Comments about ‘Jenet and Michael Erickson: Stereotypes threaten religious liberty; we must engage with complexity’

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Published: Sunday, June 8 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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American Fork, UT

In other words, stripped of it's ability to avail itself of government sanctioned force which it relied on for so long, religion is left to sell an unpopular ideology on it's own merit. And if that doesn't work, it will play victim.

Denver, CO

First, no gay or lesbian is going to choose to do business with anyone that disapproves of them or their lifestyle. This is about principle. I had not heard your sympathetic explanation of why this 'Christian' baker refuses to bake gay wedding cakes being related to Halloween and bachelor parties. This strikes me as post-intentionalism, one of those 'some of my best friends are gay arguments.' "But he feels compelled by conscience not to participate in same-sex weddings." First, the person baking the cake did not invited him or his wife to the wedding. Second, this is commerce and this cake is the product of commerce. Third, he chooses to make straight cakes but not gay cakes. How about white but not black names on cakes? As a Denver resident, I have had enough of this cake-maker's grandstanding. "Phillips does not object to serving gay people or gay couples." Actually, he does and that is the issue. The judge ruled against Phillips, "[It's] a distinction without a difference." The Colorado Civil Rights Commission agrees. It's not about a cake, or religion, it's about equality. And it's about time.

Brigham City, UT

Re: "But he feels compelled by conscience not to participate in same-sex weddings."

For one thing, by baking a cake he's no more participating in the customers' wedding than a service station attendant who fills your gas tank is participating in your vacation.

For another, why doesn't he "feel compelled by conscience" to obey Jesus's exhortation to "treat others as you would want them to treat you," the one doctrine that "fulfills the law and the prophets," or as the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary puts it, contains "all Scripture in a nutshell"?

Re: "Regrettably, religious faith is popularly portrayed in simple, often negative, stereotypes."

As this piece demonstrates, not without reason.

Re: "What we need now are stories showing the complex reality that religious believers can affirm the equality and dignity of gays and lesbians while conscientiously electing not to endorse same-sex marriages."

In other words, stories of believers providing lip-service while denying real service, proclaiming one thing but doing another, and justifying their hypocrisy with platitudes about "heartfelt beliefs" while ignoring one of the core teachings of their religion's founder.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Americans who believe in the Constitution and who believe that the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land will have no problem accepting the special role of religion in America. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;". And, Americans will have no problem rejecting the ruling of any judge who rules from the bench: "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives." Judges are not members of Congress. Judges have no authority to legislate.

Heber City, UT

"we form stereotypes “to reconstruct it on a simpler model before we can manage with it. The less familiar we are with the subject matter, the more we rely on stereotypes to fill in the gap."

Glad the authors used "we" because they are the best example of using false stereotypes.

"In so far as those who purvey the news make of their own beliefs a higher law than truth, they are attacking the foundations of our constitutional system. There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth ..."

Purveying its own beliefs as a higher law is the mission of this newspaper.

"religious charities, universities, and churches will be challenged over their religious objections to same-sex marriages. It will require much work to replace popular stereotypes with genuine expressions of religious beliefs about marriage. But our religious freedoms depend upon it."

Just as the were on race and chauvinism. What is required is not more media about those who will not drop stereotypes, but a change of their hearts.

The Greatest Statist
Layton, UT


I'm not sure we read the same article. This is about whether a person or private business can be forced to do things that go against sincerely held religious beliefs. You seem to think they should be forced to in all cases. Now who's using force, here?

The authors also talked about recognizing that these issues are much more complex than many want to make them. Your comment is actually a perfect example of the problem they discuss. No compromise, no seeking to understand. Just whatever pithy comment that will garner the most "likes".

salt lake city, utah

It should start to become clear that the complexity of the world does not honor centuries old discriminations, but instead requires all to act within the laws as those laws respond to said complexity, regardless of the foundation for the discriminations.

Karen R.
Houston, TX

"As such, religious liberty, our 'first freedom,' is now being subordinated to an inferior status among civil rights."

