Christians Need Not Apply
Now, I know government has to regulate stuff. If you are serving chicken, a health inspector probably should sign-off on a reasonably clean environment before you hand it over to the eager public. I don’t mind that. In fact, seeing the 100.5% rating at Taco Bell earlier made me feel more secure. I didn’t even realize that percentage existed but I knew it meant clean food.
What I didn’t like to see this week, was two mayors from two of our most important cities (Boston and Chicago) saying that they wanted to ban chicken from being sold for a non-health related reason. Apparently, the President of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, supports the traditional definition of marriage. Apparently, he even donated lunch to a Pennsylvania organization that fights for that cause.
Even worse, when asked by the Baptist Press, Mr Cathy said that he was, “guilty as charged” on supporting the “biblical definition of the family unit.” Whoa. In a country where 80% of the population is Christian and every state that has put this issue on the ballot, even California, has agreed with him, he is obviously way out-of-line.
In the follow-up to this, Boston Mayor Tom Menino wrote to Dan Cathy, “I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston. There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.”
Not to be out-done by the Bostonians, a Chicago alderman said that he would “now be denying Chick-fil-A’s permit to open a restaurant in the 1st Ward.” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel decided to stand behind this outrageous violation of the First Amendment, saying, “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values. They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents.” The controversy is evidently big enough to even get on ABC World News.
Alright, so now I’m guessing there will be liberal politicians in Oregon, California, and many other places that will seek to do the same. A number of college campuses are also following suit. My only question is, really? Is this where we’re headed? I’ve been following the news pretty closely over the past few years and I don’t really remember this being a trend too much until very recently. By “this” I mean forcing business owners to hold your values or face intimidation by the government.
This whole debacle reminded me of a story I thought was just a strange anomaly from about a month ago. A wedding photographer in New Mexico was approached by a lesbian couple who wanted her to shoot their “commitment ceremony.” The woman said she declined because she believes marriage to be a sacred union between one man and one woman. After she declined, the couple took her to court and sued her for discrimination. And won. The state of New Mexico does not recognize same-sex marriage or even civil unions, only traditional marriage, so I was very confused by this. Let me get this straight, the government does not recognize these relationships but business owners have to or else they will be sued and their businesses closed-down?
But that’s not all, yesterday I read of another story of a Christian business feeling unable to do business due to ideological impurity. Hercules Industries is a construction supply company in Colorado that is owned by the Newlands, a devoutly Catholic family. They have built the business into a large job-provider for the area, with 265 employees. They say that the new “Contraception Mandate” from Obama’s health-care bill will force them to shut-down. They will not pay for sterilizations, abortifacients, or contraception, but will be faced with large fines if they do not. Now some might think, “Well they need to get with the times!” but in America, we’ve always respected freedom of conscience. Maybe you think the Amish need to get with the times, but the beauty of our country was we allowed them to sport beards and buggies if that’s what they wanted to do.
In World War II, if you were a pacifist who thought killing, even in a war, was immoral, they let you be a conscientious objector. It didn’t matter if those around you thought you were a wuss, or a religious nut, or just wrong. You were allowed to take this position.
Can we not let the Newland family sell vents and other equipment to people in Colorado without forcing them to give their employees products that they see as immoral? If we can’t, I don’t think we live in a particularly free nation. I mean, the birth control will be free I suppose, but not the people. We need a right to conscientiously object to things. We need a right to disagree without being shut-down.
Just imagine if this became a trend in both red and blue states. Take the same issue of gay marriage. Let’s say people in Nebraska, a more conservative state, thought a certain company’s president didn’t represent “Nebraska values.” Would it be alright with everyone if the public leaders of this state threatened to deny them business permits? I think not. This trend would be very dangerous and would lead to a fragmented business climate in America. Businesses who support certain politics would be allowed to operate in liberal states, whereas business with more conservative leadership would be banned, and vice versa.
After the mayor of Boston was told that, in fact, he didn’t have the legal right to ban Chick-Fil-A from his town, he backed down a bit, saying, “I can’t do that. That would be interference to his rights to go there.” Menino continued, “I make mistakes all the time. That’s a Menino-ism.” The Chicago alderman did not quite back-away though. When asked if the Chick-Fil-A organization would change their stance on marriage if he would reconsider, he said, “If they’re serious about that, and they’re willing to put that in writing and they’re willing to adopt that. I think those are the grounds where we can move forward.” So, if they change their beliefs, they can open.
Gay groups have decided to instead go another route. If it’s not legal to ban them, yet, then they will instead invade Chick-Fil-A restaurants across the nation with gay make-out sessions. The organizers at Equality Illinois say, “LGBT supporters will show their disdain for Chick-Fil-A’s policies with public displays of affection in front of their restaurants.” Classy.
This whole campaign of intimidation makes you wonder how long it will be until it simply becomes impossible for one to be a traditional Christian and a business owner. If you are forced to believe in gay marriage or be denied restaurant permits, or forced to photograph gay marriages or be sued, or forced to provide products you think are immoral or face government fines, will Christians even bother to open-up shop? We aren’t to that point yet, but if these stories become less like anomalies, and more just the way the business world works, it is very possible.