary fire, which was nothing compared with the fire of judgment that awaited the ungodly.

If Polycarp was willing to lose his life rather than deny his faith, how can we Christians today be unwilling to lose our jobs if put to the test? If Barronelle Stutzman is prepared to lose her business as the cost of Christian discipleship, how can we do anything less?

That passage comes from the Work chapter of the book, which focuses in large part on preparing ourselves for earning a living in an environment in which we will not be allowed to hold certain jobs or enter certain fields. Folks, it’s getting real now. And so had we better.

Let this inspire you:

222 Comments (Open | Close)

222 Comments To "Crushing Barronelle So #LoveWins™"

#1 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 19, 2017 @ 9:16 pm

Except progressives aren’t dying on this hill, their opponents are.

That’s a premature statement. The logic of it, as distinct from the blood actually or potentially shed, is a bit like announcing that “Germans aren’t dying on these plains, Poles are.”

I understand that Stutzman believes what she is doing is civil disobedience of an unjust law. But comparing her to Rosa Parks is absurd. You should compare her to the bus driver who called the police to arrest her, or the police who actually arrested her.

Why, and how so? I understand that YOU believe that the two men who sued Stutzman are on the right side of history and all that crap, but Stutzman didn’t call the police to arrest anybody. She gently held the man’s hand and explained that she couldn’t accept his money. She also didn’t shoot anybody, she held his hand and gently explained that should couldn’t accept his money.

Now civil disobedience is always a dicey thing to engage in. Not only might the most powerful, or even the majority, of the local community be implacably hostile, but the law may or may not be on your side, and you might actually just be suppressed, rather than victorious. And, it is possible that your protest is IMMORAL. But to make a definitive statement of where the moral calculus lies, requires a good deal more than “at least in my view.”

In other words, if Stutzman wants to discriminate against gay weddings, she has to file for a waiver

No, she doesn’t. Her right not to be coerced is already fundamental to our nation’s constitutional jurisprudence. There’s just a fad running around in elite circles that this can be ignored — which is more or less what happened to the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments for the first 100 years. Seriously Joys, do you EVER read any relevant jurisprudence as you weave your personal fantasies of what is right and true and good in your personal little world?

And I think in general the anti-discrimination laws are just.

In general, I do too. But in specific, they constitutionally do not, and in my opinion should not (those are two different things) trump the restrain on coerced speech. I also don’t favor enforcing a suffocating uniformity of thought in the name of “anti-discrimination.”

But the law does decide these matters, and we have to abide by it even when we think it’s wrong.

There are also channels to appeal. But you posit that it is immoral to appeal a decision one believes to be immoral because, because, because one court already ruled and its just unacceptable that someone who disagrees with a ruling you consider fair, just and moral would appeal lawfully to a higher court when they believe that same decision is unfair, unjust and immoral. And if Lester Maddox appealed, then anyone who appeals any decision is just another Lester Maddox. Do you have any idea how much historical ignorance and self-serving tautology is built into your quiet hysteria?

#2 Comment By Joys-R-Us On February 19, 2017 @ 10:12 pm

Arthur Beare,

What I don’t quite get is how the plaintifs were motivated to bring a potentially ruinous suit against a person that at least one of them had known for years and was apparently on friendly terms with.

The original suit was for all of eight dollars, filed months after the fact. The florist’s refusal to sell them flowers for their wedding after ten years as a customer was apparently emotionally devastating, and destroyed their friendship.

TO some, it might not seem like a big deal, but these are people who have had to deal with anti-gay antagonism all their lives, who had been involved for eight years and finally had the right to marry, so this was a really big deal for them. They approached their friend the florist to plan the flower arrangements, and were genuinely shocked at her refusal. THis made them question everything about their marriage plans, and made them afraid to approach other florists. So instead of the big wedding they had planned, they had a very small wedding without much fanfare or celebration, because they didn’t want to deal with any other people who might refuse to serve them.

