It wasn’t so long ago that Christians were mocked, criticized and fined for refusing, for reasons of conscience, to participate in acts that violated their deeply help beliefs.
Business owners who refused to photograph, cater or provide flowers for gay marriage ceremonies label bigots by the media. And religious orders that refused to participate in Obamacare health care plans that covered contraceptives were threatened with steep fines.
Most of the outrage was linked to abstract events: There was never evidence that gay couples were forced to do without flowers or a wedding cake because of the supposed bigotry of these small business owners. And it should go without saying that the Sisters, who take vows of chastity, were never going to be in need of birth control.
But that didn’t prevent some small businesses from feeling the devastating effects of the left’s determination to force everyone to embrace their warped idea of a just and tolerant society. To take one example, in 2015 when a pizza parlor owner was asked a hypothetical question about serving a gay wedding, she said no. And that brought an avalanche of negative attention, to the point that she had to close down her business.
Much has changed since then, specifically the advent of the Trump era. Now it’s liberals who have suddenly become the defenders of conscience rights and the right to civil disobedience. But their reasoning is flimsier than that of their Christian and conservative counterparts.
On the left, the debate has nothing to do with Catholic sisters who devote their lives to charity and believe it’s a violation of their faith to pay for artificial birth control, which Catholic teaching says ends a human life. Instead, it’s Airbnb hosts in Washington, D.C. who think it is a violation of their beliefs to rent their homes to Trump supporters on inauguration weekend.
Ninety-four percent of Washington DC residents voted for Hillary Clinton, and now many who had prepared to rent their homes for Hillary’s inauguration are refusing to do so because Trump won.
“I have a visceral reaction to the thought of having a Trump supporter in my house,” one owner told the Huffington Post. “No amount of money could make me change my mind,” she said. “It’s about moral principles.” Her roommate said that they might reconsider renting to Trump supporters if demand raises rates even higher because she doesn’t mind “gouging” Trump supporters.
Somebody should tell these people that they are breaking the law. Washington, DC is one of a handful of jurisdictions that bans discrimination based on politics.
Meanwhile an internet marketing company in New Mexico is refusing to do business with Trump supporters. The CEO said he was intolerant of bigotry, racism and fascism and said that he must resist because Trump is the second coming of Hitler. This is happening in New Mexico, where a court has ruled that it is unlawful for photographers to discriminate against gay weddings.
As far as the inauguration itself goes, many celebrities say they are boycotting the event. The Radio City Rockettes were under contract to perform at the inauguration when one Rockette voiced her displeasure. Even though performing is voluntary, some Rockettes said they were sometimes pressured to perform.
One Rockette posted on Instagram that having to perform for Trump “makes me feel embarrassed and disappointed. The women I work with are intelligent and are full of love and the decision of performing for a man that stands for everything we’re against is appalling.” As of press time, the Rockettes are still scheduled to perform.
Meanwhile, those celebrities who have committed to performing, including country performer Toby Keith, have been subject to smear campaigns.
There are stories of restaurants posting signs telling Trump supporters that their business is not wanted. And there are fashion designers who are refusing to work with First Lady-to-be Melania Trump. Meanwhile, according to a recent New York Times report, a group of artists and critics have called for a culture “strike” on Inauguration Day. That’s right. More than 130 artists (their names and work are likely unknown to the vast majority of Americans) have signed a petition calling on cultural institutions to close on Inauguration day so as not to “normalize” Trump.
Most of these institutions are taking the high road, however. According to the Times, the head of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art says they’ll be maintaining regular hours “Our entire program and mission, every day, is an expression of inclusion and appreciation of every culture.”
For the record, I support the right of these business owners to do business with whomever they choose. That said, I won’t be shedding any tears over the Left’s newfound respect for conscience rights. It comes with a heavy dose of hypocrisy.
Former Presidential candidate Gary Bauer is chairman of the Campaign for Working Families, president of American Values, and co-host of the Bauer and Rose show on SiriusXM Patriot.