weddingcaketoppersWhile Christians are being slaughtered throughout the Middle East; while their churches are being burned; yea, while women and homosexuals are being stoned to death, we now learn that what really arouses the ire of Western liberals is that gay couples in America have to trudge yards, sometimes blocks, to purchase their wedding cakes.

Since The Wizard of Oz is one of the favourite films of homosexual audiences, allow me to slightly amend Dorothy’s famous line: “I don’t think we’re in Indiana anymore.” No, Indiana, Kansas, and the entire Western world have apparently been swept up by a politically correct whirlwind into a – let’s hope the language police aren’t reading this – fairyland Oz, in which the wicked witch of Christianity is dead and somewhere over the rainbow flag, we will all arrive at a paradise of cultural diversity, equity, and peace.

Item. Indianapolis, 2013. A Baptist couple was forced to close the doors of their bakery after they demurred when asked to provide a cake for a same-sex wedding. Rather than trying any of the dozens of other proximate establishments that would have been only too happy to comply with his request – and thereby proclaim their sexual open-mindedness to the liberal beau monde – the “groom” went straight to the media.

Item. Albuquerque, 2006. A small photography studio owned by a Christian couple declined a request to photograph a same-sex ceremony, referring the homosexual petitioners to other photographers in the area. Instead, they complained to the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, which convicted the photographers of discrimination on the grounds of “sexual orientation” (even though their portfolio included portraits of a number of homosexual individuals), and levied a fine of several thousands of dollars.

Item. Washington State (appeal pending). When a female florist declined a request to arrange flowers for a same-sex wedding because it violated her Christian belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, the gay couple filed a complaint, which led to a suit against the florist by the state Attorney-General, a court order, and thousands of dollars in fines. Once again, the petitioners had been longstanding and happy customers of the florist.

Item. Denver, 2012-2013. Another Christian bakery, another same-sex wedding, another demurral on the grounds of religious conscience, another official complaint, another conviction and fine.

Item.Oregon, 2013. Ibid (notwithstanding that Oregon law defines marriage as between one man and one woman). In addition to substantial fines, the Christian couple was subjected to media protests, boycotts, violent demonstrations, and death threats, forcing them to close their bakeshop in September of 2013.

In part to forestall the above, in 2015 the Indiana legislature passed its Religious Liberty Restoration Act, whereupon the City of San Francisco, Dow Chemical, Apple, PayPal, the NCAA, the NBA, the NFL (and for all I know, the National Quilting Bee), along with assorted rock bands and Hollywood starlets, threatened to boycott the state, while dismissing the religious freedom named in the act as a fig-leaf for Christian “homophobia,” and warning that, if the law were allowed to stand, homosexuals would soon be tarred and feathered, stretched on the rack, burnt at the stake, lynched, strung up by their leathers, and ________ (insert your favourite atrocity in the history of Christian intolerance here). Leaving aside the fact that multinational corporations such as Apple and Dow have no moral qualms about doing business with such human rights nonpareils as China, not to mention famously gay-friendly Saudi Arabia, in other circumstances liberals might be heard to sermonize solemnly about “the influence of money in politics,” and “caving in to Big Business.” Unsurprisingly, the pusillanimous Indiana Legislature caved in to Big Gay—they appended a clause forbidding “discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation” – leaving one to wonder whether gay bashing oughtn’t now to be understood as gays bashing Christians. (I for one am re-thinking my opposition to gay-straight alliances in schools, as a prophylactic against such bullying.)

It seems like really bad luck that the betrothed of the homosexual community keep stumbling into evangelical Christian establishments. If I were a typically paranoid right-wing, homophobe, I might suspect that what we are dealing with here is a targeted campaign. Somehow gay “brides and grooms” never wander into shops that turn out to be owned by radical Muslims. But then Muslims are rather less complacent about their religious freedoms than Christians. And it’s multicultural bad form to haul Muslims up before Western human rights tribunals, where in any case, homosexual activists can never be certain that, in the inevitable clash of progressive sensibilities, the liberal establishment will come down on their side.

A thought experiment: an evangelical Christian pastor walks into a bakery owned by a homosexual. “We’re holding a prayer vigil at our local church,” he says to the proprietor. “I’ll be preaching against sin. We’d like a cake that reads – in rainbow-coloured icing, if you don’t mind – ‘God abominates buggery; Sodomites are going to hell.’ When can you have it ready, and how much will it cost?”