You may think that’s an overreaction, but you have probably never had to deal with systematic condemnation and discrimination for most of your life. It does wear a person down. Even now, they are being blamed for this whole situation, even though their suit was for a mere eight dollars. They also happened to have the law on their side. It was Stutzman who refused to concede that the law was valid, and who fought every settlement offer all the way down the line. It was never the intention of the gay couple to bring a “ruinous” suit against her. But this is what happens when your response to authority is to try to invalidate a whole body of law.

#3 Comment By Joys-R-Us On February 19, 2017 @ 10:26 pm

Loudon,

I can explain it to you. I can’t understand it for you.

You don’t seem able to explain it very well. Probably because it isn’t true.

Let me try to help you. Show me the lines from scripture, or the Baptist Church’s rule book or theological set of beliefs and practices (I assume they have something like that) that demonstrates that selling flowers for a gay couple’s wedding violates that religion’s explicit practices.

I don’t think you can do that, but I’m open to the possibility. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think this is the sort of thing that an individual is able to decide for themselves. I don’t think Baptists are forbidden to attend or a gay marriage ceremony. That may not be approved of, but it doesn’t violate the religion itself. If a Baptist has a gay child, and they get married, are the parents forbidden to attend the ceremony? I’m guessing some might take that route, but is it actually required? Probably not. So even that isn’t a violation of the Church’s strictures.

So I really, sincerely doubt that a Baptist’s religion actually requires them to not sell flowers for a gay wedding. I’m willing to bet that a lot of them do things just like that, and don’t make a big deal of it, and their minister doesn’t make an issue of it either. So it’s a purely individual matter, as far as I can tell. Again, correct me if I’m wrong.

That’s why it’s a matter of conscience, rather than an issue of religious compulsion. Stutzman’s religion doesn’t require her to refuse the couple. She did that on her own. She’s not being forced to go against her religion’s requirements, only against her personal conscience. And those are not the same thing.

As far as I know, her religion requires her not to engage in gay sex acts, not to approve of gay relationships or marriages, and if she’s a minister, not to perform a gay marriage. That’s about all. It doesn’t require her to completely boycott any and all involvements in a gay wedding. Unless perhaps I’m missing something here.

So maybe you can demonstrate that it does, not just with an argument about conscience, but an argument from actual religious requirements spelled out by the Baptist church she belongs to. That would be an actual explanation, and one I’d be glad to hear if it exists.

#4 Comment By Eliavy On February 19, 2017 @ 10:33 pm

Charlieford says (February 19, 2017 at 4:44 pm):

“Flowers. Not providing them. This is now the test of Christian witness?

I don’t think so.

How about just doing what Jesus said in the first place–“If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles” (Matthew 5:41)–and get on to other, more important things? […]

Moreover, we can ask if this woman’s conscience is properly formed. Is it the case that she should be refusing to sell flowers to these people? Is that, in fact, what Jesus taught us to do? Arguably, no.

—————————————–

The passage about carrying the cloak is about being gracious, not taking revenge, and doing a morally neutral action despite the insult given.

I think more relevant passages are those in which Jesus clears the Temple in anger. The same Jesus who spent time with tax collectors and sinners was furious at the moneychangers and sellers who corrupted the purpose of the Temple.

Considering the importance the Bible places on marriage and how consistent the theme of marriage is throughout it, would Jesus really be so easygoing if his church participated in the corruption of the holy institution God created?

The Gospel is offensive to nonbelievers by its nature. Christians shouldn’t make it more offensive than it is, but neither should we compromise it so we can be nice.

#5 Comment By Matt On February 19, 2017 @ 11:34 pm

Except progressives aren’t dying on this hill, their opponents are.

The argument is that wedding flowers are so minor and irrelevant that no one should care about them. Well this is true, and yet progressives apparently do care very much about them.

Also it’s hindsight bias to declare that the outcome was obvious.

#6 Comment By Jane On February 20, 2017 @ 3:37 am

I’m neither gay nor Christian, so maybe that’s why I take a more pragmatic view of things, but….

Is it just an issue with the word “marriage”? What if we made a new word instead of “marriage”, say, a “joining” or a “bonding”? Would that make it ok for Christians to bless the “bonding” of two men, since the bible doesn’t mention “bonding”?

