Ben Smith Goes into Damage Control Over BuzzFeed’s Bigoted Attack on Christians. But His Defense Is Bullcrap.

As Gabriella noted earlier today, BuzzFeed is running an attack against Chip and Joanna Gaines, two orthodox Christian evangelical believers who dare to have a show on HGTV.

Ben Smith, the Editor of BuzzFeed, is trying to defend the attack on Chip and Joanna Gaines by claiming the piece is not about them, but about HGTV.


Here is the headline of the article:

Chip And Joanna Gaines’ Church Is Firmly Against Same-Sex Marriage

That references a Bible believing Christian church. It never mentions HGTV.

What about the subtitle. That reads:

Their pastor considers homosexuality to be a “sin” caused by abuse — whether the Fixer Upper couple agrees is unclear.

That references the couples’ pastor and the couple. It never mentions HGTV. In fact, it makes the story expressly about the couple, not HGTV.

So let’s review the story. The first paragraph opens this way:

Chip and Joanna Gaines’ series Fixer Upper is one of the most popular shows on HGTV. The couple…

That makes the first paragraph about the couple, only referencing HGTV to describe the couple is worth covering because they have a popular TV show on HGTV.

What about the second paragraph? It begins

They have built a small empire, and they are not done yet.

Again, that’s about the couple, not HGTV. Third paragraph? It begins

They are also, as they detail in The Magnolia Story, devout Christians — Joanna has spoken of and written about her conversations with God.

Oh, so now not only is it not about HGTV, it focuses on the couple’s faith and then goes into their church’s beliefs, which are shared by thousands of mainstream churches across the country. You get the sense of where this is headed by the opening of the fourth paragraph.

So are the Gaineses against same-sex marriage? So are the Gaineses against same-sex marriage? And would they ever feature a same-sex couple on the show, as have HGTV’s House Hunters and Property Brothers? ever feature a same-sex couple on the show, as have HGTV’s House Hunters and Property Brothers?

Wait. I thought Ben Smith says this is about HGTV. That paragraph starts again about the Gaineses and then asks if they, not HGTV would have a gay couple on the show.

Maybe the next paragraph will make this about HGTV and not the couple. Let’s see. The next paragraph begins

Fixer Upper has fans of all stripes: Christians, feminists, and LGBT viewers have all found something to love in the Gaineses. So in the absence of a response from them or their representatives, it’s worth looking at the severe, unmoving position Seibert and Antioch take on same-sex marriage.

That’s the full paragraph.

If the story is about HGTV, why not look at the copious examples of HGTV putting homosexuals on HGTV. The network is inarguably inclusive. If the story is about HGTV, why look at the “severe, unmoving position” of orthodox Christianity.

And that’s where we get to the bigotry of Buzzfeed.

Christianity views homosexuality as a sin. Buzzfeed is attacking a couple and their church for daring to hold, or presuming to hold in the case of the couple, mainstream, tradition Christian views on sin.

Buzzfeed’s story is designed to harass Christians, a Christian church, and a Christian couple and demand a specific view point on their show by making the implication that the viewpoint is not allowed on the show.

When called out on it by many, many people, Ben Smith engaged in damage control that does not hold up when reviewing the article. The article was not about HGTV. It was about a couple and their church.

The article is blatant bigotry against Bible believing Christians.

That Ben Smith is so tone deaf as to defend it and spin it into something it is not is just another example of the tone deaf left after the election, which lost a massive number of Democrats convinced their party had become more interested in bathrooms than job creation.

In this case, Ben Smith and Buzzfeed are perfectly happy to cost a couple their job because they dare to hold views Buzzfeed finds offensive.

As we say around here, you will be made to care.

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The Anti-Science Left

A gay rights group is protesting Johns Hopkins University for being in support of science.

See, there really is no credible evidence that people are actually born gay, let alone being born a dude trapped in a girl’s body.

In [a] special report for The New Atlantis titled Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences, Dr. Lawrence S. Mayer, a scholar in residence at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Dr. Paul McHugh, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences also at John Hopkins School of Medicine conclude there is very little evidence supporting the “born that way” and other theories on sexual orientation.

