Reflections on the Recent Attempted Lynching in Indiana

Reflections on the Recent Attempted Lynching in Indiana April 9, 2015

The recent attempted lynching of the O’Connors and the Great Walkerton Pizzeria Siege are now in our cultural rearview mirror, but I think a little reflection on what happened might be worthwhile. Here are my noodlings, for what they are worth.

First, a bit of background.  I have always tended to avoid telling same-sex-attracted people what they need to be doing.  A careful reading of my remarks on the subject of homosexuality will show that my habit is to play defense, not offense, on the topic.  I don’t want aggressive, militant gays telling me that I have to approve of homosex and the pretense of gay “marriage”, but I seldom run around handing out free advice to same sex attracted people on what they need to be doing with their lives.

Why?  C.S. Lewis explains it all for you.  He tells us in Surprised by Joy that he never commented on two sins: pederasty (rampant in the school he attended) and excessive gambling.  That was because they were two sins to which he himself felt no temptation and since he always resented it when army officers gave moral lectures to their subordinates on matters they themselves were not struggling with, so he refused to do it himself.

Likewise, the reason I don’t hand out free advice to homosexuals is that I have never been tempted to homosexuality.  I also don’t hand out free advice to heroin addicts for the very simple reason that I have never been tempted to drug abuse, particularly with any drug involving (brrrr) needles.

In addition to this, my experiences surrounding the issue of homosexuality have included a) faithful, devout, and obedient same-sex attracted people–one of whom I regard as a saint; b) faithful and good heterosexual Christians (that is, most Christians) who don’t want a fight and who really do regard homosexuals with respect and charity; c) militant and intolerant Christians who treat even faithful and chaste homosexuals (and those who speak well of them) with lynch mob contempt; and d) militant and intolerant homosexuals and lefties who are bound and determined to force Christians with qualms of conscience to approve of homosex and gay “marriage” or use the full force of the state to punish them for not bending the knee.

As a Catholic who gets his cues from the Magisterium, the first thing I note about Catholic teaching, as I mentioned the other day, is that homosexual desire is just one more species of disordered appetite arising from concupiscence as far as I am concerned.  And since it is not one that affects me, I spend little time thinking about it and even less time worrying about meddling in the lives of those who are affected by it.  “What is that to thee?  Follow thou Me” is the salient biblical text here, as well as the dust mote/log inversion ratio principle that Jesus recommends for our contemplation. The most dangerous and deadly sins I encounter in my daily life are committed by the Man in the Mirror.  So I tend not to try to police the sex lives of those around me.  Consequently, I am generally woefully ignorant of people in my circle of acquaintance who are even same-sex-attracted, let alone actively living the gay lifestyle, unless they flat out tell me.

I reckon most people are in this boat most of the time.  The pizzeria owners in Walkerton, Indiana, seem like the sort of people who wouldn’t hurt a flea. They certainly were not on some witch hunt against gay people, but they just as certainly wound up as the victims of a gay witch hunt and lynch mob, something that even gay people and ardent supporters of gay marriage were chagrined to watch.  In a word, innocent people who had never so much as thought of denying a gay person service because of who they were became the victims of a lynch mob bent on their destruction and death for the Thoughtcrime of not wanting to be made participants in an act they regard as sinful.  Again and again, the false charge was made that these people were “bigots”, not because they rejected gay customers, but because, in the words of St. Thomas More, they “would not bend to the marriage”.  The logic was simple and wrong:  “Approve everything I do, or you hate me, you bigot.”

Now, a word here on behalf of the lynch mob before we continue.  This kind of fury does not spring from a vacuum.  The reality is, as I discovered at the hands of a Christian lynch mob a couple of years ago, it is true that there is no shortage of believers for whom even chaste, celibate, faithful and completely orthodox homosexuals are not good enough.  When I spoke well of such a Catholic, I was hit in the face with a firestorm–itself an attempt to destroy my livelihood in precisely the way that a far larger and more powerful mob tried to destroy the O’Connors–that taught me a powerful lesson about the hostility that even faithful homosexuals receive from some Christians.  That along with numerous similar experiences of watching faithful gay people be treated like fifth columnists whose temptations, not sins, make them objects of suspicion and muted reproach among the Righteous has made clear to me that there is, indeed, a hostility to gay people in some sectors, whether they act on their orientation or not. Some are shut out of bearing witness to the faith for the “crime” of self-identifying as “gay” even when they are chaste–and this by Catholic communities who have no problem with honoring Catholics who celebrate acts of anal rape, just so long as they are committed against defenseless prisoners.

Gay Catholics who have to put up with that kind of double standard are, I think, to be applauded for their fidelity to Jesus and forebearance.  And Christians need to reflect on the fact that if we do these things to same-sex-attracted people when the tree is green, what do we expect will happen when the it is dry?  Should we really be too shocked that not a few gay people and those who sympathize with them believe we will despise them no matter what when we treat even those faithful, chaste, and obedient ones in our ranks so badly?

That said, this is no excuse for the lynch mob that went after the O’Connors and have likewise gone after various other folks who have failed to bend the knee to gay “marriage”.  Nor does it justify the militancy and intolerance that gay culture so often displays toward those declared guilty of Thoughtcrime.  Nor does it justify the lying doubletalk of that subculture as it operates according to the Law of Merited Impossibility (“It’s a complete absurdity to believe that Christians will suffer a single thing from the expansion of gay rights, and boy, do they deserve what they’re going to get.”)  Nor, once the lynch mob fails to destroy a victim in a frenzy of Girardian violence, does it justify the ridiculous lie that “Gay culture would never do this. This has to have been a false flag operation by right-wingers.  And besides those bigots had it coming to them.”

