Selwyn Duke
If bakers can be forced to service faux weddings, so can churches
By Selwyn Duke
April 4, 2016

As our Great Sexual Heresy continues its march onwards and downwards, state governments have forced bakers, wedding planners, florists and other businessmen to service faux weddings. This is unprecedented, as never before were Americans governmentally compelled to participate in events they found morally objectionable. Yet when some project out on our cultural trajectory and say churches one day will be subject to the same coercion, they're met with laughter; this will never, ever happen, they're told. Yet this is an illogical and inconsistent position.

Prefacing a statement in opposition to the hapless bakers at a campaign stop a while back, presidential pretender John Kasich opined, "I think, frankly, our churches should not be forced to do anything that's not consistent with them." That such a statement need be made – and that it was said so lukewarmly – indicates we've already taken the first step toward just such coercion. Yet the main point is that the position reflects fuzzy thinking.

The First Amendment states, "Congress shall make no laws respecting the establishment of religion of prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Of course, the wording informs that this constrains only Congress – the federal government's lawmaking body – not state governments. But since the "Theory of Incorporation" (a judge-spawned rationalization) has applied the above to the states and, more significantly for the principled, since most if not all state constitutions offer the same religious protections, this isn't relevant to our discussion here.

Now, "exercise" is action, not just belief or expression. Of course, this freedom of action labeled "religious" isn't absolute; human sacrifice is prohibited, for instance. (Thus do I have a philosophical problem with the First Amendment, but that's grist for a different day.) Yet the relevant point is this: human sacrifice, or anything else gravely evil and therefore beyond First Amendment protections, is prohibited to all. It's not as if you can offer up a virgin (even if you could find one today) on an altar because it happens to be in a church. A corollary of this is that anything protected by the First Amendment is allowed to all.

After all, neither the First Amendment nor any state constitution I'm aware of dictates that "government shall make no laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion – in church." There is no such limitation. Conclusion?

Any type of exercise or conscience-driven policy, such as rejection of homosexual events, protected within the church sphere is protected outside of it.

In point of fact, note that institutions, churches or otherwise, do not have constitutional rights. People have constitutional rights. So it's completely irrelevant whether people are exercising their religious rights within a church or a bakery, or as agents of a synagogue or owners of a flower shop. Their freedom from government compulsion in this area follows them wherever they go – and whatever their caste or station – in these United States.

Some may now claim that the difference between the bakers and the churches is the type of exercise, that the latter are performing marriages themselves while the bakers are merely providing a cake for a marriage ceremony. Alright, consider: churches often conduct bake sales to raise money. Imagine a church had wedding cakes among its offerings and, these being large and expensive items, said it would print a personalized message on a cake and deliver it to a wedding in its area (this isn't far-fetched; there are Trappist monks who produce beer, after all). Would the government force them to service a faux wedding?

Of course not. For now, at least, people would say that different rules apply because it's a church. Again, though, this is an illogical and constitutionally inconsistent position. It's born of preference, not principle; caprice, not constitutionalism. And that's the issue: since the Constitution is essentially being ignored here, it's incorrect to say that churches are allowed to engage in the exercise in question because of respect for constitutional protections. It's simply allowed, at the moment, because fashions dictate that strong-arming churches would be a bridge too far.

So if nothing disrupts our cultural trajectory, it's easy to see what lies ahead. Once again, a corollary of the constitutional principle I outlined earlier is that, since constitutional rights are for all Americans, any type of religious exercise considered illegitimate is illegitimate for all, everywhere – including inside churches. If a baker's "freedom of religion" does not involve the freedom to refuse to service faux weddings when selling cakes, the message is that this position is not seriously considered constitutionally protected. And this doesn't change upon situating oneself in a pew.

This "compartmentalizing of constitutional rights" reflects two things. The first is the separation-of-church-and-state mentality, which, nurtured in the soil of secularism, has evolved into the Separation of Church and Everything Else. Any serious Christian who receives serious teaching is taught that you're obligated to be Christian in all things and at all times; you cannot, for instance, lie to make money because "it's business" and different rules supposedly apply. Yet many may go to church one hour a week but then leave the premises and imbibe the same decadent entertainment, use the same language and indulge many of the same habits as everyone else. And just as their "religion" is confined to that 1/168th of a week, so has our civilization embraced the supposition that "religion" should be compartmentalized and not bleed into other affairs. In fact, informed by a relativistic world view dictating there is no Truth and everything is merely a flavor of the day, many cannot even grasp how anyone could take faith seriously enough to apply it to everyday life. To these people, a worship service is some kind of bizarre encounter group, which they may be willing to tolerate, just barely, if it's kept behind closed doors and out of their sight, as if it's a sort of bathhouse.

So when someone would take one of the tenets of this strange, cryptic place and try to live by it 24/7, what could be the motivation? Since to the devout relativist there isn't principle but only passion – feelings – it perhaps will seem incredible to him that a believer would take a difficult position out of principle. The relativist will instead exhibit that common failing of man and project, in his case his emotion-governed mindset onto others. And the only emotion he thinks could explain not wanting to service a faux wedding is hate, and, hey, it's easy to justify persecution of the "hateful."

The second thing reflected by this situation is that our Constitution has basically become a dead letter. When (mis)interpreting the document, judges, "picked out from the most dexterous lawyers...and having been biassed all their lives against truth and equity," use "words multiplied for the purpose" to convince us "that white is black, and black is white," as satirist Jonathan Swift put it. Thus do they find protection in the First Amendment for pornography, but not for bakers who don't want to service faux weddings. Thus do they find it constitutional for the federal government to compel citizens to purchase health insurance. Thus do they claim having an abortion is a matter of the "right to privacy." And thus do they aver that faux marriage must be legally recognized in the name of "equal protection." If the Constitution could take human form and speak, she'd say she feels used, abused and manipulated, betrayed time and again by those sworn to be faithful to her, scorned by an America that increasingly prefers the Siren of Secular Statism. She would want a divorce.

© Selwyn Duke


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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