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Pastor Jenell Mahoney

I was disturbed by this week's ruling by Judge David Lampe supporting Cathy Miller’s refusal to make a cake for Eileen and Mireya Rodrigues-Del Rio’s wedding.

His opinion states that because the cake had not yet been made, she was free to refuse based upon “the knowledge that her work will be displayed in celebration of a marital union her religion forbids.“

Cathy Miller, of course, applauded the decision, saying, “… I cannot be a part of a celebration that goes against my Lord and Savior.”

I served as a Christian pastor for more than 35 years, and I found nothing in all those years studying the Bible that leads me to think that Jesus, my Lord and Savior, would agree with her. Jesus, in all his recorded preaching, never spoke even once about homosexuality or same-sex unions. However, he did definitely speak out against those who were so certain of their superiority that they disregarded the poor, the lepers, the tax collectors, women and children.

Jesus preferred the “outcasts” to the “pious,” every time. What he did preach was love — love for neighbor, love for the sinner, love even for one’s enemy — a love that gives everything and holds nothing back.

I am also a fervent believer in the U.S. Constitution’s separation of Church and State. Both federal and state law now recognize same-sex unions and definitely outlaw discrimination based upon race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

So it troubles me there are so many elements of a particular religious attitude and perspective, a solely conservative Christian perspective, that seem to have informed and guided the judge’s decision. It also makes me wonder whether the judge would have made the same ruling if a devout member of a different faith, for example a Jew, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim or Buddhist, had refused to serve someone because doing so would not be acceptable to their religious beliefs?

Where does the line fall between refusal based on religious convictions and outright discrimination? If you follow the judge’s logic, a chef could refuse to cook a meal for customers if his or her “faith” found people of a different race, or gender, or faith, unacceptable. After all, the meal a chef makes is also an expression of his or her expertise and creativity. It is not pre-made, but created when ordered. If it is justified to refuse to make a cake, is one justified by a claim to one’s faith to refuse to make a meal?

There was a disturbing recent post on Facebook, where an individual in San Diego had written “tips only given to U.S. citizens” on the bill for their meal. How did this person determine that their server was not a citizen? On the basis of their skin color? Their accent? A not-so-casual “where are you from?” Have some people really become so mean-spirited that they claim a “failed” citizenship test to justify stiffing a server of their tip?

Yet, in a sense, refusing to make a wedding cake for a couple because both are the same gender shows a similar rejection based upon a narrow definition of who is acceptable and who is not. I am mystified how this can be thought of as an issue of freedom of speech and artistic expression. It seems so obviously discrimination.

Eileen and Mireya Rodrigues-Del Rios came to Tastries’ Cathy Miller seeking her expertise as a baker. They did not seek a cake as a deliberate challenge to her religious beliefs.

Actually, I imagine that had Ms. Miller made the cake, the comments at the reception would have been about what a wonderful baker she was, and how lovely the cake looked. I can’t imagine anyone would have said, “This cake means that Ms. Miller is endorsing same-sex marriage.”

Cathy Miller’s version of Christianity may think same-sex marriage is forbidden, but not mine. She may think her Jesus rejects and condemns those who would enter into a loving, committed relationship via marriage, while I worship a Savior that welcomes and loves all. But then, I belong to a church that means it when we say, “No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome.”

Jenell Mahoney of Bakersfield is a retired minister who during her career served both the Methodist and Congregational churches. The views expressed are her own.

(5) comments

dirtyshirt

If history is precedent this opinion by a truly loving Christian will be answered with anger, veiled threat, vitriol, hollow "laughter" and foundation-less, unreferenced declarations of 'alternate truths'. There will also be a smaller number of thoughtful responses from other Christians, more dogmatic and less loving, certainly, but recognizably Christian and more or less reasoned. For them, and only because of their (relative) desire for civility, I offer this insight into the notion that Jesus was anything but what the author describes: "...you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

Bud

Dear Jenell Mahoney thank you for your years of serving God. But Jenell, it is beyond my comprehension that you state, and I quote your words "I served as a Christian pastor for over 35 years, and I found nothing in all those years studying the Bible that leads me o think that Jesus, my Lord and Savior, would agree with her. Jesus in all His recorded preaching never spoke even once about homosexuality or same sex unions."
Apparently you read from a different Bible. I ask you to please turn to
1Corinthians 6: 9-10 and Matthew 19:4-5, to read the words Jesus SPOKE. While you have your Bible open. please read 1 Timothy 1:10, Leviticus 18:22 &20:13,
Romans 1:26-27, Jude 1:7. Please don't tell me God's Word , including the words of Jesus, does not address this issue. Your header says "That may be her Lord, but mine loves and welcomes all" If you had truly been listening the past few weeks when interviewed and in Cath's presentation at the Prayer Rally you would have heard her say, She is a child of God and loves ALLl God's people without reservation, She welcomes ALL people to her bakery and will sell any product displayed in counters to ALL. She will make birthday, valentine, graduation etc. cakes, cupcakes, and cookies for ALL. Simply put, she will not create a cake for an event that violates her conscience which is based on the Word of God. The issue is she is exercising her freedom of speech, remaining silent in not partipating, and exercising her freedom of religion given to us ALL in the First Amendment. Let us accept our difference and respect each other's God given rights ..... Tolerance

BanditIvy

Finally a Judge with a pair of balls

kemw

“It seems so obviously discrimination.” Does it really? I'm not saying I agree or disagree with either of you but Christianity is kind of a strange thing :(

I was Methodist for 20+ years, since I was a teen, even baptized Methodist.
In 1998 My husband got cancer from Agent Orange. After his treatments, he was cleared of the cancer. We wanted to celebrate the good news, so we decide to renew our vows My husband wanted it western style and I wanted it outside.
We decided for our new Methodist pastor to preform it. our last one retired..
But when we asked her, she wouldn't do it.. She said she only preforms weddings and vow renewals in church where God is.
That's not my belief. I was raised that God was every where's, because he created everything.. She obviously believed that her God was only in man made churches..
So we found a non denominational pastor that would preform it outside.. And we never went back to that Methodist church again.

The moral of this story is, Not all Christian beliefs are the same. every person is different in the way they think and believe which is how God made us.
Your Lord and savior, is Jesus the son of God.. Millers Lord and savior may very well be GOD.

Isaiah 44:24 "I am the Lord, your savior; I am the one who created you. I am the Lord, the Creator of all things. I alone stretched out the heavens; when I made the earth, no one helped me."
Isaiah 45:21 "Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me."

GaryJohns

I'm pleased that you were "disturbed".....

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