No.  They were not bigots and they did not have any of the terror visited on them by intolerant lefties (who were solely responsible for it) coming to them.  They were nice people who have never denied service to gay people and who feel–as millions of Americans do–that while they don’t want to get up in the faces of gay people about their sex lives, they also would rather not be forced to approve of them or give the appearance that they do. It is the naked, aggressive demand that people be made to bow and approve and not merely tolerate (or be punished at law or by a lynch mob) that is the nub of the argument.  And the Left is simply wrong when they try to settle it with force and fear.  That, and not some money-making conspiracy on the part of the O’Connors, was what we saw in the volcanic response which put nearly a million dollars into a fund set up to help them as the lynch mob tried to destroy them. People deeply resent being forced to have to make professions of faith (or ideology) they do not believe.  It’s as simple as that.  The lie that this was about bigotry against gay *people* is calculated to ignore the simple truth that this was (for the O’Connors and millions like them) about being forced to be seen as approving gay “marriage” and gay sex.  Those who cannot or will not see this all-important distinction (and especially those who keep making the comparison to Jim Crow) need to ponder Steven Greydanus’ elegant and simple description of the difference:

I find it helpful to think of this discussion in the context of two deliberately NON-PARALLEL control cases: a) racist or bigoted objections to accomodating minorities or other targets of prejudicial sentiment, and b) minority or non-racist objections to accommodating racists or others with offensive views. (Did I say NON-PARALLEL emphatically enough? Do I need to clarify that this explicitly excludes and rejects any suggestion of moral equivalency?)

We decided in this country about half a century ago that anyone has the right to sit down at a lunch counter, or to walk into any business or other place of public accommodation, and get the same service as anyone else, regardless of prejudicial attitudes about factors like race. 

Let’s agree that this principle applies to gays, and to same-sex couples, and also holds true of racists and others with offensive views. So if a skinhead or a known KKK member walks into a diner, even if it is owned and staffed by minorities or by non-racists who hold the strongest possible objections to his views, he should get the same service as anyone else. 

Likewise, I can fathom no basis for saying that religious proprietors or employees of any business should be permitted (or should wish) to refuse service to gays or to same-sex couples. 

On the other hand, we recognize the right of advertisers to refuse to accept advertising projects with messages they deem offensive, for instance. A KKK member has a right to the same diner service as anyone else, but he does not have the right to ask graphic designers to create a hateful message for him or ask billboard owners to display it. 

Why? Because the latter involves a form of speech or expression. A graphic designer doesn’t simply provide a service, he invests his work with his creativity and energy in the cause of making a statement. It doesn’t have to be a statement he agrees with, but if it’s a statement he finds sufficiently offensive, it becomes problematic to ask him to participate in that speech. Likewise, the right of equal accommodation doesn’t mean the billboard owner owes anyone a forum to express their message. 

If a racist walks into a bakery owned by blacks or Jews and asks for a cake, he should get one. If he asks for a cake decorated with a frosting swastika or a burning cross, I think it should be the right of the owners to refuse, even if they otherwise accommodate requests for decorative images.

Now, of course, this leaves us with the question of how we as Christians are to navigate such matters.  The irony, for me, about the lynch mob against the O’Connors is that, while I fully support their right to obey their conscience, I’m not especially convinced that their catering a gay wedding would have been a particularly sinful act.  I think that, for a properly formed Catholic conscience we are looking, at worst, at an act of remote material cooperation with evil, and I’m skeptical about that much.  But far more gravely, what I am utterly convinced of is that the attempt to beat them into capitulation by the leftist community was absolutely and completely (and, I think, mortally) sinful and a naked assault on human dignity and liberty.

For me, the starting place for thinking about such issues is 1 Corinthians 8.  Paul faced a problem very like what the O’Connors struggled with.  Converts to the faith in Corinth had scruples about eating meat.  That’s not because they were vegans but because, in urban areas, the meat you bought in the agora had been obtained from the local pagan temples where it had been offered in sacrifice to a pagan god a few hours earlier.  The fear was that, by eating the meat, the person consuming it was somehow participating in the worship of the god.  Paul’s response is gentle and nuanced:

Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” “Knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If any one imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if one loves God, one is known by him.

Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through being until now accustomed to idols, eat food as really offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol’s temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother’s falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall. (1 Co 8:1–13).

I think the analogy to this is that if the law demands that  you make the pizza for the gay wedding then this is, at most, remote material cooperation with evil and that nobody can, or should, assume that your cooperation with the law is approval of gay “marriage”.  So people with qualms of conscience can relax.  On the other hand, I also think that it is absolutely wrong for those adamant about approval of gay “marriage” to force cooperation and that it is entirely right to resist such attempts at force.

Another question that arises is “What constitutes cooperation with evil, remote or otherwise?” When those sorts of issues, so vexing to the scrupulous, arise I’m always reminded of a hilarious essay by Woody Allen called “The Schmeed Memoirs” in which Hitler’s barber tells his story of giving haircuts to Hitler and the Nazi leadership and remarks, “I have been asked if I was aware of the moral implications of what I was doing.”

I think that provides a handy touchstone for sanity here.  What, precisely, does the Church say is sinful about homosexual relationships?  Just two things: non-heterosexual sex (including homogenital sex and such contrivances as in vitro fertilization or surrogate parenting) and Gay “marriage” since it is an ontological impossibility.  But aside from that, the Church is remarkably circumspect about what to construe as a sinful act.  It is not, for instance, sinful for gay people to eat, sleep, have a roof over their heads, use electricity, have a job, choose to share material resources, will each other money, etc.  Accordingly, it seems to me to be none of my business to police people’s sexuality in these and countless other spheres of life.  Not my business to know what you are doing in your bedroom and emphatically not Caesar’s business.  The notion that all sin is a matter for the state to address is a Calvinist, not a Catholic one.

At the same time, the delusional attempt by Caesar to pretend that there is such a thing as gay “marriage” is just that: a delusion.  And the intolerant and militant attempt by homosexuals to use the might of Caesar to force those who believe that gay sex is a sin and gay “marriage”is a delusion won’t end well.  When Caesar starts backing lynch mobs, that’s, y’know, bad.

All that said, I want to conclude with a little perspective for American Christians inclined to see a dawning age of persecution in all this.  Christianity has it in its DNA to expect persecution.  “What they did to me they will do to you” is a key Dominical teaching and history has borne it out.  American tendencies to the apocalyptic have only tended to intensify the fear that a Great Tribulation is just around the corner.  Which is exactly why Catholics must resist this Protestant funhouse mirror and live in reality.  Prudence must rule and keep our heads cool.  Was this an act of persecution? Damn right it was. Would the persecutors like for it to be something they could inflict on the whole Church?  Heck yes!  In fact, they are such Jacobins that they would inflict it on fellow gays who are not ideologically pure enough, such as Andrew Sullivan or Dolce and Gabbana.

