Tag Archives: Freedom of Religion

Another Religious Freedom vs. Gay Rights Ethics Clash: The Country Mill Farms Farms Affair

Steve Tennes (above) and his devout Catholic family own  Country Mill Farms, Winery, Orchard and Cider Mill. in Charlotte, Michigan. The picturesque locale makes additional income by renting out the venue for weddings and events.

Last August, a visitor to Country Mill’s Facebook page asked if they hosted gay weddings at the farm. Tennes answered in the negative, explaining that his Catholic family believes marriage should be between a man and woman. The Tennes family sells its products at an East Lansing  farmers market, and that city’s officials were notified of their “no gay weddings” policy. A city ordinance  requires that participants in the market, even those not located within East Lansing city limits, have to agree with its non-discrimination ordinance.  “I think it’s a very strong principle that you should not be discriminating against somebody elsewhere and then come here and want to participate in our market,” East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas told the news media.

Lansing  officials urged (threatened?)  Tennes to comply with its ordinance, so the farm stopped hosting weddings of any kind for a while. Then Tennes decided to defy the order and announced on Facebook that the farm would resume hosting weddings, but only those involving a man and a women. In turn, the city told Tennes that his farm would not be welcome at the farmer’s market for the 2017 season.

“It was brought to our attention that The Country Mill’s general business practices do not comply with East Lansing’s Civil Rights ordinances and public policy against discrimination as set forth in Chapter 22 of the City Code and outlined in the 2017 Market Vendor Guidelines, as such, The Country Mill’s presence as a vendor is prohibited by the City’s Farmer’s Market Vendor Guidelines,” the city said in a letter to the family. Just coincidentally I’m sure,  East Lansing recently updated its civil rights ordinance to include discrimination at “all business practices” for participants the city’s farmers market. City Mayor Mark Meadows said the farm’s exclusion is based on the Tennes family’s “business decision” to exclude same-sex weddings. (Since the limitations on the weddings performed undoubtedly forfeits business, I have my doubts about whether the city can win the claim that it is a business decision and not a religious one.)

Now the farm is suing East Lansing. “Our faith and beliefs on marriage and hosting weddings at our home and in our backyard of our farm have nothing to do with the city of East Lansing,” Tennes said at a press conference last week “Nor does it have anything to do with the produce that we sell to the people that attend the farmers markets who are from all backgrounds and all beliefs.”

The suit asks the court to restore Country Mill Farms’ freedoms, stop East Lansing’s “discriminatory policy,” and award damages. The city claims its policy is in line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling eliminating a ban on same-sex marriage.

My first comment: Yechhh. I’ll sure be clad when society is accustomed enough to same-sex couples that people stop treating them like they are viruses and other people stop bullying those who are slow to accept the cultural shift into submission.

I think East Lansing loses this lawsuit, or at least should.

At first it reminded me of this case, from 2014, where a family-run chapel was initially told by Coeur d’Alene, Idaho that it had to hold same-sex weddings. The city backed down, but the decisive issue in that case was that the chapel’s minister would be forced to do a ceremony that his religious beliefs didn’t permit. Forced speech is as unconstitutional as restricted speech, so the city eventually said, “Never mind!”

I wrote in part,

What’s next, legally requiring citizens to accept invitations to gay weddings? Make sure they get a nice gift? …It appears not to even occur to dedicated gay marriage rights activists that Americans can’t be forced to say what the good people think they should say, or support what the right people insist they should support. I happen to believe that same-sex marriages are good, and that legalizing them is right. Nonetheless, if you tell me I have to officiate at one of them or be fined, we have a problem. This kind of fascism from the left—and that’s what it is— forfeits the support of the fair, the moderate and the sane…Any advance in ethics can become a slippery slope to the unethical, and this is a good example. Personal autonomy still matters; freedom of belief is still an important right to respect and protect. Slippery slopes need sand, and this is an excellent example of why.

The ethics issue here is related, but different. This one reminds me more of the Chic-Fil-A controversy, when various mayors were announcing that because the company’s owner was a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, his business wasn’t welcome in their cities. I wrote (in part) about that ethics train wreck: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Hero: U.S. District Judge John Gerrard

flying-spaghetti-monster

Pastafarians are anti-religious wise-asses who claim to adhere to a satirical “religion” created to mock other religions. They have wasted court time and abused the justice system by suing in various states for the right to exercise their non-existent religion by wearing an upside-down spaghetti strainer on their heads for driver’s license photos.  More ridiculous still, they have succeeded in several states and a number of foreign countries.

Nebraska to the rescue: in a Tuesday ruling, U.S. District Judge John Gerrard dismissed a religious discrimination suit filed by Pastafarian Stephen Cavanaugh. The judge state the obvious fact that  the religion Cavanaugh cited—Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster—is not a religion but a parody.

