Which Religion Advocates Denying Services To Gays?

I’ll keep this one relatively short; it’s just a question.

Is there a religion that says its members must/should deny goods or services to homosexuals (or anyone else)?

This question arises from the (now-vetoed) bill in Arizona, which would have granted the legal right for businesspersons to deny service to a gay couple if they held a “sincere” religious conviction about it. Most of the discussion in the news centered around whether the law was constitutional or discriminatory, but I think mine is a relevant question too.

I’ll admit not being familiar with most religions of the world — just Christianity. But I’ll claim more Biblical knowledge than the average self-titled Christian. The Bible does not advocate denying goods or services to Homosexuals.

Homosexuality isn’t mentioned often in the Bible, but it’s universally derided. The Old Testament is pretty clear that anyone participating in it should be killed outright.

The New Testament is a little more forgiving, saying they won’t go to Heaven but that they can be forgiven and sanctified just like any other sinner (I Cor. 6:9-11). Another passage says that God’s law is for them (I Timothy 1:9-11).

Romans 1 says they “deserve to die”, but homosexuality is merely one sin in a long list — including gossiping and disobeying your parents — all of which are worthy of death. The book of Romans goes on to note that “all have sinned” and that all can repent and be saved. Throughout the epistle, all sins are grouped together; none is worse than the other.

James 4:12 clarifies: “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you — who are you to judge your neighbor?”

Matthew mentions that principle as well: “Judge not, that you be not judged”.

And I Cor. 5:12-13 explains further: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? … God will judge those outside.”

There’s no question that the Bible (and thus Christianity) is completely opposed to the practice of homosexuality, but I also cannot find any place where it advocates what the Arizona bill wanted. If there is a religion that does, I’d like to know about it. If not, why was the bill claiming “religious freedom”?

EDITED TO ADD, 2014.02.28:

In my next entry, I talk more about the alleged right to refuse service to anyone for any reason.

Part of a larger series I’ve begun calling “De-distorting Christianity”. Even if I later change the series title, this tag link should still work.

  1. Did you happen to CC this to the Westboro Baptist Church?

  2. Shari says:

    I haven’t followed the Arizona bill too closely, but perhaps it was vetoed because it wasn’t well-written. At any rate, it’s true that Christians aren’t instructed to refuse service to gays, and from what I’ve heard, the same businesses that are being sued have actually happily provided service on other occasions; they just didn’t want to participate in a “gay wedding.” I think the law might more appropriately permit people and businesses to opt out of religious activities they disagree with. But this is America! We shouldn’t need that kind of law… So it goes back to “frivolous lawsuits?” It’s just sad.

    • Wil C. Fry says:

      My understanding is that the governor said “too broadly worded” as one of her reasons for not signing it into law, though it does seem that the bill’s entire purpose was to give business owners the “freedom” to deny goods/services to others, based on the sexual orientation of the clientele and the “sincerely held religious beliefs” of the business owner.

      Again, I’m not a constitutional lawyer, but my understanding of the First Amendment protection (or any freedom granted by the constitution) is not to be at the expense of other people’s freedoms.

      (I would be bothered if the government attempted to require a church to perform a wedding that violates their religious beliefs. To me, that would be a clear violation of the religious freedom clause. And I don’t know why any gay couple would want to be married in a church that believes their lifestyle is sinful.)

      But when it comes to the business end… You’re not providing a wedding; you’re providing a cake. Or flowers. Or food. Or photos. I just can’t think of any religious reason to refuse such a service to someone. Certainly not a Christian reason.

    • Wil C. Fry says:

      “We shouldn’t need that kind of law… So it goes back to “frivolous lawsuits?” It’s just sad.”

      The lawsuits I’ve read about haven’t been ‘frivolous’ in the normal sense of the word. (It’s possible I have missed some, or many, of them.) They arose because businesses refused to serve someone based on the customer’s sexual orientation. In case I’ve seen, there was no valid* reason to decline service other than prejudice.

      (* A valid reason to decline service might be: disruptive behavior, unsafe behavior, failure to pay for prior service, etc.)

      The opposite side argues: “People should have the right to determine with whom they wish to do business.” But the same argument was used to deny service to hippies, to blacks, to Jews, and so on.

      I counter-argue that there are only a very few valid reasons to deny service.

  3. Wil C. Fry says:

    Further post, with further explanation:


  4. Shari says:

    I’m not sure that you’re wrong here, or that these ladies are right, but they bring out some interesting points. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theanchoress/2014/03/04/go-and-learn-what-this-means-cognitive-dissonance/ and http://thecommonroomblog.com/2014/02/who-owns-your-conscience.html

    • Wil C. Fry says:

      They’re interesting on the face of it, and it’s the kind of preaching-to-the-choir stuff that’s making a lot of rounds these days.

      Both examples probably relate more to my followup post, here:
      in which I attempted to describe in layman’s terms how courts have traditionally handled denial-of-service cases: it’s okay to deny for practical reasons, but not okay to deny for discriminatory reasons or because of associations. (Just like it’s okay to fire you from your job for breaking the rules or for not doing your job, but I can’t fire you because you’re gay, or disabled, or Muslim or Christian.)

      1. As for that first link, did the business claim “religious freedom”? No. That’s what this post is about, really: the hypocrisy of saying you won’t serve gays because of your religion, when your religion doesn’t say to not serve gays.

      Another problem with it is that it’s not an apple vs. apple comparison.

      Apple: A large number of voters want the right to refuse service to an entire group of people who continue to have less rights than everyone else. Orange: a single business refused service to one person, a person with more power than most of us.

      2. The second link had bigger problems with logic.

      Let’s start with the last example they provided: “Can you go to a Kosher deli and legally force him to supply you with non-kosher food?” No, because they don’t sell non-Kosher food, or even have it in stock. But they do have to sell you the food whether you’re Jewish, Muslim, black or white, at least according to the U.S. Civil Rights Act.

      They’re trying to equate this with a wedding photographer being hired to photograph a gay wedding? A wedding photographer does sell the service of photographing weddings (whereas a Kosher deli does not sell non-Kosher foods).

      Just above that: “The gay people in these cases are asking Christians to specifically participate in a morally objectionable act”. No one is asking them to participate in anything. They’ve been hired to perform a service that they normally perform, whether it’s taking pictures, baking a cake, or decorating a hall. Every wedding photographer has had to work with people he doesn’t like and people of whom he doesn’t approve.

    • Wil C. Fry says:

      (Oh, and sorry about your comment being held for moderation, Shari. I think my blog automatically does that if you have two or more links. I don’t know of a way to set it so that regular commenters are automatically given a pass.)

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