Still missing the point

Writing for the NY Post, Fox News contributor Deroy Murdock thinks he knows ‘Why Christians are losing the war over gay-wedding cakes.” His secret recipe for success, however, only demonstrates the real reason conservatives are losing this particular culture war: they just don’t get it.

Murdock explains

“There are now approximately 56 million religiously unaffiliated adults in the US,” up from 37 million in 2007, according to Pew Research.

Whether conservatives like it or not, religious-liberty claims increasingly enter deaf, if not hostile, ears — many of which trigger very loud mouths.

In other words, he thinks it’s a simple case of mob rule. There’s too many non-Christians out there now, and they’re shouting down anybody who tries to defend religious liberty. And in his mind, it’s the homophobic Christians who are the true champions of religious liberty.

The distinction he fails to make is that religious liberty means each individual is free to believe whatever religion they prefer, or to not believe any of them, if that’s their preference. It does not mean that people of one religion can gang up on people whose beliefs are different, and shut them out of society. That, in fact, would be the opposite of religious liberty, a society in which having the “wrong” beliefs or practices could result in political, social, legal, and commercial penalties. Anti-discrimination laws protect religious and civil liberties by telling landlords, businesses, services, governments, and law enforcement that they’re not allowed to penalize people who have done nothing wrong, and who are merely different in some way (that others find “offensive”).

But Murdock doesn’t get it. In fact, in his ideal world, discrimination against Christians would be perfectly legal.

Americans enjoy the freedom to associate with and without whomever we wish. This liberty is enshrined in merchants’ placards that read: “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” An atheist baker who prefers not to associate with Bible-waving Baptists should be free to refer them elsewhere.

Imagine a society in which minority Christians have trouble buying food or finding an apartment or getting a job, just because an un-Christian majority decided to assert a “freedom of association” that excused them from allowing Christians to buy and sell. That’s supposed to be one of the signs of the Antichrist: a government that won’t let anyone buy and sell unless they get the “Mark of the Beast” on their hand or forehead—which none of the “elect” would be willing to do, for religious reasons. Yet here is Murdock laying the legal foundation that would make such a policy possible.

I’m not suggesting that there’s any Antichrist or one-world conspiracy against Christians, of course. I’m just pointing out how hollow Murdock’s reasoning is when he tries to invent some kind of constitutional justification for discrimination against gays. Not only does he propose an interpretation that would be grossly unfair if applied to Christians the same way he tries to apply it to gays, but he himself applies it to Christians, and says that would be just fine. He truly isn’t thinking this one through.

He’s similarly confused about the difference between discrimination against actual people, and discrimination against a mere opinion.

If a judge can force a Christian baker to use her frosting pen to write on a cake, “Happy Wedding Day, Bill and Ted,” that same judge could force a pro-NARAL baker to use a frosting pen to adorn a cake with the words “Abortion is murder.”

The difference, of course, is that the Christian baker has no problem with expressing “Happy Wedding Day” as a message, except when the people ordering the cake happen to be gay. In other words, the objection is not to the message itself, the Christian is merely bigoted against the people involved. And that’s what makes it discrimination. The secular baker, by contrast, objects to making biased, anti-woman, counter-factual statements no matter who orders it. That’s a genuine freedom of speech issue, because the baker is not flip-flopping on whether or not the statement is acceptable based on who is making it. He or she is consistently opposed to making false statements that are harmful to women, and thus the secular baker is promoting liberty by refusing to participate in misleading propaganda.

The same goes for other services too.

Denying a woman the right to choose whether or not to take pictures at a wedding constitutes art at gunpoint.

Just ask Elaine Huguenin, whom New Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled must photograph a lesbian wedding. (The US Supreme Court spurned her appeal.) What could be more un-American than that?

That’s easy: promoting discrimination would be more un-American, assuming that America is the kind of place where people enjoy legal protection of their fundamental civil rights. Once again, Murdock fails to notice that we’re talking about a service that Huguenin provides, professionally, to the general public—except in the case of “those people,” whom she happens to be prejudiced against. She has no problems taking pictures at weddings, and in fact she makes good money at it. But she wants to deny that service to certain kinds of people just because they happen to fall in love differently than she does, which is both bigotry and discrimination. She does not object to the service she offers, she objects to the people she has to offer it to. That’s discrimination, and it’s the enemy of religious liberty.

Oblivious to the end, Murdock insists that the real reason Christians are losing the wedding cake war is because they are—wait for it—just too darn nice.

Ironically, Christians are losing the Wedding Cake War because they are too Christian.

Rather than forgive, they need to fight.

Yeah no. What they really need is a frickin’ clue here. They’re losing the wedding cake wars because they’re trying to demonize and marginalize and generally shit on a population that isn’t doing anybody any real harm. Christian prejudice against gays and lesbians may be Biblical, but it’s clearly both unfair and irrational, and it’s a serious blemish on the marketing propaganda that tries to portray the Christian God as a so-called God of love. They’re losing because they deserve to lose. And until they figure that out, they’ll keep on making arguments that completely miss the point.


  1. brucegee1962 says

    Somewhere or other on the web, someone raised a very good point: while the conservative Christians, particularly in rural areas, are frothing in the mouth about gay wedding cakes and trans people in bathrooms, there is a cocaine/heroine/meth epidemic that is sweeping their own backyard by storm. Yeah, they could ignore it when it was mostly an inner-city problem, but now it’s affecting THEIR OWN KIDS. And yet still, the biggest problem facing the country is The Gayz and “The guys in dresses.”

    Can you imagine if the spent all that effort on helping keep kids away from drugs? Their brand might even seem relevant again, instead of something left over from sixty years ago!

  2. says

    They’re losing because they pick all these fights in the first place, all of them. They posture by themselves when there’s no one around wanting to fight them.

    >He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious. — Sun Tzu

    Sun Tzu is a suggested reading for anyone taking up a cause of social justice.

    For Christians there is only one thing they need to learn: hypocrisy. It explains pretty much everything they do.

    • John Morales says

      I think the concept at hand is secularism; many Christians actually support that stance, not being fundamentalists.

      (It’s even Biblically-sound: “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”)

  3. Anton Mates says

    Ironically, Christians are losing the Wedding Cake War because they are too Christian.
    Rather than forgive, they need to fight.

    Is this guy being paid under the table by the Antichrist? Because I couldn’t write a more concise rejection of Christian ethics if my last name was LaVey.

    “Don’t be like that chump Jesus, forgiving his enemies as they killed him! If someone slaps your face, turn the other cheek 360° as you spin around and backfist the guy like Van Damme! Wade to victory through the blood of your foes!”

  4. dannorth says

    As others have pointed out on numerous occasions, replace the sexual orientation with skin colour and you see the same arguments that were used fifty years before during the Civil Rights fight.

  5. rietpluim says

    Oh, the hypocrisy! The Christians don’t forgive. They fight. It just happens that they are losing, and they are sore losers.

  6. Peter the Mediocre says

    Every so often some follower of Ayn Rand tells me that there is no problem–the couple can just find a baker who shares their views. The mendacity level of that argument is off the charts, but it’s very common. Because of course what they really want to do is make it impossible for the objects of their hate to survive. Because they are so Christian.

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