That flies in the face of left-wing orthodoxy, even though it is based on science. As a result, the left-wing book burners have to silence dissent.

As Archbishop Chaput has noted before, evil preaches tolerance until it is dominant. Then it seeks to silence good. We are seeing that on the left as their views on human sexuality clash with science. It’s like asking a leftist when life begins. Science says at conception. The left says when you leave the hospital with the fetus in a car seat.

Jason Chaffetz and House Republicans Seem Content to Sit on the Sideline As The Left Attacks Religious Liberty

“Only one member of Republican Leadership in the House of Representatives, which has the largest Republican Majority since the Great Depression, has been willing to sign their name to a limited bill to protect the First Amendment. ”

The First Amendment is under attack. Don’t be fooled, it’s not just a philosophical fight, but one full of real victims.

What’s the Republican controlled Congress doing about it? So far, nothing. But the time to act, and pass the First Amendment Defense Act, is now.

Why? Because all across America we are losing soldiers on the battlefield of religious liberty – and they need cover.

Let’s meet some of the fallen.

Aaron and Melissa Klein have had their dream of owning a small bakery crushed by Oregon’s Department of Labor. They were shut them down after they refused to violate their conscience and religious beliefs by declining, graciously, to participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony. They were also slammed with a $135,000 fine and a gag order forcing them to “cease and desist” from speaking publically about their religious beliefs. Aaron Klein is having a hard time finding work. Melissa has been the subject of personal attacks and multiple internet smear campaigns. GoFundMe shut down their crowd-funding efforts. Their lives have been shattered. One could be excused for assuming the Kleins lived in the Soviet Union.

Kelvin Cochran, an African American, fought his way up out of poverty, guided by three dreams: not being poor, having a family, and becoming a firefighter. He achieved all of this, and more, becoming the Atlanta Fire Chief – hailing his faith as the fuel from which he drew strength to overcome the odds. Then, almost without warning, he was terminated for expressing orthodox Christian beliefs about marriage on his own personal time and in his personal capacity. In his decades of firefighting he had never once been accused of discrimination. His personal story is far more inspirational, and his firing far more chilling, than I can describe here. Suffice to say, he was yet another victim in the fight against religious freedom.

Baronelle Stutzman, a 70 year old florist in Washington State, faces thousands in fines and potentially millions in legal fees after being sued by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson because she declined to lend her services to a same-sex wedding ceremony – because of her religious beliefs. The Washington State Attorney General is picking on a grandmother who runs a flower shop – because of her religious beliefs. And he is ruining her life.

Dr. Eric Walsh, a public health official in Georgia, was also recently sentenced and summarily “executed” by the anti-religion aggressors. Walsh is a devout Seventh Day Adventist who has exercised his (gasp) freedom of speech and religion to preach in his spare time. When officials in the Georgia Department of Health learned about this, they “investigated” by listening to his sermons, sermons preached in personal capacity, and then they terminated him. Judge, jury, and executioner. Or better, guerilla warfare waged by bureaucrats against the First Amendment.

The Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns who care for the needy, have had to fight the Obama Administration all the way to the Supreme Court because Obamacare required nonprofit employers to provide health insurance coverage that includes potentially life-ending drugs. To be clear: Catholic nuns politely asked to not be forced to violate their religious beliefs, and what did the Obama Administration do? They threatened them (again, these are nuns) with up to $70 million in government fines per year unless they provide services contrary to Catholic teachings. 

Religious colleges like Oklahoma Wesleyan University are being pressured by the Department of Education and “shamed” publically by the Human Rights Campaign because they don’t want to provide abortion inducing drugs on their insurance plans and don’t want to compromise their views of morality, sex, and marriage – as informed by their religious beliefs! Brigham Young University is under investigation by one of their accreditors because they have campus conduct policies which are consistent with their Mormon beliefs. In the higher education space, nothing less than the future of private religious education is at stake.

Catholic Charities adoption services in Boston and D.C. have been shut down. Gordon College has had to fight for its accreditation. A Christian pharmacy is in danger of losing business for not selling morning-after pills.

