Religion, Rights and the Right Thing

This post falls under the heading of “thinking (or typing) out loud”. I’m hoping writing helps me gain some clarity. We’ll see how this goes.

You have probably heard about the baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same sex couple. While I haven’t followed the news story extremely closely, it has made me think about how  difficult it can be for us as a nation to balance the various rights we all have.

A baker declines to bake a cake for a same sex couple’s wedding, because of her religious beliefs. Some believe she unfairly discriminated against the couple. Some believe she was right to stay true to her religious beliefs and that those beliefs are protected in the Constitution.

But what if her religious beliefs led her to refuse to bake for persons of color? What if her religious convictions led her to refuse to bake for Hindus? Or single women?

Where does the line between religious freedom and discrimination lie?

I am not a baker, but suppose that I was. Would I bake a wedding cake for a same sex couple? Yes I would. And I would bake for an African American, or a Hindu, or a single woman.

And I wonder, does baking a cake, or performing any service, imply acceptance of anything and everything about the other person? Do I check where the customer’s money comes from? Do I make sure that the money they pay me with was legally and ethically obtained? Would I  bake a cake for someone’s anniversary if I knew the money came from illegal drug sales?

How much do I need to know about my customers before I bake something for them? Is it any of my concern what they do in their lives outside my bakery? Would I bake a cake for a known adulterer? How about a convicted felon? How about a mean and unkind person?

If you were drawing the line, where would you draw it?

If a group of Neo Nazis wanted a cake for a private party celebrating Hitler’s birthday, would I bake it? Does baking that cake imply my endorsement of Hitler and the Nazi ideology?

Would I bake a cake for Nazis? The idea makes me uncomfortable. There’s a good chance that I wouldn’t.

But saying that also makes me uncomfortable- because I hear these words, “Love your neighbor…. Love your enemies…Bless those who curse you?

Well dear readers, 350+ words and I’m not any clearer about this. I might have made myself more confused. What I do think is that we will and we should struggle with this. We need to take seriously our responsibility to each other. We need to take seriously our responsibility to our faith.We need to take seriously the rights and freedoms we all share. We need to talk about this with civility and grace. It is necessary and good I think, that we struggle with these questions. It’s not comfortable, but it is important.

So, help me out here, what do you think?


3 thoughts on “Religion, Rights and the Right Thing

  1. I would make the cake for anyone, but hate groups like the Nazis would put me right at the limit of “loving my neighbor.”
    I have read about the baker’s refusal to make a wedding cake for a same sex couple. I hope the day will come when she will smile, say “Congratulations,” and take their order.

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