It’s a shame when people pose as Christians and give Jesus a bad name.

A Walkerton, Indiana, pizza shop is the state’s first business to declare it will not service gay weddings after the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into law last week.


“If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” Memories Pizza’s Crystal O’Connor told a local news station. “We are a Christian establishment.”

It’s astounding that a person could claim to be following the teachings of Jesus and believe that discrimination based upon sexual orientation is something he would support.

Recently Washington Post book critic Ron Charles tweeted this:

Seriously, how do you study the Gospels and conclude that Jesus wanted his followers to turn away people they disapprove of? #Indiana

I replied to Charles, offering a possible (and probable) explanation:

In all likelihood, there has been no study of the Gospels. At best, this pizza shop owner has probably listened to out-of-context selections of the Bible, read to her on Sundays by a person who is employed by an organization that discriminates based upon sexual orientation and demands that its employees teach this doctrine to their congregants.

This does not qualify as study. At best, it amounts to biased, second-hand browsing. At worst, it’s a form of indoctrination.

Study requires a careful examination of source materials. It requires an open mind and skepticism. It requires a person to ask difficult questions and give serious consideration to opposing views.

Not exactly the way that services are typically run on a Sunday.

I am not a religious person. I call myself a reluctant atheist. I have spent a great deal of time in Catholic and Protestant Churches and attended Sunday School and Vacation Bible School for years, but I simply could not find the faith required to believe. I desperately want to believe in a benevolent God and a glorious afterlife, but I have yet to be able to do so.

But I have read The Bible cover to cover three times – twice in college and once on my own – and based upon those careful readings, I can conclude that there is no way in hell that Jesus would supported the position taken by this pizza shop owner.

If the pizza shop owner actually sat down and read and studied The Bible from beginning to end, the message of Jesus becomes abundantly clear. I may not believe that Jesus was the son of God, but I think he was a brilliant philosopher and teacher whose belief in accepting all people regardless of their differences is clear and profound.

Jesus – without a doubt – would stand against any opposition to same-sex marriages.

Still, I suspect that Jesus would happily eat a pizza from Memories Pizza – especially if their pizza is good – because amongst the many things that Jesus espoused was his belief in both acceptance and forgiveness.

Crystal O’Connor may be wrong about her interpretation of The Bible, and her position on same-sex marriage may be bigoted, but that doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t be able to make a living. It doesn’t mean that she doesn’t make good pizza. I suspect that she is probably a good person – better than me – but misled by a church that picks and chooses its Scripture in order to support its own discriminatory positions.

Let’s be honest:

Any institution that places the text of Leviticus over the teachings of Jesus can hardly be called Christian.

If you want to deny homosexuals the same rights as heterosexuals, you are evil.

After reading about the doctor who refused to treat a six day-old baby because the parents were lesbians, my first thought, which I tweeted alongside a link to the piece from Slate, was this:

Evil scumbag.

And so I starting thinking:

Do I really believe that? Are the bigots who deny or wish to deny homosexuals the same rights as heterosexuals inherently evil?

I think they might be.


Racists are evil. Right?

Denying children of color the same educational opportunities as whites simply because of the color of their skin is evil.

Imposing the death penalty on a person of color while imposing a prison  sentence on white defendant who is guilty of the same crime is evil.

Refusing to hire a person for a job because of the color of their skin or paying them less than a white applicant of equal ability is evil.

Slavery was evil. Apartheid was evil. Jim Crow was evil. Denying any basic human right or equal access to privileges afforded to the majority based upon the color of a person’s skin is evil.


I think the same probably applies to discrimination based upon sexual preference.

Denying a person the ability to adopt a child or receive medical treatment or marry or worship in a public place or benefit from legal protections afforded to heterosexuals simply because of their sexual preference is not only ignorant and cruel, but I think it’s probably evil, too.

No, I’m sure it’s evil.

There are people – including the evil scumbag doctor who refused to treat the infant – who will cite religious reasons for their discriminatory beliefs, but I have read the Bible cover to cover three times and know that these people – or at least the Christians – are simply cherry-picking the parts of Scripture most convenient to their belief system. The New Testament alone is enough to contradict the Biblical admonitions against homophobia. But even if you ignore Jesus’s command to “Love thy neighbor” or his warning to “Let him without sin cast the first stone,” the hypocrisy required to discriminate against homosexuals while still allowing adulterers and anyone who works on Sunday to continue to live negates any excuse for discrimination based upon Biblical doctrine.