And state by state the battle rages. We have heroes like Governor Bryant in Mississippi. Cowards like Governor Deal in Georgia. And mixture of both in North Carolina with Governor McCrory.

The list goes on and on. From personal lives to public debates in state legislatures, there is nothing less than an all-out war being waged by the aggressive liberal left against the First Amendment and religious freedom, and they are being assisted by all levels of government.

While this fight didn’t start with the Obergefell decision last June, an activist Supreme Court ruling which redefined marriage (and ignored the votes of 50 million Americans who had previously affirmed traditional marriage at the polls), that decision was a clarion call for all those who hate the religious liberty that helped found this great nation. The enemy has turned out in force and is wreaking havoc.

Unfortunately, the one party (Republicans) that at least pretends to care about protecting the First Amendment, at the highest level (Congress), have sat on their hands for 10 months…doing nothing.

Well, not all Republicans. Leading up to the decision, a few faithful freedom fighters, led by Senator Lee and Representative Labrador, worked to craft a federal response to Obergefell, a first step in defending religious freedom, and protecting a pluralistic society. They understood that the nation would be watching, and that Congress had a responsibility to reassert itself as co-equal branch of government, over and against the Supreme Court ruling – a responsibility to armor up and enter into the fight to protect the First Amendment.

Introduced right after the ruling, the First Amendment Defense Act (H.R. 2802) is an anti-discrimination, pro-religious freedom, commonsense bill. According to Ryan Anderson, “It would ensure that no federal agency discriminates against individuals or institutions for following their convictions about marriage as a man-woman union by revoking their nonprofit tax-exempt status, or denying them government grants, contracts, accreditation, or licenses. FADA protects freedom and pluralism in the wake of social change—embodying the best of American values.”

In the House of Representatives, FADA now has 166 cosponsors. It is supported by every major outside group that seriously cares about protecting religious liberty, including The Heritage Foundation, Heritage Action for America, The Family Research Council, FRC Action, Alliance Defending Freedom, National Organization for Marriage, The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, American Association of Christian Schools, American Conservative Union, American Civil Rights Union, Liberty Counsel, Liberty Institute, Citizen Link, Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Hispanic Leadership Fund, Concerned Women for America, The Resurgent, and many more.

But in order to come to the floor for a vote, it first has to pass out of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Jason Chaffetz from Utah. Given that 23 of the 25 Republican Members on the Committee are already cosponsors, this should be an easy task. So why hasn’t it happened? Why hasn’t this bill been a number one priority for not just Chairmen Chaffetz, but the whole House Leadership team as well? Why have 10 months passed without any action to protect religious freedom?

The only way to square that circle is to chock it up to fear. They are afraid. They shouldn’t be, but they are. How else do you explain that only one member of the House Republican elected leadership cosponsors the bill? Out of Speaker Ryan, Majority Leader McCarthy, Majority Whip Scalise, Conference Chair McMorris Rodgers, and NRCC Chair Walden, only Scalise is a cosponsor.

Let that sink in. Only one member of Republican Leadership in the House of Representatives, which has the largest Republican Majority since the Great Depression, has been willing to sign their name to a limited bill to protect the First Amendment.

The bill is a priority for the Republican Study Committee, chaired by Rep. Flores, a group of over 150 House Republicans. It is also a priority for the House Values Action Team, chaired by Rep. Joe Pitts, from Pennsylvania. And it is a top priority for the House Freedom Caucus as well, which makes sense, given that Rep. Labrador is a founding member of that group.

Speaker Ryan says he wants to show what Republicans are positively for, not just what they are against. Then why does he stand idly by when the three main factions of his Conference say they want to be for protecting the First Amendment?

Oh yeah…the “Tuesday Group”. The “Tuesday Group” is a block of the most liberal House Republicans. They squirm at any effort to advance a conservative priority and live to cut deals with Democrats.

Leadership has demonstrated time and time again that they are willing to put the rest of the Conference in a bind to please liberal Republicans.

For once, and for the First Amendment, can they not ignore the crocodile tears from ilk like Rep. Charlie Dent and Rep. Susan Brooks?

