New Sherwood

How to sell a cake under the totalitarian LGBT regime

BakeryWindowSign

Many of you are already familiar with these recent stories:

Gresham Bakery That Denied Same-sex Wedding Cake Closes

N.M. Supreme Court: Photographers Can’t Refuse Gay Weddings

For Catholics, the question is this: to what degree can a small business cooperate – without sin – with the evil of same-sex “marriage” and the legitimization of homosexual behavior? I’m no theologian, but it seems to me that the bakery and photographer in the stories linked above were asked to engage in mediate material cooperation with evil, defined as follows:

Mediate material cooperation is concurrence in the morally wrong action of another, not by actually doing the act in any way and not by intending to do the act, but by supplying some peripheral assistance, or preparation for the act to be performed. This assistance must be in itself a good or at least morally indifferent act.

Mediate material cooperation with evil is sometimes licit, and sometimes illicit, depending on circumstances. My current understanding of the problem is that such cooperation would be licit if: a) refusal of cooperation would result in an unreasonable burden (e.g., closing the business); and b) the cooperation is protested to the best of one’s ability.

If the LGBT regime in the state of Oregon requires one to sell a wedding cake for a homosexual couple pretending to get married, and the price of refusal is going out of business and losing one’s economic livelihood, it seems to me that the cake can be licitly baked and sold if done under protest. If I’m right about that (and I could be wrong), here are some suggestions for doing so:

1. Include with the packaged cake a tract on the four sins that “cry out to God for vengeance”.

2. Include a statement of protest on the receipt: “This cake was baked and sold under compulsion by the state of Oregon. Smith’s Bakery strongly protests this unjust law, opposes homosexual behavior, and affirms that marriage is impossible between two people of the same sex.”

3. Issue a public statement along these lines: “All proceeds derived from same-sex ‘wedding’ cakes will be donated to Courage, the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage, or similar organizations.”

Your thoughts?

September 6, 2013 - Posted by | Catholic News, Catholicism, Culture

14 Comments »

  1. I note with approval that your recommendations do NOT include griping about “religious freedom” – although that is in the photo.

    Comment by Zippy | September 7, 2013 | Reply

  2. […] large and small, are required to take on customers that they don’t want.  New Sherwood has a clever idea about how to respond to liberal brownshirts who are using the law to force small business owners to […]

    Pingback by Let them eat cake | Zippy Catholic | September 7, 2013 | Reply

  3. That’s a toughie. I tend to think of it more in terms of speech acts. Let’s presume that the cake must have two “brides” on top in the cake of a lesbian “wedding.” In that case, you are with your own hands putting those two “brides” on top. This is a speech act that presents two women as a married couple, which is a falsehood. To my mind that makes it more than just material cooperation. It’s more along the lines of pouring out a libation to the emperor.

    The photography is even worse. A photographer is required to pose and take attractive pictures of a couple getting married, pictures that actively celebrate their love and present it in a positive light. It isn’t just a matter of turning on the camera and letting it run. There will be a photo session in which the couple will kiss and so forth, and the photographer is required to make artistic, attractive photos, zooming in on the hands and the rings, closeups of hugs and kisses, and so on and so forth. This is essentially creating a pro-homosexual work of art. It’s even worse than the cake, and I do not see how it can possibly be allowable to any Christian.

    Now, it’s been suggested that the photographer agree to photograph the weddings but deliberately do a bad job or suggest that he will be throwing up whenever there is a kiss and what-not.

    But those suggestions, I think, cannot be taken seriously as ways out of the dilemma, because that behavior will be just as likely as outright refusal to result in loss of livelihood. (By the way, I believe the photographer is still in business. She and her husband had to pay a fine, but it was not ruinous–several thousand dollars. Many others don’t get off that lightly, especially if personally sued for damages.)

    Deliberately doing a bad job at a service is deemed discrimination under existing non-discrimination law. The claim would be that the protesting photographer who _didn’t_ really celebrate the wedding was being like a waiter spitting in the soup of a black patron. (I just made that up, but you can bet your boots someone else would think of it.) Just as you couldn’t get away with agreeing to serve minorities at your restaurant but deliberately giving them slow service under existing discrimination law, by the analogy which the gay-inspired law makes to homosexuals, the photographer must not only take on the job but must *do it well*.

    I cannot see any possible way that doing so could be morally justified.

    Comment by Lydia | September 7, 2013 | Reply

  4. By the way, a commentator at W4 still holds out hope that a 1st amendment case may be won for the photographer. Generally people who offer an artistic, expressive service have some leeway relating to non-discrimination law, because of precedents on coerced speech.

    I have my doubts that even those precedents would ever be applied to the bakers, though. Alas.

