There is one and only one question that will matter when Indiana and its beleaguered governor finish retooling its religious freedom law: will the Christian baker be forced to bake the cake?
That’s it. Gov. Pence must have an answer to that question, and it must be clear and crisp. He didn’t have an answer for George Stephanopoulos last Sunday, and that’s part of what ignited this firestorm.
Unless the governor’s answer to this question is a flat, “No, Indiana will absolutely refuse to punish any Christian baker who declines to bake a same-sex wedding cake,” then Indiana in reality will have no religious freedom at all. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr., a denial of religious liberty anywhere is a denial of religious liberty everywhere.
Further, if a man can be compelled by government force to provide labor against his will and against his conscience, that is both slavery and tyranny.
Greg Richards perceptively suggested that the key constitutional answer to Indiana’s crisis is not even found in the First Amendment but in the 13th.
Here’s how the 13th Amendment reads (emphasis mine):
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Well, Indiana is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, so involuntary servitude is flatly forbidden anywhere in the state. Period. We fought a civil war to resolve this issue, and yet pro-homosexual zealots want to take us back to the days of the Confederacy and the days when disfavored minorities were forced to pick cotton or else.
That is the dividing line here – requiring the labor of the vendor to be provided involuntarily. It doesn’t make any difference if the customer is willing to pay. Slaves were compensated with food and housing.
It is the involuntary nature of the labor that is the point at issue. If you walk into a bakery and want to buy one of the cakes on the display rack – assuming they are for sale – then go to it! But you cannot require the baker to make a special cake for you.
A Christian baker cannot be forced against his will to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. That’s involuntary servitude.
A Christian florist cannot be compelled against her will to prepare a floral arrangement for a same-sex wedding. That’s involuntary servitude.
A Christian photographer cannot be compelled against her will and conscience to shoot a same-sex wedding ceremony. That’s involuntary servitude.
A Jewish baker cannot be compelled against his will to bake a cake with Adolf Hitler’s image on it (such cakes exist, believe it or not). A black owner of a T-shirt company cannot be compelled against his conscience and will to print shirts with KKK slogans. And a Muslim butcher cannot be compelled against his will to butcher a hog. Period.
Let’s not be under any illusions here about where the hate and discrimination are coming from in this controversy. Rabid gay activists flooded Gov. Pence’s Facebook page last weekend with vulgar and obscene comments. My Twitter feed for the last four days has been a nausea-inducing sewer of venom, obscenity, hate and bile.
An Indiana high school coach tweeted out yesterday that she and her whole posse were going to burn a local pizzeria to the ground. The pizzeria owner’s crime? He won’t cater gay weddings. His restaurant is now closed for safety reasons. He and his entire family are now quite literally living in fear for their lives. So where’s the hate? It’s not coming from the pro-family community.
All this illustrates a point I have often made: we must choose between homosexuality and liberty because we cannot have both.
Gov. Pence displayed weakness when he held the signing of the religious liberty bill in private. Weakness always invites aggression, and that’s what Gov. Pence got. He showed further weakness when he buckled under pressure and agreed to retool the law to create a special carve-out for gays and lesbians.
(The draft language that is dribbling out of Gov. Pence’s secret negotiations with homosexual activists is even worse than we thought.)
If when all is said and done, Gov. Pence cannot say flatly, “In Indiana, we will not compel any Christian, Jewish or Muslim business owner to perform services against his religion or conscience,” then religious liberty will no longer exist in the Hoosier state, and both the First and 13th Amendments will have been effectively nullified.
Your move, governor.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.