Dear American Christians

Dear American Christians, You need to get a grip, and I am tired of speaking to you politely. You are not being persecuted by being required to serve all customers in your store. If you serve all people in your store, you are simply being American. As a fellow Christian, I can assure you, your faith will not be compromised, and God will not be displeased with you, if you make a cake or a pizza for gay people. wpswi150402 What many of you do not seem to realize is that this move for the “religious freedom” laws is designed to appeal to your basest fears. These bills are designed to do one thing, and one thing only: to make you feel offended and afraid that your faith is at stake. But your faith is not at stake. And if you think it is, then your faith is far, far too weak. I’m all worked up about this, because of analogies made by State Representative Matt Krause of Fort Worth. Rep. Krause is a sponsor of one of these so-called “religious freedom” bills in Texas. Among other things, Rep Krause said the following:

“Should a Jewish bakery have to bake a cake for the neo-Nazi convention coming into town? Nobody would say that. Nor would anybody say a gay florist couple has to give flowers to a Westboro Baptist protest at funerals..”

At a time when everyone understands these bills as a reaction to increasing LGBT rights, Krause’s hypotheticals are ludicrous and offensive. It’s ludicrous and offensive to analogize situations where LGBT persons are cast in the place of neo-Nazis or Westboro Baptist. In fact, this last comparison is head-exploding, given the fact that Westboro is most known for vile protests against LGBT people.

To offer hypothetical analogies that casts LGBT citizens in the role of the actual people who actually engage in vile protests against them is ludicrous and offensive, even in the abstract. Krause, then, attempts hypothetical examples that are completely implausible in the real world to defend a bill that would then become real-world law.

And if you’re reading Krause’s comments and thinking, “Well, that COULD happen…” Then you are a part of the problem. No. It couldn’t. And the fact that you think it can points to the fact that you have fallen victim to the lie that American Christians are victims of widespread and systematic persecution.

A Christian Business owner today, serving the LGBT community,  is not being persecuted for their faith, anymore than Southern Christian business owners were being persecuted when society called them to open their lunch counter. Oh yeah. And there’s no “War on Christmas” either. (Or Easter).

We Christians are absolutely as free to exercise our faith as we ever have been. We can go to church without fear of being hunted down for doing that. We can pray with our families. Our churches can create clinics, and schools, and non-profits that serve God and the world. And nobody is going to impinge that right in any real way.

So, stop with the being offended. You have no right to be offended if an LGBT person walks into your place of business. Even if you haven’t come to terms with the fact that people can be gay and also be Christian(1), you’ve at least got to remember that Jesus said that little thing about the “wheat” and the “tares.” I can’t speak for Muslim, Jewish, Atheist, or any other kind of shop-keeper. But I do know, as Christians it’s not our job to separate out from society. Jesus said that.

You want to know what persecution really is? It’s 147 Christians being shot in Kenya. That’s persecution. Your so-called “offense” at being required to serve LGBT people is an insult to their sacrifice.

And on Good Friday, I will say as a minister of the Gospel that it’s an insult to Jesus’ sacrifice too.

Grow up. Get a life. Be a real Christian. And a real American.

UPDATE: I highly recommend this blog which covers many of these same issues remarkable well: “Bake for Them Two

UPDATE TWO: Also, read my own follow-up to these same issues here.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park UMC United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Previously, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas for seventeen years. Eric loves to write on topics of spirituality, social justice, music/art and politics. The entries on this blog reflect that diversity of interests. His passion for social justice goes beyond mere words. He’s been arrested at the White House, defending immigrants and “The Dreamers,” and he’s officiated at same sex weddings in his churches, in defiance of what some believe is Methodist teaching. Eric is an avid blogger and published author, and 2017 recipient of the prestigeous Kuchling Humanitarian Award from Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. (Human Rights Campaign) Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He’s a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named “best judge” by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County, and is currently the longest service district judge in that district. She was re-elected for a fourth term in 2018. They have the world’s best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. Find links to Eric’s music-related websites, at the top of this site’s navigation menu.

163 thoughts on “Dear American Christians

  1. A few good points there, but I’m catching a strong whiff of the unseemly &I disingenuous hysteria surrounding Indiana’s RFRA. On the plus side… at least you stopped short of equating the baker, florist & wedding officiants who don’t kowtow, with Bull Conner and the murderers of Emmett Till.
    Fine music, BTW

  2. Very nice posting, and as a bi non Christian thank you. Just kindly remember yes, 147 people were killed in Africa, yes, it’s sickening an wrong, and yes, we all heard about it because they were Christian, but how many of you ALSO heard the guy who shot up the airport in New Orleans was himself a fundamentalist Christian.

    1. What nonsense. My 14 yo son is not a supremacist. He is an honor student, runs track, helps around the house, and aids anyone he can who needs it. He also attends church and is growing into a wonderful young man who just happens to be gay. I sincerely hope you do not believe we are devolving America simply because we sometimes choose to go out to dinner as a family?

      1. There is a wall of separation between church and state; NOT between state and cake! Businesses are not churches.

        The state does not serve the church, it serves the citizens. All the citizens.

        All my life I’ve had to listen to this kind of moronic drivel and I am sick of it, absolutely sick of it. And I am tired. Just bone weary of this kind of shit. And that’s what it is… pure-d shit, right from the pit of Hell. You, Michael E.Malulani K.Odegaard are the devil. You are a liar, and you worship the father of lies. Just shut up. You don’t own the Christian franchise, that belongs to Jesus, so stop trying to co-opt it with your dominionist agenda.

        Just crawl back to that hell you call a church and leave the rest of us alone.

        Linda Diane McMillan

  3. This isnʻt a question of simply serving those whom one disagrees with. The gay supremacists are demanding the government to force private businesses to support and participate in their rituals that violate the tenets of the business owners’ faith. This arrogance to me is a blatant violation of the wall of separation between church and state and should be resisted vigorously. The state serves the church, not vice versa, and so as citizens we must accept the difficult struggle against the matrix of utilitarianism and hedonism upon which the American state has devolved. We dare not forget that Christ’s command that we be the “salt of the earth” will require our activism.