To be fair, word on the Hill is that Majority Leader McCarthy is a much bigger roadblock to the bill than Speaker Ryan. But shouldn’t there be a moment when the Speaker pulls rank, mans up, and leads the charge – even over the objections of his purely political number two and the 20 most liberal Republicans?

If Republicans aren’t for defending the First Amendment then they should go home. Honest law abiding Americans are being bullied, battered, and abused by the left into silence and sitting on the sideline of a country they love. The Kleins need a hero. Kelvin Cochran needs a hero. Dr. Walsh needs a hero.

Religious nonprofits and small businesses – speak up. Unless you want to leave your convictions in your living room when you go to work, you need this bill.

Chairman Chaffetz – markup up FADA and send it to the full House. Majority Leader McCarthy – schedule it for a Floor vote. Majority Whip Scalise – do your job and win the vote. Speaker Ryan – stop dancing around the issue and lead. You want to set a bold agenda for a confident America? Look no further than the First Amendment Defense Act.

It’s been almost a year since the Supreme Court redefined marriage, and Congress still sits silently. If they do nothing else before the recess, they should pass the First Amendment Defense Act. No more excuses. No more stories. Act now. The country is watching.

Trump to US Military: You Will Be Made to Care

The most significant statement made in last night’s Fox News debate was one that didn’t generate much attention at the time, although it appears to be sinking in this morning.

Donald Trump doubled down on his claim that women and children related to terrorists are fair game to be killed. The sins of the fathers will be visited on the children, apparently, in a Trump administration. (Not the sins of his father after being being arrested at KKK rally, of course.)

When Trump was challenged that military leaders would never comply with his horrific dictates, he replied that they would do what I tell them to do. That’s what leadership is.

Wow. Just, wow.

I had no idea Trump had no idea what leadership is. I figured he was just feigning ignorance as part of his act. But no. He really has no idea how to lead anyone not on his payroll.

As horrific as his desire to commit war crimes may be, his definition of leadership is even more disturbing because it has implications on everything.

It’s been my privilege to observe some highly effective leaders and to study their wisdom for more than two decades. John C. Maxwell, widely recognized as the top leadership guru alive today, sums up the critical impact leadership has across the board: “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”


Maxwell also defined leadership in a different way than Trump, “Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Maxwell famously gave us his 5 Levels of Leadership paradigm to illustrate how influence grows. It begins with positional leadership–the lowest level of influence–where people follow us because we have a title.

It is the place most of us start, but it is the weakest level of leadership. It is where people follow you because they have to. They know their job is on the line so they go along, whether they want to or not.

Positional leadership is what fledgling shift managers at McDonald’s use to get teens to follow their lead. It is the flimsiest influence one can wield, yet Trump claims it as his very definition of leadership.

They will do what I tell them to do because I tell them to do it. At best, he is relying on his position as Commander-in-Chief (shudder) to be sufficient. Worse, he’s appealing to the same sort of magical Trump mystique that fleeced thousands in Trump University.

Either way, we have a problem. It is exactly the approach Obama took — I won, you lost. Do what I want. 

All he’ll have to do is tell them to do it and they will do it. Why? Because he is in charge. He has a title. He is Trump.

This is how he’s going to get things done? By telling people to do it and they will? Seriously?

If he actually believes that he is seriously deluded.

We’re talking about ordering military leaders to violate their conscience, leaders who’ve built their entire careers around understanding influence in order to rise–not because they have a position, but because their leadership has merited the position.

That kind of influence must be earned over time, not dictated by decree.

But even if Trump could earn it, note well what he would tell them to do–violate their conscience.

He would order military men and women to kill the wives and children of terrorists. His fanboy Vladamir Putin would never admit to such war crimes on television.

Even Jack Bauer of 24 fame wouldn’t go that far. Come to think of it, a Trump Presidency would feel a lot like like living in a never-ending season of 24.

At what point would an exhausted nation tire of saying no to Trump’s immoral commands and simply let her conscience be raped–just to get it over with?

Don’t tell me that Trump will nominate judges to defend our freedom of conscience and religious liberty when he would expect military leaders to set aside their conscience to obey his murderous commands.

What was Trump’s message last night to military leaders who would refuse to kill women and children?

You will be made to care.