But: Was it a big act of persecution?  No.  It just wasn’t.  To be sure it was big for the victims and my sympathies are entirely with them and with good folks who rescued them from the mob.  But it wasn’t big for the Church in the US, it only targeted on business, not all Christians (because it couldn’t) and it ended… rather well. The victims are now worth nearly a million dollars more because good and generous people came to their aid and the would-be lynch mob stamping their tiny feet in impotent rage and concocting idiotic conspiracy theories to account for their failure instead of just facing the fact that they are the real bullies and bigots.  If every story of Christian persecution could have such a fairy tale ending the world would be a much happier place.

Meanwhile in the week this occurred, we discover that Boko Haram has butchered the 200 girls they kidnapped last year and in Kenya, Islamic monsters in human form slaughtered 147 Christians and laughed because they were killing them for Easter.  We in America are living on Easy Street when it comes to persecutions.  It’s good to be vigilant, but bad to indulge in self-pity.  The Legion of Menacing Visigoths for Tolerance tried and failed to crush innocent people in Walkerton and for that we should give thanks.  But let us remember our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who face things far more terrible than a bad Yelp reviews and threats on Twitter. Thanks be to God for his goodness to us and may we pray for and help those across the world who are facing martyrdoms far more terrible–and one much less amenable to the lazy reportage of a media that cares nothing for their plight.

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  • wlinden

    ” Should we really be too shocked that not a few gay people and those who
    sympathize with them believe we will despise them no matter what”

    And there are “liberal” unbelievers who will despise us no matter what. I have had to listen to things like “….And then he DIDN’T refuse me communion, which proves what a hypocrite he was” and “….and then she DIDN’T accuse me of stealing the pencil. Oooh, I can’t stand people like that!”… while reflecting that if in each case the person involved had done the exact opposite, it would have been trotted out as proof of how cruel and insensitive those Christians are. Some of us can’t help wondering what is the point of even trying, when literally anything we do or say will be invoked as evidence against us.

    • Newp Ort

      So what?

      • wlinden

        What a crushing refutation!

  • wlinden

    the ridiculous lie that “Gay culture would never do this. This has to have been a false flag operation by right-wingers. ”

    This reaches the point of outright delusional. I was scolded by someone who insisted that Janet Reno was a Republican whom poor Clinton had somehow been “forced” to “retain” in the cabinet, because no Democrat would have perpetrated the Waco atrocity.

  • wlinden

    What do we call No True Scotsman when it is being used in reverse as an attack?

    “Christians hate !”
    “I’m Christian, and I don’t hate !”
    “Then you aren’t a REAL Christian! Christians HAVE TO conform to my stereotype.”

    “Narrowmindedhatfilledfundybigots” tell me I am not a real Christian because I am not exactly like them. “Openmindedliberalpagans” tell me I am not a real Christian because I am not exactly like Them. What is wrong with this picture?

  • Matthew

    I kind of like Fr. Z’s suggestion.

    On a secondary note why would you want to hire people to prepare your food (e.g. wedding caterers) who are actively opposed to you?

    • Alma Peregrina

      “On a secondary note why would you want to hire people to prepare your food (e.g. wedding caterers) who are actively opposed to you?”

      Because food isn’t really what this is all about.

    • kenofken

      Why did James Meredith want to go to Ole Miss, where he needed a personal bodyguard of 500 men backed by several thousand more? He could have received an excellent education at Howard or any number of other schools where he would have been much accepted.

      • antigon

        Ah a tag-team with Newp insulting black folk by comparing them to the hunger for sexual perversion. One really wonders if you guys are getting paid to pawn such ugliness.

    • Donalbain

      Ask these guys

  • ManyMoreSpices

    I’m not especially convinced that their catering a gay wedding would have been a particularly sinful act. I think that, for a properly formed Catholic conscience we are looking, at worst, at an act of remote material cooperation with evil, and I’m skeptical about that much.

    Reasonable minds can disagree on the degree of cooperation with evil, but I think you’re dismissing these concerns too quickly. I can’t imagine that Shea Family Pizza would willingly cater the CIA’s “Waterboarder of the Year” banquet or Planned Parenthood’s “Abortie” Awards. And speaking of waterboarding and abortion…

    Likewise, the reason I don’t hand out free advice to homosexuals is that I have never been tempted to homosexuality.

    Have you been tempted to torture someone, or have an abortion? Has the lack of temptation to commit those sins done anything to prevent you from focusing for years on those sins? Choose your battles as you wish, but I can’t see how mapping your temptation to commit a particular sin to the amount of energy you spend focusing on it is your M.O.

    • chezami

      I have been tempted to torture people, yes, as I have been tempted to kill inconvenient people. Precisely the reason I started writing about such things is that I feel such passions as much as anybody when the blood is up. But the Faith forbids them.

      • ManyMoreSpices

        Okay then. +100 for consistency.

        • chezami

          Remember how you felt in the second after 9/11? I felt all that too. Still do, when I see those videos and imagine what I would do to the ISIS fiends murdering children or the Boko Haram morons murdering girls if I could get my hands on them. I don’t just want them to die. I want them to suffer unimaginable torments for a very long time. I am not a nice man. That’s why I need the gospel.

    • dasrach

      ManyMoreSpices, this is exactly the reason why I tend to wonder if I give short shrift to people who refuse to cater gay weddings. I think they’re overreacting, but I realize part of that is because gay civil marriage isn’t on my short list of horrifying sins. If I were a caterer, I’d never agree to cater a Planned Parenthood fundraiser, and I can see how the O’Connors would look at a gay union the same way. It’s a stickier situation legally, of course, because denying service to an organization and denying service to private individuals are very different things, but I can see how they’d view it as a similar situation morally.

  • Sue Korlan

    I have spoken to someone I knew to be homosexual about why the Church teaches that homosexual behavior is wrong. I considered doing so part of instructing the ignorant. Beyond that I let it go and just pray God will give all those I love the grace to avoid sin and get to heaven. But I know that if I can explain to someone in a loving way why something is right or wrong, I may be helping them on the road to heaven. So I try with God’s grace to do so.