    1. “Gay supremacists?”
      You are exactly the kind of Christian I wrote this blog for, Michael.
      And you have completely mischaracterized the “wall of separation.” That wall means that you have the right to worship God in your own church, home, and among your own faith community as you see fit.
      If you open a business on the town square, you should not have the right to discriminate against LGBT persons, any more than lunch-counter owners did in the 1950s. And, by the way, they ALSO appealed to their Christian faith, complained that the sky was falling, and that America was “devolving.”

      How is this *any* different than so-called “Christian” lunch-counter owners who would not serve African-Americans in the 1950s?

      This is both a movement for Civil Rights, and a movement of God’s Spirit in the world. In the name of Christ, I invite you to open your heart and see this.

      1. “support and participate in their rituals that violate the tenets of the business owners’ faith. ”

        I think someone’s conflating cake or pizza with communion wafers.

      2. So if I interpret the verses that speak against homosexuality in the Bible as being what they are, even in context, than am I wrong or do I just have a different view? Am I a homophobe or on the wrong side of history? It seems that in this arena, one side claims the higher ground and if you disagree, you are characterizing with true racism from the 60-70 years back…..I think that is wrong.

        1. But if you believe that the Bible condemns loving same-gender relationships, then you are reading the Bible out of context. You’re *not* reading them in context. So, I don’t know how to answer your question, because the Bible absolutely does NOT categorically, or even dramatically, condemn loving same-gender relationships.

          So, to me, you’re speaking in a kind of hypothetical that I can’t even answer without falling in a trap that can’t actually fall into…because the Bible actually doesn’t say what you think it says.

          I would not call you a homophobe. If you believe, as I understand many sincere Christians do (mistakenly) that the Bible categorically condemns homosexuality, then my point is that our grandchildren absolutely will see you as we tend to see racist shop owners from the 1950s.
          There is perhaps no kind way for me to say the previous, I suppose. But I am absolutely convinced that by the time of our grandchildren are in old age, the Church of Jesus Christ will still be thriving…and this will be a non-issue in every single Christian denomination…except for the very smallest and fringe of groups.

      3. Let’s take this a step further, shall we? If Christian business owners are going to stand on principle to deny services to people whose lives don’t fall in line with scripture, why stop at homosexuality? Are they also going to deny services to fornicators? Young unmarried couple with a child comes in wanting a pizza…do they get it or not? How about adulterers? Married man comes in with his date, a woman who’s not his wife…well, that’s none of your business. Go ahead and make theirs with extra sauce. But don’t kid yourself into thinking you’re fulfilling any Christian duty by standing on biblical principle for one “lifestyle” you don’t like while ignoring the others simply because they’re straight; otherwise, you’re being intellectually dishonest.

      4. This has nothing to do with oppressing religious beliefs. Any person of faith has the choice about running a business or not. If they chose to then they have to run that business in accordance with the law of the land. The constitution of US clearly states that discrimination on any grounds in unlawful. You are being revisionist when you claim that belief trumps the law, it does not. Also you are singling out one group and choosing to ignore all the other groups that the bible mentions equally – some examples.

        Anyone who works on Sundays (Leviticus 23:3)
        People who wear makeup (Jeremiah 4:30)
        Hungry people (Proverbs 23:2
        Men without beards (Leviticus 19:27)
        Tattooed people (Leviticus 19:28)
        People who eat shellfish (Leviticus 11:10)
        People with messy hair (Leviticus 10:6)
        New mothers (Leviticus 12:4-5)
        Psychics or mediums (Leviticus 20:27)

        If you were to follow your twisted logic you’d end up not dealing with anybody. That may be the best outcome from everybody concerned. You wouldn’t have to have your piety compromised and civilized society wouldn’t have to tolerate the endless outpouring of hate, bigotry and fascism that you’re kind seem to have an endless abundance of.

        Come clean. Stand by the courage of your convictions. Stop hiding inside a religion that you do not represent nor practice. Step into the light as the close-minded, hate-filled chalice of loathing that you and you kind are and give christianity back to those who actually practice love, compassion, tolerance, forgiveness and charity. Good wholesome values that your kind trample like weeds in the mud.

    2. Michael, If the “state serves the church”, there is no wall between church and state. Please go visit Somalia to find out how well that’s working.

    3. Michael, I don’t understand your one-way interpretation of separation of church and state. That separation is meaningless unless it is two way with neither church nor state serving the other, and that is the way our secular government is structured so that it can be neutral in matters of religion. Article VI and Amendment I of the Constitution, as interpreted by the SCOTUS, mean that government can neither encourage nor discourage religion. The state does not serve religion, nor does religion serve the state.

    4. Hey, Michael. Your argument might have some weight if business owners were likewise refusing to serve adulterers, the divorced, gluttons (<— top customers for pizza shops and bakers), those who have had sex out of wedlock, people who dishonor their parents, covet their neighbor's wives, and take the Lord's name in vain. But they are utterly unconcerned with those sins. Indeed, you turn a blind eye to all those other "sins." Why? What is it that makes this one sin so much greater a threat to your faith than all other sins? You don't care about serving those who violate the Ten Commandments — when have you ever heard of a baker refusing to provide a cake for a wedding held on the sabbath — but cannot abide two women in love marrying (and perhaps, like many long-term couples, they may have long ago stopped having sex, at all, but you don't care about that). Nope, just gay people. Bearing false witness? No problem! Divorced? We don't even ask! Had premarital sex? Hey, that's none of our business. But GAY!?!?!?! That we cannot abide! Right?

      When Christian business owners stop serving ALL sinners, then I will give your argument some weight. Until then, it just seems like bigotry dressed up in fancy robes.

    5. Good heavens! The last thing my husband of ten years and I are is “gay supremacists”. We have done nothing to harm you, nothing to harm your faith, and have helped spread nothing but love, kindness, acceptance, and joy to those we know and care fore – and to those we do not know at all. If this makes us gay supremacists, then in the name of Our Lord, I gladly accept this title, and wear it as a badge of honour.