And here I thought we were trying to select a leader who would help extinguish the cultural wildfire, not pour gasoline on it.


Even the Chickens Will Be Made to Care

If you give the Left a chicken sandwich….

The University of Nebraska Kearney has gained media attention after reversing a vote of the student body and banning Chik-fil-A from campus.

The controversy originated last January when students were polled to decide a new dining option for the student union. The students could choose from a list of fast food providers.

The majority, 722 of 1,222 respondents, chose Chick-fil-A as their top restaurant choice over A&W, Johnny Rockets, Panda Express, Sbarro and IHOP.

But before the majority’s decision was made final, a group of students opposed to the presence of Chick-fil-A on campus became quite vocal.

Among the dissenters was the university’s Queer Straight Alliance (QSA).

They complained that because the fast-food chain’s CEO privately supports traditional marriage, allowing his restaurant chain on campus would be offensive to homosexuals.

“We only hope to create dialogue on the importance of being aware to issues facing diverse and minority students,” QSA president Tiff Weekley told the Kearney Hub. “Though majority voices are most often heard, it is important to listen to what issues are facing all students and to start conversations around those.”

You might have expected student leadership or faculty to respond respectfully to the minority’s complaints, but to carry out the preference of the majority.

Wrong again.

Student body president Evan Calhoun emailed the student body that Chik-fil-a would not be allowed on campus because the chain’s “discriminatory policies” and “corporate values” did not align with those of UNK’s.

“We decided, after much consideration, to poll students again,” student body president Evan Calhoun wrote on his Facebook page. Calhoun then went on to explain why Chick-fil-A would not be included in their new poll:

“When we learned more about Chick-fil-A and its corporate values and discriminatory policies, and after hearing these concerns raised by a section of our student body, we concluded that these corporate values are not aligned with our values as a student body, and it is not in the best interest of our UNK community to pursue Chick-fil-A right now.”

The university’s spokesman, Todd Gottula, defended the institution’s reversal, telling the local newspaper that Chick-fil-A had not been banned.  

Not banned, just not allowed. 

But some students pushed back.

 In a letter to the UNK student senate, student Wiegert, a third-year UNK student and campus chancellor’s ambassador, wrote:

I think it is ridiculous and appalling that this is a situation we are faced with as a campus and student body, due to the preconceived notions of a very small minority. 

If anywhere in the world should be able to handle the presence of values not-aligned with their own, shouldn’t that place be a university campus?

Apparently even institutions of learning allegedly dedicated tot he pursuit of truth must bow to the secular religion.

Non-conformists will be silenced.

We saw the same thing in Denver last year when the city council tried restricting Chik-fil-A from doing business in the airport.

Chik-fil-A has done nothing but keep their heads down and go about the business of building one of the best companies in America that is helping a lot of students pay to go to left-wing colleges in the first place.

But it matters not.

Even the chickens will be made to care.

Newport Beach Councilman Attacked for Supporting Prayer and You Will Be Made to Care

This is how you will be made to care.

As Erick and I document in You Will Be Made to Care, the force of government is being used to force people of faith to bow at the alter of secularism—the anti-religion religion.

But most Americans will face pressure to keep their faith in a box from other sources.

Scott Peotter experienced this pressure this week when telling people about our new book You Will Be Made to Care. The pushback is more than a little ironic as it proves the very point we are trying to make.

You will be made to care about what the compassionate bullies on the Left care about.

Scott is a city councilman in Newport Beach, California.

He recently published a brief review in support of the book in his own private newsletter, paid for by his own funds.

In his own words, it is “a political newsletter, paid for by campaign funds, stating opinions, from an elected official (which is what it is).” 

In an ironic twist,  a hit piece appeared in The Los Angeles Times community section by Barbara Venezia criticizing him for—well, I’m not sure what exactly.

She complains that he likes the book and accuses him of nothing unethical in doing so, even while implying something shady is going on:

Peotter gives examples from the book, including wedding photographers fined for refusing to shoot a lesbian wedding and a fire chief who lost his job for stating in a Christian book that he believes gay sex is a sin.

I asked Peotter if he was being paid to promote Erickson’s book and he said he “wouldn’t accept money if he offered it.”

