If the Ku Klux Klan can force a black baker to make racist KKK cakes, does this mean Memories Pizza should automatically be forced to serve gay weddings? If that is the case, should the Westboro Baptist Church be allowed to force gay bakers to make cakes with “God hates f*gs” written upon them? These questions may be rhetorical, but if these scenarios did ever occur there is already disagreement over how they should be handled. So what does this mean for supporters and opponents of Indiana’s religious freedom law?
In a related report by the Inquisitr, after the infamous pizzeria was forced to closed, a Memories Pizza fundraiser has already raised over $500,000. A gay conservative woman named Tammy Bruce is warning about bullying Christians in regards to Indian’s law.
In practice, Indiana law prevents a business from discriminating by refusing service, which means a pizzeria could not refuse to sell a gay customer a slice of pizza simply because they are gay. But the new law also specifies that business owners and employees cannot be compelled to violate their religious beliefs or be sued if they refuse to take actions they feel “burdens” their religious freedom.
“Except as provided in subsection (b), a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability. (b) A governmental entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if the governmental entity demonstrates that application of the burden to the person: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”
Critics of the law point out that the public’s perception of the law makes it seem as if businesses might deny service based upon conflicts related to religious belief. It’s also been pointed out the law is vague in regards to what it means to be “burdened.” Lawmakers in Indiana are currently working on adding a clause to the law which prevents the denial of basic service based on race or sexual orientation when religion is not an issue.
There’s also the issue of whether or not a group or a business should be forced to allow new members or employees to join if there is a disagreement over religious beliefs. For example, can a Christian group be forced to accept atheist members? Can a church or a mosque be forced to accept gay membership if they disagree?
The National Review also raised multiple other questions that may pertain to how U.S. law should be implemented. For example, they ask the following questions.
“Do we respect the rights of groups of women to choose to enjoy the sisterhood of a women’s club where they need not cope with men?
Do we respect a lesbian bar owner’s right to choose to post a No Men Allowed sign in her window?
Do we respect a fundamentalist Muslim baker’s choice not to bake a cake for a Jewish bar mitzvah?
Do we respect a black jazz band’s choice not to perform at a Ku Klux Klan chapter’s ‘Negro Minstrel Show’?”
In the case of the Ku Klux Klan, Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, already says there’s there difference between Memories Pizza and a scenario where a black or Jewish-owned business must work with the KKK.
“Most of these business owners really are providing cakes across the board, but there are a select few who are choosing to discriminate. And there’s a huge difference between having to write something objectionable on a cake and being asked to provide a cake for a same sex couple.”
Critics of Indiana’s religious freedom law may try to have their cake and eat it, too, but lawmakers are facing the difficult task of making the law fair to everyone. For some bakers, having a gay wedding cake topper is considered objectionable and a “burden” on a person’s exercise of religion. According to The Washington Post, there was also a real life case where a Colorado baker refused to bake a cake with an anti-gay message based upon personal beliefs. The law strikes both ways, and the question remains whether a middle ground solution can be found where everyone is treated fairly.
How do you think U.S. laws should handle situations like these? Do you think a business should ever be allowed to refuse service based upon the circumstances?