#7 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 20, 2017 @ 10:46 am

So I really, sincerely doubt that a Baptist’s religion actually requires them to not sell flowers for a gay wedding. I’m willing to bet that a lot of them do things just like that, and don’t make a big deal of it, and their minister doesn’t make an issue of it either.

You are right that it is an issue of personal conscience, not religious compulsion. But you are wrong if you think that means Stutzman has no legal leg to stand on. Her best legal citations, and the legal citations properly used by the attorneys for Elane Photography, are entirely secular in nature: no individual may be coerced by the police powers of the state to utter words, offer speech, participate in an expressive message, that they themselves find abhorrent. Only the words you choose to utter may be required from your own mouth.

However, it is also irrelevant whether YOU believe that a Baptist’s faith requires them to refrain from selling flowers for a gay wedding. If the government has no jurisdiction to weight what any given church’s beliefs actually are (and there is a LOT of jurisprudence on that also), then what makes you think you, and an individual citizen are empowered to decide for any church what their beliefs are, or are not?

It is true that members of a church violate church teachings all the time — most churches call that sin, and many expect it on the theory of our “fallen nature.” But adherents are expected to TRY not to do that. Again, whether I see it that way, or you do, is irrelevant. Baronelle Stutzman sees it that way, and she has a right to refrain from participation.

#8 Comment By A. G. Phillbin On February 20, 2017 @ 4:17 pm

Hmmmm … interesting conflict, and also confusing. One thing I find confusing is Ms. Stutzman’s reasoning that it was apparently okay to sell flowers to a man she knew to be gay to help facilitate a relationship with another man FOR YEARS, and yet balked at providing flowers for a legalistic ceremony that celebrated the apparently sinful (in her view) relationship that she had been enabling. This no doubt also confused the customer in question. Exactly how is a legalistic, non-church (or al least not Ms. Stutzman’s church)ceremony more sinful, (in Ms. Stutzman’s view), than the actual relationship itself? I don’t know if the court asked this question, but I would have, were I the judge.

Another thing that I find confusing is where to draw the line on public accommodation law exceptions if Ms. Stutzman ultimately prevails. For example, could a baker who was a member of the Kingdom Identity Church refuse to bake a cake for a mixed-race wedding, as that would violate his religion? Or a devoutly Catholic photographer refusing to serve a Catholic couple because one of them had received a civil divorce from a prior spouse? If we really want RFRA type “religious freedom” exemptions, we better define the limits very carefully, lest we overturn all public accommodation law, or invite the state into theological disputes. Whatever you do, never leave it entirely in the hands of ham-handed groups of dilettantes known as state legislatures.

Also, I have read an article by one of the plaintiff’s justifying their suit. Yes, it’s understandable that he felt hurt, and that he doesn’t want any other couple to go through what he just did. It is my understanding that he is only asking for the $8 carfare spent to get another florist. But does he really think that this is the best case to utilize? Does he not understand that accepting same sex relationships is in fact far more difficult than simply serving people of a different race or even sexual preference? There is no religious prohibition on serving other races, or serving people with “sinful” lifestyles at a restaurant; there are deeply held religious convictions regarding same sex relationships.

#9 Comment By Siluan On February 20, 2017 @ 4:56 pm

Joys – the Baptists have always held as one of their cardinal doctrines Soul Competency, which basically states that the individual believer is responsible before God alone for his/her actions and thus cannot be held to any specific set of beliefs by anyone. So nice try, but Stutzman is actually being 100% authentic to her church’s teaching merely by making her own mind up based on her reading of Scripture and following through with her belief.

#10 Comment By Joys-R-Us On February 20, 2017 @ 7:07 pm

The argument is that wedding flowers are so minor and irrelevant that no one should care about them. Well this is true, and yet progressives apparently do care very much about them.

