I started The Pragmatic Politico blog in order to build a political platform that could fill the void that has been created in American politics. I am building said platform on the premise that for the vast majority of issues we can, no pun intended, have our cake and eat it too. The Cake Baker is a picture-perfect illustration.
Below I summarize my view, then walk thru the two issues at hand: legality and morality.
My stance is simple: From a legal standpoint let Cake Baker do as he pleases, and let the free market decide his moral fate. I want to know every racist and bigoted business owner around, and let the free market systematically take each and every one of them down. That is not to say Cake Baker is a bigot – that is an impossible determination to make without consistent observation of behavior. But at minimum we know that he believes himself to be morally superior to the gay couple seeking a custom wedding cake. I would like the free market to apply pressure to his business (it already has, as he discontinued making custom wedding cakes), forcing him to reform his behavior and thus stop giving Christianity a bad name.
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From a legal perspective I agree with the writer of this National Review article that Cake Baker should have never been charged with discrimination in the first place, based on the following fact alone (my emphasis in bold):
“Justice Samuel Alito pointed to this reality during oral arguments. At the time that Jack Phillips declined to bake a same-sex wedding cake, Colorado wouldn’t even recognize — let alone issue — same-sex marriage licenses. So the same-sex couple couldn’t get the state of Colorado to recognize their relationship as a marriage. ‘And yet when he goes to this bake shop, and he says I want a wedding cake, and the baker says, no, I won’t do it, in part because same-sex marriage was not allowed in Colorado at the time, he’s created a grave wrong,’ Alito stated. ‘How does that all that fit together?'”
Likewise, per The Wall Street Journal:
“But Colorado’s public accommodation law is not neutrally applied. It is applied selectively to dictate ideological conformity. For instance, the commission has allowed three bakers to deny service to religious customers who requested a cake criticizing same-sex marriage. Thus the state is punishing forms of speech it dislikes.”
Had Colorado recognized gay marriage at the time, The New York Times’ following point would be valid:
“If the couple had asked Mr. Phillips to write a message on their cake endorsing same-sex marriage and he had been punished for refusing, he would have a more plausible First Amendment claim, since he wouldn’t write that for anyone. But Colorado’s law doesn’t compel Mr. Phillips, or any proprietor, to say anything they don’t want to say, or to endorse any specific message. It requires only that they treat all customers equally.”
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From a moral perspective Cake Baker believes he is acting in good faith, as he claims he does not discriminate against gay people with his off-the-shelf services. In other words, he is fine to sell an off-the-shelf baked good to a gay couple but not allow his “art” (i.e. a custom wedding cake) to be an integral part of a gay wedding ceremony, because that would be de facto support of gay marriage, against which he is morally opposed. This makes little logical sense. He is morally opposed to gay people in general.
Splitting hairs, let’s say Cake Baker only produces custom wedding cakes (i.e. he does not sell pre-made wedding cakes). Would he be OK with the gay couple purchasing 600 off-the-shelf cookies to celebrate its wedding? When the guests ask where the fantastic cookies came from, would Cake Baker’s name not come up in discussion?
I am in vehement moral opposition to Hugh Hefner’s porn (may he not RIP). If he came to me for financial planning advice on the best way to fund future porn production, I would be ideologically opposed to render any financial planning service that supports his porn production – custom or off-the-shelf. But why on earth would there be a difference between building him a custom portfolio or offering him an off-the-shelf portfolio available to all?
Cake Baker is using the guise of “artistic expression” to discriminate against folks he deems morally inferior to himself. As outlined here, this is highly un-Christ-like behavior. And as explained here, not baking a cake is the equivalent of throwing stones (i.e. punishment for being gay). Christ would have baked the custom wedding cake, while persuading the gay couple to follow Him.
Circling back to The Hef, there would be no better witnessing opportunity than to work as closely as possible with Mr. Hefner on funding his porn production in order to build a relationship with him over time. Were he to see the love of Christ in my working with him despite his activities being in vehement opposition to my moral principles, he would likely be compelled to at least ask why I am in vehement moral opposition.
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Now, obviously there are gradations to this discussion. No witnessing opportunity is great enough to overcome participating in the sin yourself. Pimping out prostitutes in order to build a relationship with prostitutes would be no different than the act of prostitution itself. But refusing to sell a pimp the car he uses to cart prostitutes around would be tantamount to “throwing stones.” There must be a line, and if we do not draw it at participating in the act ourselves, then we could never interact with another human being since every single one of us are born into sin in which we deliberately participate in every single day. As such, we cannot hold morally hypocritical doctors who refuse to perform an abortion, or pastors who refuse to marry a gay couple, as that would be participating in the sinful act itself.