Religious freedom may be the one most dear to the authors, but I think equality is actually our "first freedom." It is from equality that our right to freedom of expression flows, and religious expression is just one form of this, no more and no less valuable than the others.

So treating religious expression as more special actually serves to undermine the very foundation on which it's built. And attempting to carve out exceptions for particular beliefs within a religious belief system only furthers this erosion.

What is in the heart of a religious person who objects to SSM is simply not relevant in this argument. Good or bad, justified or not, seeking an exemption to marketplace rules for this particular belief is saying in effect, "My religious beliefs are more special than others'." IMO, unless this can be proven, it should not be accommodated. Equality is the foundation. Not religious freedom.

seattle, WA

You conflate a number of ideas in the name of religious tolerance that ought to stay separate.

First the baker, he funs a business that serves the public and the state of Colorado has dictated that he must serve all the public without discriminating. He did discriminate in the case of the wedding cake. Society has a right to curb a fundamental right in the name of an orderly society. While this is not nearly so objectionable as yelling fire in a crowded theater, it follows the same principle.

Secondly, the intolerance shown in the gay and lesbian debate has always been from the religiously fundamentalist. To ask most of America to accept as valid the demonization of gays and lesbians is akin to asking us to accept racial apartheid. Asking for equal rights is not the same as asking for superior rights.

Lastly, the stereotypes often used are almost always by those against the rights of gays and lesbians to be free of discrimination. Gays and lesbians are not child molesters, sinners doomed to hell, incapable of marital devotion to one another, morally bankrupt nor bad parents. Yet those who employ this tactic asked for tolerance.

Baron Scarpia
Logan, UT

The science of same-sex attraction is like global warming. The science doesn't align with people's values that they've been taught in church. If it conflicts with church teachings, it means the church must be questioned.

Kind of like the realities of overpopulation -- concerns about how society will allocate scarce resources in an overly-crowed world of our children and grandchildren conflicts with religious commands to "be fruitful and multiply."

This is a difficult problem in Utah because questioning religious teachings can threaten family relationships, friendships, and business. Conformity is a key value of Utah life.

If homosexuality is indeed inborn (or genetic) and not taught (such as a religious value), then discriminating against gays conflicts with the great premise of America "that all men are created equal" (which we recognize to include women, former slaves and their descendants, immigrants and their descendants, etc.). Today, society is recognizing that homosexuals must be treated as equals to align with America's equality ideal.

Just as America has permitted ex-slaves to marry legally, and it has allowed interracial marriages, gay marriage is the next logical step.

Ogden, UT

The Ericksons are doing the "dance" around same-sex marriage that the "antis" in past days did for mixed race marriage. They are trying to legitimize prejudice an bigotry. Sad.

In a nutshell the issue is this -- It doesn't matter what the providers believe. when they go into business they agree to serve everyone without exception. If they bake a cake or take pictures or provide a venue or whatever for some people they are required to do that for all people regardless the type of sinner (and we all are sinners) involved. They breach the conditions to which they agree when they obtained their licenses. They are rightly held accountable when they do that.

People do not "participate" in a ceremony when the provide a product -- a cake, photos, a venue etc. -- they merely provide a product. That does not in any way indicate approval of the event for which they are providing the product. They are merely doing their job. Nothing more nothing less.

Centerville, UT

I expect that gays have been stereotyped more often and more harshly than the religious.

I believe the Colorado anti-discrimination statute under which the baker was punished prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. This article seems to advocate an exception: "No discrimination based on sexual orientation, unless you have a deeply held religious reason."

Some bakers/photographers/venue hosts might have legitimate deeply held religious reasons for objecting to gay weddings. Others likely are just bigots. Are you sure you want judges holding hearings on whether a baker has a legitimate deeply held religious reason for denying service? What kind of evidence and cross-examination would be involved?

Moab, UT

There is a clear distinction between one's own religious beliefs, and the actions of a business. Mr. Phillips is free to believe in whatever he chooses. However, his company must, by law, not discriminate. If he normally bakes wedding cakes, but refuses to do so for gay couples, then he is in clear violation of the law.