Her selective editing leaves the reader wondering, as if Scott didn’t answer the question. But, in fact he did. His email response follows:

My newsletter is paid for by my campaign committee.  The nice thing about that is that I can promote anything I choose. I am not being paid by Erick Erickson (author of YOU WILL BE MADE TO CARE), nor would I accept money if he offered it. But I would still encourage you to buy the book and read it, because as a “journalist”, I know you are interested in the facts.

Full disclosure: our publisher did send a review copy of the book to Scott, a common practice of publishers everywhere.

Casting aspersions and raising doubt is the same tactic employed by Mayor Reed and the City of Atlanta after they fired Chief Kelvin Cochran for being a Christian. Now they are facing a lawsuit that will end up costing the people of Atlanta millions.

Apparently, Barbara wouldn’t mind seeing the same thing happen to Newport Beach.

Just for fun, she tosses in concern about a prayer group Peotter promotes that meets at city hall. Of course, she presumes it to be some sort of anti-gay hate group:

Now there’s a time and a place for prayer — and City Hall isn’t it for me. But more important, could this prayer group with such a biased background offend LGBT employees at Newport City Hall?

“I don’t know how the gay employees at City Hall feel about the Episcopalians’ national debate over ordination of gay priests in the church, nor is that why the prayer group meets,” Peotter said.

He said the prayer group is not limited to any denomination and all are welcome.

Key words: “for me.” She is suggesting her own personal religious beliefs — all religions but secularism have no place in the public square — should be the standard for all.

Even the openly gay City Manager says he has no problem with prayer and that “we can use all the prayers we can get.”

Peotter’s full response to her about her concerns:

I don’t know how the gay employees at city hall feel about the Episcopalian’s national debate over Ordination of gay priests in the church. Nor is that why the prayer group meets. The good news is that the prayer group is not limited to any church, all are welcome to join in prayer for our community, even you.

Why don’t you stop by the prayer group and join them?

In other words, there is no problem here, but Venezia is doing her best to create one and pressure Peotter to get in line with her the progressive agenda.

This is how we will be made to care—and why most people tire of the fight for freedom and just give in. 

But the Left only wins if we choose to be silent. That’s how terrorism works.

Kasich Helps Religious Liberty Die Death by a Thousand Cuts

In what was one of the most disturbing moments of last night’s GOP debate in Houston, John Kasich declared war on religious liberty.

He ridiculed those who refuse to endorse behavior they believe to be sinful.

The same guy who said he would lock private business owners (Apple) in a room with the FBI until they agreed to give access to their phones, said Christians should just accept the travesty of Obergefell and accept the abolition of marriage.

I presume he believes the same about Roe v. Wade and abortion.

He made the ridiculous comparison of endorsing same-sex marriage to serving someone who had been divorced. Earlier he said Christians should just bake the cupcakes, surrender their conscience for the greater good of “getting along.” (None of the cases involve cupcakes, John).

Either John Kasich really has no clue what it means to be a Christian or he is actively attempting to redefine millenia of Christian beliefs.

I tend to believe the former after he claimed Jesus wanted him to expand Obamacare in Ohio.

As Erick and I detail in You Will Be Made to Care (now available everywhere good books are sold) no one is being refused service anywhere for their sexual behavior — even when the business owners personally believe that behavior to be sinful.

At issue are the many Christians who are being made to approve of behavior they believe to be sinful. And they are often being made to do so by the government.

A relevant selection from the book:

Two other pharmacists in Washington who have also suffered at the hands of these secularist priests joined their case. One of them, Margo Thelen, already lost her job. Her employer had allowed her to refer the few Plan B customers, as she has done for years, until the regulation became effective. Another pharmacist, Rhonda Messler, the sole breadwinner for her family, has been told by her employer that she will lose her job or need to transfer to another state if the latest ruling stands.

It wasn’t so long ago that people crossed oceans to come to America so they could exercise their religious beliefs freely. Now they’re having to leave their homes in America behind if they refuse to aid in the taking of human life.

Fortunately, Kasich has little chance of getting anywhere near making a Supreme Court nomination except advising as Trump’s Vice President, a position he is obviously angling for. 

