Observe that, in the lawsuit against the bakery,
“The complaint seeks to force Masterpiece Cakeshop to “cease and desist” the practice of refusing wedding cakes for gay couples, and to tell the public that their business is open to everyone”
The message from the State is:
“You, Baker, have no right to exercise your conscience. You are merely your job. You must satisfy our law which forces you to work for these particular individual(s) regardless of your mind and conscience. You chose to allow your conscience to inform your business choices. Bad Baker ”
It doesn’t matter what the nuances are nor the motivations of the players. The moral premises are clear, as are the political consequences. Are we prepared for this?
We had such a system once. It was called slavery. One was forced to provide a service with no means, under the law, to say ‘no’.
In the past everyone knew precisely what they were dealing with. The moral nature of slave society was crystal clear. Everyone understood that the slave master’s whip (or gun) was the argument. Today we are asked to be slaves to our profession, yet this is seen as serving ‘a greater good’. The whip and guns are there. They’re just hidden under so much paperwork.
Those who challenge such a system are called ‘haters’. Those who embrace it deemed ‘tolerant’. It’s the ultimate moral inversion. We’re expected to ‘tolerate’ slavery to the State (or society) for the sake of some ‘greater good’ of someone’s feelings not being hurt.
Individuals are expected to ignore the dictates of conscience when those dictates clash with their societal ‘roles’.
Don’t speak of “you chose your job”. We all do. For now we have the right to refuse to do a job. If we work for another we may be fired, but we can refuse. The baker and florist are told they must not refuse.
When we work for ourselves we are providing a ‘service’ or a ‘good’ to another. Those persons cannot or chose not to create the ‘good’ themselves. They are not ‘forced’ by our existence as business owners to come only to us. They are also not ‘forced’ to refrain from creating goods themselves.
He/she has chosen to come to our door.
We have invited him/her in. We have set the terms. Upon meeting we agree to ‘serve’ or to sell a good on a particular day on specific terms. The terms are dictated by the goods involved and by the values of the individuals who participate. When values and goals clash, as when interests clash, one must reevaluate, renegotiate, or walk away.
Are we no longer free to walk away?
At the behest of the gay couples the States have chosen to force the consciences – force the minds – of folks who committed no action other than to say ‘no’. When their values clashed and it was time to reevaluate, the owners chose to do so.
No individual was harmed by the refusal. No one was ‘persecuted’. All anyone heard was the dreaded word ‘no’. They are and were free to go elsewhere to find a cake or flowers (or minister, band, or Church).
When did we lose the right to say to someone ‘it’s time for you to leave now”? How did we lose the right to say no?
You might question the (possible) bigotry (or common sense) of denying a couple a cake for their wedding. The issue remains: do we give government so much authority we’d be comfortable saying “I have no right to exercise my conscience. I am merely my job”?
Employees are free (for the time being) to leave their job if they don’t wish to continue. They’re free to leave if they are asked to comply with some particular assignment or task. It’s not like the military, at least not yet, when refusal means prison (or being shot).
Business owners are free to quit also. These facts merely muddy the waters.
Under the ‘public accommodations law’ argument the business owners are tied to their job. Just as when serving in the military they are under the threat of retribution if they refuse. With the florist and baker, force was actualized in the form of lawsuits. Underneath the paperwork of the lawsuits is the government’s gun (or whip).It’s no wonder Christians view their lives as spiritual warfare.
Today the cost of leaving is the shuttering of a business or the loss of a job. Tomorrow, well….
The time could come, if we continue down this road, when no one will be free to leave and none free to say ‘no’. And it’s not just Christians.
One is reminded of Directive 10-289 :
Point One. All workers…of any kind whatsoever shall…be attached to their jobs and shall not leave nor be dismissed nor change employment, under penalty of a term in jail…. All persons reaching the age of twenty-one shall report to the Unification Board, which shall assign them …where …their services will best serve the interests of the nation.
Point Two. All industrial, commercial, manufacturing and business establishments …shall henceforth remain in operation…the owners of such establishments shall not quit nor leave nor retire, nor close, sell or transfer their business, under penalty of the nationalization of their establishment and of any and all of their property……
For clarity and intellectual honesty those who make the ‘public accommodations’ = ‘you must serve’ argument should say what they mean: “you are your job. Serve us or else”.
Welcome to the modern world.