At the end of last week a court ordered a Christian baker in Colorado to provide wedding cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies even though in doing so, the baker believes he is violating his religious beliefs. And who hasn’t read about Hobby Lobby fighting for its life because ObamaCare would force its Christian owners to fund abortion-inducing drugs. Doesn’t affect you because you don’t own a business? You’ll think twice about that when you hear my story.
My own story, which some of you may have read earlier this week in a different context, arises out of the fact that several organizations like FACT came together with a national organization to look for a company that would sell us a constituent database management system that met our needs. The following reply from a potential vendor was similar to several others we received:
“We have the right to refuse to work with companies that…actively engage in restricting the rights of … people based on their…sexual identity. Because you fight gay marriage, it would be a conflict with our mission”
Several who read that story the other day asked some form of the following question: Why will a court order Christians to provide services contrary to their religious beliefs but won’t do the same to those who don’t want to serve Christians?
It’s a great question. How have Christians wound up in the apparently hypocritical situation that our organization experienced?
It’s because religion — Christianity in particular — is now considered a spiritual, personal, and private matter. However, running a business is a secular, public matter.
Consequently, the “secular” person cannot conceive how something they perceive to be a purely private matter could relate to something they perceive to be a purely public matter. It’s a classic case of compartmentalizing life: there’s a person’s religious life and then there’s the rest of his or her life.
That’s the easy answer to the question. The harder question is how did we get here. Actually, the answer to that isn’t hard either; it’s just uncomfortable, at least for Christians. Christians are in this position because of our own doing, which I’ve explained in the footnote. 1
But back to the initial question, “Why should that matter to you?” You say you may never own a business and be forced to engage in business transactions that violate your religious beliefs. Well, here’s why it matters.
Picture the current direction of culture accelerating over the next 10 to 20 years because most Christians continue to say nothing. Part of that cultural picture has to include increasing antagonism toward those whose beliefs are contrary to what is publicly acceptable. Why those beliefs could even be considered hostile toward the public good. Picture Roman rule and the early Christians who believed their allegiance to God exceeded their allegiance to the state.
And if you can picture all of that, then it shouldn’t be too hard for you to picture yourself looking for someone willing to serve you.
Don’t think that businesses wanting to make a profit are your security because someone always will want your money. Actually, the profit motive could work against you. If a business believes it will lose more business from other customers than it would from you and those like you, then you may be out of luck.
And, of course, don’t think the people who think like you will always be there to serve you. If those who would serve you are driven out of business by courts, like the baker in Colorado, then where will you go?
Which reminds me, this Christmas you might want to stock up on the stuff you like to buy at Hobby Lobby, because their fight really does affect you. If they lose, you lose too.
1 We got to this point because the church had no good answers to science’s naturalistic explanation of the world, an explanation that took root after Darwin. And the Church, seeing that the naturalism excluded even the possibility of the spiritual, subconsciously, if not consciously concluded that an accommodation was needed. Church leaders would let “science” run the natural world, where we live and conduct our business, if the secularists would let us have our beliefs in the spiritual realm. Unfortunately, the “natural world” is where we actually live and work and run our businesses and Darwin’s naturalism spread to everything. And now we are reaping the fruit of the compromise we accepted.