  • Cypressclimber

    I have been thinking about this question of when cooperation is really sinful as well.

    If I am a baker, and you ask me for a cake, I don’t know that I need to care what you do with the cake. Now, if you tell me you’re going to do something evil with it — say, put poison in it, and feed it to someone — then of course I have reason to refuse. But if you tell me you’re going to throw a party, and celebrate the fantasy of getting married? To me that’s on the line. If I were a grocer, would I refuse to sell you food? Even sinners are allowed to eat food.

    Sometimes moral judgments do seem rather refined, but that’s how it is.

  • Newp Ort

    Let’s face it, a lot of Christians want to the right to discriminate against gay couples. And that’s not necessarily something mean or cruel or bigoted, it’s because of deeply felt beliefs. It’s not asimilar to wanting the right to discriminate against mixed race couples.

    The pizza place was asked a question and they said they would discriminate in that situation.

    But man, the people with the death threats and the harassment, that is horrible. I think it was really irresponsible of the news producers to air the story as they did. They could have presented it anonymously. It’s sadly not hard to predict that the hounds would descend on that poor pizza place.

    I love pizza. 🙁

    • ManyMoreSpices

      Nope. They didn’t say they would “discriminate against gay couples.” They said they wouldn’t cater a same-sex wedding.

      Nothing that they said indicated that they would decline service to a same-sex couple that showed up and wanted a few slices.

      • Newp Ort

        Which is intent to discriminate. I’m not making the argument here that they shouldn’t have that right, buts that’s what the whole law was about – right to discriminate based on deeply held religious belief.

        But those pizza people got a raw deal man, really shitty what they did to them.

        • Mike Petrik

          Discrimination based on the sexual preference is not the same as refusal to cooperate in an act deemed to be morally offensive for religious reasons. The pizza vendors in question have made it abundantly clear that they are happy to serve gay customers — they just do not want to cooperate in a function they find inimical to their religious beliefs. Catholics have similarly refused to cooperate in the ritualistic or celebratory functions surrounding so-called second marriages for the same reason. These are typically tougher cases because the required moral analysis typically demands more factual knowledge than third parties can reasonably be expected to acquire, but with sufficient knowledge Catholic vendors should be free to refuse service in connection with those functions too. If two heterosexual women who have lived together for decades desired to get married in order to secure certain legal or financial advantages, do you seriously believe that the pizza vendors at issue would reach a different conclusion? Of course not, and that is because their concern is grounded in their moral discomfort in cooperating in an function they regard as sacrilegious, not in any animus toward people who regard themselves as gay, as such.

          • Newp Ort

            I didn’t say it was animus. Come on , man I said it right there in the comment:

            And that’s not necessarily something mean or cruel or bigoted, it’s because of deeply felt beliefs

            I’m not arguing against that belief or their right to discriminate – I said that too.

            Still discrimination against gay couples – stated intent to discriminate in the pizza situation.

            Many wanna make gay a protected class, and a lot of Christians are opposed to that to somebody degree.

            Divorcees not a protected class, and nobody trying to make it one AFAIK.

            • Mike Petrik

              I appreciate your patience and fairness, I do. But I guess I was unclear. My point is that a refusal by a traditional Christian to cooperate in a same-sex wedding does *not* represent an “intent to discriminate” against gays as such. Such a person is simply trying to avoid cooperating in a function she believes is inimical to her faith, and that would include a same sex wedding between heterosexuals, a polygamous wedding, and in some cases even a marriage between a man and a woman if that marriage is at least one party’s second marriage. In other words, an orthodox Christian who holds to the traditional understanding of marriage may have objections to participating in weddings that openly or obviously are offensive to such an understanding, and such objections are worthy of respect even if the wedding at issue is a so-called gay wedding.

              • Newp Ort

                How is it not intent to discriminate against gay couples? She said it – they wouldn’t provide a service to a wedding for the sole reason it’s gay.

                I agree she has a reasonable basis for this believe, not some made up hateful stuff but an ancient religious tradition based on their understanding of natural law. Should that be legal? Respected? Perhaps. Depends on who you ask. But no justification for the mob to threaten burning a business down over it.

                It’s an irreconcilable conflict. Gays want full protected status, others, mostly Christians in this country want exceptions to that complete status. Looks like the Christians are on the verge of losing completely, just like segregationists.

                This isn’t an attempt to equate the morality of the two. But one almost identical aspect is one group slowly losing their right to discriminate against the other. One of the last battlegrounds being marriage.

                People held out on not equally serving mixed race couples, argued on religious/moral belief grounds. And they lost.

                • Mike Petrik

                  Your prognosis may well be correct, time will tell. But I think that you are misunderstanding the discrimination at issue. If the vendor really was discriminating against gays, she would simply refuse service to gays — something she explicitly said she would not do. Indeed, if a man attracted to other men nonetheless wished to marry a woman who happened to be attracted to other women, do you think the vendor would refuse to assist in the wedding even if she knew the sexual orientations of the parties? I doubt it, and that is precisely because she has no interest in discriminating against gays — she just wants to avoid doing something that she believes is incompatible with her religious beliefs. What RFRA opponents are plainly saying is that she is free to refuse service to all kinds of weddings that she finds objectionable — but not gay weddings. This is an astonishingly callous attitude toward religious belief, which unlike sexual orientation or gay marriage, is a value explicitly protected in our Constitution,

                  • Newp Ort

                    Replace same sex with mixed race. What’s the difference? It’s incredibly callous to people that don’t hate other races, wouldn’t refuse other races, but have a deeply held belief that mixed race marriages are wrong!

                    Religious people have a more sound reasoning to be able to refuse same sex couples, being a part of an ancient religious belief and whatnot. But what’s the difference to a secular person? It’s still refusal of service based on what they believe should be a legally protected class of people.

                    Don’t call it discrimination if you wanna disagree on that word. But still, irreconcilable differences of conflicting rights.

