Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP
In this Monday, Sept. 12, 2016, file photo, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid 35 and quarterback Colin Kaepernick 7 kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif.
It’s hot — meteorologically and politically. Several simmering issues may hit the boiling point, especially decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Court of Public Opinion.
The now-famous baker, Jack Phillips, argued that his First Amendment rights of free speech and religious expression allowed him to decline to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Human rights advocates argued harm to the LGBT community and other minorities if Phillips prevailed. The Supreme Court artfully dodged a final constitutional determination on the matter by issuing a narrow ruling supporting Phillips because he was unfairly treated by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Can this controversy be resolved?
Pignanelli: “The civil rights movement was based on faith.” — John Lewis
This case evolved into a classic melodrama with Phillips as the hapless victim engendering sympathy because of persecution by the villainous commission, which mocked his religious beliefs during the initial hearing. The court was compelled to play the hero and prevent further government-sponsored criticism of First Amendment rights.
Many Americans express concern with the heavy hand of government forcing the baker to provide products for use in same-sex marriages, situs judi online which his faith opposes. But ask those same Americans if the baker can refuse service because the customer is African-American, Jewish or Mormon, and the sentiment immediately disappears as such conduct is outrageous discrimination.
Thus, the dilemma.
Americans have a fundamental constitutional right to express their religious beliefs in an open manner. But merchants in the public arena are prohibited — by equally important principles — from using faith to deny goods and services to customers solely for their race, creed, religion or sexual orientation. The Supreme Court will eventually structure a coexistence of both absolutes, because to rule otherwise will encourage supremacists to use a religious ploy in commerce to denigrate and harm minorities and not suffer legal ramifications — a frightening scenario.
No need for the boos and hisses of a melodrama. Americans can respect each other’s religious beliefs while allowing all to participate in the public marketplace without fear of discrimination.
Webb: The court showed that reason, compromise and goodwill can sooth conflicts between freedom of religion and unfair discrimination. But both sides must be willing to concede a little and acknowledge some merit in the other side’s viewpoint. The problem is militants on both sides would prefer to fight and call names rather than solve problems.
It’s not easy, but usually doable, to find middle ground in these cases. For example, a store that sells everyday commodities to the public ought not to be able to pick and choose its customers. But an artisan using his or her creative talent should not to be forced to create something for a neo-Nazi celebration, or a same-sex marriage, if doing so violates one’s heartfelt religious convictions.