As an atheist activist, I am not necessarily against Christianity, but rather, I’m against injustice.
For example, in just a few days, I’m headed to Williamstown, KY to protest against a Christian organization. But not because they are Christian.
Ken Ham and his Ark Encounter are taking $18 million in tax breaks for a “ministry tool” disguised as a tourist attraction, while simultaneously discriminating against those tax payers by only hiring Christians.
That’s an injustice I’m fighting against next week.
But I wonder how many atheists will fight with me when Christians are on the suffering end of that injustice.
Only the comments below will tell.
According to the Wall Street Journal, in a court settlement with a judge’s approval, ChristianMingle.com must now include same sex relationships on their dating site.
The claim filed by two California men, alleges that since Christian Mingle only offers straight dating options, they are in violation of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which the Wall Street Journal quotes as requiring “business establishments” to offer “full and equal accommodations” to people regardless of their sexual orientation.
For those of us who stand with the LGBT community as proud allies, that sounds wonderful at first.
It smells like equality, but something’s not quite right. There’s more to it, and here’s why you should stand with Christian Mingle.
My primary issue is with the Unruh is being interpreted.
None of the articles covering this have mentioned that Unruh also includes the line saying that all people “are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.”
Notice how it mentions “in all business establishments”?
It’s one thing to protect existing customers, like a gay couple sitting in a restaurant being asked to leave (which is what Unruh was designed to prevent); but this claim isn’t addressing that.
It was filed against Christian Mingle for not accommodating future or potential customers, even online, by not offering an option they preferred.
That’s not discrimination. And it certainly isn’t mistreatment in a business. That’s a service not offered by a private company, which they have a right not to offer.
Since when can the government tell us what products or services we must offer to future customers?
Every atheist, every liberal, and every business owner needs to fight for Christian Mingle’s rights to offer the products or services they choose, even if we disagree with their practices or philosophy behind it all.
There are plenty of gay dating websites. Strictly gay. Meaning there’s not an option for me to date someone of the opposite sex on that site. So guess what… I don’t go there.
I’m not taking a gay dating website to court, forcing them to allow a straight option. But this settlement, and the judge’s approval of it, sets that social precedent.
The main reason atheists should be worried, is the Unruh Civil Rights Act doesn’t just mention ‘sexual orientation’ as a protected class.
The full act specifically outlaws “discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.”
Did you catch that?
Yes, the outcome of this claim now sets the precedent that if you don’t make services available, based on accommodating the religion of potential customers, you’re also in violation of Unruh.
Let’s wrap our heads around that.
The parent company of ChristianMingle.com is The Spark Network. They also own CatholicMingle.com, AdventistSinglesConnection.com, and BlackSingles.com.
But since they don’t have a site focused on “Gay Singles” or a same-sex option on ChristianMingle.com, they are in violation of Unruh.
I’m an atheist business owner. According to this interpretation of Unruh, if I were to move Secular Media Group, LLC to California, I’d be in violation, too.
We have 7 podcasts we offer in our network. None of them are Christian.
We offer children’s books on science. None of them are Muslim.
We offer blogs and news from an atheist perspective. None of them are Jewish.
According to this logic, a customer would be able to sue, alledging that “Secular Media Group discriminates based on religion, by not offering podcasts or books for potential Christian, Muslim, or Jewish customers” thereby forcing me, by way of a law suit, to begin offering religious-based materials so that potential religious customers aren’t offended by what I don’t offer.
And what about ‘color’ or ‘race’ that’s also protected under Unruh? Yes, it should be in place for existing customers who are discriminated against based on those attributes, in a business. But The Spark Network also doesn’t offer HispanicSingles.com or AsianSingles.com or AtheistSingles.com, so should we all get together and sue them, too?
This is ridiculous.
Either find a company that offers what you want, or start the company yourself. That’s the beauty of America.
I cannot imagine a consumer stepping in to tell me, in my privately owned company, what products or services I must offer to potential customers because someone was offended by something I wasn’t doing.
I always hear atheists, when complaining about the Boy Scouts or churches, or various other religious charities, say “If they take government funding, then they shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate!” I agree.
So the question is, when someone owns a private company, and chooses to do something that you disagree with by not offering services you feel would be “fair,” will you stand for their right to be free and wrong?
I’m so passionate about this because it happened to me a few years ago.
Aside from writing this blog, and hosting my radio show Dogma Debate, (all under my parent company of SMG) I also do voiceover work.
In 2013, my company was approached by Benny Hinn Ministries who tried to get us to do Christian voiceovers. I declined because I disagree with their message, and didn’t want to put my voice to a “prayer healing” video that I felt was misleading people.
That’s my right as a business owner.
According to Unruh, that would be a violation. I simply refused the work for religious reasons, and I cannot imagine living in a society in which the government would step in and force me to do those voiceovers, so that Benny Hinn wasn’t offended by my rejection.
I’ve had a Christian piano player agree to play music to go at the end of an audiobook we were producing. Once he found out it was an atheist audiobook, he refused to play the piece. I completely understood and didn’t try to take him to court to force him to do something against his will. I found someone else.
I’ve had a Christian voice actor refuse to read an audiobook about atheism. I completely understood, and found someone else.
Never once did it pop into my mind to take these people to court and force them to comply with my desires as a consumer.
This settlement opens the flood gates for frivolous law suits all over California, and potentially, the country.
It also makes every business owner vulnerable, and threatens our freedoms to operate our businesses according to our values.
If you want to sue ChristianMingle.com, sue them for advertising that they can “Find God’s Match For You” without evidence that God approves of the match.
But don’t force them to include a service you want, that they don’t already offer.
Image licensed via Photospin.