                    • Mike Petrik

                      Whether the deeply held belief is grounded in a religious belief or not makes all the legal difference in the world. The First Amendment acknowledges a free exercise right that extends only to matters grounded in religion, not deeply felt matters generally. Granted, the boundaries of religion and religious belief can be murky, but legal boundaries often are. You raise very fair arguments in the context of miscegenation, but I would point out that the religious objections raised by some white southerners against interracial marriage were understood, even then, to be simply covers for what were obviously objections based purely on racism. There never was any theological explanation grounded in Scripture, reason, tradition or otherwise, even offered as justification.

                      Finally, it is true that we are trying to address conflicting values. Striking the right balance is difficult. But telling a person that they must violate their faith-informed conscience strikes me as inducing a much greater burden that telling a person to shop elsewhere. My gay law partners are well-aware of my religious beliefs. They disagree with them of course, but they would never wish to force me to violate my conscience as informed by those beliefs. We have far too much mutual respect.

                    • Newp Ort

                      Racism and anti-miscegenation were argued on religious grounds, with reference to tradition, and with scriptural grounding. It was just really flimsy compared to objection to same sex, and they lost.

                      Thanks for all your thoughtful replies.

                      BTW, if you’re a lawyer, I’d like to ask: could a Catholic be a divorce attorney? What if they only provided the service to gay couples? 😉

                    • Mike Petrik

                      Yes, so flimsy as to be transparently disingenuous.
                      LOL. While I don’t think I could do it, there is no canonical reason a Catholic cannot be a divorce lawyer. Remember, Catholics are not precluded from obtaining a civil divorce if for sufficient reason (protecting certain rights), but they may not remarry absent an annulment of the first marriage.
                      And yes, I also appreciated the thoughtful exchange.

                    • AquinasMan

                      Saint John Paul addressed the Roman Rota in 2002 on this subject:

                      “Agents of law in the civil area must avoid being personally involved in anything that might imply cooperation with divorce.”

                      “In exercising a liberal profession, lawyers can always decline to use their profession for an end that is contrary to justice, such as divorce,” the Pope clarified.

                      “They can only collaborate in an action of this kind when, in keeping with the client’s intentions, it is not directed to the rupture of marriage, but to other legitimate effects, which can only be attained by a specific juridical ruling through the judicial avenue,” he said.

                    • AquinasMan

                      I agree in this aspect: the gulf between Catholic doctrine and secular thought is so wide in numerous (not all) respects, that the secular — if he is true to his beliefs — is eventually compelled to put down his opponent who claims to be possessed by the fullness of Truth. The secular enjoys the immense weight of public opinion, media promotion, and political convenience — in short, the iron is hot, and they are striking. This is not a resolvable conflict, based on the demands of the secular mindset. One side must be prevail, and right now we have the kind of men in this Church who’d rather dialogue with Goliath instead of picking up the slingshot and bringing their faith in God onto the battlefield. Sad, but true.

                    • antigon

                      Stop insulting black folk Newp. Denying the right to intra/ethnic marriage is a violation of natural law. Denying the right to oppose blessing sexual perversion isn’t.

                    • Newp Ort

                      Perhaps I’m not making myself clear. Let’s try this:

                      Group A wants the right to refuse service to (discriminate against) group B based on the marital status of couples in group B.

                      Group B wants the the right to service regardless of marital status.

                      It’s a matter of a conflict of rights, there seems to be no resolution.

                      If you don’t want to use the word “discriminate” OK. I meant it in a non-judgmental manner, same way that most establishments discriminate against people with no shoes or shirt. Or no clothes at all. 🙂

                    • antigon

                      Caro Newt:
                      The failure of your above analogy is that while people aren’t free to refuse service because they don’t like a particular marriage, that has no, or no serious, relation to folks resisting the power of the State forcing them – you know, just so they’ll learn who’s boss – to acknowledge something even the State knows is ridiculous.
                      Nonetheless, congratulations. I see in Shea’s post about the current pontiff’s appreciation of the president’s recent Iranian initiative, albeit down in the combox, that you’ve had a most appropriate activity named after you, the OGPA!
                      Which the comboxer – a most impressive one – tells us is the acronym for the Ort Gallery of Preposterous Analogies. Might have forgotten the particulars, but the guy got it if I recall right, upon suggesting that any who disagreed with him were equivalent to Spanish inquisitors.

                    • Newp Ort

                      You have failed to debunk the analogy, as I proposed it, having either not understood or willfully misrepresenting it, and we will have to agree to disagree.

                      Your comments seem to consistently take a rather rude and condescending tone, I would add. But this is the internet, it is to be expected, haters, etc.

                      I’m sure we’ll clash again in the future, and I kind of welcome it.

                      And I do wish you well. We’d probably disagree more agreeably IRL.

                    • antigon

                      Ah, Newt, sorry you think that when like you I’m playful if serious(ish), that constitutes rude condescension not to say the hate that rather more accurately characterizes the folk whose position you keep failing successfully to defend – tho let us pass over the GOPA analogy of yours that, if not hateful to say so, I’m afraid did get solidly debunked, by what truly constitutes the conflict.
                      Am otherwise meself looking forward to thy frequent wit, if I may, not to say the rough struggle between condescension & improving thy grasp of current Empire hungers ho-ho-ho.
                      Til then & beyond, a buona Pasqua season to you Mr. Ort.

                • antigon

                  ‘Looks like the Christians are on the verge of losing completely, just like segregationists. This isn’t an attempt to equate the morality of the two.’
                  Sure it is, Newp, stop trying to have your insults to black folk & eat them too. The segregationists lost because theirs was a violation of charity & natural law. If the Christians lose this battle, as indeed it appears that for a moment they will, it will be because our oligarchy wants Americans to understand they have the right to submit to its hunger to dominate, & no other.
                  And you know, just in passim, that struggle is not at all unrelated to the mass murder of the unborn, not to say the great number of black unborn that our plutocracy is pleased to see dumped in landfills to feed the rats.

          • kenofken

            Civil rights law isn’t concerned with gauging degrees of animus behind an act of discrimination, and it has no provision for declaring someone’s civil rights satisfied if a business owner agrees to treat them equally “most of the time.” It’s straightforward in the sense that if you offer a good or service to the general public, you cannot selectively withhold it from people based on particular identities – race, religion – increasingly sexual orientation.

