Jenet and Michael Erickson: Stereotypes threaten religious liberty; we must engage with complexity


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  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    June 10, 2014 11:39 a.m.

    @Bob K -

    My bias is for hetero-sexual marriage, and always will be. It is the kind of marriage that God intended, and commanded. Of course, none of us keep God's commandments perfectly, but He cannot bless us if we refuse to follow Him.

    I cannot accept the politically correct notion that SSM is a positive substitute for HSM. I do accept that same-sex attraction is real, and that it is experienced by good people.

    Since I also accept moral agency, I do not oppose making SSM legal if that is what the nation decides.

    Finally, I don't think you should be too concerned what I think. Each of us must choose for ourselves.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    June 10, 2014 9:08 a.m.

    Redshirt1701 says:

    "Actually, having a gun with a person is an inherant part of their personality."

    Really? I didn't know babies were born packing heat. What if one were to accidentally fire off it's weapon pre-delivery? Oh, the poor, poor mother. Would that be considered an emergency c-section?

    @use the noodle;

    Why shouldn't an LGBT couple be able to receive the same service from the baker that a heterosexual couple receives?

    Should a person's religion be allowed to dictate whom they will serve? Frankly, I think not. The next time he refuses service it could be you. Nobody should ever have to go from place to place to receive the product or service that a business provides to everyone else without question. Period.

  • use the noodle Casa Grande, AZ
    June 10, 2014 8:30 a.m.

    I think this case was very poorly chosen if it's supposed to be something to further the LGBT cause. It only validates the fears that religious freedom is under attack.

    I think there is a legal case for LGBT marriage under the constitution and a case for religious freedom. Moreover during years of transition there is no wise reason to put the baker through this. Give it a few years and there will be so many other people willing to cater to LGBT weddings it shouldn't be an issue.

    Some day we can live in our little exclusive theocracy. But it's not time yet.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    June 10, 2014 8:05 a.m.

    To "Schnee" so it is ok to discriminate against a person who carries a gun. Is that what you are saying? If it is ok to discriminate against a person with a gun, why isn't it ok for a business to discriminate against participation in a religious ceremony that they don't like?

    Actually, having a gun with a person is an inherant part of their personality. Some people are more concerned with their personal safety than others are. They are born that way, and want to exercise their right to carry a gun.

    Plus, as you point out, religion is not an inherited trait yet we can't discriminate against religion. So what if my religion says I can defend myself, why can businesses discriminate against me and my religious belief that defending myself is a God given right?

    Do you see the hypocrisy yet? You want to allow discrimination against something you don't like at the same time you bemoan discrimination based on sexual orientation.

    Also, FYI, same sex attraction has never been proven to be an inherited trait.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    June 10, 2014 7:26 a.m.


    Then don't marry another person of your own gender. See how easily your problem was resolved?

    @B Man;

    Do you also support the free 'EXERCISE' of religions marry LGBT couples? If not, then you're a hypocrite - which, btw, is heavily condemned in your bible (many more times even than the few references about same-sex sex).

  • Bob K Davis, CA
    June 9, 2014 11:36 p.m.

    Houston, TX
    "I am unequivocably (sic)against same sex marriage, but I am not biased against gays. If two straight men wanted to marry for monetary reasons, I would be against that, too."

    Parody --
    I am unequivocally against people saying they are saints, and will be gods in the afterlife, because I find that to be about arrogance, ego, and putting oneself above others, but I am not biased against mormons. If people want to join any of the other religions that are based on prosperity and social differentiation, I would also disagree with their choice.

    You see, it is not my business to hurt others, restrict others, or tell them how to live, unless they are harming innocent folks or me.

    But it is true that I am unequivocally and totally sick of ridiculous excuses for bias.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    June 9, 2014 6:55 p.m.

    @ B Man

    Then you will agree that Amendment 3 unlawfully prohibits the free exercise of those religions in Utah that have no objection to SSM, yes?

    To the Ericksens: I would be very interested in your response to A Quaker's points.

    A Quaker, I think that was one of the best you've written - and you've written a lot of good ones.

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    June 9, 2014 6:49 p.m.

    Well I accidentally hit submit when I did not mean to. To continue: yes you're right to exercise your religion is protected by the 1st Amendment. However, all of the rights granted to us in this amendment have limits. The most famous example being that you cannot yell fire in a crowded theater and claim free speech. Just as you can't yell that you have bomb on an airplane and claim free speech. I use these to examples to show one thing and one thing only, that free speech does in fact have limits. Freedom of the press has limits as well. All of our rights have limits.

