It all started with a wedding cake. What happened after the infamous Supreme Court case between a Christian cake shop owner and a gay couple has caused a flurry of debate. The Supreme Court found the baker guilty of discrimination. The argument was made that the first amendment does not protect discriminatory behavior, thus defending the couple. It remains to be seen if the defendant’s appeal is successful. This question still causes controversy: Should businesses have the right to deny LGBTQ+ individuals service under the guise of religious integrity?
The short answer is no; they should not have that right. As a business, your job is to serve customers, whomever they may be. The fundamental idea that the church should be separated from the state should not be dropped when considering local business. Businesses are for the public, not for whoever meets their criteria for service. While freedom of religion is a right guaranteed by the constitution, it does not guarantee your right to be hateful towards others.
Freedom For All Americans, a bipartisan organization dedicated to instilling non-discrimination laws federally, reported that 63% of LGBTQ+ people have faced discrimination in their life. Compared with that, 64% of LGBTQ+ people cite discrimination as a large issue in our country. The fact that the majority of the LGBTQ+ community live in fear of being turned away or discriminated is disheartening and wrong. People should not have to walk into a business and feel unwelcome or fear being denied service. The good news is 80% of small business owners are in favor of non-discrimination laws being put in place. That also means that 20% of businesses do not support non-discrimination laws, thus putting the LGBTQ+ community at risk.
The argument that people have the right to discriminate because of their religion is loosely held together. There is no Biblical basis for their argument. First John 3:17 states, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” How can you have goods and services, yet turn others away? Would Jesus turn away a sick man if they asked for help? Would He turn away a hungry person just for being different than Him? Using the Bible to rationalize religious discrimination is hypocritical considering Jesus never did and never would turn anyone away if they asked for help.
The bottom line: businesses are open to serve the public. All kinds of people, including those you don’t like, make up the public. If you cannot respect them as a whole, don’t open a business, plain and simple.