      1. Dean Hendricks: Why is it not okay now to stone adulterers to death, or disobedient children? Why is a widow no longer forced to engage in coitus with her dead husband’s brother in order to bear a child? Why women no longer forced to marry their rapists? Why are woman allowed to pray with their heads uncovered now? Why is it okay to plant more than one crop in your field or wear clothing of mixed fabrics? Why is it not okay for a man to have several wives and concubines, like David and Jacob? Why is slavery no longer okay?

        The reason is because the Bible is a stagnant book that reflects an extinct culture and society. Clearly, some biblical commands are no longer appropriate today, while some that were not okay in the biblical era are appropriate now. Choosing to pick a mistranslated or non-related verse out of the Bible while ignoring others is hypocrisy, something Jesus clearly condemned.

    6. If it is now ok to be gay, I am not sure why Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed or why the Bible talks about a man not laying with another man. I understand what both sides are saying and it is being taken to extremes on both sides. I am curious though what in the Bible is telling people it is ok to be gay now. I have been told that its because God said to love one another, and I do love other men, I just do not want to “lay” with them. I would very much like to know why is it ok now? I mean no one any disrespect.

      1. Dean: You are misreading the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah had nothing whatsoever to do with gay people, gay sex, or same sex marriage. That story has no relevance whatsoever to the debate over homosexuality in our time.
        If you believe this, you are believing a lie that has been perpetuated, but consciously and unconsciously, for centuries.
        Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their lack of hospitality to the stranger and the foreigner, not because they were a city filled with gay people starved for gay sex. (why doesn’t anybody ever stop to think how unlikely that would be, btw…)
        In fact, the Bible itself shows us that I am right about this. The destruction of Sodom was so well known that for centuries after it was talked about Ezekiel very specifically tells us what the “sin of Sodom” was:
        “This is the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were proud, had plenty to eat, and enjoyed peace and prosperity; but she didn’t help the poor and the needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49)

        Again, because the stakes are so high here, and because so many Christians falsely assume that the destruction of Sodom has to do with gay people, I can say this bluntly enough: perpetuating that view is perpetuating a lie that the Bible itself proves false.

        What Sodom WAS destroyed for, however, was inhospitability to strangers…selfishness…pride….not helping those in need.

        You could make a very sound Biblical argument that Christians who refuse to serve customers who come into their stores are far more like Sodomites than any average LGBT person.

    7. What are your thoughts about serving divorced individuals who want to get remarried? Would you support the business selling them a wedding cake?

  4. A well written peice, one point however; doing interfaith work I have worked with lots of great Christians. Maybe “Dear Extreemist Christians” would be a better title. So many great people of many faiths in the world. I just think broad brush strokes are part of the problem

    1. Linda, on the day after the so-called religious freedom bill was signed into law by our own Governor Pence, owners of a pizza shop in Walkerton, Indiana (population 2,200) made the statement that they would not cater a same sex wedding. Since the probability of any self-respecting gay couple – or heterosexual couple, for that matter – would want a pizza-catered wedding, one can only speculate as to the true motivation of the owners. Perhaps they felt emboldened to publically state their bigotry, disguised as “religious freedom,” conveniently forgetting what Jesus taught: “And the King shall answer unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)

      “LGBT advocates denounced the pizza place. The owners appeared on Glenn Beck’s nationally syndicated radio program. The case was discussed on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show and featured on the websites for the Washington Post and New York Times.

      “In a most remarkable show of support, an Internet crowdfunding page for the pizza shop raised more than $800,000 – an amount that showed no sign of slowing down Friday evening.” (USA Today)

      Hmmmmm . . . .

      1. I may be mistaken, but I’ve read that the interview that took place in Memoreies Pizza, actually took place BEFORE the vote went down. It was then pulled up and broadcast, AFTER the vote went down/law was passed.

      2. Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill in a private ceremony on March 26; the story about Memories Pizza first appeared in the Indianapolis Star on April 3. It states: “The owners of Memories Pizza, in an interview with a South Bend television station, said they would refuse to cater a wedding for a gay or lesbian couple due to religious reasons, but they said they would not deny service based on sexual orientation.” A little research on the web leads me to believe the interview took place on May 31. Lots of ugly stuff.

  5. Hello Eric
    Nice to see you. Nicely written blog piece. May I agree with some of what you said?
    You are correct. Any aspect of this situation pales as persecution like that suffered by the Christians in Kenya who lost their lives for their faith. Not to mention numerous others who bore the witness of martyrs.
    Now this is where it gets tricky because the left has been very diligent in portraying the situation in Indiana as what it is.not.
    First, the RFRA has been mischaracterized. As first accepted and instituted as a law it did not provide license for discrimination.
    Seond, no restaurant or shopkeeper has refused to serve guy people. The misinformation that has been propagated is demagoguery of the highest order.
    Some of those same shopkeepers have sought legal protections once the atmosphere promoted by the liberal activists promotes the use of government through the legal system to force these shopkeepers to provide services that may promote or signify approval of a lifestyle that their faith identifies as sinful.
    Now… The only way to get around this… for the left is to tell these folks and millions more that they do not have the right to hold their beliefs.
    Is the left willing to do that?
    The left has lost their mind over this debate. If the left tries to dictate what Americans may or may not believe they will have denied their liberal soul.
    Blessings.

    1. When people open a business, their religious differences with the customers of that business, whether it is previously divorced people wishing to have Christian bakeries make their 2nd wedding cakes, women filling prescriptions for contraceptives at pharmacies owned by pious Catholics, or same-sex couples who want to buy the same floral package for their wedding that a Christian florist has always sold to every affianced couple he can, cannot prevent business from happening with those that the owner or operator of the business doesn’t agree with. That is religious discrimination. Christians in America are in the position of power, and LGBTQ persons have been, and still are, discriminated against, even though the Church as a whole is changing its theology as science becomes more accepted, and Scriptural authority on sexual orientation changes, the way it did on slavery.