Obviously it’s not the flowers themselves that are the issue, it’s the legal precedent it would establish. Because a carve-out of discrimination law for this would basically mean anyone could claim anything that violates their conscience in any way at all grants them the right to ignore the law and discriminate as they see fit.

though I think the idea that a person’s wedding doesn’t matter is not something most people would agree with. It made the gay couple wonder if every other aspect of a big wedding would face similar discrimination and negative feedback and press coverage. So it’s not really just about a flower arrangement. It’s about a much bigger picture, even solely for the people involved.

#11 Comment By Joys-R-Us On February 20, 2017 @ 7:08 pm

would disagree with

#12 Comment By Joys-R-Us On February 20, 2017 @ 7:20 pm

Siarlys,

no individual may be coerced by the police powers of the state to utter words, offer speech, participate in an expressive message, that they themselves find abhorrent.

In that respect, a flower arrangement has no words, speech, or expressive symbolism to it that can distinguish it from any other flower arrangement used for any other wedding or event. It’s not like that were asked to arrange the flowers in a rainbow for gay rights messaging, or in the form of two men having sex. So there’s no expressive message here. So that precedent has no power in this case.

However, it is also irrelevant whether YOU believe that a Baptist’s faith requires them to refrain from selling flowers for a gay wedding.

I would agree. That’s why I was asking if there was some sort of requirement of the faith here. I was thinking of the case mentioned before where a person quit a job that required her to work on the Sabbath, and wanted to collect unemployment insurance from the state. She won that case, because not working on the Sabbath was a legitimate issue about the actual exercise of her religion. So if there were some literal requirement of Baptist Christianity that she not sell flowers to gay people for their weddings, that might help her case. Not sure if it would be enough to win, but it might give a bit more weight to it. But since there doesn’t appear to be any such requirement in her faith, it’s really just her personal conscience. In other words, it doesn’t interfere with the actual exercise of her religion, it only interferes with how she feels. It doesn’t prevent her from going to Church or taking the Sabbath off from work. Not that an employer would be required to honor that, but the state would, so they would have to pay her unemployment for quitting that job.

But as to my other comments about this, I was also addressing the moral, non-legal aspects of the case, as Rod asked. That’s why I was asking if selling the flowers to the couple would actually be considered a “sin” on her part. If there was some actual teaching that said it was a sin, I’d at least be more morally sympathetic to her case. But it doesn’t appear that this is the case. At least no one has offered up any evidence that it is. It appears to be her own idiosyncratic interpretation of her religion, and rather arbitrarily applied. So while that may not matter legally, it does matter morally to me.

#13 Comment By Joys-R-Us On February 20, 2017 @ 7:23 pm

no, wait, I was right the first time.

#14 Comment By Joys-R-Us On February 20, 2017 @ 11:14 pm

Considering the importance the Bible places on marriage and how consistent the theme of marriage is throughout it, would Jesus really be so easygoing if his church participated in the corruption of the holy institution God created?

I could certainly understand that view if the gay wedding were taking place in a Christian Church. Or, really, a Jewish Synogogue (since Jesus was a Jew). But would Jesus really care about a pagan wedding (gay or straight) taking place in a secular environment? Would he really demand that his followers refuse to sell flowers to pagans who would use them in such ceremonies? I hardly think so. Jesus didn’t go around knocking over moneylenders’ tables at pagan temples, did he? Or anywhere else. He only cared about how things were done in the temple of his own religion.

#15 Comment By Joys-R-Us On February 20, 2017 @ 11:22 pm

Siluan,

Joys – the Baptists have always held as one of their cardinal doctrines Soul Competency, which basically states that the individual believer is responsible before God alone for his/her actions and thus cannot be held to any specific set of beliefs by anyone. So nice try, but Stutzman is actually being 100% authentic to her church’s teaching merely by making her own mind up based on her reading of Scripture and following through with her belief.

Thanks for clarifying that. I think that’s a good policy. But it basically confirms what I thought, that Stutzman was acting on her own personal sense of conscience, and not on some required stricture of her religion. It also seems to imply that if she had chosen to sell the flowers to the gay couple, or even fully attend the wedding as a bridesmaid because her conscience told her that was right, that also would have met the criteria of her Baptist faith.

