I think frankly, our churches should not be forced to do anything that’s not consistent with them. But if you’re a cupcake maker and somebody wants a cupcake, make them a cupcake. Let’s not have a big lawsuit or argument over all this stuff — move on. The next thing, you know, they might be saying, if you’re divorced you shouldn’t get a cupcake.
This statement is so confused and misleading, it’s hard to know where to start with a response. I can hardly believe that it is coming from a man who is a self-professed evangelical and who claims to understand evangelical interests. Here is where he is wrong.
1. Kasich apparently thinks that the cases involving Christian bakers are about Christians refusing service to gay customers. Does Kasich know that he has just espoused the very lie that is regularly put forth by liberals who oppose religious liberty in the public square? These Christians aren’t refusing service to gay people. In all of the cases I’ve read, the store owners are happy to serve gay people. Their problem is that they don’t want to be forced by the government to participate in their weddings. And in each of these cases, that is what is happening. In the case of the Washington florist Baronnelle Stutzman, she was friends with the gay couple in question for nine years! She was happy to sell flowers to them through all of that time period—even flowers that they bought for each other! What she didn’t want to do was participate in their wedding. As a result, the couple and the attorney general of the state sued her for it. And now her home and retirement are at risk because her religious beliefs prevent her from participating in that wedding. To suggest that she refuses to serve gay people is a distortion that only serves the interests of those who oppose religious liberty.
2. Kasich says, “I think frankly, our churches should not be forced to do anything that’s not consistent with them.” What about Christians that want to live out their faith in their daily lives? Does Kasich think people have a right to do that? Kasich gives the impression that religious liberty ends once someone steps outside the church building. But this truncated account of things is not what religious liberty is. Neither the Constitution nor the Courts have defined religious liberty so narrowly. Religious liberty is the freedom to worship and serve God according to one’s conscience in every sphere of life. Kasich apparently doesn’t understand that and has essentially staked out the “freedom of worship” position that is so often advocated by liberals. It effectively limits freedom of worship to the church house and banishes religious freedom from the public square. And it means that if you are a Christian proponent of traditional marriage, it’s fine if you want to hold that view privately. But you have to be willing to violate those beliefs when you go to work. This is unacceptable.
3. Kasich says, “Let’s not have a big lawsuit or argument over all this stuff—move on.” This is absurd. It’s not the Christians who are bringing the lawsuits! It’s the gay couples and sometimes the civil authorities that are trying to punish the Christian proponents of traditional marriage. Believe me, these Christians would love to “move on.” But that’s a little hard to do when other people are suing to take your entire life away. Again, if Kasich doesn’t have these stories straight, that is completely unacceptable.
4. No Christian is threatening to withhold their services from divorced persons. This is another distortion that serves no one except those who do not care at all about religious liberty.
Either Kasich doesn’t understand the religious liberty issues at stake in these cases, or he is intentionally building a straw man against rights of conscience. In either case, his remarks would be disqualifying not just for Christian voters but for anyone who cares about religious liberty. This is completely unacceptable. I agree with Robbie George on this:
The uncomprehending John Kasich. He still hasn’t gotten his mind around what the issue is. At this point, I’m afraid, there is no excuse. Jeb got it. Most of the other Republican candidates get it.