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Thought Crimes 3 – Private Wedding Cake Maker Forced to Undergo Sensitivity Training By Government

“We’re talking about the government forcing people to participate in an act that’s clearly against their religion or conscience—their thoughts.”

The US Supreme Court is currently deciding on a case out of Colorado that could be viewed as a form of thought crime. After all, if the government punishes people for practicing their religious beliefs or for how their conscience directs them morally and ethically, isn’t the government punishing people for the way they think? We’ve previously discussed two forms of thought crimes—hate speech and hate crimes. Now, let’s talk about another kind of thought crime: conscience crimes.

A lack of objectivity and critical thinking seems to be slathered all over the discussion about a Colorado Christian baker supposedly refusing to sell a wedding cake to an engaged gay couple. As usual, much of the blame for the public’s ignorance goes to the political left.

The left uses its penchant for conflation to draw parallels between this issue and historical civil rights events that are in no way related. They are also using conflation by associating the selling of a product with being forced to participate in, thereby tacitly endorsing, an event.

Ostensibly, the case is about a bakery owner in Colorado accused of refusing to bake or sell a wedding cake to a homosexual couple who planned to marry in Massachusetts (where gay marriage was legal) and return to Colorado (where it was not) for the reception.

In fact, if I were the folks who fought those true civil rights battles, I’d be feeling a bit exploited right about now.

If your only news source is the mainstream media or leftist cable TV channels, this might be all you know, and it’s no wonder you might be upset. A baker refusing to serve people because they were gay. But that’s not what happened.

As I alluded to earlier, some on the left promote this issue as analogous to the “Whites Only” lunch counters and “blacks go to the back of the bus” and voting civil rights struggles of the 1960s. There’s one problem with this conflation: in reality, the bakery case doesn’t reflect those circumstances even a little. In fact, if I were the folks who fought those true civil rights battles, I’d be feeling a bit exploited right about now.

Many people believe a gay couple went into a bakery, and the Christian owner refused to sell them a wedding cake—because they’re gay. Right? But what happens to people’s thinking when pertinent details and legitimate opposing arguments are inserted into the recipe? The baker sells to anyone, including gay people. The fact is he refuses to participate in a gay wedding ceremony by decorating a cake specifically for that occasion, which would violate his religious convictions.

The men could have purchased a generic wedding cake already baked. The problem arose because the men had a more significant and specific request. They wanted the baker to use his considerable artistic talent to decorate the cake specifically for their wedding. He informed them that he doesn’t create cakes for same-sex weddings, Halloween, anti-American themes, or that have profane words or images. These themes all go against his Christian religious beliefs.

 It’s understandable how those men must have felt. Discriminated against. Insulted. Hurt.

That the couple was extending to the baker a great compliment in their wanting him to provide one of the most important items for their solemn and happy occasion is true. But, then you have to ask, was their cake order a request, or was it extortion? Decorate our cake, participate in celebrating our same-sex marriage despite your religious beliefs, or we’ll have the government force you to do it, destroy your business, or throw you in prison.

 It’s understandable how those men must have felt. Discriminated against. Insulted. Hurt. But after some time for private deliberations, couldn’t they understand the reasonableness of a freedom of religion exception to participating in a ritual with which a person has legitimate religious objections?

Further, and directly related to the baker (and not to give anyone any ideas), let’s say the baker had declined to bake a cake, not for a soccer mom’s Halloween party, but specifically for a Wiccan (practitioner of witchcraft) to celebrate the pagan religious holiday of Samhain (Hallowe’en). Could the Wiccan also force the baker to actively participate in their religious celebration? After all, Wicca is a legitimate religion recognized by the US military.

What happens when providing a product or service spills over into forcing a person to violate his or her religious beliefs or conscience? It might be reasonable for someone who has a license to operate a business open to the public to be mandated to serve anyone who comes into the store—under ordinary circumstances. We already know the baker serves all customers, no matter who they are.

He just has to draw the line at participation, which violates his beliefs. Think about it. The products some folks might wish to order he would never put on his shelves for sale. Again, cakes for gay weddings, Halloween, anti-American themes, or with profanity. The baker would have sold anything in the store to them, knowing they were gay.

Seems to me this is not about tolerance (live and let live) but rather a matter of forced acceptance (mandating people change how they think). The thought police.

Should we ask what kind of person would force another person to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs, their thoughts, or ruin them financially and legally if they don’t?

From a libertarian perspective, if a businessperson doesn’t want to serve you, go someplace else. Having said this, I understand the arguments regarding providing public accommodations or products and services necessary for health and sustaining life. And, I’ll admit my thinking isn’t fully settled on every facet of this issue. But it’s hard to argue a wedding cake falls into this category. Seems to me this is not about tolerance (live and let live) but rather a matter of forced acceptance (mandating people change how they think). The thought police.

