The Blaze’s Billy Hallowell writes open letter to Americans and gets discrimination all wrong

The Blaze’s Billy Hallowell writes open letter to Americans and gets discrimination all wrong April 4, 2015

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This week The Blaze’s Faith editor Billy Hallowell wrote an open letter to all Americans titled, An Open Letter to Outraged Americans: Your Mob Mentality on Gays and Religious Freedom Must Stop.

The problem is this open letter isn’t to Americans who are oppressing and victimizing homosexuals in this country, it is accusing the “left” and homosexuals for their mob mentality.

This is the kind of nonsense we have all come to expect from The Blaze and even Hallowell who seems to run under the idea that Christians in the US, regardless of being the majority and having political control of this country are somehow being oppressed when they are not allowed to act freely and treat others as second class citizens.

“Recent events surrounding the ongoing debate over religious freedom and gay rights are forcing us to ask some tough questions about the ever-intolerant society that we’re cultivating,” Hallowell opens the letter.

Yes, he is correct that we are cultivating an ever-intolerant society, except really quickly he reveals that he believes it is the LGBT movement and its allies that are intolerant and the delusions do not stop there.

He goes on to write about the pizza shop in Indiana, Memories Pizzeria whose owner went on national television to proclaim that if her pizza shop catered, they would not cater same-sex weddings. Why would you put yourself out there when you don’t even cater straight weddings? Publicity, since making this discriminatory remark and even claiming that the response was so “harsh”  they may have to close.

These remarks have so far raised the pizza shop nearly $800,000 in crowd sourced funds. But they are the victims here, not the same-sex couples they went out of their way to proclaim they would happily discriminate against. (This is actually a calculated scam that it looks like someone from The Blaze may have been involved in.)

Hallowell then continued on to list two other business who faced backlash over their bigotry and claimed that the backlash shows a lack of tolerance from the LGBT community.

I wonder if Hallowell says the same about those who protest the KKK. Should we all be tolerant of their views and cater to their needs? Well, I guess The Blaze probably would..

What Hallowell fails to mention is the reverse of these stories.

In Florida,

A Central Florida baker said she is getting death threats after refusing to make a cake with a message against gay marriage. The man who placed the order recorded it and then posted it online.

But of course, Hallowell actually thinks the shop would be wrong, he actually uses a similar example in his letter.

If you were a baker, would you want to make a “God hates fags” cake for members of Westboro Baptist Church? Or what about a more benign anti-gay pastor demanding that a lesbian-owned printing company make t-shirts for a “Celebrating Traditional Marriage” event that demonizes gays and slams same-sex marriage?

A baker refusing to make a cake that says “God hates fags” would not be discrimination, if of course the baker refused to make cakes with other hateful messages as well.

These examples have already happened in the real world, as the example I used in Florida above, another baker in Denver refused to bake a cake that said, “God hates gays” on it.

Hallowell uses this particular story as an example that this kind of reverse discrimination is happening. He is dead wrong.

The anti-gay pastor who requested the hateful cake filed a religious discrimination complaint with the state. Here is what the states Department of Regulatory Agencies said about the bakeries decision,

The state ruled that the cake shop had every right not to make the cakes on the grounds that the message on the cakes would be “derogatory.”

Because the shop would have treated any other customer the same way, the state decided the shop didn’t refuse service because of the customer’s religion.

Hallowell simply does not understand what discrimination is. His desire to paint Christians in the US as victims has managed to blind him to the actual meaning of words and instead believes that any refusal of service is plain old discrimination.

Sorry but discrimination is not that hard to understand.

If your bakery refuses to make any wedding cake, this is not discrimination.

If your bakery makes wedding cakes for straight couples, but not same-sex couples, this is discrimination.

You can replace same-sex/straight with white and black, etc. You get the same results.

If you make wedding cakes, you must make wedding cakes for everyone, you don’t get to pick and choose based on your personally held beliefs.

I have been asked a handful of times by Christian conservatives if a Muslim baker should be forced to depict an image of Mohammad on a cake, even if his religious views make depicting Mohammed a sin.

The answer is simple, would be make a religious cake that were offensive to another religion? Would he make a cake depicting Jesus in an “immoral” act of some kind?

If the baker would, then yes, he would be discriminating based on religion, but if the baker refused to make any cake that demeans any religion, than that is not discrimination.

Could it be any more clear? Discrimination is not that complicated of a subject.

Then Hallowell switches gears a little and claims that we need to understand the reason Christians are so intolerant (my words).

Here’s why: marriage is a centerpiece in the Bible. From Genesis onward, the union between a man and a woman has been a central arrangement described as coming from and being overtly blessed by God.

Who cares. I mean really, it doesn’t matter. Marriage is federally recognized and that means marriage is not a religious issue but a governmental one. The federal and state governments oversee the issuance of marriage licenses and the laws surrounding them.

The Bible and the Christian faith are in practice not supposed to have any bearing on the definition and laws surrounding marriage. We do not live in a Christian theocracy, we live in a secular country with a secular constitution.

Unlike the other examples that people tend to raise to show their outrage over the issue (ex. how wrong it would be for business owners to refuse service to an interracial couple), marriage has deep roots in faith; those other paradigms do not and never have had legitimate scriptural ties.

Actually, this is absolutely no different than denying a cake to an interracial couple. None. It again does not matter how deep your think marriage is rooted in faith (it’s not and predated the Christian religion by thousands of years), we still live in a secular country and it doesn’t matter how your church or holy book defines marriage.

With the government changing its definition of marriage and then forcing business owners to immediately comply, it creates a unique moral conundrum — one that is complicated by thousands of years of theological tradition. That’s the complex dynamic that has been completely overlooked in the current debate.

This goes right back to his claim about interracial marriage. The government redefined marriage to allow interracial couples to marry, should business be allowed to discriminate because the government changed the laws and business owners had to comply?

This letter is not an effort to get readers to agree with Christian bakers and photographers who have opted to refuse service. And it’s certainly not one aimed at dismissing the legality of gay marriage.

Instead, it’s a call for people on both sides to come together, find common ground and have a discussion that involves a fair look at all of the factors. The issue of a government mandate is complicated, but having respect for one another is not.

Funny, he spent the whole letter complaining that Christians are being trampled on and how intolerant those who support actually equality are, but then wants us to believe this is a call to come together?

America is a nation governed by the First Amendment and by the notion that differing views should be allowed to co-exist. Debating about the legality and theology of same-sex marriage and all that comes along with it should be welcomed, and both sides should be afforded a seat at the table.

We are not here to debate the theology of marriage; the theology does not matter when marriage is recognized as a government institution. I mean really, is it that complicated to understand?

He then closes the letter by claiming that an alleged gay couple who donated to Memories Pizzeria as an example of how we can “come together.” Hey look, I’m not racist, I have a black friend.

All this letter shows is that Hallowell does not get how discrimination works and sees business owners who chose to open a business in a secular country as the victims.

It is rather simple; if you can’t follow state and federal laws and believe your religious beliefs are more important, don’t open a business. Plain and simple, no one forced you to open a bakery that makes wedding cakes, but if you choose to do so, you don’t get to pick and choose your clientele based on your intolerance of someones race, sexual orientation, gender or faith.

(image: Shutterstock)

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