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Following up on "marriage equality" vs. religious liberty

By Scott Tibbs, November 17, 2014

Critics of my guest editorial on religious liberty have taken the principle of freedom of association and expanded it far beyond the real issue we are facing regarding "marriage equality."

The issue is not whether Christian business owners should refuse service to all homosexuals, or whether businesses in general should be able to refuse service to specific groups of people. Selling gasoline or potato chips to a homosexual (or anyone engaged in any sin) presents no moral quandary for a Christian. The issue is whether the civil magistrate should force Christians to endorse homosexual behavior.

Should a Christian business owner be forced to participate in homosexual weddings by providing photography, flowers or a wedding cake? Should Christian business owners should be forced to provide space for homosexual activity by renting a room in a bed and breakfast to a same-sex couple? Should our society expect anyone to endorse behavior their faith deems unacceptable, and be punished by the state if they do not?

In a response to me, another guest columnist asked regarding a bed and breakfast if "different-sex couples registering for rooms required to provide a copy of their marriage license in order to rent a room." The answer - of course. A Christian bed and breakfast owner should be allowed to refuse to rent a room to an unmarried heterosexual couple.

The common refrain is that a church should be allowed to refuse service, but a private business in the public domain should not. But the obvious question is this: Why should Christians who own a for-profit business have fewer rights under our Constitution than Christians in a ministerial position? More importantly, once the precedent is established, does anyone really think the exception for ministries will last very long?

The solution should be simple: Take your business elsewhere. There are plenty of business owners who will rent a room to a homosexual couple (or an unmarried heterosexual couple) or who will sell a wedding cake to anyone. No one's rights are being violated by respecting freedom of conscience. But it is not and has never been about tolerance. It is and has always been about mandatory acceptance of homosexuality, now enforced by the state.