Good. Continue reading

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Filed under Rights

Now THIS Is Hate Speech…No, Wait, It’s A Gay Writer Hating A Straight Baseball Player, So It’s All Good

Daniel Murphy

 

In March, in a post about Dr. Ben Carson’s awful apology for his ignorant statement on CNN about prison turning prisoners gay, I compared his ignorance to that of Mets second-baseman Daniel Murphy, who had just listened to Billy Bean, a former major league baseball player who is gay, and had been appointed as the sport’s “ambassador for inclusion.”  Murphy said,

“I disagree with his lifestyle.I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.”

His statement loosely translated means, “I don’t know anything about gays except what I have been told by people who also know nothing about gays but think they do.  I believed all of it, since, honestly, I don’t think about the topic much. But the question was about whether the fact that a team mate was gay would cause me to distrust him or not want to play with him, and my answer is no.”

Later Murphy elaborated,

“Maybe, as a Christian, that we haven’t been as articulate enough in describing what our actual stance is on homosexuality. We love the people. We disagree the lifestyle. That’s the way I would describe it for me. It’s the same way that there are aspects of my life that I’m trying to surrender to Christ in my own life. There’s a great deal of many things, like my pride.”

I mentioned Murphy then because he, unlike Carson, is just a baseball player, and his having ignorant ideas about gays (what does “disagreeing” with the fact that someone is gay even mean? He’s gay–you can’t “disagree.” Anyone using “lifestyle” to describe gays has just written his ignorance in sky-writing. If one knows any gays at all, the idiocy of this is manifest. What would ever make an 8 year old wake up one morning and say, “I’ve weighed the options, and made my choice: I want to be gay!” This literally never happens.) and stating the ideas out loud only hurts Murphy, while Carson’s ignorance is relevant to the job he’s seeking and his qualifications for it. Carson is a narrow, biased, irresponsible amateur, and thus unqualified to hold office. Nobody, however, should care what Murphy thinks, as long as he can hit and field his position.

For someone who is clueless, Murphy’s comments are even admirable. He’s not going to judge a man’s character based on “his lifestyle” or wish him ill, which makes him infinitely preferable to Slate’s gay issues blogger, Mark Joseph Stern. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Journalism & Media, Love, Rights, Sports, U.S. Society

Ethical Quote Of The Week: GOP Senator And Presidential Candidate Lindsey Graham

lindsey_graham

You know what, I’m not your candidate. I don’t want you to vote for me. I couldn’t disagree with you more.”

-South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham during an election event in Des Moines, Iowa, after an Iowan Republican in the crowd.suggested banning Islam.

Later Graham said, “He’s got a right to say whatever he wants to say, but I have an obligation to the Republican Party, to the people of Iowa and the country as a whole to be firm on this. I’m not buying into that construct. That’s not the America that I want to lead.”

I will await the first Democratic Party candidate who demonstrates similar integrity with an equivalent reply to a supporter who advocates banning hate speech.

I suspect I will wait until the stars turn cold.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy, Rights

Let’s Take The “Deranged And Unethical Ideologues” Test!

keep-calm-it-s-only-a-test-2

Recognizing insanity shouldn’t be that difficult, or impeded by political orientation. Yet as the Rachel Dolezal fiasco proves, it can be. (Now that we know that she previously claimed to be discriminated against because she was white, and heard her tell Matt Lauer that a black man was her father because she thought of him as her father, will all the loyal left culture warriors who chose to die on that silly hill after I warned them that they would regret it learn anything? I doubt it.)

Now, in the interest of improving everyone’s non-partisan wacko-detection and rejection skills, I offer these two examples, one from the left, and one from the right. If either seems reasonable to you, you flunk.

First, from the right, we have… Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Education, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Professions, Rights, Romance and Relationships, Workplace

Does A Church Receiving Dirty Money Cleanse It, Or Can Only The Government Do That?

I can see why that $300,000 didn't last long...

I can see why that $300,000 didn’t last long…

For some divine reason it appears to be church day at Ethics Alarms, though I attribute much of the phenomenon  to my #1 topic scout Fred, who has been on fire of late.

David McQueen was the architect of a ruthless $46 million Ponzi scheme. While filling his own bank account, he also gave generously to Resurrection Life Church in Grandville, Michigan, one of the so-called “mega-churches,” as you can see in the photo above. McQueen donated about $300,000 in a three-year period, beginning in 2006, when the church was involved in a building project. See? He wasn’t so bad!

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Borgula is involved in effort to reimburse victims by recovering some of the money taken by McQueen. The $300,000 looked like a nice chunk to go after, so he sent an e-mail to the church elders asking, pretty please, if they would give the money back.

The church said “No.” Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, Rights

Ethics Dunces: The Republican “Base”

National religion

Public Polling Policy surveyed 316 Republican primary voters—the hard core— from February 20th to 22nd to measure their attitudes and policy views, as well as their current preferences for President. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 5.5%. The results are here.

The headlines will be about the candidate rankings, which are meaningless at this point. The valuable revelation, especially for Democrats who want to mercilessly mock their Republican friends, if they have any, and Republicans who want to drown themselves out of hopelessness and shame are…

A. The graphic above, showing that 57% of the Republicans polled want to establish a national religion, Christianity, and

B. The fact that only 37% believe in evolution. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, Science & Technology, U.S. Society