An Oregon court recently ruled against a Christian bakery that had refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The couple has been ordered to pay $135G to the lesbian couple that filed charges against the bakery. This ruling is a travesty and a violation of the Christian couple’s rights of religious freedom and free speech. Before I go further let me establish a premise on which I base my statement here. First, if one believes in God and believes in the Bible as the Word of God as conservative Christians do, one also believes that God and God’s word is immutable, it is final and does not change according to the whims of man. A Christian who has dedicated himself or herself to trying to follow a godly life, based on the word of God, does not change his or her lifestyle and practices to fit the values of those who do not believe in God if those practices are not aligned with the teaching in the Word. This is not a matter of hate. I do not hate anyone. I may not approve of a lifestyle, but not approving does not equate to hate.
Freedom of religion is one of the first rights articulated in the Bill of Rights in our Constitution. It existed as a constitutional right long before gay rights became an issue in our society. The placement of the right to religious freedom in the Bill of Rights is evidence of the importance that right had to the founding fathers of our nation. Among the reasons we declared independence from the King of England was so that we could worship and practice our faith freely, without dictates from the governing power. The Oregon court has now said that the right to religious freedom must be subordinated to the right of a gay couple to order a wedding cake to celebrate their wedding.
What is the significance of the wedding cake? The Christian couple would have gladly sold the gay couple a generic cake off the shelf. A wedding cake is a celebration of the love of the couple being wed and the wedding itself. It is a work of art, as much, or more, as it is food preparation. It is the artistic expression of the celebration of the event, in the form of a cake. Because the baker is the artist, asking a Christian baker to make a wedding cake is asking that baker to participate in the celebration of that event. A Christian baker, who does not approve of the gay lifestyle, does not want to participate in the celebration of a gay wedding, or be known as a participant in such an event. They should not be asked to do so nor required by the government to do so. The government is thus requiring the Christian to violate a core belief.
The couple could have gone to a different baker to get their cake made. Rather than do this, they chose to flaunt their lifestyle in the face of the Christian baker and Christians throughout the country, and caused the government to take sides against religious freedom.
There are more rights at stake than freedom of religion. There is also the right to freedom of speech and freedom of association, both of which are protected by the constitution. Because a wedding cake is an artistic expression, it falls under the free speech protection. Protected is the freedom of speech or the freedom to not speak. The government should not be dictating the content of our speech. In like manner, the freedom of association is also the freedom to not associate with those with whom we do not desire to associate, especially when such association implies condoning of a lifestyle with which we do not agree on religious grounds.
The bottom line is that this court ruling is an erosion of our constitutional rights. The gay couple would not have been denied their rights under our laws if the court had ruled in favor of the baker, because they still had the option to go to another baker. The rights of both parties could have been preserved by ruling in favor of the Christian baker. Instead the court chose to trample on the rights on one in favor of the other. The question arises, “where will this erosion of our rights stop?” It is a dangerous path the court has chosen, one that regards faith as being as being nothing more than a belief in a myth that is not worthy of consideration.