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News for Friday, March 7, 2014

Guest Columnist
Is a Business Owner Entitled to Refuse Service?
By Todd Stinnett
pastor, Lebanon Baptist, Talbott

A strange thing happened to me one night last week. I was driving home and listening to what was supposed to be sports talk radio. But almost as soon as the discussion came on, the conversation turned to whether or not Christian business owners should be forced to provide goods and services to homosexuals. I’m not sure what sparked such a discussion on a sports talk show, but it might have had something to do with Jayson Collins becoming the first openly gay player in the NBA. In fact, his jersey has become the top-seller on NBA.com.

While I don’t know what prompted the conversation, it immediately caught my attention. Caller after caller said it is reprehensible that a homosexual would be denied service for any reason. One brave soul dared to call in with a different perspective and he was laughed off the air. The hosts routinely compared the “homosexual struggle” to that of blacks during the civil rights movement. The logic: Just as service should have never been denied to blacks, neither should it be denied to homosexuals. That is clearly an apples and oranges comparison, but that’s a blog for another day.

There is currently a bill in the Arizona legislature that would protect the freedom of Christian business owners from providing goods and services to anyone (not just homosexuals) for religious reasons. The governor is receiving heavy pressure to veto the measure so that Christian business owners would be forced to serve all comers, including homosexuals. The bill was introduced in Arizona because some Christian business owners have refused to provide their services (wedding cakes, photography, flowers, etc.) to homosexual customers.

It begs the question: Should Christian business owners be forced to provide goods and services to everyone, even if they have a religious objection? We need to ask ourselves why some business owners have refused to offer their services to homosexual customers. In most cases, it’s because those owners have been asked to provide their services for gay weddings. If we were talking about selling a cup of coffee to a homosexual, that would be one thing. But we’re not talking about a cup of coffee and a piece of pie, we’re talking about goods and services being used for homosexual weddings and receptions.

Why would a Christian business owner object to that? Because Christians believe that marriage was an institution created by God in the garden of Eden. Jesus said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh” (Matthew 19:5). 

Christians have always believed that marriage was a joining of one man and one woman for life. Anything beyond the union of one man and one woman is classified as sin throughout both testaments of Scripture.

Clearly, Christian business owners would not want their services being used to celebrate that which God has condemned. For that reason, some have lovingly refused to do business with homosexual customers. Should they be forced to violate their deeply-held convictions? Absolutely not, and all those who support religious freedom should stand and support their “right to refuse.” 

If the government can force business owners to do business with those who violate their convictions, what will they force them to do next? 

This is still “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Let’s encourage our lawmakers to keep it that way.

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