Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Pray for Bakers, Pizzerias, and United Steelworkers

Yesterday morning on Huffington Post I read an interesting anti-hate hate speech by Leo W. Gerard, the International President of United Steelworkers. He says that Hoosier Hostility is not the American Way. What made this stand out to me is that Gerard jumps in late on the side of irresponsible reporting that has already been debunked. Gerard wrote, “After Indiana Republicans passed a license to discriminate law, a restaurant called Memories Pizza in the Hoosier town of Walkerton stepped up last week to make sure potential customers knew its religious rules: 'No Shirt, No Shoes, No Certification of Heterosexuality, No Service'.” He further announces that he wants “to prevent the likes of Memories Pizza from demanding certification of heterosexuality before service.” He rambles on for over a dozen paragraphs about hate and discrimination, while conveniently ignoring the other side of hate and discrimination that Shut Down Memories Pizza Of Walkerton, Indiana. The pizza place has not been shown to have discriminated against anyone, but simply “honestly answered a hypothetical question posed by a reporter who walked into their place of business.” The hypothetical was not about serving homosexuals but about catering a homosexual wedding -- which, by the way, is highly unlikely for most wedding receptions. During the questioning the respondents specifically told the reporter they would not deny service to anyone. Yet ABC57 led with this as the "first business to publicly deny same sex service" (which headline they have since changed). As of 11:00 a.m. April 6, still carries this headline (based on the ABC headline): “This Pizza Parlor Is Indiana's First Business to Deny Service to LGBT Customers.” Irresponsible at best and deliberately destructive at worst!

"Hoosier (and United Steelworkers) Hostility" is not limited to Indiana and definitely cuts both ways. The LGBT community has no patent on hate and threatening behaviour. The RFRA crowd was glad to join in the festivities in Florida. A Florida bakery has faced threats after refusing to print an anti-gay message on a cake. On the first of this month, Joshua Feuerstein called Cut the Cake bakery in Longwood, Florida to request a sheet cake with the message  “We do not support gay marriage” on it. The owner refused to decorate such a cake, and Feuerstein posted about this incident on Facebook. The owner said after that “threats started pouring in.” I agree that Feuerstein's message was anti-gay marriage, but not with the owner's assessment that it was a hateful message. I support the owner's right to not decorate such a cake because she sees it as a hateful message. I do not agree with Joshua Feuerstein's method. He in fact did not want a cake at all, but just wanted to make a point. Making a point with the kind of furor he created does not well follow Jesus's injunction that “all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” What he did was irresponsible at best and deliberately destructive at worst. Shame on Christians who stoop to such lows. 

"Tolerance" is a two-way street. Better yet, let's observe as much freedom of speech, religion, etcetera as possible.

* Go Fund Me accounts have been created in support of both Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana and Cut the Cake in Longwood, Florida.

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