So in regards to her faith requiring her not sell those flowers, the answer would be no. It was only her own conscience that decided that. So it doesn’t sound like she has a case for claiming that the law interferes with any overt requirements of her religion. Unless you claim that any and all decisions based on one’s own inner sense of conscience cannot be restricted by the law. I think you can see how absurd that would quickly become.

#16 Comment By russ On February 21, 2017 @ 9:54 am

@Joys-R-Us:

It made the gay couple wonder if every other aspect of a big wedding would face similar discrimination and negative feedback and press coverage.

The only reason there was press coverage and negative feedback was that the plaintiffs decided to make it a public issue.

#17 Comment By russ On February 21, 2017 @ 10:24 am

@Joys-R-Us,

Is the Bible the Word of God? I say yes–I’m going to guess you say no (correct me if I’m wrong).

If no, it’s just a book written by men.

If it’s a book conceived of and written by men, and yet it can be used to claim religious freedom, then any book written by men can be used for the same.

Your argument seems to hinge on whether the Bible contains the words ‘Do not arrange flowers for a gay wedding’.

Can I write a Russ’s Religious Rule Book that includes “Russites may not acknowledge, participate in, sanction, or arrange flowers for a wedding that is between any creatures except between a human man and a human woman with different skin tones (as determined by careful analysis of their instagram account)”? It seems that you’d take that to be a better legal argument for allowing discrimination based on religious conviction than that of Barronnelle Stutzman.

As it is, if you really want to understand why a Christian might make this stand and whether it’s consistent with a sincere reading of our Holy Scripture, you need to read the scriptures themselves, and speak with theologians of several different denominations/positions, and pastors who have counseled congregants on their decisions to attend/not attend homosexual weddings. You’ll find that separating conscience from religious conviction is impossible, and that scripture is not a rule book, primarily.

Not sure why I’m even typing here, as you haven’t really bothered to engage the crux of the excellent (better than mine, certainly) arguments that have already been offered to you.

#18 Comment By Siluan On February 21, 2017 @ 11:12 am

Joys – Acting on her own personal conscience (guided by Scripture) IS the required stricture of her religion. That’s the point.

You may find protecting that right to be undesirable, but that’s another argument.

Interestingly enough, there’s actually already a name for a system in which “any and all decisions based on one’s own inner sense of conscience cannot be restricted by the law”. And actually, as long as everyone is understood to have identical rights and is not allowed to infringe the rights of others, it works remarkably well. It’s called “freedom”.

#19 Comment By Joys-R-Us On February 21, 2017 @ 4:29 pm

russ,

While it would certainly not have come to the attention of us if the plaintiff’s hadn’t filed the lawsuit, the plaintiffs hadn’t been discriminated against by Stutzman, there would have been no lawsuit to begin with. So the original responsibility lies with Stutzman, for breaking the law.

Otherwise, what you’re saying is that if a man beats his wife, it’s her fault if she reported it to the cops and sends her husband to jail and ruins his life, and that if she hadn’t done that no one would have known about it other than the two of them. I doubt you’d say or even think that. But somehow, when it comes to the gays, it’s always their fault. Why do you think that is?

#20 Comment By Joys-R-Us On February 21, 2017 @ 4:41 pm

Siluan,

I don’t know of any system in which “any and all decisions based on one’s own inner sense of conscience cannot be restricted by the law”.

Could you please name that system? It’s certainly not the system we live under. I don’t recall anyone defending the 9/11 hijackers by saying that because they acted according to their own religious conscience, they can’t be held guilty of murder, because we can’t place legal restrictions on their personal conscience. Well, other than other terrorists, I suppose.