    Comment by Lydia | September 7, 2013 | Reply

  5. Zippy, thanks for the comment here, and for the post on your blog!

    Comment by Blogmaster | September 7, 2013 | Reply

  6. Lydia, thanks for taking this question to the next level. Excellent points. I’m honestly stumped by this but your argument is persuasive. I’d like to hear Zippy’s response.

    Comment by Blogmaster | September 7, 2013 | Reply

  7. Or try this one on for size: A cake for a homosexual “engagement” party, where the baker is told to put the words, “Congratulations Bill and Bob on your engagement” on top of the cake in swirly frosting. That kind of puts the same point on the example that I was getting at with the twin bride figures on top, only with actual words.

    Comment by Lydia | September 7, 2013 | Reply

  8. The suggestion about warning them that you will be throwing up is from our Tony, by the way. It makes a great one-liner, but it isn’t a *strategy*. If one wants to pretend to “agree” to the photography service while really not providing what they are demanding, one might as well just refuse the photography assignment in the first instance and be hung for a sheep as for a lamb, because one will get in just as much trouble for the one as for the other.

    Comment by Lydia | September 7, 2013 | Reply

  9. Lydia, of course I’m looking for ways to comply with an unjust law while making it obvious that one does *not* agree and is complying *unwillingly* and under duress. I think the ideas referenced in the post accomplish this.

    However, the question remains as to whether certain acts of unwilling cooperation are in fact wrong in themselves. In order for mediate material cooperation to be licit, the assistance provided must not in itself be sinful. It might help to list some potential acts of compliance – that is, providing baked goods for a same-sex “wedding” reception – and to ask whether any of these are licit:

    1. Baking cookies, muffins, or scones to be served at the reception.

    2. Baking a cake that doesn’t look like a wedding cake to be served at the reception.

    3. Baking a wedding cake with no message to be served at the reception.

    4. Baking a wedding cake that only says “Congratulations!” to be served at the reception.

    5. Baking a wedding cake that says “Congratulations Tamara and Tanya!” to be served at the reception.

    6. Baking a wedding cake that says “Congratulations on your marriage!” to be served at the reception.

    7. Baking a wedding cake that says “Congratulations Tamara and Tanya on your marriage!” to be served at the reception.

    8. Baking a wedding cake with no message but decorated with two men in tuxedos.

    9. Baking a wedding cake with no message but decorated with two men dancing together in tuxedos.

    10. Baking a wedding cake with no message but decorated with a same-sex couple kissing.

    Etc.

    Which of these, if any, could be licit material cooperation if under duress, and assuming non-compliance would impose an unreasonable burden?

    Comment by Blogmaster | September 7, 2013 | Reply

  10. I think you’d be hard pressed to come up with *any* ideas that would apply to being a photographer for the “wedding,” for the reasons I gave–that the photographer is definitely making a work of art that endorses the event and the relationship and portrays them as beautiful. One can’t, in my opinion, make a lovely photo spread of a homosexual relationship qua homosexual relationship and make that act of artistic celebration licit by any amount of separate protest.

    For your list of 1-10, I’d say maybe 1 and 2, max. When we get into messages and obvious wedding cakes (things that look like wedding cakes), we’re into what one might calling meaning-units. Meaningful acts that are more than just material cooperation but are actual participation in the celebration of the event and in dubbing it a “wedding.”

    A separate question concerns meetings prior to the event and the extent to which one is required to be welcoming and positive in one’s attitude toward the event. This question would relate to tailors who provide suits and dresses (fittings) and also florists. While a suit or a bouquet might, in theory, be used for any event, so it might seem to fall into the realm of “I’m just selling you these muffins, and what you do with them is your business,” that isn’t really true when it comes to suiting a group of men for a wedding or providing flowers for a wedding. The provider is expected to work with the couple or the wedding coordinator to help make their day beautiful. Non-discrimination laws would not provide any outlet there for dragging one’s heels or expressing disapproval, and if anything the amount of cheerful consultation required would be greater even than that required for a cake.

    Comment by Lydia | September 7, 2013 | Reply

  11. I’m with you, Lydia. But could we not, under the circumstances, justify a wedding cake that was decorated without any hint of a same-sex element? The customer, in theory, could use a legitimate wedding cake for some other occasion (as improbable as that might be). And the baker could make his objections known to the customer in the ordering process. That would be hard to prosecute as illegal discrimination if the order was filled like any other.

    I don’t know.

    As for the photographers and other services you mention (florists, tailors, etc.), their cooperation does seem hard to justify under this rubric once we get down to the nitty-gritty of the relationships these providers must establish with their clients. That is to say, if a favorable disposition to the client’s event is *inherent* in the service provided, material cooperation becomes formal cooperation and cannot be licit under any circumstances.

