by Travis Weber
February 13, 2018
The other day, Jimmy Kimmel responded to a California Court ruling affirming Christian baker Cathy Miller’s First Amendment right to not be compelled to create a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding.
Here is a response to Jimmy Kimmel’s response, which I also presented on Facebook Live with our own Brynne Krispin (below).
First, I commend Kimmel for trying to tackle the issue, and for acknowledging the judge’s ruling in favor of the baker “sounded reasonable.” That’s a start.
But Kimmel then goes off track when trying to portray what happened.
In his skit, he plays a waiter who quizzes customers at his hypothetical restaurant, asking after they sat down but before serving them: “Are any of you gay?” After one woman says yes, he informs her his chef can’t make her a salad because he “believes homosexuality is a sin” (while offering her a salad made yesterday before “he knew you were gay”)—wrongly implying that the California baker did the exact same thing.
ERROR #1: Kimmel wrongly portrays business owners as refusing to serve people because they identify as LGBT
This is simply false. How many times do we have to say it?
What Kimmel portrayed is exactly what is NOT happening in the California case, Jack Phillips’ case, or any other.
Neither Cathy Miller nor any of the other Christians being dragged into court over this issue is quizzing customers to see who identifies as LGBT or not, and sending them on their way if they say they are gay. They are only drawing the line at creating items and sending messages which violate their conscience.
Nor is the issue when the item was baked; Jack Phillips and others are happy to sell a person identifying as LGBT cookies, cakes, brownies, etc.—whether made yesterday or today. Rather, the issue is whether the person of faith is being conscripted into using their talents in service of a proclamation against their will.
Indeed, in his brief to the Supreme Court, Jack Phillips clearly stated that he “would decline to create a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex marriage regardless of whether the customer is a same-sex couple or a heterosexual parent purchasing the cake” (emphasis mine). Yet at the same time, he “would celebrate a marriage between a man and a woman even if one or both spouses identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual” (emphasis mine).
In other words: this is not about the person; it’s about the message.
ERROR #2: Kimmel tells the story of the potential customers, but not the business owners of faith.
In doing this, Kimmel missed a big opportunity to tell the stories of business owners of faith like Jack Phillips and Cathy Miller—and how they are being harassed by government agencies and dragged into court over this issue right now.
So what should Kimmel’s skit have shown?
The waiter should have played the government and the customer could have played the wedding vendor, and it would have been largely on-point. Jack Phillips and others are simply seeking to stay in the marketplace (the table), yet the government is coming to them and telling them to get out unless they modify their Christian beliefs. This is also happening at the hands of the ACLU in Michigan, where Christian adoption providers have a seat at the table along with pro-LGBT providers. Yet the ACLU is suing the state to force the Christian groups to leave because of their beliefs.
Kimmel’s own skit helps show this. Near the end, he referenced a Hindu chef who didn’t want to prepare a steak for a potential customer because of his religious beliefs. Now, just imagine if that Hindu chef’s job had been to simply prepare vegetable side dishes, and then one day all of a sudden his boss tells him to start preparing steaks—or be fired. Cathy Miller’s story is like this chef’s, and it is a story that needs to be told. If Jimmy Kimmel doesn’t tell it, we gladly will.