Wednesday, January 19, 2022

When Values Clash – Who Gets to Win?

Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia & City Councilman Rich Rockwell (Newsbreak)
What if an Evangelical Christian told me that he believes the Jewish people are wrong for not accepting their god? Would that be a reason to shun him? Or even worse to deny him a business opportunity? Is that antisemitism? 

I think the answer is obvious. Of course it isn’t. That is his religious belief regardless of how we feel about it. But that is precisely what a town in New Jersey is trying to do. As an article in the Christian Post (linked in Torah Musings) tells us. Only instead of a Christian belief about us, it is a Christian belief about gay marriage.

A Chik-fil-A restaurant scheduled to housed in a new building that will be built at a service plaza along the Garden State Parkway at Bloomfield is being opposed by city officials: 

Local officials in New Jersey are speaking out against a proposal to build a Chick-fil-A restaurant on the Garden State Parkway, alleging that CEO Dan Cathy 's views on LGBT issues make it unworthy for placement along a taxpayer-funded highway… 

“I just can’t feel comfortable eating … giving money to somebody who’s opposing my rights,” said Bloomfield City Councilman Rich Rockwell, an openly gay Democrat. 

This is not the first time Chick-fil-A is being attacked because of the religious views of their CEO. His views on gay marriage are well known. And he donates money to organizations that support only traditional marriage.

This is nothing more than political correctness run amuck. No one’s rights are being denied. I don’t  think that Mr. Cathy is even attempting to change the law that  forbids any state from barring gay marriage (although I’m sure he’d like to). But he has the right to his religious views. Protecting that right is one of the cardinal principles of our American democracy. 

I happen to agree with his views on this subject. But neither he nor I would bar any gay person from any establishment we own. That would be wrong and discriminatory. The opposite is true. Gay people are probably just as welcome as straight people and treated the same way. I’m sure that Chick-fil-A doesn’t ‘card’ people to see what their sexual orientation is. I am equally sure that there are no signs or any other indication about the religious views of their CEO anywhere on the premises. If gay people don't like his views, they don’t have to eat there. On the other hand if they do want to eat there, no one will stop them. They will surely be treated the same way anyone else is.

I understand the concern that some in the LGBT community have. They want to be treated like everyone else and fear going back to a time where gay bashing was common. A time where gay people were often beaten to within an inch of their lives by anti gay vigilantes. But I don’t think denying Chick-fil-A’s their rights contributes to that goal. Not anymore than allowing them to have one of their restaurants at that service plaza will return this country to the bad old days of violent gay bashing.

We need to respect each other. LGBT activists need to respect the rights of religious people to believe as we do, just as religious people need to respect LGBT’s rights to believe as they do. As long as no one’s rights are being denied it is a win/win for everybody. What we cannot have is a denial by one faction the rights of another just because of their beliefs – whether those beliefs are sourced in religious values or humanistic values. 

Denying Chick-fil-A the right to have the same right as any other establishment because of their religious beliefs is precisely what the city fathers of Bloomfield are attempting to do. And that’s just wrong. Clashing values does not necessarily mean that only one side can win. Shame on Bloomfield’s city officials for thinking that way.