I hate to answer for the baker, so I hope you don’ mind if I respond with how I would answer.
What if I walked into the shop and asked for a wedding cake for no reason at all? Nobody’s getting married; I just want the cake. Is it against his religion to make that style of cake for anything other than weddings?
It would not be against my religion, no.
One thing I want to point out about your line of inquiry here is that you are divorcing the mechanical action of making a cake from the purpose of making a cake. A cake is a cake, and apart from any purpose, it remains a cake with no further meaning than a configuration of confectionery molecules. But the purpose for making the cake defines the context. If you wanted me to bake you a cake so you could bury it in your backyard, I wouldn’t have any religious objections to that, but I would certainly object to having the fruits of my labor just thrown away. Just as I would object if you wanted me to write you a book so could use the pages of the book as toilet paper.
The purpose of making a wedding cake is for it to be displayed and consumed at a wedding. If you aren’t going to use the cake for a wedding, ontologically speaking, could it even be a wedding cake?
Do I have to show him a marriage license?
I wouldn’t require that. My general standpoint would be to take people at their word. That being said, if I knew you and you were known for pranks, were opposed to marriage in general, and nothing I knew about your recent activities hinted at a wedding, I might want some actual proof that a wedding was occurring.
I’m an atheist; will he refuse to acknowledge my marriage because you can’t have marriage without a god? Does only the Christian deity count for a “real” marriage?
Since I’m Catholic, I’ll just toss out what the Catholic Church teaches about marriage. Marriage is universal. Historically, marriage permeates pretty much every culture. Marriage is an institution that has, for the most part, united a man and his wife to the children they bear together. Marriage does not require a profession of faith, because it is a foundational institution of mankind. That is why eating, drinking, and shelter don’t require a profession of faith. They are also foundational aspects of the human condition. So, there is no objection to two atheists marrying.
Where the religious context comes into view is with the nature of that marriage. Catholics profess that Jesus elevated the institution of marriage to a sacrament. This means that a valid marriage between baptized individuals cannot be dissolved save by the death of one of the two parties. But that does not mean every marriage is sacramental. If one of the two parties is not baptized, the marriage is still a valid marriage, but it is not a sacramental marriage. Thus it could be dissolved, and either party would be free to re-marry.
A funny oddity of terminology crops up in Catholic teaching. Since a valid, sacramental marriage cannot be dissolved, but since parties can licitly separate for serious reasons (abuse, abandonment, adultery, addiction), a Catholic can be married and divorced at the same time…
I would argue that the artistic quality of the cake has nothing to do with who is getting married, or if there’s even a marriage at all–at least, as far as religion is concerned.
I agree with you to a certain extent, here. The artistic quality is its own concern. It is the teleological purpose of the cake that is the true contention. So that raises a question: if I bake a cake that I do not intend to be used at a wedding, but looks just like a cake that I do intend to be used at a wedding, is it a wedding cake? To use some technical terms, there is the essence of a thing, and there are the accidents of a thing. The essence of a thing is what is essential to a thing being that thing; accidents are just features that particular thing has that are not essential to a thing being that thing. The essence of a chair is something to sit on. Accidents of a chair are having one leg, or three, or four, having a back, not having a back, etc. So what is the essence of a wedding cake, and what are the accidents of a wedding cake? I think the only essential difference between a wedding cake and a non-wedding cake is the intent for which the cake is made. The only part I waffle on is the cake-topper…
On a separate note, I assert that religion ultimately must be subordinate to the law of the land.
I’m uncomfortable with how you phrase this, so let me toss out what I think about this, and let me know if it does or doesn’t conform with what you’re thinking.
Speaking again only for the Catholic faith, holding to my religion means that I recognize as the highest authority the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, omnibenevolent necessary being who, I profess, created all things visible and invisible. But that God bestows authority upon mankind. Parents have authority over their children. Governments have authority over their territories, etc. Thus we have “render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” But we admit that human authority is fallible. If human authority conflicts with what God decrees, it must be God that is obey, for he is the ultimate authority.
What does this mean when there are so many ideas of what God has decreed? It means that we need to do the best we can. While I live in the United States, I am subject to her laws. If at some point, I find myself caught between obeying the law of the United States or obeying what God has revealed through the Catholic Church, I will choose obedience to God. BUT! I will be prepared to accept the consequences of breaking the laws of the nation I live in. Suppose, for example, that the United States became so hostile to Catholics that they prohibited, on pain of death, attendance at the Mass. I would still attend Mass, and I would accept the consequence of breaking the law.
Part of why this notion rubs people wrong is that there is admittedly a distinct confusion of what God teaches. If you look at any particular point of doctrine, you can find two religions opposed on that point. Most of the time, you can find two Christian denominations opposed on that point. This is a great scandal, an embarrassment to Christianity, and a reason why the law of the land should not be expected to conform to every whim of doctrine out there. Thus I’ve always wondered myself how compatible with the rule of law the free exercise of religion really is. I am more than willing to accept a stipulation that religion may be exercised freely up to the degree that the law permits. If you want to exercise your religion in defiance of the law, you should be punished — and accept humbly — the punishment the law demands.
it allows any person to use their belief that their crimes are mandated by a higher power as a legal defense.
Have you ever seen the movie Frailty? It poses the case where a man believes he’s been given a list of “demons” by God, with the mandate to hunt them down and kill them. It really stirs up abhorrence in reaction, but it does make you stop an think about what people do when they truly believe they have a divine mandate. Your statement here made me think about it.