Bernard Goldberg is a former CBS reporter who finally had enough, and has written several interesting books, including: Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How The Media Distort The News, A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media, 100 People who are Screwing Up America, and Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right.
In a recent article on his website, Goldberg addressed the issue of gays demanding that people with sincere objections to their practices, bend to their will. I have been addressing that issue as well, particularly in discussion the ongoing Oregon case of Aaron and Melissa Klein. Those articles may be found here:
And the related Oregon: Stark, Raving Mad
Goldberg has a somewhat different take on the issue:
Did you hear about the gay bakery in Greenwich Village – Sweetie Pies, Cupcakes and More — that refused to bake a wedding cake for a straight couple? Can you imagine?
When asked why they refused, the two gay bakers – Adam and Steve – said, ‘While we have nothing against straight people – some of our best friends are heteros – we don’t think straight people should fall into some ‘protected class.’ In other words, it’s our bakery and we can do whatever we want.’
City officials didn’t see it that way. They fined Adam and Steve over $100,000 because according to local law, a business open to the public must serve the public and can’t refuse service based on sexual orientation.
So whose side are you on? Do the gay bakers have a right to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a heterosexual couple? It is their business, after all. Or was the government right in fining them?
In case you hadn’t heard about the Greenwich Village case, it’s because I made it up. But I suspect you knew that. And I understand that the Oregon case, which is in the news – where Christian bakers were fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple – isn’t exactly the same.
So far so good, but here Goldberg starts accelerating into a sharp turn left:
In the Oregon case, the bakers claimed it was against their religious beliefs to bake the cake. To do so would violate their fundamental values.
The state didn’t see it that way, ruling that, ‘Under Oregon law, businesses cannot discriminate or refuse service based on sexual orientation, just as they cannot turn customers away because of race, sex, disability, age or religion.’
(Before you ask, Should a Jewish baker be forced to cater a Nazi wedding, let’s be clear: Nazis are not a protected class. In many states — Oregon being one — gays are. So no on the Nazi wedding.)
What do you think, gentle readers? Straw man?
Melissa Klein, the owner along with her husband of the bakery that was penalized, Sweet Cakes, in Portland, said this on her Facebook page: ‘We are here to obey God not man, and we will not conform to this world. If we were to lose everything it would be totally worth it for our Lord who gave his one and only son, Jesus, for us! God will win this fight!’
Fair enough. If they’re willing to lose their business by not baking a wedding cake for a gay couple, maybe that’s how God wants it, though I have a tough time believing that God gave even a second of his precious time to the question of whether Christian bakers should make a wedding cake for a couple of gays.
Goldberg tries to sort out a compromise of conscience:
What if we had a law said that bakers have no obligation to actually deliver the cake to the site of the wedding; that a florist does not have to attend the wedding to make sure the flowers are arranged properly; that a photographer does not have to take pictures at the actual wedding ceremony? What if the law said, in essence, that business owners, if their religion forbids it, don’t have to set foot inside a venue where a gay wedding takes place.
But, under this compromise, the same law would say that the baker does have to simply bake the cake for the gay couple, and the florist does simply have to sell them flowers, and the photographer does simply have to take pictures at his studio – because businesses that are open to the general public must serve the general public or pay a fine.
Goldberg is more than smart enough to understand religious conviction, but like Oregon’s Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, he is choosing to ignore the First Amendment in the favor of non-existent gay rights and the narrowest possible interpretation of state law.
I understand that some people of faith don’t want any part of gay weddings – even if that part is a small one, such as only baking the cake (and not being required to so much as show up in the same zip code as the wedding). But I worry about the slippery slope.
If bakers can refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple because doing so would violate their religious beliefs, why can’t they refuse to serve openly gay people – period? [skip]
Why can’t these business owners of faith say that homosexuality, in their view, is a sin and they can’t do business with sinful people?
Goldberg is ignoring the nature of Christianity and contemporary Christians. Whether he is doing this merely to be consistent in an attempt to suggest a compromise that would please only those demanding others do their will, or because he really doesn’t understand Christianity, I can’t say. Christians associate with sinners every day because all sin. To see a sinner, we need only look in the mirror. At the same time, there is a common Christian axiom: love the sinner but hate the sin. Christians also generally see no levels to sin. One is as bad as another; all are an affront to God. But because all sin, and all may be forgiven their sins, Christians generally don’t refuse to associate, in business or in their personal lives, with sinners, which includes their spouses and their children. Jesus spent his time among sinners, which is where the work of Christianity is done. This does not, however, extend to helping others, particularly in some direct way, to sin. Christians rightfully consider that to be sinful as well. But Goldberg goes beyond compromise:
In the ruling against the Christian bakers, Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian said that, “This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage. It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal.
