Friday, January 24, 2014
Oregon: Christian Businesses Must Follow Demands of Gay Customers
The owners of a Christian bakery who refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple are facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines after they were found guilty of violating the couple’s civil rights.
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries said they found “substantial evidence” that Sweet Cakes by Melissa discriminated against the lesbian couple and violated the Oregon Equality Act of 2007, a law that protects the rights of the LGBT community.
Last year, the bakery’s owners refused to make a wedding cake for Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman, of Portland, citing their Christian beliefs. The couple then filed a complaint with the state.
“The investigation concludes that the bakery is not a religious institution under the law and that the business’ policy of refusing to make same-sex wedding cakes represents unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation,” said Charlie Burr, a spokesman for the Bureau of Labor and Industries.
The backlash against Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of the bakery, was severe. Gay rights groups launched protests and pickets outside the family’s store. They threatened wedding vendors who did business with the bakery. And, Klein told me, the family’s children were the targets of death threats.
The family eventually had to close their retail shop and now operate the bakery out of their home. They posted a message vowing to stand firm in their faith. It read, in part:
“To all of you that have been praying for Aaron and I, I want to say thank you. I know that your prayers are being heard. I feel such a peace with all of this that is going on. Even though there are days that are hard and times of struggle we still feel that the Lord is in this. It is His fight and our situation is in His hands….Please continue to pray for our family. God is great, amazing and all powerful. I know He has a plan.”
Under state law, the complaint against the bakery now moves into a period of reconciliation. If they can’t reach an agreement, formal civil charges could be filed and the Kleins could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
Last August, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian told The Oregonian, their desire is to rehabilitate businesses like the one owned by the Christian couple.
“Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that folks have the right to discriminate,” he told the newspaper. “The goal is never to shut down a business. The goal is to rehabilitate.”
Aaron Klein told me there will be no reconciliation and there will be no rehabilitation. He and his wife will not back down from their Christian beliefs.
“There’s nothing wrong with what we believe,” he said. “It’s a biblical point of view. It’s my faith. It’s my religion.”
Klein said he’s not surprised by the ruling and called it “absolutely absurd.”
“I’ve never seen a government entity use a law to come after somebody because they have a religious view,” he said. “I truly believe Brad Avakian is trying to send a message. I don’t think the constitution of the state of Oregon means anything to these people.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told me the plight of the Klein family is another example of the consequences of redefining marriage.
“We’re seeing a steady drumbeat of the loss of religious liberty, the ability to live your life, conduct your business according to the principles and teachings of your faith,” Perkins said.
He said he was especially disturbed by the level of attacks against the Klein family.
“It shows that tolerance is one way,” he said, referring to the militant gay protests. “Those who trumpet the message of tolerance have no tolerance for people who disagree with them.”
The Kleins warned that what happened to them could happen to other Christian business owners. And it already has.
In December a Colorado baker was ordered by a judge to either serve gay weddings or face fines. Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, was told to “cease and desist from discriminating” against gay couples. Phillips is a Christian.
New Mexico’s Surpeme Court ruled in August that two Christian photographers who declined to photograph a same-sex union violated the state’s Human Rights Act. One justice said photographers Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin were “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.”
And the Washington attorney general filed a lawsuit against a florist who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex couple’s wedding. Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers & Gifts filed a countersuit, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network she “had to take a stand” in defense of her faith in Christ.
Perkins told me that in many cases gay couples are targeting businesses owned by Christians.
“Individuals are being persecuted and prosecuted using the leverage of the government through these homosexual activists,” he said. “Government has become a weapon that homosexual activists are using against Christian business owners.”
And if you have any doubts about the validity of his claims, just ask the Klein family. They know what it’s like to incur the wrath of militant homosexual bullies. And they learned that in today’s America – gay rights trump religious rights.
In defence of Maajid Nawaz, blasphemy and (funny) cartoons of Mohammed
I've been a fan of the webcomic Jesus and Mo for years. The idea is a simple one: the two religious figureheads J Christ and Mohammed share a house and discuss matters of religious philosophy, often in arguments with a wise atheist barmaid at their local. It's funnier than I've made that sound.
It is, of course, irreligious and arguably blasphemous. (In its very first edition or episode or whatever you call it, Mo points out that it's forbidden to depict him pictorially. Jesus asks what he's doing in a cartoon, reasonably enough, and Mo claims he's a body double.) It's also very clever, informed by philosophical and religious argument, and – as mentioned – funny.
But it makes a lot of people very angry, and other people very nervous. Recently two people running the Atheist Society stall at the London School of Economics's Freshers Fair were forced to cover up the Jesus and Mo T-shirts they were wearing, because the university was worried about offending its Muslim students (the university later had the good grace to apologise).
I'd love to be able to report that the fears of well-meaning liberal milquetoasts are overblown and that actually British Muslims are far too grown-up to get upset about a line drawing on a website. And, of course, the huge and overwhelming majority are. But a few – and it is mainly Muslims – are not. Maajid Nawaz, a prospective Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, tweeted a picture of one of the Jesus and Mo T-shirts, after the cartoons came up in a discussion on the BBC's Big Questions. Nawaz, a Muslim and a co-founder of the think tank Quilliam, which is dedicated to combating religious extremism, said that he did not find the innocuous content of the T-shirts offensive. "I'm sure God is greater than to feel threatened by it," he said, reasonably.