Kasich says Christians, Muslims, and Jews should just get over it.

Chuck Holy Scripture. It’s just a book.

Bake the cupcakes.

Compromise your beliefs.

Your conscience is not that important.

But why not the other way around, Governor?

Why isn’t he asking the ultra-minority to visit another florist, buy their cake somewhere else, or purchase their abortion-inducing drugs at another pharmacy?

Kasich’s flippant disregard for our first freedom shows how the unthinkable is happening: Freedom most often ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Religious liberty in America is dying death by a thousand cuts.

You will be made to care—and John Kasich is just fine with that.

John Kasich Sounds Like Rachel Maddow on Religious Liberty

This week, presidential candidate and Governor of Ohio John Kasich answered with this cynical retort to the question of whether bakers, photographers, and florists with religious objections to same-sex marriage should have their religious liberty trampled upon by the government:

I think frankly, our churches should not be forced to do anything that’s not consistent with them. But if you’re a cupcake maker and somebody wants a cupcake, make them a cupcake. Let’s not have a big lawsuit or argument over all this stuff — move on. The next thing, you know, they might be saying, if you’re divorced you shouldn’t get a cupcake.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow could have given an answer like that.

Kasich’s comments are all the more baffling considering that he identifies himself as a Christian. He pleads empathy on the trail for the downtrodden and dispossessed. But on this, Governor Kasich forsakes his Christian brothers and sisters at a time when every sector of culture is colluding against them.

Now, score one point for protecting what happens inside the four walls of a church (though eerily dispiriting and similar to the Obama administration’s truncated “Freedom of Worship” rendering), but then deduct ten points for completely misunderstanding the nature of how faith guides and instructs every aspect of a person’s life and for obscuring the details of these cases he ignorantly glosses over.

I’ll point you to my friend Denny Burk’s analysis, which is spot-on. As Burk notes, Kasich oversimplifies the whole matter. This isn’t a question of serving gay people (status); it’s a question of whether private citizens must be compelled to use their creative services to participate in a service they find objectionable (conduct). This is a classic status-conduct distinction. None of these businesses object to serving gay people and have gladly done so.

Secondly, Kasich’s comment makes it seem like lawsuits are the faults of the business owners in these dilemmas. The truth of the matter is that the lawsuits aren’t the fault of the business owners. That’s the fault of litigious citizens looking to extract every pound of flesh from citizens who have a sincere, religious, moral, reasonable, and plausible objection to same-sex marriage. Instead of seeking out the multitudes of other companies that have no problem with same-sex marriage, the plaintiffs are making clear the truth that you and everyone else will be made to care. In this scenario, there’s no respect for difference; there’s no pluralism; and there’s no respect for conscience. Instead, Kasich affirms the enemies of conscience by downplaying the stakes involved—fundamental principles like freedom of conscience, and the truth that freedom of speech also means the freedom not to engage in speech that one finds objectionable.

Perhaps most disappointing, Kasich’s bluster betrays a sacramental worldview—on Christian vocation and Christian marriage. His comments suggest that private business is an amoral enterprise; and that citizens engage in commerce merely for financial reward. What a poor understanding of commerce and Christian vocation. He also betrays Christian Scripture and tradition for making marriage a province of the state and unaware that the beauty of marriage first and foremost emanates from the mind and will of God–and not five philosopher-kings on the Supreme Court.

UPDATE: At last night’s GOP debate, Governor Kasich doubled down on his ignorance concerning religious liberty. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I can understand giving Kasich a pass the first time around with his comments that I mentioned above. Perhaps he hadn’t thought the issue through when he went on the media. Perhaps he didn’t understand all that was at stake in forcing people of goodwill and sound beliefs into violating their conscience. But now that he’s on record, again, stating that photographers, florists, and bakers must use their creative talents to service events they believe are immoral or objectionable, John Kasich has declared himself an enemy of conscience and religious liberty. He fundamentally doesn’t get it, and is using the types of tactics one would expect from liberals. Only Kasich’s doomed, irrelevant, and no-hope campaign will overshadow his callous, dumpster-fire comments on religious liberty.