A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens’ classic novel, depicts oppression of the peasantry by the aristocracy in the 18th century. Flash forward to the 21st century with a modern day version of Dickens’ work, substituting American Christians for peasants and secular liberal elites for the aristocracy. Rather than comparing two cities, London and Paris, let’s compare two bakeries, both in Colorado.
As a preface to the modern tale, we have the story of Memories Pizza in the heartland of Indiana. A small pizzeria, in the middle of nowhere, minding its own business, was visited by a reporter on a mission looking for controversy. When the reporter posed a hypothetical question about catering a gay wedding, the daughter of the Christian themed pizzeria answered no. They would not cater a same sex wedding based on their religious beliefs. The liberal elites were fit to be tied over a peasant daring to challenge elite orthodoxy.
On to the tale of two bakeries.
The first bakery is Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver, Colorado. Several years ago, this small bakery refused to make a wedding cake for a gay wedding, citing the baker’s Christian beliefs. This was not a refusal of service within the baker’s store, simply an assertion of his first amendment rights to not participate in a ceremony against his religious beliefs.
Oblivious to the separation of church and state, an administrative law judge gave baker Jack Phillips an ultimatum, “serve gay weddings or face fines.” Wouldn’t it have been easier for the gay couple to simply find another bakery friendly to their lifestyle and more than happy to create a wedding cake? There are over 80 LGBTQ-friendly bakeries in Denver.
The second bakery is actually three Denver bakeries that refused to bake anti-gay cakes, “with Bible verses and images condemning homosexuality.” Much like with Masterpiece Cakeshop, the customer filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Right Commission over this refusal of service. But this time the commission rejected the complaint. This week’s decision was based on the baker’s rejection of “derogatory language and imagery” rather than any specific religious beliefs.
That’s funny; I thought the First Amendment protected religious freedom and derogatory language. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Nor can they make any law, “abridging the freedom of speech.” By the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s reasoning, if a Muslim female wore a hijab to school, this may not be a constitutionally protected right, despite the fact that the ACLU would vigorously defend that right. But wearing a hat with a swastika would be just fine. When in fact both acts are protected under the First Amendment.
Speaking of Muslims, suppose a Muslim bakery was asked to bake a gay wedding cake. Several bakeries in Dearborn, Michigan were asked to do just that, and not surprisingly they refused. Was there any outrage in the mainstream press or on social media as there was for the Indiana pizzeria? Actually a deafening silence.
It’s a war on Christians and their beliefs, but not toward other religious beliefs. As Bill O’Reilly observed, “It is open season on Christians.” The tale of two bakeries is not about religious freedom or fairness. It’s not about respecting peoples’ faith and beliefs. Instead it’s the progressive elites and their selective outrage. Kneejerk politically correct responses without any thoughtful examination of the facts or circumstances. Much like the bogus “Hands up don’t shoot” meme, which was built on lies and selective outrage.
Another classic author, George Orwell, summed this up in Animal Farm. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Seems this applies to religions and their followers as well.
Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Twitter @retinaldoctor.