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Ever since Metzger Bar & Butchery in Richmond canceled our organization’s reservation an hour and a half before our guests would have arrived for dessert, we’ve received widespread support from Americans who don’t want to dine where a religious or political litmus test is applied at the door.
For those unfamiliar with the disturbing incident, our organization was denied access to the restaurant because the waitstaff refused to serve us on account of beliefs.
When waitstaff at any restaurant prejudge people they’ve never met based entirely on the faith-based values of those people, it is unsettling. For many conservative Christians, the hatred and intolerance echoes experience they know all too well. They are tired of being the subject of irrational fears and hatred by the woke elites, who want them shut out of the public square and the marketplace. Many people have strongly urged us to take the matter to court.
As an organization with a legal arm, the Founding Freedoms Law Center, a lawsuit or prosecution request seems like an obvious next step. Every day our attorneys are working on legal actions in situations where people of faith, including doctors and teachers, have lost jobs or had other serious consequences occur as a direct result of their religion. When employers trample on the fundamental religious freedom of their employees, we allow legal judgments to remind them of the Constitution and civil rights.
Metzger’s waitstaff was wrong, and its owners should have seized the opportunity to educate their team about customer service despite differences, rather than yielding to prejudice.
Although our guests and I could have taken great offense at being denied service and labeled “unsafe” simply for sitting down to eat, the very faith that the waitstaff find so threatening teaches us to turn the other cheek. We simply and graciously found another restaurant, without making a scene or demanding that they serve us.
Moreover, unlike many in the LGBT community, we do not believe it is always necessary or desirable to weaponize government against those who deny us services because they disagree with our beliefs. This was just Colorado where multiple bakeries exist. Jack Phillips will bake for anyone, any cake he or she wishes except one that violates his faith. HIs customers include those who are LGBT, he simply won’t bake to celebrate a same-sex wedding, The free market is the solution, not the government.
When prohibited discrimination causes people harm, which can be made right by the justice system, a legal path can be a worthy solution. Yet even if a win in court here could satisfy the hurt felt by the ill-treatment of many people of faith, such a path is not our definition of living at peace with everyone as far as it concerns us. As Metzger is far from the only restaurant in Richmond, we were able to redirect our guests elsewhere. In this instance, Metzger has been tried in the court of public opinion.
The lesson for other businesses could not be more clear: discriminate against people of faith and find yourself shamed on a national stage. It is not a recipe for success. Metzger needs to learn that.
Some say, if Jack won’t bake the cake, he should “get out of the kitchen.” Would they that about Metzger?
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I have news for everyone. Principled Christians populate every career, and they aren’t going to be chased away by the intolerance of others, nor would you like a world without their influence. Pro-life doctors shouldn’t have to leave the medical field because they believe human life in the womb should be protected, not purged. Catholic adoption agencies shouldn’t have to shut down because they believe it’s optimal to give a child a mom and a dad. Christian psychologists shouldn’t be forced to push children with gender confusion toward hormones and amputations when they know counseling could heal.
A pluralistic society must have room for all viewpoints. Those who shout “tolerance” the loudest need to practice it, even against those they deem the most unworthy. I contend that their tolerance of people of faith might not be as difficult as they think once they engage with Christians. The very faith that the waitstaff finds threatening is the faith that compels us to treat the waitstaff with charity and love.
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Our law center will continue to litigate on behalf of others free of charge when the injury is great, and the marketplace does not ensure an adequate remedy. But not today. Not against Metzger.