Still, I don’t want to see those Christian bakers in Portland lose their business over this.
Too late, by several years, for that Bernie.
But let’s not forget that they did make a decision to operate in a civil society. They did open their shop on Main Street. It’s one thing to say on Facebook, ‘We are here to obey God not man, and we will not conform to this world,’ but if you really believe that, don’t open a bakery on a city street. Open it in your church.
Here’s what Goldberg is, for whatever reason, missing. In Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Kennedy recognized that gay activists would use the gay marriage decision to attack Christians, and graciously allowed that people of faith would still be allowed to preach and advocate their faiths. He did not go so far as to say they would be allowed to practice it.
Goldberg seems to be taking Kennedy’s weak assurances a bit–though logically–farther. Practice your faith all you like within the walls of your church on Sunday morning–why, you can even open a cake shop therein!–but dare not try to live it outside those wall and those times. That’s all the First Amendment acknowledges.
In the Klein case, Goldberg suggests that Christian bakers want to refuse to serve gay people, period. As I’ve explained, this demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of Christian doctrine. Although it is possible some Christians might take things to the extreme of trying not to associate with people they believe to be sinners, that’s not the case with the Kleins. The record reveals they willingly served the lesbian couple on several prior occasions. Obviously, the issue is not the couple’s sexual preferences. Their religious objection came only when, by providing a wedding cake, they believed would have a direct hand in what they considered sinful activity. This strikes at the heart of religious belief: to try to live a life with as little sin as possible.
It matters not that Goldberg and a thousand prominent theologians say the Kleins are mistaken in their belief, the First Amendment acknowledges–it does not establish–the primacy of the individual conscience in religious matters.
But what about the lesbian couple? What about them? What law obligates me to participate in the sins of others? What moral code?
But what about Christian bakers that make cakes for gay couples? What about them? Aren’t they sinning? By the Klein’s belief, yes. Perhaps the Kliens would take the position, as do many Christians, that it’s not their business to tell others what sin is; it’s their business to worry about their own, which is why they would not make the cake: to avoid their own sin, not the sin of the lesbian couple. Whether the Kleins are theologically correct or the Christian baker that makes cakes for gay couples is correct is, again, irrelevant. This is why we have multiple Baptist, Methodist, and Lutheran churches in a single town, and this is why we have the First Amendment: to acknowledge the inalienable rights to freedom of conscience and to actually practice one’s faith, not only at a specific place and time, but in one’s daily life.
Let’s consider Goldberg’s argument that Christians shouldn’t open businesses in public–“Open it in your church”–unless they are willing to be a part of every sin into which others might draw them. Goldberg is arguing no less, and also arguing that Christians must recuse themselves from life, in essence, refuse to associate with those they think sinners. He is suggesting that Christians that live their beliefs may not open businesses. There is surely no lack of activists that would argue that Christians cannot work for the government for the same reasons, which rather narrows the possibilities for Christian survival, doesn’t it? Consider the spectacle of Christian county clerks across America forced to resign rather than issue marriage licenses for same sex couples. I rather doubt this is Goldberg’s desire, but the practical effect is the same. He ends with this:
And should the Christian bakers in Portland, Oregon be the arbiter of what laws they will follow and which one’s they won’t.
The sanctimony of true believers is understandable. But at times it is also exhausting.
“Sanctimony?” We’ve established that this is not about the sexual orientation of the lesbian couple. The Kleins willingly served them in the past. They were repeat customers. They only refused to serve them, with regret, when their sincere religious beliefs were implicated and they felt to do as the lesbian couple asked would require their own sin. It is difficult to imagine a more obvious example of conduct protected under the First Amendment.
Obviously, the law applies to all, unless that law violates the Constitution, particularly the inalienable rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Enumerated rights must take precedence over “rights” discovered hiding under the unicorns and fairies dancing in the penumbras and emanations therein. I speak, of course, of the “right” to gay marriage, and any other “right” emanating from it.
Is there a constitutional right to force others to provide cakes for gay weddings? The Oregon Bureau of Labor, the lesbian couple, and Bernard Goldberg apparently think so.
That Avakian and Goldberg have chosen to elevate Oregon labor law above the Constitution certainly does not speak to their understanding of Christian theology or the Constitution. For Avakian, the evidence is that his bias and malice have caused him to ignore the highest law of the land in favor of sexual preference and progressive whim. Goldberg? He’s simply wrong.