Every law and regulation we have on the books places restrictions on our conscience. If you think selling heroin is just fine by your conscience, what right has the state to make that illegal? If you think abiding by the health and safety codes restricts your freedom to believe such things aren’t true and necessary, does that mean your business doesn’t have to abide by them? I could literally give a million examples citing every law in the country, by which your personal conscience doesn’t matter, only the acts you perform matter. Our legal system gives very, very little shrift to personal conscience when it comes to breaking the law. That is not what the first amendment defends. Religious people, and atheists too, have to abide by the law regardless of their conscience. To be declared in violation of the First Amendment, a law has to unreasonably restrict one’s actual behavior, not one’s conscience. And anti-discrimination law has not been found to unreasonably restrict Stutzman’s behavior, for the rather obvious reason that it doesn’t. Where’s Stutzman’s discrimination against the gay couple has indeed been found to unreasonably and illegally restrict the gay couple’s ability to buy flowers for their wedding.

Again, why is it that these sorts of ideas about the inviolability of conscience only seem to come out when it’s about the gays?

#21 Comment By Joys-R-Us On February 21, 2017 @ 4:58 pm

russ,

Can I write a Russ’s Religious Rule Book that includes “Russites may not acknowledge, participate in, sanction, or arrange flowers for a wedding that is between any creatures except between a human man and a human woman with different skin tones (as determined by careful analysis of their instagram account)”? It seems that you’d take that to be a better legal argument for allowing discrimination based on religious conviction than that of Barronnelle Stutzman.

There’s two aspect of this issue that we are discussing. One is the moral side of it, by which what Stutzman’s conscience and religious beliefs do matter, and what her conscience tells her she should do. In that respect, I’ve made it clear that her conscience seems pretty much her own, and not a requirement of her religion, either of Baptism or of the Christian faith. And further, that for some odd reason her conscience was fine with selling flowers to the gay couple for eight years, knowing full well they were in a sexually active gay relationship that went against the same religious beliefs she used to justify not selling flowers to the wedding. So even on the moral grounds, I think she has a faulty and inconsistent conscience that doesn’t stand up well to questioning. I don’t say she hasn’t got the right to believe what she believes, I am just no uncritically accepting those beliefs.

The other side of the issue is the legal one, and under the law it doesn’t matter what her personal conscience thinks, it only matters whether she is being unreasonably restricted by that law in her actions, which include speech. In that respect, her conscience isn’t the issue, it is her action and speech that matter. Is she unable to practice her religion by being required not to discriminate against this gay couple’s wedding? I think it’s clear that she is not. Her conscience is being impinged upon, but her active practice of the Christian faith is not. Is her speech being restricted? Clearly not. She is able to openly say that she thinks gay marriage is a sin, a lie, whatever you want to say about it.

So I don’t think she could create a rulebook that any court would be persuaded by. But certainly, some would be persuaded morally that her conscience shouldn’t be restricted in this manner. But there’s a huge problem with that argument, in that it would also require the law to take into account everyone’s conscience regarding every law on the books, and our judicial system just won’t do that. That would be true chaos.

Honestly, you social conservatives sound like a bunch of spoiled SJWs who think that whatever their conscience believes should be respected by everyone else and not restricted, either morally or legally. Everyone is thus a special snowflake whose inner feelings about anything overrides everything else. You believe different things, but you act according to the same pattern.

If you think the Bible is the perfect Word of God and should be obeyed, go ahead. But that’s not a legal defense against laws you don’t like. If you have to be a martyr for that, fine. You still don’t get to stone the gays to death because that’s what the Bible says.

#22 Comment By Joys-R-Us On February 21, 2017 @ 5:46 pm

Russ,

As to your question about the Bible being the word of God, no, I don’t believe that. I believe it is a book written by men who felt inspired, perhaps in part by God, but also by their own personal views of God that emerged from both their personal experience and their culture. I think the same of virtually all religion and scripture around the world.

I don’t think God writes or dictates books. People write books. Do they get it all right with God? I don’t think so. I would say, as a rough estimate, that maybe 20% of the NT is true. Which isn’t really so bad, comparatively speaking. The hard part is figuring out which part is true, and which isn’t. But believing that it’s 100% true in all respects is, I think, a road to massive self-delusion. Not knowing for sure is in most respects much better than feeling certain about things one really isn’t sure about at all, but just takes on authority. But again, that’s just how I look at things.