This is my second blog about religion and cake. And I cannot promise that it will be my last.
Aaron and Melissa Klein were the owners of the bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Greshman, Oregon, until “homosexual activists” shut down their business. They appeared at the Values Voters Summit in Washington D.C. this past weekend on the panel Marriage in America: The Road Ahead. In the past week, the video of “cry-baby Melissa” has gone viral, but when I watched them last weekend before all the hoopla, I felt sorry for them.
From their appearances, I wanted to like the Kleins. They’re both in their early 30s. Aaron is cute and thin with short-cropped hair and a flavor patch. He has small hoop earrings and wore his dark plaid shirt buttoned all the way up. Unlike Aaron, Melissa must have eaten a lot of cake because I’m being kind in calling her “big-boned”. She wore a shimmery orange scoop-neck top and a double strand of pearls. I liked that she wore orange instead of the red, white and blue variation worn by every politician on the panel.
Melissa spoke first and got extremely emotional as she spoke about everything that was involved in the process of designing a wedding cake. “It’s very different from just throwing ingredients into the oven and throwing frosting on it.” Melissa talked about how she would sit down with the bride and groom or mother and bride. She would want to know everything about their wedding. She’d ask about their flowers, her dress, her centerpieces, her colors, the way her hair would be done. She’d want to see the ring. And know where they were going on their honeymoon. Melissa would use all of this information to help her design the perfect cake that reflected them as a couple. Melissa clearly loves weddings and her view of marriage as between a man and woman is very important to her.
Melissa broke down in tears and literally clutched her pearls several times while talking about making cakes. Her melodrama reminded me of an old TV episode where the wife cries on the stand before the defense attorney would get her to admit that SHE was the one that murdered her husband. But the crowd ate up Melissa “Sweet Cakes”. They applauded during each pause.
At one point, Aaron had enough of Melissa’s pearl-clutching and jumped in. “I can’t say more forcefully that she has a God-given talent to create a work of art to celebrate a union between two people. To use that in a manner that would be in the face of what the Bible says it should be. I couldn’t in good conscience agree to do it.”
According to the moderator, the Kleins have joined the growing number of Christian business people who have faced the choice of either sacrificing their conscience or their business in the face of demands by homosexual activists.
Other vendors that used to refer people to them have stopped. They had to shut down their business because of the backlash, and Melissa is now baking cakes from the house where she raises her five children.
I’m concerned about the sanitation conditions of the cake of any new bride, but I’m more concerned about their false belief that they’re “ok with gay people.”
Aaron said during the panel discussion and also in the news media that he isn’t anti-homosexual. Melissa Klein insisted at the time of the incident, “We don’t have anything against lesbians or homosexuals. It has to do with our morals and beliefs.”
I’m ok if Melissa and Aaron believe that gays are an abomination. If that’s their reading of the Bible, then I’ll agree to disagree. But there’s a huge problem in Aaron’s belief that he should be able to practice his religion as he sees it. That anything the government would do to impair that would violate his First Amendment rights.
You can BELIEVE what you want, but you can’t DO what you want based on that belief. Under Aaron’s view of the First Amendment, the government would be powerless to stop a bomber that believes that his religion is the correct one and that he should blow up other people who share a different faith.
Some bloggers have already jumped in and helped us to understand where the distinction would fall. Matt Barber of Freedom Outpost has ranted about the Klein’s being the latest victims of homofascism. http://freedomoutpost.com/2014/10/yes-victims-homofascism-real-theyre-piling/#HbzVvp1YHoC5BtEf.99 Here is his analogy about acceptable discrimination:
BARBER: If a black man entered the store and ordered a birthday cake for his son, and Mr. Klein refused because of the customer’s race, then that would be unlawful discrimination. If that same black man ordered a “Kill Whitey” cake for a Black Panthers rally, and Klein refused, it would not be discrimination. The latter scenario is analogous to Mr. Klein’s and other Christian business owners’ refusal to provide services for “gay weddings” and similar such events (photographers, printers, bakers, florists and the like). The former scenario is not.
BPJ RESPONSE: Baking a cake for a marriage between two people that love each other is not the same as baking a cake that calls for genocide.
If that’s where we are in this debate, then the road ahead is going to be a long one. I just hope there are plenty of gay-friendly bakers out there to provide cakes and cookies for the journey.