    2. Once again… none of these shopkeepers have refused to serve gay persons. What they have done is express their religious view that providing a service for an event that promotes a behavior that conflicts with their convictions would be a tacit approval of that behavior. Refusing to provide for and therefore participate in an event that celebrates a behavior that your faith says is a sin is not discrimination. It is religious choice.
      The question has been asked that if a Christian is forced to, let us say, provide a cake that celebrates same set marriage… will you force a Muslim Baker to do the same thing? Would you force an observant Jewish caterer to prepare and provide a whole pig for your Luau? Or would you simply do the sensible thing and drive a couple blocks to the baker, florist, or caterer who does not have a reason of faith for their convictions? This of course presumes that you as a tolerant liberal person do not intend to specifically target a person or a business specifically because they hold political or religious convictions that are different from your own.

      1. Except – Does a Jewish Caterer prepare and provide whole pigs for anyone? They don’t. It’s not on the menu. Mc Donalds does not have to sell pigs, and these floral and cake providers do not have to provide pigs either.

        However – there is nothing different between the wedding cake of one couple and another. It could literally be the exact same cake duplicated and delivered to another address. If the baker received two identical orders, only knowing that 1 of the orders was for a homosexual marriage where the other was for a straight marriage, would anything different be required of them? No – every single step is the same. It’s not a religious ceremony to create a cake, it’s their business. And as Capitalists in America doing business is accepting that you are providing a product and you may not discriminate as to who you provide your product for.

        And thus your argument of Jewish bakers preparing whole pig luaus is false. Now if I wanted a Jewish baker to serve up some food following their kosher guidelines and I was not Jewish myself they would have to do it.

        This is not Christian’s being targeted and assaulted by forcing them to relinquish their religious beliefs. This IS Christians throwing a fit because they cannot prevent providing their services based upon their bigotry.

      2. Saying “they haven’t refused to serve gay people, they’ve refused to serve a gay wedding!” Is ridiculous on it’s face. A “gay wedding” is not independent from the people involved. If they are refusing to sell a cake for a “gay wedding” they are refusing to serve a gay couple. Period. Besides that, there are no such things as “gay weddings”, there are simply weddings. Sometimes they involve straight couples, sometimes they involve gay couples. The only difference is the sexuality of the couple getting married, both are still just weddings.

      3. Mcmethodist,
        your example of jews not being made to servepigs is a really bad one. No one is asking christians to serve something they don’t already make. They make cakes, they sell flowers- and if they want to pick and choose who they serve, they need to become a charity or move to another country where discrimination is allowed. You can’t discriminate (aka. choose one over the other) in America. Muslims, Jews, Atheists, Buddhists etc. all have to NOT discriminate- and if they tried to, they would be in as much trouble as the Christians trying to not serve gay people. Jesus sat and ate with sinners all the time- I think a cake baker or florist can provide flowers and food to ‘sinners.’

        Also, it’s not true that it’s within the tenets of Christian faith to not serve gays. As Jesus himself said and did:
        ” While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
        On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.””

        “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her”
        “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”
        “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
        “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

    3. mcmethodist: Context is everything. And the context of these laws mysteriously popping up all over the nation *now* is most definitely connecting to increased acceptance of LGBT persons.

      I will maintain and repeat the assertion that the “Christian” thing to do would be to serve all who enter your store….and especially to not discriminate or pick out LGBT persons for special negative treatment.

      So, on the one hand, you’re saying “no specific gays have been discriminated against, while at the same time making exactly the moral argument *for* discriminating against LGBT persons.

      Sorry, mcmethodist. Timing is everything here. And the timing of all of these bill is completely transparent.

    4. James Waldmann on April 6, 2015 at 9:57 am said:
      mcmthodist: Within days of Governor Mike Pence’s signing the so-called religious freedom bill,owners of a pizza shop in Walkerton, Indiana (population 2,200) made the statement that they would not cater a same sex wedding. Since the probability of any self-respecting gay couple – or heterosexual couple, for that matter – would want a pizza-catered wedding, one can only speculate as to the true motivation of the owners. Perhaps they felt emboldened to publically state their bigotry, disguised as “religious freedom,” conveniently forgetting what Jesus taught: “And the King shall answer unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)

      “LGBT advocates denounced the pizza place. The owners appeared on Glenn Beck’s nationally syndicated radio program. The case was discussed on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show and featured on the websites for the Washington Post and New York Times.

      “In a most remarkable show of support, an Internet crowdfunding page for the pizza shop raised more than $800,000 – an amount that showed no sign of slowing down Friday evening.” (USA Today)

      Hmmmmm . . . .

      Reply ↓
      lsjrlsjr on April 6, 2015 at 11:47 am said:
      I may be mistaken, but I’ve read that the interview that took place in Memoreies Pizza, actually took place BEFORE the vote went down. It was then pulled up and broadcast, AFTER the vote went down/law was passed.

      James Waldmann on April 6, 2015 at 12:11 pm said:
      Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill in a private ceremony on March 26; the story about Memories Pizza first appeared in the Indianapolis Star on April 3. It states: “The owners of Memories Pizza, in an interview with a South Bend television station, said they would refuse to cater a wedding for a gay or lesbian couple due to religious reasons, but they said they would not deny service based on sexual orientation.” A little research on the web leads me to believe the interview took place on May 31. Lots of ugly stuff.

  6. I understand your concern Peter …. however … I am a pastor from a non-affirming denomination and I agree with this pastor’s points. The only thing people are hearing about American Christianity (and yes I am an American) is this garbage about sacrificing their faith by serving others they don’t agree with. Most of the rest of the church is silent …. sadly we have a long history of deafening silence … Martin Luther King’s famous letter from the Birmingham jail to pastors and churches that wanted him to be quiet is one great example of this. The message from the church was not encouragement but instead was shhhhhhh … be quiet. When it comes to the gay community the church is silent because its afraid of being confused with people that are affirming. What it should be concerned with is being confused with people that are not loving and/or not gracious.

  7. Just so you are aware, Eric, you got the analogy wrong in the case of the Westboro Baptists. Rep. Krause was not likening the LGBT community to them in that one – the community were the gay florist couple refusing to send flowers to the protest.

