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Barn wedding reception (Photo: Joshua Rainey Photography, The Daily Signal)

Barn wedding reception (Photo: Joshua Rainey Photography, The Daily Signal)

Here we go, again.

You’ve heard about the Christian florists forced to close up their business after being forced by the state to pay egregious fines for politely declining to participate in same-sex marriages as a matter of religious conviction.

You’ve heard about the wedding cake bakers who were forced to close up their business after being forced by the state to pay egregious fines for politely declining to participate in same-sex marriages as a matter of religious conviction.

You’ve heard about the photographers who were forced to close up their business after being forced by the state to pay egregious fines for politely declining to participate in same-sex marriages as a matter of religious conviction.

Now meet Robert and Cynthia Gifford, family farmers who have been hit with a $13,000 fine by New York state’s division of human rights for politely declining to host a same-sex marriage as a matter of religious conviction.

These are real-life examples of citizens being deprived of the free exercise of their religious beliefs, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by officials in four different states. It’s becoming a trend. It’s what I call “same-sex marriage tyranny.”

In states that have rewritten their laws to change the definition of marriage from an institution between one man and one woman, or, which have been coerced to do so by federal judicial rulings, the rationale for such decisions has been “tolerance,” “diversity,” “non-discrimination” and other nice-sounding platitudes. But the consequences for these decisions mean just the opposite of “tolerance,” “diversity” and “non-discrimination” for some innocent bystanders – mostly Christians – who seek only to remain true to their religious convictions.

They are being coerced to become active participants in ceremonies and celebrations that violate their consciences – in America, a nation formed and codified in the law as a refuge for the free exercise of religion.

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That this is happening all over the country already, and that it is necessary to write a column denouncing this kind of intolerance, lack of diversity and active discrimination against people based on their religious convictions is shocking and disturbing.

This is not the way a free society operates.

There is no inalienable right to force individuals or businesses through government coercion to become active participants in activity that violates their most fundamental religious or moral beliefs.

Let me pose a hypothetical intellectual challenge: The law that forms the basis for the action against the Giffords in New York is a provision that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Yet, isn’t that precisely what is happening to the Giffords? Are they not being coerced to accept and approve someone else’s sexual orientation? Are they not permitted to hold their own sexual orientation, one that acknowledges their God’s definition that marriage is a union of one man and one woman?

The Giffords are not campaigning to prevent other people from following their own conscience as to their sexual choices and activities. It’s just the opposite. They are being coerced by the state to take part in the sexual choices and activities of others.

Isn’t that obvious?

I imagine there are people in America who believe heterosexual marriage is wrong. There were many feminist leaders years ago who claimed heterosexual marriage was the equivalent of “rape,” the moral equivalent of “slavery.” Should people with those kinds of convictions be forced by the state to participate in ceremonies and celebrations of heterosexual marriage? Or should they be free to follow the dictates of their consciences – as florists, bakers, photographers and caterers – to turn down such business?

I don’t think anyone in their right mind would want to coerce people with those ideas to serve them at their weddings. After all, who would want to do that – unless you were simply trying to limit individual liberty and choice?

And that’s exactly what the same-sex marriage tyrants are trying to do – to use state coercion to limit the liberty and choices of people who simply have different ideas about the institution of marriage.

Here’s a hypothetical analogy for you to consider: Suppose a Christian couple planning a marriage went to a Jewish baker and requested a wedding cake decorated with a cross. And suppose the Jewish baker felt uncomfortable with that idea. Should he forced to do so? I don’t think so. Nor can I imagine any Christian couple wanting to use the coercive power of the state to do that. They would simply go to another baker. That would be the logical, non-tyrannical thing to do.

Here’s another hypothetical scenario: Suppose a Jewish couple chooses a homosexual photographer to take pictures at their wedding. Among the things they require the photographer to do is to take a photo of them before a banner emblazoned with the following scripture verse: Genesis 2:24 – “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Maybe the photographer feels uncomfortable and even spiritually condemned with this requirement. Should he be forced by the state to do it because failing to accept the assignment would be tantamount to violating the Jewish couple’s “sexual orientation” or even their religious convictions? I don’t think so. Nor can I imagine any Jewish couple wanting to use the coercive power of the state to do that. They would simply go to another photographer. That would be the logical, non-tyrannical thing to do.

When “tolerance” becomes intolerance, we have bigotry.

When “diversity” becomes state-enforced conformity, we have religious persecution.

When “non-discrimination” becomes victimization of those with different religious and moral convictions, we literally have the establishment of a state religion and, effectively, the repeal of the First Amendment.

Who wants that?

It’s not Christians.

It’s not Jews.

Just look around and see for yourself.

Some people are trying to get the state to force those with different values, morals and religious idea to serve them in ways that violate their consciences.

I only see that kind of coercion demanded among two groups of people today – those who believe in the unlimited power of the state as their “god” and others who believe their god wants them to kill or subjugate all “infidels.”

Where do you stand?

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