Some people, like the Christian baker, oppose gay marriage on religious grounds, others on traditionalist grounds, and some others just feel language should be accurate. Historically, marriage has defined a union between a male and a female primarily to promote procreation—perpetuation of the human species. In fact, there are a significant number of gay folks who believe marriage is not for gay people. Should we find their perspectives valid, or are they not gay enough if they don’t adopt the leftist political position?

Any couple has a right to form whatever legal domestic union serves them, and the Christian baker has a right not to be forced by government to participate in a ritual that would violate his religious beliefs and conscience.

And what was one of the preeminent arguments from the left about gay marriage? “It won’t affect you, so why should you care?” Well, just ask a few florists, bakers, and photographers around the country how gay marriage “hasn’t” affected them. Incidentally, why are there no cases of Muslim bakers refusing to provide same-sex wedding cakes to gay couples? Could it be that only Christian bakers are targeted by the leftist inquisition?

I mean, where does this end? Do they also believe a Kosher baker should be forced to bake non-Kosher cakes for Gentiles? Will a Catholic priest be forced to marry a Jewish man and Lutheran woman against his will? Remember, freedom of religion protects the religious rights of the “people,” not only clergy and their churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques.

Look, we’re not talking about not renting someone a room in a hotel, refusing service at a diner, relegating people to the back of the bus, or refusing to bake them a cake because of their sexual orientation. We’re talking about the government forcing people to participate in an act that’s clearly against their religion or conscience—their thoughts.

Those two Colorado men were not inconvenienced beyond a personal affront and a few extra minutes to locate another bakery. They have exhibited intolerance of the baker’s religious beliefs. They could have chosen a wedding cake “off the shelf.” They could have gone to any number of other bakers, which they eventually did. They could have told all their friends not to shop at that bakery—let the market do its thing. But no; they won’t stop until everyone is forced to believe as they do—or, at least, pretend they do.

They don’t believe in tolerance; they believe in forced acceptance at the point of a gun.

You’re no longer allowed to think as you do because the government disapproves. Therefore, if you don’t change how you think, we’ll put you out of business or throw you in prison. How American is that?

A few years back, I attended a wonderful wedding for two gay friends held at a spectacular venue on Seattle’s Lake Union. I was there with my daughter and son-in-law, and we had a great time. I’m not really an organized religion kind of guy, so gay marriage doesn’t have a religious impact on me as it may on a more devout Christian such as the Colorado baker. Unfortunately, my friend’s marriage went south, and they are now divorced.

The marriage issue to me, gay or straight, is a libertarian one—I don’t believe the government should be in the marriage business at all. Any couple has a right to form whatever legal domestic union serves them, and the Christian baker has a right not to be forced by government to participate in a ritual that would violate his religious beliefs and conscience. This seems a reasonable, consistent stance, doesn’t it?

It seems as though the baker has more tolerance, happily serving everyone, including gay people, than the two gay men who refuse to respect the baker’s religious beliefs. Now, on behalf of the couple, the government would force the baker to change the way he thinks, or at least feign it, or go out of business or suffer other legal sanctions.

How is this not charging the baker with a thought crime? And who will ultimately enforce it? What police officer wants to slap cuffs on the baker for peacefully practicing his religion and refusing to violate his beliefs?

These two men and their leftist allies wish to alter this Christian’s thoughts through some abhorrent social justice re-indoctrination crusade. In fact, following the complaint, the State of Colorado implemented reeducation requirements on the baker and his employees. The state forced him to undergo “sensitivity training” (political reeducation) and forced his staff to do the same.

The baker was even required to submit quarterly reports to the state government, confirming he hadn’t denied services to people based on their sexual orientation.

The baker refused to violate his religion or conscience and decided to stop making any wedding cakes at all. Even if you feel badly for the gay couple, doesn’t this strike you as an Orwellian overreach? You’re no longer allowed to think as you do because the government disapproves. Therefore, if you don’t change how you think, we’ll put you out of business or throw you in prison. How American is that?

As of this writing, the Supreme Court has yet to make its ruling on this case. I’ll go out on a limb and predict a 7-2 ruling in favor of the baker. Even with that positive outcome, it troubles me that we have at least two justices, far more than the others, who can’t seem to see past their politics—never a good thing in a judge.

These are justices who call themselves liberal but who would advocate against a pillar of liberal jurisprudence, the freedom of religion. They will likely rule that a person has no freedom of religion if it upsets the even more sacred leftist political agenda.

Now, that is a scary thought. I hope I’m wrong.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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