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March 8, 2019

Mornings w Carmen Friday 3-8-2019 hour 1: religious liberty and the lingering reality of hate in America plus Lent as surfing

Matthew Hawkins returns to survey the religious liberty headlines and what’s going on in the nation’s capital.  He and Carmen lead off with a conversation about the state of Colorado’s dismissal of the action against Masterpiece Cakeshop owner, Jack Phillips and his withdraw of a federal court case against the state. You will recall that in June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of in a case that his refusal to make a one of a kind wedding cake for a same sex wedding in 2012 was a violation of the law. 

The high court ruled that Phillips did not violate the state’s anti-discrimination law for refusing to make a particular cake. But on the day of the Supreme Court decision, a male attorney presenting as a woman, asked Phillips to create a specialty cake that would be pink on the inside and blue on the outside as a way to celebrate a gender transition from male to female. Phillips declined because the cake would have expressed messages about sex and gender identity that conflict with his religious beliefs. Less than a month later, the state found probable cause to believe state law requires Phillips to create the requested gender-transition cake.

Even after Phillips won a 7-2 decision at the Supreme Court rebuking the commission for its clear anti-religious bias, it had pursued new charges against Phillips for failing to design a cake celebrating a male-to-female gender transition.

At issue is the animus of members of the Commission toward Phillips because of his faith.  That animus is illustrated here in a statement from Commissioner Diann Rice:

I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the holocaust, whether it be—I mean, we—we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to—to use their religion to hurt others.

Justice Kennedy’s responded to that statement in his opinion related to the case: 

To describe a man’s faith as “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use” is to disparage his religion in at least two distinct ways: by describing it as despicable, and also by characterizing it as merely rhetorical — something insubstantial and even insincere. . . . This sentiment is inappropriate for a Commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s antidiscrimination law — a law that protects discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation.

Disregarding the high court’s judgement, Colorado officials continued to express the same sentiments and two commissioners endorsed Rice’s comments after the Supreme Court issued its ruling:

At the June 22, 2018, public meeting, members of the commission discussed the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling. During that discussion, Commissioner Rita Lewis said, “I support Commissioner Diann Rice and her comments. I don’t think she said anything wrong.” Later, Commissioner Carol Fabrizio added, “I also very much stand behind Commissioner Rice’s statements…. I was actually proud of what she said, and I agree with her…. I’m almost glad that something the Commissioner said ended up public and used, because I think it was the right thing.

Carmen and Matthew also discuss the 407-23 vote by the House last night on a measure condemning anti-Semitism along with a litany of other aggrieved groups.  What started as a resolution condemning anti-Semitism morphed to include anti-Muslim bias. After that came a denunciation of white supremacy. And by the end, it cited “African-Americans, Native Americans, and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, immigrants and others” victimized by bigotry. To be clear: hate is bad. Hate is wrong. But you can never hope to make a complete list of all the hates we should hate. 

In the end, Christians must talk about love and what it looks like to walk that out in a very diverse world.

Carmen also talks in this episode with Gary Stratton about how Lent is like surfing (yes, really).  Gary makes mention at one point of Ruth Haley Barton. Carmen talked with Ruth on a prior episode about her book, Invitation to Retreat. You can find it here.




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