    1. Frances: I don’t *think* so…
      In Krause’s analogy, he’s suggesting that a “gay florist” would deny (re: discriminate against) persons from Westboro….putting them (gay florist) in the same position as Westboro is usually: ie, the one doing the discriminating.

      BTW, I’ve actually known of several responses to Westboro that have included a loving invitation to them, rather than an angry denial….and that has sometimes come from LGBT people themselves….showing love, not hate, toward Westboro.

  8. Actually, Eric, you do a wonderful job of speaking for Jewish here as well. Another lesson of the tragedy in Kenya is that Muslim and Christian students were attending school together peacefully. Some were even roommates. That’s part of the lesson I wish all of us would learn from that real oppression.

  9. As the leader of WBC Fred Phelps has died and we are seeing the demise of WBC as more children continue to leave I am disheartened by people who seem to have as much hate in them as WBC.

  10. How is refusing to cater to LGBT separating from society or an insult to sacrifice (except to Jesus’ sacrifice)? What sacrifice have LGBT made? What happened to MY rights? I should be able to refuse ANY service, based on my beliefs/views.

  11. This was brilliant and spot on. I think American Christians right now are leading the way in showing the world “things good Christians shouldn’t be doing”. Every bit of scripture tells us to not judge others outside the church, and to only judge those in the church righteously. Unfortunately, Christians in the US seem to think that the only true path to salvation and to bask in the Lord’s grace is by putting down everyone around us who “don’t believe like we do” and judging them harshly.

    Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians that we shouldn’t associate with those who claim to be our brothers and sisters who are “sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler”. He also wrote in his letter to the Romans that we should bless those who persecute us, rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn. But the biggest point of that section of Romans says clearly “Do not repay evil with evil”. If any Christian in America thinks they’re being persecuted, then we’re already doing it the wrong way because we’re returning evil to those we mistakenly believe are persecuting us, and we’re not praying and blessing those who “attack” us. (Also see the entire section of the pro-firearms movement that’s allegedly Christian.)

    So when are we going to get back to correcting what’s gone off the trail in our own houses, and stop worrying about the houses of others that the Lord has said he’ll pass judgement on? 🙂

  12. Here is a respectful dissent. When this owner of the pizzeria was asked a hypothetical question and gave a hypothetical answer who was it that threatens to burn their business down? Who was it that hijacked their website and the Yelp ratings? Who was it that made all kinds of abusive phone calls?

    In fact they felt so threatened for a “hypothetical ” question they had to shut their business down.

    Or what about the kindly old woman who didn’t want to bake a cake celebrating gay marriage and now faces six figure legal bills for basically a tiny business that in a caring way didn’t want to violate her conscience.

    See, none of these people treated anyone badly in the gay community yet they were threatened to their lives and livelihoods over it.

    If people threaten your life or your property over your conscience or faith, that is persecution. The only difference is that someone has yet to pull the trigger.

    I am sure their respectful denial of business and respectful treatment of gays in all other aspects does not rise to the level of vitriol leveled against them.

    1. jacadian: I would invite you to meditate on just WHY there is such vitriol and anger from some in the LGBT community. (And I hope you will note: I am clearly noting that there is most definitely vitriol and anger from some, not all…)

      I will answer that question: Because of the way many LGBT persons haven been treated by the Church of Jesus Christ…because of the way many have been driven from the churches of their birth, and made to feel ashamed of the way God created them as God’s good children.

      THAT, has caused a good bit of anger and vitriol toward Christians in general. And I think it’s important for us Christians to hear and understand that.

      Having said all that, I’m not at all condoning hate and vitriol. Just saying that I understand it, especially from those outside the Church…or those who’ve been kicked out of church…

      The final point, however, comes back to what our calling is as followers of Jesus. And our calling is to be BETTER than the “lowest common denominator.” If somebody responds to us in hate, our calling is to love, all the more.

      I don’t care, then, what Muslim shopkeepers, Jewish ones, or Atheist ones are doing. I am saddened by the vitriol, yes.

      But I’m still maintaining that anybody who claims they are running a “Christian” business should be held to higher standard. And that standard is love, acceptance and grace for all people.

      Yes, I hold a Christian shopkeeper to higher standard…but that standard is how they do, or do not, love and accept all of God’s children… not in how others treat them.

      We should remember, this week of all weeks, that Jesus was treated pretty shabily by the authorities of his day.

      He loved, and forgave, all of them anyway.

      1. I agree with you that there has been vitriol in the past towards the LGBT community and I’m disappointed when I see that. Jesus’ harshest words were towards those who were religious hypocrite like leaders that led people astray.

        Jesus loves everyone but his response to moral failure was forgiveness based on his death. Removing the tension between God’s design and where we find ourselves removes the need for us all to see the need for grace expressed through the cross and to experience the transformation of God.

  13. Thank you, Eric, for pointing out that being gay and being Christian are not mutually exclusive. The very best person and Christian I know is my husband’s uncle. He also happens to be gay. He is more giving, accepting and kind than most Christians these days, who often preach intolerance instead of love.

    Thank you for your words of reason in this time of chaos.

  14. This autistic, heterosexual-but-LGBT-allied Jew commends you most thoroughly for your frankness and your unwillingness to countenance hate. Would that there were more like you in your church.

  15. I spent my teens and 20’s immersed in fundamentalist Christianity and “conversion therapy.” Only my pastors and “ex-gay” therapists knew of my covert crusade to become the type of man that could walk into a florist one day and not be turned away. I championed traditional values and prayed for my future wife. When I read what’s happening in Indiana it’s a painful reminder that at one time I might have stood up for the religious freedom of the florist, the baker, and the wedding pizza maker. While I understand all too well why these religious vendors think denying service to two women in love is the godly response, I can no longer ignore the other parts of the Bible that they ignore, like the parts about love. If God IS love (it’s in there), how can we as mere mortals be so bold as to call their love a sin or offensive? When Jesus summed up the Law, he broke it down to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. So now, when I walk into your pizza shop with my partner of 14 years, I pray you’ll treat me as your neighbor. And I hope you’ll soon see that by putting conditions on the unconditional love of God, we all lose. Bryan Christopher (Author Hiding from Myself)

  16. What a fantastic article! I couldn’t agree more with the points that you have made. My only question for the general population of business owners is this: Whatever happened to good old customer service. I have spent 20 years in retail as well as a couple years in the restaurant industry. The number one rule – above and beyond anything else – was always give good customer service.