            As it currently stands, no secular marriage business of which I am aware has turned away heterosexual couples based on moral objection. As for same-sex unions between heterosexuals, I don’t see a lot of that happening. I’ve heard a few half-joking cracks from straight friends about doing it for medical benefits or whatever, but I haven’t seen a lot of takers. If that did become a thing, and Christian business owners regularly turned down acknowledged hetero same sex couples, they would probably have a good case for refusing gay marriage business as well.

            • Mike Petrik

              My point is that the refusal to cooperate in a marriage ceremony that is considered morally offensive for religious reasons is not discrimination against gays. It is discrimination against marriages that are morally offensive for religious reasons. This is classic freedom of religious exercise. The law essentially crafts a special protection for marriage ceremonies involving gays that would trump free exercise, and that is wrong. The burden of imposing legal punishment on a person for his exercise of religious liberty far outweighs the burden of finding another vendor who will gladly take your money and actually want to provide the service.

            • Joseph

              It happened in New Zealand. It was met with swift derision from those who would *only* allow for gay couples to marry… already discrimination from that side.


              This may be only one example, but it’s an example nonetheless.

        • kenofken

          A million dollars to take off work for a week. If that’s the going rate for a “raw deal”, where do I sign up?

          • Newp Ort

            Good point lol

            • antigon

              Ho ho ho all right.

          • AquinasMan

            That’s the problem. You can’t sign up for it. It gets visited upon you, and either money falls from the sky or your life’s work is totally ruined.

            • kenofken

              Sympathy pay is a pretty sure bet these days if you spin your story as “little guy crushed by gay mafia.” Six figures are the norm now, although the pizzeria hit a record number. They also did well considering they never were organically at the heart of any controversy involving them, and they were never facing any legal jeopardy or pressure from the government. The death threats are inexcusable, but I don’t think they were ever in any credible danger. What would a boycott have done to them? 300 million people who were never going to come to speed bump, Indiana to buy their pizza would have….vociferously continued not to do business with them?

              • AquinasMan

                I agree, a boycott would have little consequence. It’s the degree of pain inflicted on their presumably modest lifestyle that weighs heavily in this case. Not to mention, in a society where most people live from paycheck to paycheck, it’s repulsive that anyone can destroy someone else’s otherwise insignificant livelihood overnight out of sheer malice. That would probably account for the massive response. It likely won’t be replicated again on this scale, but in a society awash with cash, it’s easier to use PayPal than it is to march on Washington.

                The death threats may not have been credible, but when was the last time you had a death threat? They may be “rich”, but that’s a lot of psychological suffering when it’s coming from the faceless mob bearing down on your well being.

                I’m not an expert at being a scapegoat, but if someone wanted to hire me out, I’d do it for no less than a cool million.

              • antigon

                Absolutely AK, the whole thing was obviously engineered by that little Indiana bitch as a scam to win dough from suckers. And as your friends have noted, there really was no homosexualist hatefest at all, just a false flag attack the pizza folk knew would fill up the coffers. And while currently obligatory to condemn death threats (or death), much more to the point to note they were either a false flag, or otherwise negligible in importance.
                And important to do so that no one should observe the plutocrats behind the curtain who quite effectively got their message through to their politicians, cheerleaders, & other timid folk.
                But tell me, AK, do the plutocrats pay you to write such (repetitive) drivel, I mean other than just with affectionate chuckles?

          • antigon

            Dammit, AK, you’re right. There was actually some resistance to the hatefest. But not to worry, you’re side got the yardage it wanted towards ending toleration of that existential threat you identified.

    • antigon

      ‘It’s not asimilar to wanting the right to discriminate against mixed race couples.’
      Yes it is. Stop insulting blackfolk, Newp. What it’s not asimilar to is the right to discriminate against nudists flapping their treasures in the local schoolhouse.
      ‘it was really irresponsible of the news producers to air the story as they did. They could have presented it anonymously. It’s sadly not hard to predict that the hounds would descend on that poor pizza place.’
      Not hard at all, so a little Occam’s r here, with a dash of cui bono. The thing was deliberately unleashed in order to produce the hatefest it did, that politicians & other timid folk would better learn to do what they’re told.

  • KM

    “Another question that arises is “What constitutes cooperation with evil, remote or otherwise?” ”

    This whole furor has had many people pondering this as well. For example, if I buy and use an Apple product, am I cooperating with Apple’s questionable overseas labor practices? But what if I use an Apple product for something good? If I buy clothing at Walmart, am I cooperating with their questionable labor practices? What if I give that clothing I bought at Walmart to charity and thereby do something good with it? We could tie ourselves up in knots over these issues and completely forget about living our faith.

    However I am not trying to diminish or ignore the hate that was directed at the pizzeria owner who merely stated an honest opinion to an unethical journalist. That entire incident — whereby a journalist baited someone into expressing a hypothetical opinion, and broadcast that politically incorrect opinion which led to a lynch mob — was unconscionable and possibly gross journalistic incompetence.

    • sez

      The difference, as I see it: Baking a cake is just baking a cake. But when you cater a wedding (whether that’s the food, the cake, the photog services, the floral arrangements, etc.), you are PRESENT at the wedding/reception. You have to be there. (In some cases, the bakery provides people to actually serve the cake. That’s almost always the case for the food caterer, and obviously, the photog services.)

      Since the objection is to the gay wedding, itself (not the fact that people are gay), it seems appropriate to decline such services when they violate your beliefs.

      It seems insane to force a reluctant believer to participate in a gay wedding.

      It’s just too bad we don’t have any protections for our religious beliefs. They should have included that in the Bill of Rights. Oh, wait…

      • Mark

        Yes. You shouldn’t have to be there. You shouldn’t have to rent your home or church or church hall. Or engage in any acts of expression.

        But just selling an item is selling an item; none of your business how they use it once it leaves the store. I also think if you’re an open venue (restaurant, bar, concert, museum, etc) and a party comes to you, you have no right to demand how they know each other, what they’re celebrating, or to kick them out for it .

        • wlinden

          “and a party comes to you, you have no right to demand how they know each
          other, what they’re celebrating, or to kick them out for it .”
          And can you point to any instance where a business has done this kind of grilling of customers (as opposed to “no, we are not going to decorate on inscribe it to imply that you are conducting a ‘real’ marriage”)?