    The limit to your right to free speech or press or exercise of religion is when that right harms others. As an extreme example: I can't establish a religion where human sacrifice is required to make the sun come up every morning and then claim freedom of religion to commit murder. So no, you can't claim "freedom of religion" as an excuse to discriminate against homosexuals. That discrimination harms them and your rights end as soon as they harm others.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    June 9, 2014 6:47 p.m.

    "According to the Constitution and state laws, I can open carry a gun. Will you liberals go and protest Chilies, Sonic, Chipotle's, and any other restaurant that will deny me services because I have a gun with me?"

    Those state laws merely give businesses the choice, not force them to allow it, and the Constitution does not guarantee any right to open carry a gun inside a business. A gun is not like a race, gender, disability, age, or sexual orientation, it's not any inherent part of a person's being (granted neither is religion, the exception in this type of law).

    Now I have a hankering for Chipotle's... wish there was one close by.

  • B Man Orem, UT
    June 9, 2014 6:23 p.m.

    Thank you for this well written and thoughtful article. I agree and support the points you have made. It is important for all of us to realize that it is possible to not be supportive of a particular action without discriminating against those involved in the action.

    Also, it is important to note that the Constitution protects the free EXERCISE of religion (not merely religious belief). Exercising one's religion involves actions in both the private and the public realm.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    June 9, 2014 5:25 p.m.

    This thread is interesting because it shows that the Deseret News favors "seminar posters" who advocate the supression of religious libertie, which is directly contrary to the the editorials that call for religious liberty to be protected.

    Read the comments. Read how many are openly hostile to religion, to God and to anyone who reminds us that we are God's spirit children. Many of those comments are less than civil, which the Deseret News lists as a requirement for the publication of comments.

    When the editorial board publishes one thing and the moderators publish the opposibte, what is the public to infer? Does the Deseret News really believe that we should have religious freedom, or is that just "face candy" which the Deseret News hides behind when anti-religious comments are published?

    Does the Deseret News editorial board think that a business should be forced to abandon the religious beliefs of the owners or does the Deseret News think that a business owner has the right to refuse service based on religious belief?

  • Bob K Davis, CA
    June 9, 2014 4:53 p.m.

    PS -- The Deseret News may need to find a new comedy team, since the Ericksons' humor, by its sheer outrageousness, seems to be helping folks to disagree with the lds church's policies.

  • Bob K Davis, CA
    June 9, 2014 4:49 p.m.

    I must say that the "Jenet and Michael Efickson" combination is the ideal example for those who dislike and distrust mormons, or others who are carried away defending their religions.

    How is is even remotely Christian to cite junk articles like "Growing Up With 2 Moms", about a bitter and sexually confused person's experience 25 years ago, in an unnamed city, with a lousy mother who happened to be a Lesbian? Why not cite NOM and Rick Santorum while you are at it?

    Even on the DN, most of the comments ridicule the article, except those clinging to misinformation (judges making laws) and blind religious belief (we oppose God if we oppose a mormon tenet).

    Past articles by the Ericksons went over a bit better. I did not agree, and found them full of one-sided thinking, but they were not as far fetched as this one.

    ".. religious charities, universities, and churches will be challenged over their religious objections to same-sex marriages."

    --- Well, of course the objections will be challenged, and by their own members, not outsiders. The real issue here is that churches are not being fair to their own Gay children, and have not found a solution.

  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    June 9, 2014 3:02 p.m.

    I am unequivocably against same sex marriage, but I am not biased against gays. If two straight men wanted to marry for monetary reasons, I would be against that, too.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    June 9, 2014 2:11 p.m.

    Ok, people, lets get this back to what the letter is about. That is our fundamental rights.

    Now is the time for liberals to show us that they are actually concerned about rights, and not agendas. According to the Constitution and state laws, I can open carry a gun. Will you liberals go and protest Chilies, Sonic, Chipotle's, and any other restaurant that will deny me services because I have a gun with me?

    You say that you are for freedom and protecting people rights under the law, and demand that all people be served without prejudice. Now is the time for you to prove that you really mean it, and are not just out there trying to appease the LGBT community. Get your protests and lawsuits out there to take down those corporate entities that will refuse service to people who are exercising their constitutional right to defend themselves.