The Biblical excuse for homophobia and discrimination is nonsense.

No, I think discrimination of any kind against homosexuals is evil, and anyone engaging in this behavior or supporting those who engage in or defend in this form of discrimination are evil, too.

Does their evilness rise to Hitler-like levels? Of course not.

This is not to say that these people are not wonderful parents and beloved colleagues and gentle souls who bring warmth and light to the world in many respects, but their desire to deny people basic human rights based upon their sexual preference is evil.

It’s time we start calling it what it is. If logic and reason and common decency isn’t enough to convince these bigots to change their minds and afford equal rights to all people, maybe shame will do the job.

Maybe the label “evil scumbag” will do some good.

Stop delaying the inevitable. Same-sex marriage is going to happen. Don’t be left standing with the ignorant and bigoted few.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant recently criticized a predominantly white church in his state for refusing to allow a black couple to wed in its sanctuary because they were “uncomfortable with a black ceremony.”

Bryant called that decision "unfortunate" and "disappointing," and said that it would likely taint the state's image in the eyes of others.

This same governor, however, does not support same-sex marriage in his state, seeming to possess no fear over the likely taint that his state’s image is already suffering in the eyes of others.

Regardless of what you believe about same-sex marriage, I do not understand why people like Phil Bryant cannot see that legalized same-sex marriage is coming to every corner of this country, just as it has already arrived to most parts of the industrialized world. To stand against same-sex marriage only serves to delay the inevitable. More importantly, you risk being known as the last of the bigots to oppose the marriage of two people who love each other, regardless of their sex.

Are Bryant and others who oppose same-sex marriage unable to see how this fight is no different than the civil rights battles of the 1960s and the shame associated with being forced to integrate your public schools by the National Guard?

Are we surprised that the church that is “uncomfortable with a black marriage” is located in one of the last states to segregate its public schools?

Support for same-sex marriage has increased steadily for more than a decade, with supporters first achieving a majority in 2010. An August 2010 CNN poll became the first national poll to show majority support for same-sex marriage, with numerous polls after it echoing this finding.

Those who oppose it seek only to delay the inevitable and risk being compared to men like George Wallace, who later recanted his opposition to racial segregation but not before his name was forever linked to it.

If you’re opposed to same-sex marriage for religious reasons, I urge you to open your Bible and take an honest look at the Book of Leviticus. Read it from beginning to end. Yes, it declares that homosexuality is an abomination. But it also says, in the very same book, that wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread and cutting your hair are offenses punishable by death, and that owning slaves is perfectly legal as long as they come from a country other than your own.

If you’re wearing polyester or getting haircuts on a regular basis, or if you oppose the human slave trade, maybe you can also find it in your heart to accept that same-sex marriage is just as benign. If you can pick and choose from the Book of Leviticus, why not add same-sex marriage into the column with crew cuts and cotton blends?

Pick and choose better, damn it.

If you claim to oppose same-sex marriage for religious reasons but are simply using religion as a cover for your bigotry and intolerance of people unlike yourself, that’s a whole different story, and not one easily corrected.

Ignorance and cowardice are powerful forces to overcome.  

Nevertheless, there will come a day, not too far down the road, when our children or grandchildren will look back on this period in the history of the country and wonder why so many people were so concerned about two men or two women getting married, much the same way my generation looks back on the concepts of separate drinking fountains and separate lunch counters and segregated schools and wonder what the hell those people were thinking.

I write this today to urge you to reconsider your position if you are opposed to same-sex marriage. Your ranks are rapidly thinning as more and more people move to the right.

Not the conservative right, but the side of the righteous.

Change is inevitable. Don’t be left standing alone.

But I also write this today so that when my children and grandchildren look back on this period in the history of our country, they will know that I was not one of those people who opposed the marriage between two men or two women.

My children and future grandchildren will not wonder what the hell I was thinking. They will know that I was thinking the same thing they were thinking:

What the hell is wrong with you people?