Ah, this is a tough one.

Does a business have the right to deny service if giving that service will violate one of the basic tenets of their religion?

The freedom to practice one’s religion was so important it was mentioned specifically in the Constitution. This document is not the complete list of all our God-given rights, but it does enumerate the ones the were so important that the framers felt they needed to be spelled out very specifically.

In most cases, they did it because of events in the history of this country where those rights were compromised. Why was the 2nd Amendment written? Because the British soldiers sought to disarm the rebellious colonists. This does not belittle those rights in our modern age, in fact it should make them more important. Learn from the past and don’t allow the government to restrict rights given by our Creator.

But back to the 1st Amendment, the relevant part of which I quoted in the title.

On one hand, the right to live your faith is guaranteed. The government has no right to prohibit me from exercising the tenets of my religion. This has been upheld multiple times. Pharmacists cannot be compelled to give the morning after pill and cause an abortion if that violates their religious beliefs. They do need to find another who will provide the medication. Amish don’t have to send their kids to school past a certain grade. Home schoolers don’t get charged with truancy. Parochial schools can pray and follow any rituals as required by their faith.

But I guess that right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.

If I have a private business, I can choose who I choose to serve. Businesses do refuse to serve customers all the time. I know of one instance where a customer was asked not to come back because they basically only did business to complain and then get the goods for free. A printer or a baker can refuse to create something which is hateful, racist or bigoted.

But they can’t refuse to create a cake for a gay couple.

Now we get into the Equal Protection Clause or 14th Amendment. This Amendment led to many of the civil rights decisions.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Is getting a cake from your favorite baker a privilege? Could the baker refer the customer to another baker in town of equal talent and skill just like the pharmacist?

It isn’t the popular opinion, but I think that religious freedom is going to win this one. I would never advocate discriminating in hiring practices based on color, creed or religion. In most business settings, these things are irrelevant. The only time I can see any of them being a factor is hiring for a church or parochial school. Employers want to hire for a good fit, hiring a liberal-minded atheist to teach catechism in a Catholic school could be a problem.

When you are an artist, you create from your heart and faith is part of that. Giving the product of that heart to a thing you find sinful should be a call you can make.

But I can see both sides of the issue. It’s a tough call. The space between that fist and that nose is pretty slim. The Libertarian would say that the business is a private individual and the government has no rights to tell them what to do. We as citizens can boycott the business, but they can’t be prosecuted. Would restaurants still be segregated if that were the case? In some cases, I think they might be.

Tough call, and it requires some thought.