  • SLC guy Salt Lake City, UT
    June 9, 2014 1:45 p.m.

    Read the article "growing up with two moms" linked in the opinion piece. What an enlightening article on the challenges individuals and society will face as SSM marriage gains more traction. Perhaps more people should think this through from the perspective of the child, please follow the link on this one.

  • Spangs Salt Lake City, UT
    June 9, 2014 1:07 p.m.

    What if we were talking about a "banker" instead of a "baker." A wedding cake is of very little consequence. But what if we were talking about a home loan? What if we were told the banker would be exercising his or her "religious freedom" to protest a same-sex couple owning a home together. Would that be as easy to argue against? Just like a cake, it is a service. So how does it differ in the court of law? Right, it doesn't.

  • A Quaker Brooklyn, NY
    June 9, 2014 10:32 a.m.

    Not to impugn the motive of the authors, who may sincerely wish that their religious viewpoint was supported by civil law, but I seriously question their perception and priorities regarding the facts.

    Freedom to practice religion is a benefit of civil law, not freedom from it.

    But, the authors don't even start from a position of religious conscience. If they had, if they pointed to us Quakers who believe in pacifism, reject killing, and pay our military taxes only with great heartache under penalty of imprisonment... But, they don't.

    Instead, they start with a general opposition to gay marriage and claim some special privilege to discriminate under cover of some supposed religious veil that prioritizes allowing some people to live in domestic harmony as apparently much more notably evil than disobeying the "Thou Shalt Not Kill" Commandment.

    I call nonsense, hypocrisy, and warped ethics. They're not in favor of religious conscience, they're only opposed to equal marriage rights for our gay brothers and sisters.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    June 9, 2014 7:36 a.m.

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

    Now there's a good one. It would be hilarious if it wasn't for the hubris it takes to believe something like this.

    It's not the non believers denying people service. It's not the non believers blowing up medical clinics, and it's not the non believers saying we should live by every word of the constitution except if my religion says I shouldn't.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    June 9, 2014 7:27 a.m.

    re: 10cc,

    I wondering why you would change the meaning of my comment? I wrote about people who OPPOSE God not about those who have no belief in God.

    When people OPPOSE God, many of them feel compelled to actively ridicule those who believe in God and many of them use the courts to force their opposition to God onto others. They choose to sue anyone for any activity that does not support their viewpoint.

    Those who believe in God most often turn the other cheek. They would not sue a bakery for NOT providing them with a cake to celebrate a gay marriage. They would turn the other cheek and find another bakery.

    Religion softens peoples' hearts. Opposition to God hardens peoples' hearts.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    June 9, 2014 7:22 a.m.

    Re: Irony Guy "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."

    Exactly. Everyone please take note.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    June 9, 2014 7:06 a.m.

    @Jenet and Michael Erickson;

    Do you not understand what discrimination is and why it shouldn't be allowed in our society?

    "As Phillips’ attorney put it, “Jack serves everyone, but he does not serve all events.” "

    -- He serves weddings. Why should he be allowed to deny THAT service to some customers? His business is not a religion; he CHOSE to open a business knowing there were anti-discrimination laws. He needs to obey those laws.

    Additionally, Mr. & Mrs. Erickson, unless this baker refuses weddings to adulterers, fornicators, murderers, etc., then his "religious conscience" excuse for refusing to bake for LGBT marriages is nothing more than blatant bigotry.

    "But why would Phillips’ religious concerns be dismissed so casually, especially when he did not refuse service to anyone, but rather an event?"

    --- He refused service to two people. Not "an event", TWO PEOPLE.

    How many CIVIL businesses do we need to hear "We don't serve your kind here" from?

    Apparently discrmination against LGBT couples is "trivial" to the authors of this article.

  • Daedalus, Stephen ARVADA, CO
    June 9, 2014 6:03 a.m.

    Fear not a slippery slope from wedding cakes to Communion wafers.

    SCOTUS has long recognized that secular, civil marriage is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution.

    SCOTUS has never held there is a fundamental right to:

    a) Holy Matrimony or other religious forms of marriage,

    b) access to any religious property to hold a ceremony, or

    c) require a priest, minister or rabbi to officiate.

    Nor has any state or the federal government attempted to require it. That is because congregations and religious leaders have their own fundamental rights related to religion, expression, and assembly.

    No heterosexual couple or government has successfully sued a church or synagogue to provide any of these services against its will. Same-sex couples would have the same success rate.

