Former bow-tie wearer Tucker Carlson had The Satanic Temple’s co-founder Lucien Greaves on his show to … mostly interrupt him again. This time to discuss his proposition that Satanists seek religious accommodations from anti-LGBTQ+ confectioners that refuse to make wedding cakes for gay couples.
Let’s Dig In
Lucien: “The fact of the matter is, we do have affirmative values, these are an expression of our deeply-held beliefs, and I think that’s all anybody really needs.”
Tucker:(interrupting): “Yeah we’ve had this conversation before and, yeah right, blah, blah, blah …”
No, not “blah, blah, blah”. This is a real, salient, and important point. Challenging discrimination is, in TST terms at least, an expression of deeply held belief. Tucker’s dismissiveness of TST’s beliefs as genuine are the real issue here.
Carlson attempted to derail Greaves into a fight of counter-examples by saying he hasn’t “seen a single case of an Evangelical forcing any kind of bakery to bake a cake that violates the baker’s personal beliefs”. Greaves didn’t take the bait and stayed on his message, which was good.
Denial of Accommodation Lawsuits Happen All the Time
What Carlson is attempting to do there is ask for a specific set of circumstances which haven’t happened so any counter example can be dismissed as ‘not quite the same thing’. The broader issue is members of a religion suing a business to demand accommodation and in that respect there is no shortage of counter examples. There have been numerous instances of religious employees suing business for failure to accommodate their beliefs that I could find with a quick google search. Many of these cases involve major companies like Burger King and Walmart. In one instance Carlson’s own employer FOX was sued by the Liberty Council over a sportscaster who claimed he was fired for being anti-LGBT.
Now of course you could say that these are employees and that is entirely different than a customer being denied services because they are Christian. That’s because denial of services to the customer almost always goes in the other direction. Pharmacists refusing to fill birth control prescriptions, Catholic Hospitals refusing to perform tubal ligations, and Kim Davis refusing to issue marriage licenses, are all cases of people claiming their religious views are being infringed upon by rules of general applicability.
How Does this Relate to Other Civil Rights Issues?
Greaves went on to make the case that there are only two possible resolutions to this conflict. We can do away with protected classes, or we can say that services cannot be denied based on the beliefs of the individual providing the service. The former is clearly a terrible idea. Arizona had that debate a few years ago when it almost enacted SB1062, which would have allowed employees to deny services based on their beliefs without repercussion from employers. Imagine a society in which a convenience store clerk can refuse to sell you a soda because they’re Mormon. “To permit this,” as Justice Antonin Scalia once wrote, “would make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.”
Public accommodation laws are not merely, as Carlson would apparently suggest, an issue of right to refuse service because of some vaguely libertarian concept of ownership. What we’re really talking about here is whether refusing to accommodate someone with which you disagree is a protected right. I don’t think it is, at least not in this context. If you make and sell cakes, then you make and sell cakes. If the people buying that cake happen to be gay and you think being gay is bad you are still just selling a cake.
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