Promptly, Nawaz received numerous death threats ["I would be glad to cut your neck off, so your kufr [unbeliever] friends won't be amused by your humour. In sha Allah [if Allah is willing] may my dua [act of worship] get accepted"], and Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation, Muslim commentator Mo Ansar and George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bradford, all called for him to be dropped as a PPC.
Muslim woman ordered by judge to remove her veil if she wanted to give evidence
A woman made legal history yesterday as she stood trial in a full face veil.
Rebekah Dawson, 22, became the first defendant to wear the covering at court after a judge ruled ‘freedom of religious expression’ should be recognised.
District Judge Peter Murphy told jurors that Dawson had a right to wear a niqab during the trial but that she would have to remove it if she wanted to give evidence.
He ruled: ‘The courts must respect and protect religious rights as far as that can possibly be done. ‘But in my view, it is necessary to the working of the crown court in a democratic society for the court, not the defendant to control the conduct of judicial proceedings.’
At Blackfriars Crown Court yesterday, Dawson argued that forcing her to remove the veil to give evidence violated her right to a fair trial under the European Convention on Human Rights.
But Judge Murphy rejected the application, saying that jurors being unable to see her was contrary to the principle of open justice which overrides religious belief.
He invited the defendant to remove the garment, but after a brief adjournment Dawson returned to court still wearing her niqab.
Judge Murphy told jurors: ‘I am aware some people have certain feelings about it [the niqab], but if you have any feelings you must put them aside completely... She is perfectly entitled in this country to dress as she wishes.’
He added: ‘The courts have for many years, indeed centuries, ruled that when a jury have been asked to evaluate evidence a witness gives it is important for jurors to see them … It is not possible to do that if they cannot see the witness’ face.’
Dawson, and her brother Matthias, 32, are accused of threatening a caretaker at Finsbury Park Mosque, north London, after he let three female charity workers from Portugal – who were not wearing veils – enter the building on June 4 last year.
Dawson, of Hackney, east London, and her brother Matthias Dawson, of Sydenham, south-east London, deny a single charge of witness intimidation.
NYC: Bill de Blasio Crackdown on Jaywalking Leads to Beating of 84-Year-Old Man
Bill de Blasio just rushed into City Hall and the totalitarian antics of his administration have already claimed their first victim. An 84-year-old man.
Cops bloodied an 84-year-old man and put him in the hospital Sunday when he jaywalked at an Upper West Side intersection and didn’t appear to understand their orders to stop, witnesses said.
Kang Wong was strolling north on Broadway and crossing 96th Street at around 5 p.m., when an officer told him to halt because he had walked against the light.
Police were targeting jaywalkers in the area following the third pedestrian fatality this month around West 96th Street.
Neither the hospital nor the cops would allow him to see his dad until after 10 p.m., explaining that since he’d not been admitted, he was not a patient, but a “prisoner.’’
Early Monday, cops fingerprinted Wong and charged him with jaywalking, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and disorderly conduct.
New York City does not ticket or arrest jaywalkers under normal circumstances. Giuliani’s administration briefly tried it and gave up. Even Bloomberg, who criminalized salt and soda, left jaywalking alone.
New York is a pedestrian city and jaywalking is for places like Los Angeles that are automobile cities.
Bill de Blasio came in with a Swedish plan called Vision Zero which involves a large scale crackdown on all sorts of traffic violations in order to achieve zero fatalities.
“The goal,” Bill de Blasio stated in his campaign literature, “reduce serious injuries and fatalities on our streets to zero… with strong enforcement.”
Traffic fatalities in New York City are never going to hit zero, but Bill de Blasio’s crackdown on jaywalking has already put one man in the hospital. While Bill de Blasio campaigned against police brutality, Wong’s case didn’t seem to bother the arrogant politician one little bit.
As for Mr. Wong, Mr. de Blasio said, “I’m waiting for all the facts, and I haven’t gotten all the facts on the case, so I’m not going to comment on something until I have a better sense of it.”
“There is no larger policy in terms of jaywalking, and ticketing and jaywalking. That’s not part of our plan. But it is something a local precinct commander can act on, if they perceive there to be a real danger,” he told reporters this afternoon, after speaking at Rev. Al Sharpton’s annual National Action Network Martin Luther King Day event
An 84-year-old man crossing the street apparently represents a real danger. Meanwhile Bill de Blasio’s pal Al Sharpton who has led racial attacks on Jews and Asians is his best friend.
The cops on the barricades understand the futility of ticketing pedestrians for jaywalking. “This is just taking hard-earned money from people who can’t afford it,” an officer told the Times during Giuliani’s jaywalking crackdown of 1998. Another adds, “I just don’t think that walking across the street is a crime, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable getting down on people for doing it.”
Bill de Blasio however feels very comfortable about it. Inside every liberal is a totalitarian screaming to get out.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.