    Regardless of whether SCOTUS holds that it is unconstitutional for a state to exclude LGBT citizens from secular, civil marriage, there is no fundamental right or federal statute prohibiting discrimination against LGBT in retail shops like the CO bakery.

    Including LGBT in public accommodations statutes is a state-by-state decision – some do, some don’t. And in Colorado, religious groups are expressly exempted.

  • From Ted's Head Orem, UT
    June 8, 2014 11:31 p.m.

    If our society has reached a point where enough people are willing to accept gay marriages then so be it. If governing bodies rule that a business owner cannot choose to withhold services to a specific group of people, then so be it. Mormons finding themselves at odds with society and government is not a new thing, but one that has been less obvious during the past 50 years of publicity conscious "brand" improvements by the LDS Church. While acknowledging the ideal of obeying the laws of the land, I would think that most Mormons would agree that God's law, and his kingdom on earth, are of greater importance than the laws of this land. As such, rather than change the LDS Church to appeal to the current society, it's probable that active, devout Mormons will follow their prophets and seers and accept the stereotypes of "bigots" and "sheep." I don't believe for a second that should gay marriage become legal throughout the land that everyone will kiss and make up and there will be no interest in "punishing" the LDS "bigots" who still preach against homosexual intimacy. Be prepared.

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    June 8, 2014 9:45 p.m.


    I would recognize the right of a scholarship sponsor to dictate the terms and conditions of the scholarship. All scholarships discriminate against those who do not meet the conditions and terms of the scholarship. Incidentally, your comment proved the author's argument. You projected a stereotype that religious people are largely motivated by their own self-interest. Many are simply trying to live the dictates of their faith in not profiting from or materially supporting a practice which God has found unacceptable. If gays and lesbians believe that the free exercise of one's conscience is a vital part of the American system, they would avoid targeting those small business owners who do not want to be involved in same- sex marriages.

  • PTM ,
    June 8, 2014 9:33 p.m.

    'But he feels compelled by conscience not to participate in same-sex weddings.'
    He isn't participating in a wedding, he would be selling a cake. If he makes a birthday cake is he also there to help blow out the candles? Not unless he is invited. If the wedding is held in a church does the maker of the pews participate in the wedding? The answer is no, unless invited.

    If someone has religious beliefs that different religious or ethnic groups shouldn't inter-marry can that person refuse service based on that belief. The answer is no. You don't have to change your beliefs, just don't expect others to subsidize those beliefs. This issue is outside the world of religion and wholly inside the world of business and accommodating the public in a non-discriminatory fashion. Stop the whining, get on with your life and let others get on with their's. Other than selling a cake this man likely has very little to do the happy couple.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    June 8, 2014 9:22 p.m.

    J Thompson:

    I agree with you that religion has softened a lot of hearts and made many people better than they would have been otherwise.

    But I've also seen all kinds of truly offensive thinking & behavior rationalized using religion, and I've known more than a few atheists who would give you the shirt off their back.

    So, I have to reject your (apparent) assertion that religion always makes people better and non-believers are always worse people than they would be in a church.

  • Tiago Seattle, WA
    June 8, 2014 9:16 p.m.

    @Chad S
    "Tomorrow the government will tell me that my Mormon bishop has to perform a gay marriage ceremony or risk a lawsuit."
    What makes you think this would happen?
    Gay people have been legally able to marry in places in Europe and Massachusetts for over a decade. No LDS bishop has ever had to perform a same-sex marriage. The church doctrine and teachings has not had to change in those areas. Why would Utah be different?
    Legalizing marriage for gay people does not affect the position or freedoms of the LDS church.

  • Understands Math Lacey, WA
    June 8, 2014 8:25 p.m.

    @Chad S wrote: "Tomorrow the government will tell me that my Mormon bishop has to perform a gay marriage ceremony or risk a lawsuit."

    If a private citizen could sue to force a clergyman to perform a wedding that the clergyman has religious objections to, my question is, why hasn't it happened yet in over two centuries of American jurisprudence?

    Spare us your slippery slope fallacy.

  • Understands Math Lacey, WA
    June 8, 2014 8:21 p.m.

    From the article: "Phillips does not object to serving gay people or gay couples. But he feels compelled by conscience not to participate in same-sex weddings."

    It's my position that Phillips *does* object to serving gay people. Regular cakes for everyone, but wedding cakes for straight couples only? It's a version of segregation.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    June 8, 2014 8:02 p.m.

