Why This Christian Shop Owner is Hurting Christians

Posted on April 28, 2015 in Religious Freedom by

Brian KlawiterI get it. Christians want the right to live according to their beliefs. That freedom, which has been foundational in American history, is currently under attack with the advancement of same-sex “marriage” and LGBT rights. So as a Christian, I get it.

Case after case can be cited showing how the rights of Christians to conduct business in accordance with their religious convictions is being assaulted:

Arlene’s Flowers.

Masterpiece Bakery.

Elane Photography.

These are some of the more prominent cases, but the list is ridiculously long and growing.

So I understand Christians wanting to stand up for their religious freedom and live and do business according to their convictions. However, there is a line that must be drawn – and here’s where I draw it.

The owner of a Michigan auto shop posted on its Facebook page that it would refuse to offer services to openly gay people. This announcement came with other revelations, such as people who bring in their guns would be given a discount (including off-duty cops). Citing his freedom of speech and religious freedom the owner, Brian Klawiter, said he has no plans to back down and would stand firm concerning both his convictions and his right to live and do business according to those convictions. He wrote:

“Our rights as conservative Americans are being squashed more and more everyday. Apparently if you are white (or close to it), you have a job, go to church, and own a gun… That translates into racists, privileged, bigot, conspiracy theorist. Too many of us say nothing…Therefore, in the spirit of freedom (whats left of it) and MY right to operate MY business as I see fit: Guns ARE allowed at DIESELTEC, so much so in fact that we will offer a discount if you bring in your gun…I am a Christian. My company will be run in a way that reflects that. Dishonesty, thievery, immoral behavior, etc. will not be welcomed at MY place of business. (I would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons. Homosexuality is wrong, period. If you want to argue this fact with me then I will put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works.)”

While I absolutely support Klawiter’s free speech and religious freedom rights, I part ways in refusing to service the automobile of someone because of their sexual orientation.

Someone might wonder how this differs from the cases cited above. Good question.

The main difference is that in the cases cited above, one a baker, one a florist, and one a photographer, the services being rendered amount to both art and speech for the purpose of celebrating a wedding. By forcing, or compelling people to create art/speech that affirms and celebrates a gay wedding, a person’s religious convictions are being violated. However, working on an automobile in no way violates a religious conviction and, in turn, does indeed create a situation where someone could justifiably be called a bigot.

No, let me clarify something. I fully the support the right of business owners to operate their business as they see fit and refuse service to anyone. I would, frankly, be delighted to find more shops that refuse service as it would be a sign of freedom. I would not be the least bit offended to walk into a flower shop and hear the store owner say they only serve black people. I’d simply walk out and find another flower shop. So Klawiter’s right to refuse service is not being questioned; it’s his reasoning that bothers me.

Klawiter is saying that he will refuse to serve a gay person because homosexuality is a sin and he doesn’t believe in it. The problem here is that if Klawiter takes this position he must – in order to be consistent and not be a hypocrite – refuse to serve anyone guilty of any sin. See the problem?

Refusing to work on someone’s car because he is gay is nothing short of refusing to help someone. For a Christian this Isanti-biblical, it’s the opposite of what Jesus taught. Jesus didn’t refuse to talk to the woman at the well because she was living an immoral life. Jesus didn’t’ refuse to help the woman caught in adultery because she was a prostitute. Immorality never stopped Jesus from helping another person. In fact, if you want to be really honest, it was the Pharisees (the religious “experts”) that often refused to help sinners (the immoral people) because of their immorality. Jesus didn’t like them. He had nothing nice to say about them.

I appreciate what Klawiter is trying to do. He wants to stand up for free speech and religious freedom. I get it. But he is going about it the wrong way. He is throwing another stone at people that have been abused by society (on both sides of aisle) and are in need of a helping hand. Klawiter would do much better at reaching people with the Gospel by inviting them to his shop instead of barring them.

To be clear, people who create works of art and communicate messages through their profession (bakers, florists, photographers) should NOT be compelled by force of the government to participate in anything that violates their religious convictions. No one should ever be forced to violate his/her religious convictions. Participating in a same-sex wedding most certainly would violate the religious convictions of these people and I whole-heartedly support their right to refuse. But, changing someone’s oil does not – in any way that I can ascertain – violate a person’s convictions. There is not biblical principle regarding helping someone, or working on their car.

So, I can’t support this business owner’s decision on religious grounds. I can see nothing but harm to the name of Jesus, and to Christians coming from this. It’s a sad misapplication of principles.

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