How do you imagine our gay baker might respond? “Well, sir, your request violates the deepest stratum of my moral conscience; but thank you for choosing Puff Pastries R Us. That’ll be $21.95 with tax. Your cake will be ready in the morning.” I doubt it. He’d indignantly refuse. And rather than being prosecuted for overtly discriminating against his customer on religious grounds, he’d be universally lauded as a champion of homosexual “rights.” Meanwhile the pastor’s sketch of the cake would be impounded as evidence in his trial for hate speech.

Now, surely all fair-minded persons would deem it unreasonable to demand that a homosexual business owner lend his labour to a Christian cause that is abhorrent to him. Why, then, should a Christian shopkeeper’s services be conscripted by the state in the celebration of a mock-sacrament that represents a direct affront to his religious conscience and creed?

In the Indiana Wedding Cake Affair, the sanctimony of liberals, insufferable at the best of times, has now become self-satirizing. The manner, for one, in which they have turned the words “tolerance” and “diversity” on their heads must make the superannuated propagandists of the former Soviet Ministry of Truth green with envy. In ordinary language, toleration denotes a mutual acceptance of differing and often conflicting beliefs and world-views. For homosexual militants, it has been redefined to mean state-coerced approval of gay behavior, along with state-enforced intolerance of traditional Christian beliefs and norms. One might say that gays want to eat the cake of diversity and have it too.

For inclusionist gays, tolerance is an exclusively one-way street. An accommodating heterosexual majority has made same-sex “marriage” legal, and enshrined LGBT propaganda in schools from kindergarten to graduate school. All universities now have departments of Queer Studies; and with Kathleen Wynne’s sex-education curriculum about to begin next September for first-graders, the registrars of those departments can look forward to a bumper enrollment in another twelve years or so. Already in universities across North America, posted above doorways, seating areas, and even the cubicles in male washrooms – which must surely puzzle the agents of the vice squad – are precious little signs declaring each zone a “gay and lesbian positive space.” Of course, the apparatchiks of the Ministry of Cultural Diversity and Good Vibes who come up with these feel-good initiatives never stop to consider that gay and lesbian positive spaces are negative spaces for traditional Christians, Jews, or Muslims: direct rebukes to their religious beliefs and moral sensibilities. (Liberalism is all about not offending people; unless, that is, they are non-liberals).

Religious conservatives, in short, have everywhere ceded the mainstream culture to its homosexual captors. Must Christians also now bake their nuptial cakes, arrange their bridal bouquets, and photograph their matrimonial osculations? In the spirit of tolerance and diversity, can’t gays leave Christians alone to run their businesses and live their lives as their consciences dictate?

In the West, the crusade for homosexual “rights” is merely the latest front in a secular liberal jihad against Christianity that has been underway for half a century now. The ayatollahs of tolerance and diversity cannot abide the fact that infidel Christians continue to blaspheme against the “alternative” gay lifestyle. They tolerate no reciprocal right to the prosecution of a non-alternative lifestyle, not even the right to decline to participate in the sanctification of a behaviour that Christians, along with the millions of other adherents of the world’s three major religions, have regarded as aberrant for millennia.

It seems quaint to recall that freedom of religion has been the aspiration of waves of immigrants to the New World, and the seminal project of the founders of Western democracy. Today, the state’s Established Church of Irreligion restricts the exercise of non-conformist faiths to the dark side of the church door. Christians are free to attend services in the morning, but must obliviate everything they have heard and done once they transit the narthex on their way to the workplace or the public square. As Mark Steyn has quipped, gays and liberals don’t mind people being Christians, so long as they keep their Christianity in the closet. Atheists and other enemies of religion have always charged its adherents with hypocrisy, but for the first time in history, it is considered a virtue (indeed, an obligation) not to practice what you preach. Had such a shrunken and impoverished conception of religious liberty as Christians currently enjoy been in their minds, the Pilgrim Fathers would hardly have bothered to sail; they’d have stayed home and taken their chances with the Divine Right of Kings.

Meanwhile, gays are also the most recent of the fully-accredited victim groups in our society to be granted immunity from criticism. The mildest dissent from the homosexual agenda – a politician’s refusal, for instance, to attend the local Pride Parade, the common-sensical observation of a link between homosexuality and AIDS, or the slightest mockery of the gay lifestyle – will be met with the same sanctimonious outrage as evinced in the radical Islamic world by criticism of the Prophet. No bombs will explode and no infidels will be be-headed, but the soft-totalitarian slur of “homophobe” will be enough to put careers, businesses, and reputations in jeopardy. Jobs will be lost, apologies will be demanded, speech will be censored (or self-censored), and another layer in that suffocating blanket of political correctness will be wrapped around the corpse of democratic liberty.