    @Chad S
    "Tomorrow the government will tell me that my Mormon bishop has to perform a gay marriage ceremony or risk a lawsuit."

    We have religious freedom but your Mormon bishop doesn't have to marry mixed-faith couples in the temple, and we have gender non-discrimination laws but nothing requires churches to have female members of the clergy/priesthood. So I don't think you have much to worry about. But... if your church should ever happen to face that sort of thing, I'd be on your side.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 8, 2014 7:44 p.m.

    Presently our government has given same sex marriage the status of an American freedom and as such business operations cannot discriminate on that basis. Contrary to the belief of some, business operations can only exist with the permission of government. And government tends to not allow businesses that ignore the rules of government.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 8, 2014 7:42 p.m.

    Churches are business organizations with special concessions from our government and society, they are given much latitude in their operation, accounting, and in advertising in the public square, which are only a few of the special conditions granted churches.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 8, 2014 7:41 p.m.

    Freedom of religion should apply to beliefs and not a persons actions in the public square.

    Businessmen should not be allowed to use business operations to advertise or propagandize or enforce their personal beliefs upon the minds and actions of others.

  • Chad S Lorton, VA
    June 8, 2014 7:01 p.m.

    Frozen Fractals said:

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

    Today it's a cake. Tomorrow the government will tell me that my Mormon bishop has to perform a gay marriage ceremony or risk a lawsuit.

  • dave_slc Salt Lake City, UT
    June 8, 2014 6:55 p.m.

    This has nothing to do with religious liberty and everything to do with a business unfairly discriminating against customers. Would it be a religious liberty argument if the customers were black or latino? What about an hetersexual but interracial marriage cake? As a BAKER providing goods & services to the community (i.e. in the public square), there is no right to discriminate. As a private, religious person Mr. Phillips may continue to believe until his dying day that marriage should be reserved only for those like him.

  • Daedalus, Stephen ARVADA, CO
    June 8, 2014 3:45 p.m.

    There is no evidence that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission relied on religious stereotyping in rendering their decision against the Colorado baker.

    The Commission's May 30 order does not discuss its rationale besides a summary agreement with the analysis and decisions below, including that of the admin law judge. (Google: cr_2013-0008.pdf to find his order).

    In the ALJ order, the discriminate-against-event-not-person distinction was directly addressed and rejected.

    The US Supreme Court has held that discrimination against an activity or conduct is presumed discriminatory against individuals, if that activity or conduct is nearly exclusive to a particular class of individuals. SCOTUS has applied this general rule to hold that disparate treatment due to "unrepentant homosexual conduct" was in fact discrimination against gay and lesbian individuals, who are of course the most likely to engage in that conduct. (see page 5).

    SCOTUS has also held that an "individual's religious beliefs [do not] excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate". This would include CO public accommodations statute which bars discrimination on basis of sexual orientation by businesses such as the bakery (see page 10).

  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    June 8, 2014 12:45 p.m.

    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.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    June 8, 2014 12:43 p.m.

    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?

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    June 8, 2014 11:12 a.m.

    "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.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    June 8, 2014 10:28 a.m.

    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.

  • nonceleb Salt Lake City, UT
    June 8, 2014 9:38 a.m.

    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.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    June 8, 2014 8:58 a.m.

    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.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    June 8, 2014 8:49 a.m.

    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.

  • sunderland56 Moab, UT
    June 8, 2014 8:32 a.m.

    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.

  • micawber Centerville, UT
    June 8, 2014 8:31 a.m.

    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?

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    June 8, 2014 7:58 a.m.

    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.

  • Baron Scarpia Logan, UT
    June 8, 2014 7:56 a.m.

    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.

  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    June 8, 2014 7:55 a.m.

    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.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    June 8, 2014 7:51 a.m.

    "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.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    June 8, 2014 7:44 a.m.

    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.

  • The Greatest Statist Layton, UT
    June 8, 2014 6:47 a.m.


    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".

  • Owen Heber City, UT
    June 8, 2014 6:37 a.m.

    "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.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    June 8, 2014 6:15 a.m.

    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.

  • Lightbearer Brigham City, UT
    June 8, 2014 4:48 a.m.

    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.

  • Hugh1 Denver, CO
    June 8, 2014 4:19 a.m.

    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.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    June 8, 2014 12:43 a.m.

    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.