          The forces of tolerance and inclusion keep insisting that their targets want to “refuse service to gays”, period. I keep asking how this alleged ravening horde of bigots proposes to TELL, and they keep explaining “Shut up!”

          • Newp Ort

            “Nobody’s likely to do it” is not a very good argument. Are you saying it’s so important to have this right of refusal that nobody will ever use? You need this right on religious grounds that are held by a tiny minority within your own religion? You’re undermining yourself.

            Would you tell a mixed race couple they can just go down the street and why do you want pizza at your wedding anyway?

            • wlinden

              Why do YOU think it’s so important to tell people that they can’t do something they aren’t doing.. when you really mean something else?

              • Newp Ort

                What do you think I mean? I lean against these religious freedoms yes, but I’m honestly not totally convinced.

                I’m pointing out the flaws in your reasoning. If you want to support your position, don’t do it with poor arguments. And speaking of this…why didn’t you answer my questions? Come up with some good arguments! Maybe you’ll change my mind!

                • antigon

                  Newp I have, with regularity. My nudist analogy is perfectly valid. All the arguments you employ can be invoked by Bill Clinton when he suffers the cruel discrimination of not being free to wave his bent ding-dong where’r he wants (I mean in public, since we all know that otherwise…)

            • Markk

              I think the comparison to Race is bad because I believe that the civil rights laws about race were an extraordinary case to deal with an extraordinary situation that ultimately should have been seen as temporary.

              Jim Crow was a systematic structure of oppression that not only kept a people down collectively, but threatened the whole cohesion of the State. Dismantling it was important, and the government had a compelling interest in stepping in and overriding the freedom of association.

              I think it is wrong to interpret the laws designed at dismantling this system as somehow meaning that there is, in general, an intrinsic right to not be denied service at ultimately privately owned establishments or businesses, or that anyone has a right to be employed or to force someone else to interact with them, etc. That is the wrong conclusion to extrapolate from civil rights legislation.

              In situations where, say, 95%, or even 90% (maybe even less) of people will serve you or employ you…the remaining 5% or 10% of jerks should be allowed to discriminate, sure, for whatever reasons they want. There is no generic right to be served by anyone, or not for certain reasons. Protected Class status should only be granted when their is evidence of across-the-board systematic exclusion such that you’re unable to participate in some critical mass (again, the percent could be worked out by someone else) of commerce or society. Once the situation ameliorates to the point that discrimination is a rare thing done by random kooky individuals with no particular systematic conspiracy…Protected Class status should be removed.

              We’re at the point now where Race could probably even be taken off the list of protected classes, albeit it is sure to stay on there for a long time to come just because of an abundance of caution given American history and the particularly invidious role race has played in that.

              But it’s especially certain that gays or gay couples are no longer in need of any such protection. Maybe it would have made sense 25 years ago. Now? They’re super popular. This outrage even shows it. 90% of businesses will serve you, and for the ones that remain it is a personal individual thing, not part of a structural conspiracy.

              In such a situation, freedom of association should be the operating principle. The right to service (or, rather, to not be denied service or employment for certain bad reasons, ie membership in a protected class) is not a general principle of our society or constitution. Protected Class status is an extraordinary positive intervention that should be used only to dismantle certain oppressive systems, and should be allowed to expire if their purpose has been sufficiently served.

            • antigon

              C’mon Newp, see Greydanus’s most reasonable observations in Shea’s post, & stop insulting blackfolk.

        • Newp Ort

          If you rent your property for money, for activities not related to your religious practice, then you can’t refuse that rental service if it violates civil rights protections.

          • antigon

            Really? Quite apart from what in fact’s going on here – & please, Newt, don’t ask what I mean by that, just see my post to Mark above – why not a little civility? Certain exceptions allowed, you know, such as that a Christian *doesn’t* have to rent the hall to the Klan, due to moral objections society can recognize as legitimate?
            Oh, you like to say, but of what of folks who morally object to mixed ethnic marriage? But since such objections violate natural law, society can say no. A little flexibility would end the difficulties, but the State wants submission.

    • I’ve long refused to buy Apple or Walmart. Or Pepsi for that matter (latest version was tested on an artificial human cell line that came from an aborted fetus).

      But what it comes down to for me is this- to me, freedom of association can and should trump your right to force people to do something. I still don’t understand why the answer to Jim Crow wasn’t the federal government saying that the laws were invalid and then just investing a lot of money opening up lunch counters in the south that didn’t discriminate.

  • Tweck

    Amen. You are a voice of reason in a maelstrom of insanity, Mark.

  • KM

    Mark, you asked if this was a big act of persecution for the Catholic Church itself and concluded “no.” Reflecting on this I have to agree with you. In 2008 when Prop 8 passed in California, the lynch mobs began targeting donors to the Prop 8 campaign. Although their ire at the time was primarily aimed at the Mormon Church and its members, their anger was ultimately directed at anyone who donated to Prop 8.

    “The idea [was] to use gay-spending power to punish businesses the activists say discriminate against gays’ right to get married. Among the dozens of businesses now being targeted for boycotts are hotels, fast-food chains and dental offices.”

    Of course American history has examples of this type of lynch-mob behavior from the Salem witch trials to the McCarthy hearings as just two examples. It will be interesting to see how long this current mentality will last and what will end it.

    • antigon

      Dear KM:
      Don’t your examples contradict your conclusions? The Mormon church is caving, so are prominent RC clerics, & you can be sure any new Proposition 8 will find far fewer donors precisely due to these tactics, & the oligarchy’s support of them.

  • Flan

    Good points overall. But I think the so-called “lynching” was more a tempest in a teapot as well. Last I looked into it, the “death threats” consisted of one bat-crazy Twitter tweet by a woman asking if people would come help burn the pizza joint down. Her respondents wore uniforms, asked a lot of questions, and read her her rights. The rest were just protest calls, heated but that’s’s it. And the mean-spirited reaction on Twitter, Yelp and other social media was par for the course for the internet — short, ugly and basically uninformed; most assumed the pizza parlor was refusing to serve gays, period. Nobody caught the nuance. But then, as you note, the distinction between serving pizza to gays and serving a gay wedding pizza IS a very fine point. Not something the denizens of cyberspace, right, left or in between, are likely to savor.