    I’ve worked for corporate and small businesses alike. Sure, we could refuse service or kick someone out of our store, but only if it was a very good reason. We usually did not get those reasons until said customer was loitering for hours on end, making a complete mess of the store, caught stealing or breaking store property or merchandise. Those reasons are backed up by laws, excepting making a complete mess of the store, which is more from a lack of home training and manners. People who do these things are not distinguished by color, age, gender, sexual preference or anything else. I have caught kids stealing trading cards, a well-known female political figure (now deceased) stealing books and a handicapped person stealing the bible among other religious books. I have seen parents using their children to grab merchandise and run.

    Shop owners should have enough to worry about just deterring would-be thieves and mayhem-makers. They should also have enough to worry about when thinking about their business bills. Customer money pays their salaries and bills. Yet, they would rather worry about turning someone away because their religious principles are offended? Someone who might just be prepared to give them money for their merchandise and services. Someone that may become a repeat customer bringing in more customers and more income. Someone who might just have a strong enough public voice to damage or shut down their business. Someone who could be providing them the income to keep their business running, a roof over their head and food on their table. People forget that word of mouth is the best source of business. They further forget that more people talk about a bad experience in a business than a good experience. If a person has a bad experience, they may tell 10 people, who may each tell 10 more people, etc., etc. It adds up quickly when you add in today’s social media.

    So in my own long-winded way, I am saying to these business owners: Stop worrying about your religious principles being offended and start giving the best customer service possible to every customer entering your store. Your life and your wallet will be richer for it.

  17. I don’t think Christ ever meant for Christians to use His words as weapons to destroy other Christians. What this world needs is more gentle words to come out of our mouths than Christians defiling other Christians.

  18. The real focal point here seems to be tolerance vs. intolerance — if we apply the golden rule (treat others as we would have them treat us) then tolerance is commanded by Jesus: resist not evil but turn the other cheek — He does not say DO evil, but allow it to pass — give the robber your car keys along with your wallet.
    .
    Here is your alternative: if you preach intolerance, then intolerance will be shown to you. as you sow, so shall you reap. Your business/religious beliefs do not tolerate gays? Then gays won’t tolerate your business/religious beliefs, and your business/religion *will* go down by your own efforts! (sow/reap — live by the sword, die by the sword — intolerant of others? you will not be tolerated.)
    .
    I have NO desire to marry another man — yes, it’s an abomination before God — it is self-pruning from the Tree of Life — so I choose to avoid doing evil to myself or to another. But when evil passes by? Let it pass by, pat it on the back, take its money at your store, or in your offering basket, and send it out the door. That’s less money your “evil” or “sinful” person will have in his / her pocket to promote an opposing party’s candidate in the next election.
    — RC Silk.

  19. Thank you for the article. I grew up in South Africa during the Apartheid era. We felt the sting of both racial discrimination and anti gay discrimination from church-going, Bible-believing people who justified their policies based on actual tracts from the Bible. Having emerged from that very damaged society relatively undamaged (thanks real Christians), I can honestly say that any person who would perpetuate this truly villainous form of evil (there is no other word for it) is about as far away from the Word of God as the deepest canyon of Hell is from the very highest pinnacle of the loftiest spire that encases the High Throne of God. I am ashamed that Apartheid is still alive an well in the world. I am shocked that it is happening in a civilised country that is just emerging from the indignities of segregation, yet remains blind to the Renaissance of this bloat obscenity in its midst – and double the horror that it is once again being perpetuated in the name of God. America needs a Dr. Mandela and a Bishop Tutu, as it seems that Dr King has been forgotten.

  20. I think Rep. Krause and his fellow travelers need to be heard and understood. The weight of evidence is on their side. Tradition, too. The very worst things they have feared and predicted are shrilly demanded by the jihadi fringe of the GLBT movement. How can we demand their respect if we don’t offer it in return? “To understand is to love,” goes Islamic poem.

  21. And while I’m at it, as a free speech absolutest, the whole concept of hate speech to be anathema. There is no Constitutional right to not have your feelings hurt.

  22. Does this law allow incorporated businesses to refuse business with people the business owners find immoral based on just religious beliefs or also spiritual or logical beliefs? I mean, when I think of a religion I think of multiple people believing in at least parts of the same group of beliefs. What I mean does this law protect all of it citizens by allowing them to refuse to do business with anybody based on their own beliefs, or do you have to have more than one person that kind of believes the same thing?

    By a company’s standard, to be certain that a customer falls into the ethical qualifications to do business with a company does the company have the right to give a lie detector test to it’s customer’s? What I mean is, what is the consensus on how people will be discriminated? If a potential customer acts gay but is a stranger, who is to say? What if a person is gay, a stranger, and good at acting straight? What if a person is gay, not a stranger, and good at acting straight? Does this law allow for lie detectors for selective customer testing?

    On the other hand, since this law is not written specifically for christians, but for all of the state’s citizens, I shall assume that it allows anybody to discriminate against anybody for any reason. Theoretically, anybody has the right to refuse business to any hateful and fearful person, christian or not. Because, fear and hate are sad weaknesses of humans that torment not only the people afflicted with it, but also the people around the inflicted. A plague spreading inside of culture of cowards. That could be one person’s belief. Does this person have the right to send all of it’s potential customer’s to a lie detector to see if that person isn’t able to love all people? Can that person discriminate in such a way? I believe that would be a paradox, but you see my point, I hope.

    What if I believed that people of complete or partial French heritage are all demons? Do I have the right to discriminate against them, or do I need a group of other people to kind of believe the same thing?