He is well within his rights to not bake Halloween cakes; he would be within his rights to not bake any wedding cakes at all, for anyone. He is not within his rights - or within the bounds of common sense - to be a bigot and hide behind the scriptures.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

I apologize for my "typo". Instead of writing, "any judge who rules from the bench", I meant to write, "any judge who legislates from the bench".


We should also keep in mind who is suing whom. None of us are truly "equal", yet some demand that we accept their definition of "equality" even as they reject God's definition of "marriage". Some are offended because society will not embrace something that has never been embraced by more than 3% of the populace. They distort the meaning of the 14th Amendment to suit their viewpoint, even as they reject the greater harm to society, which is the disintegration of family where children are taught by a mother and a father their proper roles in society. When a small segment of society demands that we set aside religion and reject God's definition of "marriage", then we have a disruption that will confuse children. Some say that that confusion is the "end game". I don't believe that. I believe that children must never become pawns is societal wars. I have the simple faith that God knows what's best and that wise men and women with heed His doctrine.

Bountiful, UT

In the name of religious freedom, what if a (private) college scholarship is created, but it is made available to everyone except LDS youth, because in the benefactor's very genuine, humble and devout thinking, Mormons need to stop these beliefs about a modern prophet and only follow the teachings of the Holy Bible? (If Mormons are not punished for their errant ways, they won't truly come to Jesus. The scholarship benefactor is doing them a favor, you see.)

If this scholarship is forced to not discriminate against Mormons, where is the sponsor's religious freedom?

In that situation, I think Mormons would overwhelmingly agree this isn't an issue of religious freedom, but just plain old discrimination.

But they'll fall for the baker's plea, because it doesn't hurt them, directly.

Salt Lake City, UT

Arguing that they are only denying service for an event is splitting hairs. A social event involves human participants, so it is false to say you are not denying service to anyone.

J Thompson

Religion softens and humbles those who beleive in God. It hardens those who oppose God.

The Apostle Paul reminded us in Galations 4:9 "But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?"

The Prophet Joseph F. Smith said of those who mocked religion, "Let them alone. Let them go. Give them the liberty of speech they want. Let them tell their own story, and write their own doom".

The Constitution does not guarantee equality any more than it guarantees that we will all live in the same type and size of house or be paid the same wage. It guarantees that our religious worship will not be infringed by government and that government will not dictate religious doctrine. A business license does not require us to alienate ourselves from God or from God's doctrine.

Frozen Fractals
Salt Lake City, UT

"Phillips does not object to serving gay people or gay couples."

He does, just sometimes, not always.

@Mike Richards
"Americans who believe in the Constitution and who believe that the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land will have no problem accepting the special role of religion in America. "

And that is why most who support same-sex marriages also believe that churches have the right to choose not to perform them.

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

There were complex reasons behind the refusal of service to blacks in the pre-civil rights days as well.The refusers justified their practice with a complex theology, speaking of God-appointed "bounds of habitation" for the different races. As a result, an injured black person could be denied services at a white hospital, among other religiously inspired outrages. The Civil Rights of 1964, so vehemently opposed by the conservatives of the time, put an end to those outrages. If your business accommodates the public and you offer a service, you do NOT have the legal right to deny that service based on the status of the customer. That should be simple enough to cut through the "complexity," no?

seattle, WA

Mr Richards.

At the risk of entering some sort of verbal duel with you, can't you see how wrong you are to pursue this line of logic? To quote you: "None of us are truly "equal", yet some demand that we accept their definition of "equality" even as they reject God's definition of "marriage".

Your interpretation of "God's" definitions don't match many others. You are claiming a superior right to define what God says. You seemingly allow no one else to have a sense of God's will, particularly if it is in conflict with you.

And furthermore, I could not disagree with you more on the wording that says none of use are truly "equal". Are you saying some people have an inherent right to more privilege than others? In the context of your statements, you seem to be inferring that God has given some people more equality than others. Is this what you mean? God chooses winners and losers?

If we do not have a society that demands equality for all, and permits one definition of God's will over all others, we are truly a lost culture.

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