Family Research Council

March 17, 2014 - Monday

Peace of Cake: Baker and Couple Find Civil Solution

At one Indianapolis shop, 111 Cakery almost turned into a 911 for religious liberty. Like most Christians in the wedding business, Randy and Trish McGath knew the risks of turning down an order for a same-sex ceremony. In their industry, word was spreading fast about the price of standing up for your faith -- from florists and facilities rentals to caterers and bed and breakfasts. They'd heard the horror stories of photographers, who were dragged before human rights commissions and another baker under threat of jail -- all for operating their businesses under the same values that they have lived out all their lives.

What would the McGaths do if the same threat came to their shop? Unfortunately, they didn't have to wait long to find out. A few weeks ago, the owners of 111 Cakery got a call from Mike Stephens and Shane Laney, a newly "engaged" couple who wanted to hire Randy and Trish to make the cake for their April commitment ceremony. Knowing it could cost them their business -- or at the very least, change it forever -- the McGaths never wavered. Politely, they explained they couldn't accept the job.

"As artists," Randy told the local Fox affiliate, "we have to find inspiration to create something special for our clients," he explained. "When asked to do a cake for an occasion or with a theme that's in opposition with our faith, it's just hard for us. We struggle with that." And like so many other believers trying to strike a balance between compassion and conviction, that struggle isn't rooted in prejudice. Under 111 Cakery's policy, the McGaths also draw the line at custom cakes with alcohol, drug, or violence-related messages. "There is zero hate here," Randy reiterated. "This causes us to do a lot of soul searching. Why are we doing what we do? We want to show the love of Christ. We want to be right with our God, but we also want to show kindness and respect to other people."

Although Mike and Shane complained about the decision on social media, they seem content to "move on" and find another bakery without involving local officials. "We found someone that will do it for us, so we're going to focus on the good," Mike said. And that's exactly as it should be. This is how religious liberty and the free market are supposed to work. Instead of forcing Christians to participate in these ceremonies against their will, the customers simply found their service elsewhere. As with any business policy, the market will vote with their dollars on whether they agree with the McGaths' position. And as consumers, they should have that right.

Tragically, Mike and Shane's response is an anomaly among those pushing for the redefinition of marriage. Just ask the students of Stanford University. There, a conservative group called the Anscombe Society was blocked from hosting a conference called "Communicating Values: Marriage, Family & the Media" by the campus's student government. Calling it "hate speech," the Graduate Student Council voted 10-2 to cut off funding from the group. This, despite the Anscombe Society's efforts to reach out to the campus's LGBT groups in hopes of finding some common ground on the event's scheduled speakers.

According to the minutes from the Council's meeting earlier this month, the majority of students pushed to censor the Society's beliefs. Only a handful of students seemed to understand the importance of a fair debate. "In the name is tolerance, we are silencing and taking away support from a view that we don't agree with," one student said. "These views are out there, we should listen to them. I totally disagree with these people, but we need to hear what they have to say." Unfortunately for the Anscombe Society, fair debate doesn't begin with fair treatment.

Air Force in the Line of Fire -- and Flier

If cadets thought erasing a single Bible verse was offensive, wait until they're assigned to Maxwell Air Force Base -- where the entire Bible is unwelcome. At the Alabama installation, a 10-year tradition came to a sudden halt when base officials told the Gideon's to stop distributing their pocket-sized Bibles to recruits. "They kicked us out," Gideon's volunteer Michael Fredenburg told Fox News's Todd Starnes. "They told us, 'get your Bibles out.'"

To Michael, who'd taken over the project his father started, it was a shock. The system had worked "beautifully," he said. After the new recruits finished their paperwork, a volunteer would shake their hand and offer them a Bible. That all changed last Wednesday, when new orders blocked non-government groups from posting a person on base to distribute literature. (Gideons will be allowed to place Bibles on a table where the recruits can pick one up, but no one with the organization can be present, and there can be no contact with the recruits.)

Of course, the timing for the controversy couldn't be worse for the U.S. Air Force, whose top officials were just grilled by House Republicans late last week for the climate of religious hostility in its ranks. And while General John Walsh dismissed the concerns before the Armed Services Committee as an overreaction, the pattern of abuse tells a far different story -- particularly for the Air Force, where religious intolerance seems to be at its worst.

Congressman John Fleming (R-La.) asked the General if he was familiar with FRC's "Clear and Present Danger" publication, documenting dozens of incidents of faith-based harassment in the military. Gen. Welsh said he was. But instead of denying reality, Walsh should have taken the opportunity in Friday's hearing to discuss how he would bring the Air Force into compliance with the new DOD instructions protecting the religious expression of our troops. If the Air Force won't defend its warriors, we will. Sign FRC's petition to stop the military's flying force from grounding men and women of faith!

'The Changing Face of Persecution'

Where are Christians being persecuted today -- and who is persecuting them? How has persecution changed over the past 100 years, and what's likely to happen in the future? Find out at FRC's next policy lecture, "The Changing Face of Persecution" with Dr. Todd Johnson, Director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. He is co-author of The World's Religions in Figures (Wiley-Blackwell) and the World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford University Press) and co-editor of the Atlas of Global Christianity (Edinburgh University Press). Don't miss his take on the burgeoning crisis in the global church this Wednesday, March 19, at noon. Click here to find out more!


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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