    If your belief must be considered part of a religion to be the reason you are discriminating, and not just a non religious belief, then I believe that the law itself is discriminating and unconstitutional. Does anybody know the answer to this?

  23. I hope Christian business owners will follow Jesus’ example and think if they lovingly serve their LGBT brothers and sisters, they are serving Jesus. Jesus invited in and loved the marginalized, those who had been hurt and left out by the dominant status paradigm of his time. We are called to be the body of Christ, to INVITE fellowship with all who have been hurt and left out.

  24. “You need to get a grip, and I am tired of speaking to you politely. You are not being persecuted by being required to serve all customers in your store. If you serve all people in your store, you are simply being American.” I would agree if that was the issue. If someone owns a restaurant that does catering and a gay couple comes in to eat at the restaurant, there is no problem serving them same as any other customer. If they start making out at the table waiting for their food the owner has the right to ask them to stop or leave, same as they would a strait couple who did the same thing. It is not, and was never, about about serving customers at the restaurant, (or bakery or flower shop, or anywhere else). It was about attending a ceremony the caterer, baker, florist, etc. considers wrong. The caterer/baker/florist must go to the location and set up in most instances, meaning they will be seen there. People will assume by their presence that they agree with and support what is taking place. Do they not, as people who doesn’t agree, have the right to refuse to participate? Or ,like some of the atheists I see posting on Facebook, do you believe that we Christians only have the right to be Christians in private, and that our faith is not supposed to be lived out loud and have an affect on our public lives and on the lives of those who see us?

    1. Ann: I believe Christians are held to a higher standard and that is LOVE.
      We are called to love the world, not judge the world. Our faith is absolutely supposed to be lived out in the world…unquestionably…but through the kind of love that welcomes the stranger, feeds, the hungry, clothes the naked…and reaches out to those that society sees as marginalized or disenfranchised.
      Jesus went to the Samaritans…hate by the Jews. Jesus reminded the people of his hometown that God send prophets to crazy places like Samaria and Nineveh.

      Our holiness, our ability to show that we are living out our faith is through reaching out to those society despises. The Pharisees separated themselves, and then complaint about Jesus that he ate with “tax collectors and sinners.” In fact, they were making the exact same point that you are making here: that reaching to tax collectors and sinners might allow folks to think you agreed with their behavior.

      Jesus didn’t care about how things look, though. He cared about love.

      He didn’t stop doing that, though, despite their complaints that he was sullying his own religion.

      We should reach out to people we don’t agree with…love them, unconditionally.

      I absolutely expect Christians to reach out and love LGBT persons, unconditionally. Because that’s what God calls us to do for all people.

      We are not held to a double standard from other people…we should hold ourselves to a HIGHER standard…of LOVE.

      1. Sorry sir, but by that standard Christians can attend swing parties and call it acceptable.

        The Bible addresses this issue in 1 Corinthians 8, using food sacrificed to idols. It clearly says here that the fact food has been sacrificed to idols is meaningless but it follows with a caution. Verse 9 says that while you may know its meaningless, a younger believer, because they see you at the temple eatery, believing perhaps that you have fallen away, or, thinking themselves strong enough, also go to the eatery and may themselves be lured away from the path of righteousness. Chapter 10 says if you are served food with no comment on its origins, do not ask where it came from, but eat with a clean conscience. If your host mentions that it was sacrificed to idols, then don’t eat it; your conscience would not be clean.

        We are supposed to reach out to those we don’t agree with but what good does it do, indeed, what good is our belief, if we participate is something wrong just to show how accepting we are? It seems to me that this is more about license than it is about liberty.

  25. Wow!
    So glad to have stumbled across this blog. I’ve been having debates with people, who have been getting quite angry with me, because I am able to see both sides. Not kidding. But, as a gay man, I’d really like to be more black/white on this issue. But I also don’t want to deny others their beliefs. I, personally, wouldn’t want to give my money to someone who didn’t want to serve me or my family, and wouldn’t want them to be at my celebration of love if they didn’t want to be there, etc. But that’s just me…others counter with “replace ‘gay’ with ‘black’ etc.”
    Anyway, I’m wondering what your take is when people throw out the “Well, real LGBT persecution is in Iran where you can be killed, or by ISIS.” As if, because we aren’t being killed (at least not on the same scale), that we should be grateful for the level of acceptance we DO have. It’s all very confusing for me, because I don’t want to name-call, or deny others their religious beliefs.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
    Thank you.
    🙂

  26. thats just it…the pizzeria never refused business to any gay/trans people that came in. they were asked HYPOTHETICALLY, if they would cater a gay wedding (this is a private event, not regular course of business in the shop) and they said they wouldnt do it. and honestly… how many gay couples do you know that would want pizza/subs/chicken wings and tenders for fare at their wedding?

  27. Eric, do you think it implausible that Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church would enter into a Muslim Bookstore to request purchase of a dozen Qu’rans?

  28. I have visited European nations many times with a limited grasp and a somewhat laughable ability to speak the local language. But I could always politely greet my server or shop proprietor. Now my poor pronunciation might be reason enough for these people to give me poor service or shun me. No, that never happened. Yes, there have been language barriers and apologies that their English is not better. But every time, there has been a mutual effort to bridge the gap, point to menu items, use a few phrases, and make the best of things. A business owner who can not bend a bit and adapt to the needs of the marketplace really should not be in business. Perhaps we can take lesson from the shops and eateries of Madrid, Vienna, Brussels, Florence, Lisbon, and all those other places?

  29. It’s not the tollerence for gay marriage that is an issue. It’s the forced participation in a religious cerimoney. You know that a vast majority of Christians believe marriage is a religious sacrament. The authors counter examples were straw men, a better question would be should a Muslim bakery be forced to bake unleaven bread and have it blessed by a rabbi for Passover Seder? To me the ONLY question is one of “participation”. While it’s fair to argue that a baker who bakes a cake isn’t participating, I don’t think it’s fair to argue that a photographer or caterer isn’t participating. To do their job they have to attend the event. Personally I would have no issue. But I don’t believe the government should be in the business of forcing the participation or attendance of anyone in a religious service just because the own or work for a business.