    Now then, what about the employees of these businesses? What about the salesmen at Men’s Warehouse, for example, a chain with over 900 locations? If the LGBT movement gains traction nationally, serious Christians will be shut out of hundreds of occupations. The scope and magnitude of the injustice is staggering.

    Comment by Blogmaster | September 7, 2013 | Reply

  12. And the baker could make his objections known to the customer in the ordering process.

    We need to also consider the wedding guests. Now I think that merely showing up to a same-sex watchamacallit legally rubberstamped a “marriage” by a government waging an informal war against reality is in itself an unacceptable amount of cooperation with evil. However walking in their shoes for a moment I can imagine some of them simply lacking the fortitude to stand up to the pressure of filial loyalty or whatever got them to resignation, but these people are not ever going to see the protest of the baker. All they see is is a cake that is one more piece piece that confirms the grand farce. They are scandalized.

    Comment by Scott W. | September 7, 2013 | Reply

  13. ” But could we not, under the circumstances, justify a wedding cake that was decorated without any hint of a same-sex element?”

    I think it depends on what we mean by a “wedding cake.” Again, I’m thinking in terms of speech or meaningful productions. If it’s just a “boring” cake, as it were, then that’s less problematic. For one thing, you’re not even going to have to know that it’s being used for a “wedding.”

    But that really never happens at all. The baker delivers the cake on the day of the event, and a wedding cake has a particular appearance. At a minimum, it has a certain number of tiers and a certain look to it. Often it gets fancier, with a fountain in the middle or something. So as Scott points out, it confirms the “grand farce.” And it does so because it is a distinctive kind of cake–a cake with a social meaning, and made to convey that social meaning.

    I’d also be really surprised if you could provide it _without_ a pair of figures., I’ve never seen any wedding cake that has no figures in the middle at all.

    If the baker says he will provide only a more generic cake, will not call it a wedding cake, won’t put figures on top, and doesn’t want to know what it’s going to be used for, then I’m pretty sure he’s going to fined or sued for discrimination anyway under applicable ordinances, because he will be treating it differently than he would treat a comparable situation for a normal couple.

    Employees of companies seem to me to be often in a very different position, because they may be

    a) removed from actually expressing a favorable disposition
    b) creating elements of the ultimate product rather than creating a product directly in relation to the objectionable event.

    If we’re talking about someone who works at a sewing machine making suits for Men’s Warehouse, that person is pretty far away in the causal chain and is not doing something meaningful that expresses approval or endorsement.

    But that’s going to vary with the type of job, and with a salesman, we might be back to the “favorable disposition” problem. If the salesman has to act happy about the same-sex “wedding,” then he may have to risk getting fired by not acting happy.

    Comment by Lydia | September 7, 2013 | Reply

  14. A baker might try going out of the wedding-cake business altogether. He could perhaps downgrade all wedding cakes to “occasion cakes.” He could tell customers that he no longer makes wedding cakes but that he makes “occasion cakes” that are a _bit_ like wedding cakes, only not as elaborate or clearly “wedding-like,” and no figures on the top or messages relating to any wedding, engagement, or similar celebration. And he could tell customers that he no longer asks the names of the bride and groom if the “occasion” happens to be a wedding, that he delivers the cake to the customer or representative on that day, does not deliver to the occasion. In other words, distancing himself from the occasion as much as possible.

    To avoid prosecution, this would have to be consistent for all customers, including the sweet Catholic man and woman who plan to have nine children as soon as possible.

    Now, that may very well put him out of business anyway, because he’ll lose a lot of business from heterosexual couples who want a regular wedding cake and the usual cake arrangement. My impression is that wedding cakes make up a big part of the revenue of bakers. (My husband knows the people who run a local bakery. They, along with several other businesses, had a minor break-in a couple of months ago. The thieves broke open the cash register and took some cash. The lady owner told my husband that they were almost welcome to break into the cash register as long as they left the cooler alone, because it would have been a much bigger blow to her business if they’d gotten into the cooler and damaged the several wedding cakes she had in there.)

    In the end, it would be kind of interesting if Christians went to a much plainer and less expensive approach to weddings altogether as a protest against this tyranny. Support your local Christian baker by buying a smaller and less elaborate cake, which is all he makes anymore. Tell bridesmaids and groomsmen that they should just dress in their Sunday best after having it vetted for modesty and appropriateness by the bride and groom or someone they appoint for that purpose. And so forth.

    The wedding business is ostentatious and a money-sink as things are. If we went back to simple weddings with a few close friends, it might not be such a bad idea.

    Comment by Lydia | September 7, 2013 | Reply


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