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Christians have a PR problem. The media persistently report that Christian small business owners want to discriminate against homosexuals. That was in fact the key argument those prosecuting a Christian baker made to the Supreme Court this week in their case against him for choosing to not bake a cake to help celebrate a gay wedding ceremony.
Political debate is regularly framed in the same terms: Does religious freedom include the right to discriminate against gays and lesbians? The problem is that this presentation involves a truly massive distortion of the actual question at issue.
Story - Baker - Florist - Photographer - Customer
The story is all too familiar. A Christian baker, or florist, or photographer has been serving a homosexual customer for years. The customer then asks the professional to participate in the customer’s wedding to a same-sex partner, and the artist declines for reasons of conscience. Cue a lawsuit for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The perception that such professionals are engaged in sexual orientation discrimination is widespread. That perception is unsurprising, given that researchers, judges, and the media consistently frame the question in those terms.
Example - Public - Religion - Research - Institute
For example, the Public Religion Research Institute released a survey this summer on Americans’ attitudes toward what it describes as “allowing small business owners to refuse to provide products or services to gay or **** people, if doing so would violate their religious beliefs.” PRRI’s language actively feeds the perception that the key question is whether religious liberty allows one “to refuse to provide products or services to gay or **** people.”
Unsurprisingly, most Americans react negatively to that perception. It is distasteful to morally healthy people that a person might be denied service by a business simply because of his or her sexual orientation, and it should be. According to the PRRI survey, most Christians agree not only that such discrimination is...
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