      1. I realize that, Eric. I suspect many Chirstians would actually find that more offensive. I certainly don’t see any support for it among theologians that isn’t extra-biblical. And even then, the State has no business compelling a person to participate in a religous event, wether it’s a Christian, Jewish or Allah forbid, a Muslim gay wedding.

  30. I always found it noteworthy that among those society despised and considered to be sinners, Jesus preached the Gospel, shared his love and his wisdom, and generally just treated them all well. It was only when among those who believed themselves to be righteous, but whose behavior was exclusionary and condemnatory, that Jesus called out their sins and preached the consequences of that behavior.

    If Jesus were to come to to Indiana today, it is not the LGBT community he would be rebuking. He would be rebuking the Christian community for their treatment of the LGBT community. Christian means “Christ-like”, and there is nothing Christ-like or even righteous in God’s eyes about someone who calls himself a Christian who refuses to pass time and fellowship with those he perceives to be sinners. That’s where Jesus would spend *his* time, so who are we to refuse to do the same because it offends our sense of right and wrong or sends the wrong message (i.e., I support this) to our other Christian neighbors?

    Jesus was accused of being a sinner, because of where he chose to spend his time. Are you more worthy than he of a “pristine” public image?

    In the spirit of WWJD – not only would he bake the cake, he’d host the wedding.

    1. Martin Luther and Galileo, Newton, Wesley, et. al., were also in denominations with which they disagreed. And thank goodness for it. Wacked or not, agents for change and growth are more often found on the *inside* than they are on the outside.

    2. Sandalow: Absolutely incorrect!
      Again, we’re not talking about a shop keeper performing a same sex wedding…just baking a cake or a pizza.
      And on this point, the UMC is absolutely clear in their polity: that LGBT persons deserve equal treatment. Here’s what we say:

      “Certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due all persons. We are committed to supporting those rights and liberties for all persons, regardless of sexual orientation.”

  31. People who believe and support individual religious freedom should not support those who seek to constrain or restrict it. The choice not to serve individuals based upon convictions of faith is legitimate even if that conviction is not shared by others or even deemed wrong according to others. Correct or incorrect, Christians do take their beliefs/convictions into the market place. A free society will support their right of free expression of those beliefs. Laws made to control those expressions are steps down a road that leads back to a regrettable past. There are other cake shops in a free marketplace.

  32. LGBT community, if this is not against Christians or Jews then by all means, go to a Muslim bakery and order your cake for a gay wedding. FORCE THEM TO DO IT AS WELL. But so far, NONE of you are speaking about Muslims willingly telling your community to TAKE A HIKE, WE WILL NOT SERVE YOU. NOOOO!!! Instead you go after the peaceful Christians and Jews. You target a group and you go after them. There are lots of bakeries, pizza parlors, etc. that will serve you but you go after a few that don’t while IGNORING MUSLIMS THAT WILL NOT FOR THE SAKE OF THEIR RELIGIOUS VIEWS. You are hypocrites until you speak just as loudly against the Muslim stores/service providers that will not serve you either. If this is about equality, then go after all ALL!!! those who will not serve you, INCLUDING MUSLIMS. SPEAK OUT AGAINST THEM!!! I DARE YOU. Until you do that, your community is doing nothing but being a thug, NOTHING MORE.

    1. Joseph: I am less concerned with the perceived “double standard” for other religions, as the lack of the HIGHER standard for Christians. That higher standard being the love, respect, and service that we are called to show to all people.
      Jesus rebuked his own disciples for arguing over who was greater and who was getting special favors. He also rebuked them for wanting to send down fire on a village that would not receive them.

      Instead, he constantly called them back to a higher standard of love. I highly recommend this blog which makes the point even better than I:
      http://tenthousandplaces.org/2015/04/01/bake-for-them-two/

      1. You missed the point. The LGBT community is targeting Christians because we are “you can”. Christians won’t make a big stink over this. We “TAKE IT”. But if you really wanted change, then go after EVERYONE that is supposedly belittling you. I am yet to see the LGBT community go after Muslims.

        I don’t care about your lessons of what I should read about Christians, I am one. I have studied the Bible. I want to see people acting like adults instead of running to a government that is not equipped to deal with such issues.

  33. Even in Kenya we serve cake to everyone and anyone. Even with 147 dead because they are Christians. Christians in Kenya went to church fearing the worst but trusting in the One who died that we may live. While we were yet sinners He died for us. What happened to letting our love win them over? What happened to serving as into the Lord? Discrimination is NOT christian.

  34. When you think about it, the real source of the offence that many “Christians” who support laws like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or who are against same-gender marriage is that they are making something that isn’t their business their business. Two same-gendered people getting married has no more impact on anyone else’s marriage than my preference for chocolate cake has over someone else’s preference for blueberry pie. If you are a florist, why do you give a whooptycrap WHO is marrying whom? Why is that your business? How does that have ANYTHING to do with you? Why are you inserting yourself into someone’s life that way? Just because you are selling them flowers or baking them a cake doesn’t give you admission to their social circle. As a vendor, your job is provide a service and be invisible while doing it. You don’t want to serve gay people because you think its a sin? Think about the fact that at the last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, including the one who he knew would deny him and the one he knew would betray him, then come talk to me about not wanting to serve gay people.

    Along those lines, If you believe that homosexuality is a sin, religious freedom allows you to do that, just like religious freedom allows other people to NOT believe that. If you believe that committing a sin is a reason for your business not to serve someone, then don’t open a business, because I am pretty sure that somewhere in the bible Christ makes it a point to illustrate that everyone sins, (Some story about casting stones), and it seems pretty pointless to open a business if you aren’t going to serve any customers.

    In point of fact, Christ also said that standing in judgement of others is something that you are NOT SUPPOSED TO DO. So, while you are busy refusing to provide flowers or cake for a gay couple’s wedding because you don’t approve of their choices, You might want to think about how your being judgmental looks in the eyes of the God you believe.

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