Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Christian Privilege expressed as support for Masterpiece Cakeshop

Josh M. Shepherd
Josh M. Shepherd writes: “They Serve Gay Clients All The Time. So Why Won’t They Cater A Same-Sex Wedding?
A florist and baker at the heart of major legal cases explained why they won't use their creative talents and services to affirm same-sex marriage.
The Federalist informs us that “Shepherd has served on staff at The Heritage Foundation, Focus on the Family, Bound4LIFE International, and two congressional offices.” He doesn't seem to be able to stay anywhere for very long. But I digress.

The regurgitation of Alliance Defending Freedom legal briefs doesn't enlighten anyone. Moreover, ADF is designated a hate group for good cause. With respect to the headline and sub-head, the notion that a bigot might unintentionally serve a gay person is irrelevant and unconvincing. Phillips (proprietor of Masterpiece Cakeshop) has no way of knowing whether or not his store serves gay people. Imagine making the same argument about Jews.

Suppose Phillips or the dim-witted Mr. Shepherd asserted that the shop serves Jews all the time. Then further imagine Phillips refusing to serve a Jewish man marrying a Christian woman because of his religious beliefs. Would anyone not conclude that Phillips is an anti-Semitic bigot? Indeed for much of American history, Christians refused service to Jews based on religious beliefs. Some still do. Homophobia is the equal of anti-Semitism.

Phillips also serves divorced people all the time. Yet he will bake them a wedding cake. Phillips also serves unmarried pregnant women. Yet he will bake a wedding cake for her, as long as she is marrying a cisgender man. Phillips serves people living together in sin and fornicating (oh my) but they get a cake too. It is only gay couples who hear “No cake for you!” (at the risk of offending Seinfeld fans).

Then we deal with the customary conservative Christian arrogance in these matters. Selling a cake doesn't affirm anything more than a commercial transaction. Affirmation is approval. Phillips approval is neither sought nor required but he is wed to the notion that his approval is necessary. So much so that he has the right to decide which laws he will, and will not, obey.

Bigotry is all about putting people in their place

Phillips used his religion as a lever to put a gay couple in their place. Their marriage doesn't measure up to Phillips tight-assed, sanctimonious idea of marriage so he chooses to display his disapproval which is both petty and gratuitous. The very purpose of nondiscrimination laws is to take these decisions out of the hands of individuals.

Later on according to Shepherd:
At one point, moderator [of something] Ryan T. Anderson, senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, asked two pointed questions:

“What’s the big deal about marriage? What’s the big deal about the wedding flowers and the wedding cake?”

“The wedding itself, marriage, is a picture of Christ and his church,” answered Phillips. “With the wedding cake in particular, if you walk into a conference room and see that cake, you know there’s a wedding. Generally, three tiers are there—to signify the husband and the wife united with Christ.”

“They put their hands together and they cut the cake as a symbol of unity going forward in this relationship, to honor God in everything they do. So the cake itself is expressive,” observed Phillips. “The creating of the cake is an artistic expression where I paint, sculpt and do a lot of artistic endeavors to create these things.”
Phillips never got to the design of the cake because his prospective customers never had a chance to discuss what they wanted or how many tiers the cake would have. For all Phillips and Anderson know, the two men are Buddhists. Phillips would deny a cake to two Jews or Hindus or Muslims if the intended were a gay couple so all this Christian symbolism is irrelevant. Anderson manages to confirm what we all know. Anderson is a proponent of Christian supremacy and Christian privilege.

Were the intended a committed Christian couple Phillips is asserting, quite arrogantly, that his religious beliefs are superior to others. Moreover, this deflects from the primary question of how this affects Phillips. So much so that he feels at liberty to disobey the law. How does someone else's different observance of tradition affect Phillips?

Later on (I am skipping through a great deal of repetitive BS):
Phillips choked up with emotion as he continued: “You can’t serve God and money. I didn’t open this so I could make a lot of money. I opened it up so it would be a way that I could create my art, do the baking that I love and serve the God that I love in ways that would hopefully honor Him.”
So, of course, Phillips organized Masterpiece Cakeshop <sic> as a 501(c)3 nonprofit religious organization. Wait, he did not? All this self-righteous vomit turns my stomach. According to the United States Constitution, someone serving Lord Xenu has the same standing as Phillips. We generally do not permit Scientologist pharmacists to deny selling antidepressants to customers because their religion proscribes their use. The claim from the pharmacist that he doesn't want to be complicit in the use of a banned substance would not be compelling.

The principle is the same. If you think that psychiatric medications are evil then do not consume them. If you think that gay marriage is evil then don't gay marry.  Attempting to impose those values on others by withholding commercial transactions is as un-American as the Klan. They also claim to be devout Christians. Would a ruling by the Supreme Court in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop license Klansmen to refuse service to blacks, Jews, gays and others based upon their sincerely held religious beliefs?

All this verbiage from folks like Shepherd, or me for that matter, has no effect on the deliberations of the Supreme Court. It seems that amicus briefs are used these days to support decisions that the justices have made in the absence of the arguments posed in those same briefs. In all likelihood this case has already been decided. The rest is just part of the Supreme Court's Kabuki performance.

Meanwhile, bigots will come out of the woodwork to support the petitioner (Masterpiece) using this case as an excuse for spouting their anti-gay animus framed as religious necessity. They make it necessary for us to fight back. Denying service to LGBT people is unacceptable. Doing so in defiance of law is even more repugnant. What happened to render unto Caesar …?

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