Tag archives: conscience

Bigots?” Memories Pizza Demonstrates its Tolerance.

by Travis Weber

October 9, 2015

It is hard to miss recent media portrayals of anyone who voices or acts on their religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage in how they run their business as “bigoted” and seeking a “license to discriminate.” This consistent narrative has judged their motives without reason, roundly rejecting small business owners’ (often wedding vendors) claims that they are simply living out their faith with love, but can’t be a part of a ceremony that violates their consciences.

When the owners of Memories Pizza — a small town pizzeria in Indiana — were posed a hypothetical question about whether they would cater a same-sex wedding last year, the “intolerance” of their simple response that they would not resulted in a threat to burn down their shop. They didn’t react in turn, but continued to explain that they would happily serve customers who identify as homosexual; they just didn’t want to be a part of the wedding. Of course none of this mattered to those not seeking the facts.

Now it appears that a man ordered two pizzas from Memories Pizza, without stating his reasons (as is quite normal when ordering pizza), and brought them back to serve at his same-sex wedding. He’s recorded the event, and claimed Memories “catered” his gay wedding — without knowing it. In response, Memories owner Kevin O’Connor hasn’t threatened to burn anything down. He hasn’t called anyone a bigot. He’s actually not really too interested in what happened.

So what’s the point?

Memories Pizza served a man regardless of his sexual orientation. The owners did not deny him service. They didn’t “turn him away.” And the fact that their pizzas were served at a gay wedding isn’t too bothersome to them. They didn’t quiz the man when he came in, asking him what he would use the pizza for. Those truly seeking to understand the conflicts in the “wedding vendor cases” should study what happened here, for they will see that no one involved is interested in simply turning away customers based on their sexual orientation.

What else can we learn?

It’s important to note that Kevin O’Connor didn’t run around claiming “my conscience was violated here!” Conscience is not violated merely by the occurrence of events; there must be knowledge of what one is getting oneself into. Thus, conscience is violated when someone is forced to knowingly participate in something they believe is wrong. Kevin wasn’t forced to participate in anything here; thus he wasn’t upset. He had no problem with serving a person in his shop, whether or not that person identifies as homosexual.

This is an important teaching moment on the role of conscience in the “wedding vendor cases” and beyond. The small business owners involved are not asking to simply “turn people away” or for a “blank check” to do whatever they want; they are advancing sincere conscience claims in certain circumstances. Memories Pizza’s unproblematic “catering” of this same-sex wedding shows that. Those who sincerely care to understand more about such religious freedom claims can learn from this development.

On the Unborn, the Media, and the Conscience

by Rob Schwarzwalder

May 5, 2011

There are some things in life you just cant avoid. Death and taxes come to mind, of course, and the seeming inevitability of the Cubs ultimate collapse.

There are others. One of them is the inescapable reality that abortion involves not a collation of tissue but the destruction of a person, a human being.

This is not just a theological assertion or philosophical rumination: We know from medical science that from conception, the unborn child has the entire DNA of a fully mature adult. What changes at time of birth is not the humanness of the child but his or her place of residence: For nine months, the womb was home; for the remainder of a persons life, it is the world around us.

Even the mass media cannot help itself. In ordinary stories, the personhood of the child pops up in the simple reportage of stories of the day. However much the pro-abortion movement has sought to shape the language of popular culture and public education, the fact that the little ones in the womb are, in fact, people, keeps intruding itself into public discourse. For example (bold and italics are mine):

  • On Monday of this week, the ABC affiliate in Minneapolis-St. Paul noted that a grand jury has returned an indictment charging a Buffalo man with three counts of vehicular homicide after a multi-vehicle crash in Lakeville killing two people and an unborn child.
  • On April 28, the Montgomery (AL) Advertiser had this headline: Family grieves loss of woman, her unborn child.
  • In Bowling Green, Kentucky, the CBS affiliate told us late last month that a Kentucky state investigator testified Tuesday that Kathy Michelle Coy, the woman accused of killing a pregnant mother and stealing her baby.
  • Yesterday, the Today Show news site reported, Mom recounts saving unborn child from shooting spree.
  • Also yesterday, the Chicago Tribune, one of the nations largest papers, informed us that Cook County Judge James Linn sentenced James Larry, 33, of Madison, Wis., to five natural life sentences on murder charges, two 30-year prison sentences for attempted murder charges and two 45-year prison sentences for charges of intentional homicide of an unborn child.

These are only a few examples from just the past couple of weeks.

Seminary president Al Mohler has observed that while The American conscience remains deeply divided over the question of abortion … the truth has a way of working itself into view.

That view is clearly seen in every ultrasound, but is also known to the law written on the heart described by the Apostle Paul (Romans 2:15). We can euphemize our language, speaking only of fetus and choice. We can deflect the demands of intellectual honesty when confronted by medical fact and common reason. But in the depth of our hearts and minds, we know better. We know.

Obama, Reason, Revelation and Abortion

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 19, 2009

Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all. Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. - Barack Obama

Then-Senator Obama made this statement during his speech to Jim Wallis’ “Call to Renewal” conference in 2006. Note two things:

(1) He effectively denies the commonality of natural law and the conscience the foundation of the universal values he commends and links opposition to abortion only to the revelation of Scripture.

(2) He also suggests that opposing abortion cannot be justified by our “common reality.”

As the first point, is the President prepared to argue that no “self evident truths” exist? Is the assertion that all men are created equal and have rights endowed to them by a Creator too culture-specific for Mr. Obama? And is the validity of these assertions determined simply by the number of people who agree with them?

As to the second point, is the “common reality” determined by the 50 percent plus one? If so, did the “common reality” of the Japanese military state in the 1930s surely justify the rape of Nanking?

Mr. Obama calls for our being amenable to reason. Yet he is unreasonable in refusing seriously to interact with the irrefutable scientific evidence that personhood begins at conception and, if so, that every person has value independent of his or her mother from that moment and therefore possesses and should obtain a legally-recognized right to life.

Perhaps the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer captured it all most clearly:

Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder.

Ethics (New York; Macmillan, 1965), pp. 175-6.

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