Christianity and Tolerance in the Public Square

By Andrew Walker

In Washington state, a florist who has employed and served gay people for years, but who declined to arrange flowers for a same-sex ceremony, faces the potential forfeiture of her home and life savings.

In Atlanta, a decorated fire chief lost his job for self-publishing a book that dared to offer an opinion on sexuality that historic Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all affirm.

In Oregon, the owners of a bakery face up to $150,000 in penalties for declining to bake a cake for the wedding of a gay couple.

There are countless other examples that could be shared, but they all follow this pattern: Run your business or institution according to your faith; or publicly express moral or religious convictions that don’t celebrate homosexuality or gay marriage, and you’re liable for very real consequences such as fines, lost employment, and the harassment and intimidation that follows from media exposure.

According to this rigid ideology, indecent views that run contrary to so-called “mainstream” and enlightened opinions on sexuality cannot be tolerated or given quarter in the public square. Though supposedly guided by a blind relativism that denies any ordered purpose to our sexuality, this dictatorship of sexual relativism is very insistent that you comply with its demands as a matter of moral obligation and justice because, as political theorist Matt Franck presciently warns, “there is no good reason for the new legal order to make room for ‘conscientious’ religious dissenters, for clearly their consciences are malformed and unworthy of respect.”

A 2009 paper from the Heritage Foundation explained just how traditional marriage proponents would be pushed out of the public square:

Arguments for same-sex marriage, although often couched in terms of tolerance and inclusion, are based fundamentally on the idea that preserving marriage as unions of husband and wife is a form of bigotry, irrational prejudice, and even hatred against homosexual persons who want the state to license their relationships. As increasing numbers of individuals and institutions, including public officials and governmental bodies, embrace this ideology, belief in marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman likely will come to be viewed as an unacceptable form of discrimination that should be purged from public life through legal, cultural, and economic pressure.

This prescient quote brings us to our current moment, where we see, increasingly, the targeting and marginalization of religious persons by a community that foretold of a laissez-faire approach to sexuality.

Those of us who believe that marriage is the exclusive, unalterable union of a man and woman were promised that all that the LGBT community wanted was equal treatment like everybody else…


Christianity and Tolerance in the Public Square | Canon and Culture