    • KM

      I wonder how many of these lynch mobs are led by small groups of activists. Rush Limbaugh mentioned on his show recently that his research team narrowed down the “Boycott Rush” movement to just 10 people.

      • KM

        “The big story – and what we have learned – is that virtually all the negativity around [Rush Limbaugh] over the last two years has stemmed from very small number of people in social media. We have found that 70% of the attacks are coming from just 10 people. Ten people around AMERICA – and we know who they are — sit at their computers all day sending out tweets, then use computer technology to amplify them.”

        “Darren Davis said that this leads to what he termed another misconception: “80% of the attacks come from a different state than where the business exists. It’s really amplified when you look at it that way. A small business in NEW YORK is getting letters, FACEBOOK posts and tweets supposedly from customers boycotting their business — when it’s all coming from a person who actually lives in NEVADA. It’s the biggest bunch of nonsense I’ve ever come across. We’re definitely going to do a big job of telling the truth.””

      • antigon

        Enough for the plutocracy to pretend the entire country was outraged at Christianity, the pizza folk, or any doubts of any kind about the glory of the Sacred Hole.

    • Joseph

      Well, there was an all-out blitz to illegitimately tar the joint in reviews in an attempt to hurt their business. When they rely on the income of the business for their livelihood and their reputations to be intact should that business fail and they need to look for employment elsewhere, that’s not that far away from firebombing the joint and economically *arresting* the business owners.
      It’s a *tempest in a teapot* for everyone but the business owners who were the targets of the abuse, slander, defamation, and libel.

    • antigon

      More than a tempest Flan. The whole orchestrated firestorm was a message to the plutocrat’s politicians, which you can be sure (& already see) that they got; as it was to the population at large, in particular what those not yet sufficiently supine can be expected to endure until they are.

  • Dave G.

    What I notice is just how the line gets drawn in the sand, the line gets stepped over, the line gets moved back in the sand. Even this. The idea that this is just some weird overreaction on the part of an isolated group of radicals seems to miss the fact that overwhelmingly people are warming up to the notion that religion and religious rights are small potatoes, but my right to contraceptives, sex, and reproductive choices are absolute, and if the government needs to defend those rights by hampering those former rights, so be it. Line drawn. The question is, when we will stop redrawing the lines?

    • KM

      There definitely is a pattern of intimidation by the sexual libertinism crowd, aided and abetted by social media, mainstream media, and various corporations, so this isn’t an isolated incident. The good thing in this instance was the push back against the lynch mob, and maybe this will be a turning point. I don’t recall seeing such support for many of the victimized during the Prop 8 scuffles in 2008. What will be interesting is what the Supreme Court decides and what the fallout will be.

      Rebecca Hamilton (Public Catholic) has a very good article up about this topic today.

      • Dave G.

        That happens. But then progress. I think of the HHS mandate. When that blew up, initially polls suggested that the majority of Americans were clearly against religious organizations being forced to compromise their beliefs to provide contraceptive coverage. Fast forward to late last year, and it looks like a sizable portion of Americans have warmed to the idea. Just like this. We’re even discussing that it may not be a big thing to cater such an event? That’s not the point. Never has been. It’s that we were told, not too long ago, that gay rights would never, ever, run afoul of religious belief and practice. Now look at it. A fair number of people say religion has no right to trump sexual orientation, and a growing number of people are forced to say ‘maybe it’s no big deal.’ And of course the push back dwindled when the supporters of the Law were seen to be backing down. Nope, I chalk this one up to another bold step forward for the cause of wrong, and a step back for the cause of right.

  • antigon

    Caro Mr. Shea:
    Since I’ve had fun popping some balloons in this converse – the otherwise charming Mr. Ort’s steady insults to blacks by comparing them to predilections for sexual perversion comes to mind, tho I see he’s still at it – allow a chapeau for covering much excellent ground in this post. And while extending particular commendation to your reproach of material heretics who can’t tell the difference between a temptation & giving into it, not to say Steubenville’s straining at a Tushnet while swallowing a Hayden (& thus crimes far worse than those of consensual sodomy), best of all was your observation about seeing who commits those most dangerous & deadly sins right where I do, when a mirror looms.
    Nonetheless, some caveats. One is your observation that this most recent hatefest came not from a vacuum but was provoked partly by the material heretics above mentioned. While doubtless true to a point, I’d note that neither is the heretics’ hostility from a vacuum, given not just the aggressive bombardment of more than the homosexual depravity that has swept American society in recent decades, but also both its promotion & indulgence by institutions that claim to be Catholic, not to mention by far too many clerics, including prominent ones that aren’t but limited, not to mention names, to Roger Mahoney. And so the tree is perhaps far drier & less green than you propose.
    Beyond those caveats, it is also possible you are mistaken on some fairly salient points. One is your arguably all too breezy dismissal of whether a Catholic directly assisting the promotion of sexual perversion commits no sin. If, say, to borrow from Greydanus, back when lynching blacks was common enough, would it have been a sin for a Catholic to decorate a cake for the Klan with them laughing at a dangling black man? If so, is the only reason, that extolling murder is a greater sin than extolling sodomy? Unless that is the only reason, t’is hard to see how your argument above would not see that cake sinlessly decorated.
    Plus, while obviously not a step towards burning 200 Indiana Christian girls next Easter, the hatefest was not wholly incongruent with our plutocracy’s ignoring the Nigerian ones killed this Easter; nor of the longer term message it conveyed to its politicians, not notable for their courage in the face of foul winds. In that crucial sense, it ended rather well, in your words, but, to continue quoting you, more for yet another naked assault on human dignity & liberty than for such resistance as it provoked.
    Which surely was the whole point of the orchestrated firestorm.
    Allow me to conclude by again noting Apostate Ken’s helpful reminder that ‘it would be insane and/or suicidal’ for ‘any group to tolerate a sworn enemy who poses an ongoing existential threat.’
    For inasmuch as our current oligarchy very possibly considers the Faith as just such an enemy, indeed not impossibly with some justice, it is surely true that self-pity is of no use, just as vigilance & resistance most decidedly are.

  • HornOrSilk

    Well, looks like we might start seeing lesbians vs Muslims in the near future: