Close
Date TimeDecember 09, 2017
Voice

Religion didn't come up when Jack Phillips, a Christian baker in Colorado, told a gay couple he wouldn't make their wedding cake in the summer of 2012. Shaken and embarrassed, Charlie Craig and David Mullins say they quickly left the shop without seeking an explanation.
But Craig's mother, Debbie Munn, had been with the couple and wanted to know why Phillips had refused their business. She called him first thing the next morning.
"He shared his faith, and I shared mine," said Munn, who attends a nondenominational church in Wyoming. "Within a minute I knew there was nothing more to be said."
After five years of litigation, the dispute between the gay couple and Christian baker reached the Supreme Court on Tuesday. But while lawyers debated the legal issues in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a different set questions could be asked about the conversation between Phillips and Munn.
Mainly, what is it about religion that makes it such a conversation-ender?
In the last few years, moral psychologists have tried to explain why good people can be so bitterly divided by politics and religion, to paraphrase the subtitle of one popular book. Are religious beliefs so deeply held that they brook no dissent? Or, as some psychologists have argued, does faith include a healthy dose of self-interest masquerading as morality?
Religion is more than a source of conflict, of course. Faith offers solace and a sense of solidarity for billions around the world. But this week, the combative side of religion was hard to escape, whether you were in Washington, Tuscaloosa or Tel Aviv.
In Alabama, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore tried to rally conservative Christians by casting his opponents as "socialists" who "put man above God." Stumping for Moore, Steve Bannon, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, said Mitt Romney "hid behind (his) religion" when he served as a Mormon missionary rather than enter the draft for the Vietnam War. Romney had criticized Republicans for backing Moore despite allegations that Moore had harassed and molested teenaged girls when he was in his 30s. Moore has denied the allegations.
On the world stage, Trump announced that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, inciting a potent mix of emotions among Jews, Christians and Muslims. Some splits erupted within religious communities themselves, pitting Christian against Christian, and Jew against Jew.
The Masterpiece Cakeshop case is not nearly as incendiary as Jerusalem's status, but it poses similar questions about religious groups' willingness to compromise on deeply held principles.
If the scene outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday was any indication, the answer seemed doubtful.
On one side stood about 100 protesters who listened to conservative speakers quote the Bible and rail against the "secular establishment." They chanted "We back Jack!" and waved signs that said "Free Speech Should be a Piece of Cake." A musical group called the "Free the Cake Baker Squad" played a ditty called "Cakey Breaky Heart" on acoustic guitars.
Twenty yards away stood another group, also of about 100 people, who listened to liberal speakers, some of whom also quoted the Bible and railed against bigotry and discrimination. They held posters saying "It's Not About the Cake" and danced to Curtis Mayfield's soul classic "Move On Up."
Both sides accused the other of intolerance, of trying to impose their moral views on the rest of the country.
For a while, a man stood between the two groups of protesters, calmly holding a large umbrella that read, "Bow to Jesus. Repent America. Time is Running Out."

'Jesus talked about Sodom'
The Rev. Raedorah Stewart stood with the protesters backing the gay couple. She wore lavender glasses to match her purple vestments and described herself as a queer woman in her 60s. She's also the faculty director of the Writing Center at Wesley Theological Seminary and a minister at Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ in Washington.
Stewart said she has experienced bigotry because of her race and sexuality. She was skeptical about finding middle ground with the conservative protesters.
"There is no compromise in determining who is human and deserves justice. I would not seek to persuade them other than to say, 'You are made in the image of God, and I am made in the image of God, and we are both entitled to equal rights.'"
Stewart said she also has encountered suspicion from LGBT people who are skeptical about religious believers, especially ministers. "Sometimes they don't see me as a queer person," she said, "even though am I no Bible-thumper."
What would Stewart do if she had a business and white supremacists wanted her to make a sign for their rally, an analogy some conservatives have made to Phillips' cake shop?
"I would make the sign, I would take their money, and I would use it to support my ministry."
The Rev. Glen Bayly, a retired minister in the Christian & Missionary Alliance, an evangelical denomination, stood with the conservative protesters, holding a sign supporting Jack Phillips. Bayly lives in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, where he hosts a radio show called "The Lion's Den University Report" about Christians' experiences -- often negative, as the biblical title alludes -- at secular universities.
Like Stewart, Bayly was skeptical about compromising with protesters on the other side.
"Of course they are offended when you're saying that their lifestyle is sinful, but that's where the conversation has to start."
Bayly said the dividing line between liberals and conservatives is the Bible, which he believes clearly prohibits homosexuality. "Jesus talked about Sodom and the Day of Judgment," he said, citing a passage from the Gospel of Matthew.
Gesturing at the Supreme Court, he continued, "No matter what happens today, those justices are not the supreme judge. God is the supreme judge."
What about Stewart's argument that all humans are made in the image and likeness of God and should therefore be treated equally?
"They're talking about equality over there a lot," he said. "That's a spiritual concept. It doesn't mean we're all alike in every way. Some of us are taller, some are shorter, some are murderers. We make value judgments every day."
While neither Stewart nor Bayly saw much room for political compromise, they did believe in personal -- if not political -- conversions.
Stewart said her mother, an avid Bible-reader, was generally accepting of her sexuality and her calling as a minister, but she was concerned about her daughter's salvation. "She told me that she worried that I would preach others into heaven, but I would go to hell."
Over time, though, Stewart said her mother's theology changed, and she moved from a conservative Baptist church to Stewart's Covenant Baptist UCC, which calls itself a "radically inclusive" congregation.
"Do I hold out hope for more change? Yes. What transforms is love."
Bayly's conversion story moved in the opposite direction. He was handing out tracts titled, "I Was 'Gay': The Testimony of Stephen Bennett."
In the tract, Bennett, who Bayly said was a friend of his, describes an emotional and sometimes painful path from homosexuality to heterosexual marriage. Through praying and reading the Bible with Christian friends, Bennett writes, he slowly made his way to the "God-ordained path of heterosexuality."
"My story is a dream come true," Bennett says in the tract. "I no longer struggle whatsoever with homosexual thoughts, feelings or actions. I am a heterosexual man through and through, the exact way God created me to be."
Bayly said he tried to hand out the tract to some of the LGBT protesters who wandered over to the conservative side. He didn't find many takers.

'Goodies and power'
Several years ago, researchers conducted a study to see if self-interest could change people's moral views. In three experiments, participants played a game in which they were paid money based on the principles of equality (everybody gets the same amount) or equity (the payouts are determined by how hard one works).
The participants given less work said it was more moral to divide the money equally among everyone. Those assigned more work said the opposite, that equity was the proper principle to follow. The study also found that people quickly changed their position depending on whether they stood to benefit.
"In the few minutes between reading the game instructions and discovering their own role -- and hence, where their interests lie -- people's reported moral judgments changed in line with their self-interest," the researchers wrote.
Moral psychology is a complex discipline, and scholars acknowledge that ideology plays an important role. But some argue that studies like these indicate that beliefs are just one factor in people's moral decisions, which are more fluid than we think.
"What we think are bedrock principles are not really bedrocks," said Robert Kurzban, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the researchers behind the equality-equity game. "As situations change, people have different perceptions, and they measure the costs and benefits of holding moral commitments."
Consider white evangelicals' willingness to support politicians who act immorally in their personal lives, Kurzban said. In 2011, just 30% said they would do so, but in 2016, when Donald Trump became the GOP presidential nominee, that number leapt to 72%.
"You have to ask, were their answers in 2011 suspect, or did their interests change because they wanted this guy who would give them goodies and power?" said Kurzban, co-author of the book "The Hidden Agenda of the Political Mind: How Self-Interest Shapes Our Opinions and Why We Won't Admit It."
Evangelicals might argue -- and many have -- that the desire for "goodies and power" was driven by their beliefs that abortion is immoral and religious freedom should be protected, positions advocated by Trump.
But it's also possible to see religious freedom concerns as driven by self-interest -- the right to practice one's faith without state interference, Kurzban said. In fact, it's possible to see both sides of the Masterpiece Cakeshop case as self-interested.
LGBT people have obvious reasons to protest state-sanctioned discrimination, which, in addition to causing emotional distress, limits their ability to buy goods, get medical care and participate as full members of society. Conservative Christians, in addition to their principles, also have self-interests to protect, including the ability to act on those principles without being forced out of business.
So maybe it's not the bedrock beliefs espoused by protesters like Stewart and Bayly that make the Masterpiece Cakeshop case so difficult to decide. Maybe it's the Solomonic, split-the-baby task of determining whose self-interests should win out. It seems like a zero-sum game, inflamed by the partisanship that makes small compromises seem like big defeats. You can see that in Roy Moore's candidacy, the battle over the Holy Land, and any number of religious hot spots around the world.
"Religion seems to present insoluble problems," Kurzban said. "But it's not because of religion. You have to look behind that, and think about the real, tangible things at stake."

Lady Gaga Had an Interesting Reaction to Bradley Cooper Being Snubbed by the Oscars
TSLA: Wall Street goes after Tesla at a critical time
Serena Williams’s Australian Open Comes to an Abrupt, Bizarre End
Phillip Schofield Insists He And Holly Willoughby Aren't In Trouble Over Gemma Collins 'Dancing On Ice' Comments
Jonas Mekas, titan of underground filmmaking, dies aged 96
Speaker Nancy Pelosi stands firm: No State of the Union address in the House next week
Venezuela: Trump recognises opposition leader as president
Johnny Depp Claims He Has Evidence to Disprove Amber Heard's Domestic Violence Allegations
Miley Cyrus's Bold New Tattoo Is Totally Miley
Comedian and co-creator of 'Rel' Kevin Barnett dies at 32
Four men accuse Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer of sexual misconduct
Pete Buttigieg forms exploratory committee to run for president
Santander to close 140 branches across UK, putting 1,270 jobs at risk
PMQs verdict: Corbyn leaves May sounding defensive on Brexit
No Brexit deal means hard Irish border, EU says
‘Still here’: Tom Brady isn’t going anywhere. And he’s going to let you know it.
Cardiff City’s Emiliano Sala was on missing plane, French authorities say
Drake UK tour 2019: How to get tickets as dates to nationwide Assassination Vacation shows announced
Why the conversations between black men in ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ feel so rare
Oscars 2019: Biggest snubs including Bradley Cooper, Emily Blunt and 'Crazy Rich Asians'
American singer Chris Brown detained in Paris after rape complaint
Oscar Nominations 2019: Olivia Colman, 'Black Panther' And 'A Star Is Born' Lead Academy Award Nominees
Lady Gaga Says Mike Pence Is 'Worst Representation' of Christianity During Las Vegas Show
Emma Stone Debuts Drastically Darker Hair at the Producers Guild Awards
Cardi B Gets Into Twitter Beef with Tomi Lahren Over Politics
Gemma Collins Furiously Accuses 'Dancing On Ice' Judge Jason Gardiner Of 'Selling Stories' On Her
Chris Evans on Virgin Radio – same show, different station
Arsenal confirm Sven Mislintat will leave club on 8 February
Pence links Trump’s push for border wall to Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy
Kamala Harris officially enters US presidential race
Ariana Grande Sends Message to Mac Miller on His Birthday
'SNL': Pete Davidson appears to joke about Instagram post that prompted wellness check
Stefanos Tsitsipas stuns Roger Federer in four-set Australian Open thriller
Sterling and Sané ensure Manchester City cruise to victory at Huddersfield
Victoria Beckham admits rocky marriage rumors are ‘frustrating’
Kim Kardashian Effectively Makes Peace With Taylor Swift by Listening to Her Music
US, China to Share, Publicly Release Data From Dark Side of the Moon - NASA
Ariana Grande accused of copying latest song '7 Rings' from rapper Princess Nokia
Charity renews call for elderly driver eye tests after Prince Philip crash
'Glass' Review: It's not Perfect, But It Says a Lot About Heroism
Maggie Rogers: Heard It in a Past Life review – Alaska hitmaker's debut lacks edge
Trump reportedly told Michael Cohen to lie. His own attorney general pick testified that’s a crime
TV tonight: ‘Frankie and Grace,’ ‘The Punisher’ return on Netflix
Ariana Grande drops '7 rings'
Hailey Baldwin and Justin Bieber Are Marrying in L.A. and Their Guest List Includes Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott
Pelosi only gives Trump a bigger audience by canceling State of the Union
Miley Cyrus shuts down pregnancy rumors in 'egg-celent' way: 'Can everyone leave me alone'
Hitachi scraps £16bn nuclear power station in Wales
Rudy Giuliani: 'I never said there was no collusion' by Trump campaign
Louisville to rename airport for Muhammad Ali
American service members killed in Isil blast near US patrol in Syria's Manbij
Pelosi asks Trump to move State of the Union address
Who ya gonna call? Ivan Reitman sends son Jason to direct Ghostbusters 3
Hitman guilty of murdering Salford 'Mr Big' Paul Massey
Ariana Grande to Headline Lollapalooza 2019 (EXCLUSIVE)
Alicia Keys to Host Grammys 2019
Kim Kardashian defends Kanye West from reports
Gillette’s ad is not PC guff, Piers Morgan – look beyond the macho stereotype | Gaby Hinsliff
Carol Channing, star of Hello, Dolly! on Broadway, dies aged 97
'Spider-Man: Far From Home' trailer: Watch the first look here
Watch The 'Game Of Thrones' Season 8 Teaser Here
Meghan Markle reveals her due date: report
Lady Gaga Rushes Home After Critics' Choice Awards to Be With Dying Horse: 'I Am So Very Sad'
Trump says 'I never worked for Russia,' calls claim 'a whole big fat hoax' after explosive report of FBI probe
Toyota brings back the Supra sports car after more than 20 years
'So happy you said yes': Chris Pratt engaged to Katherine Schwarzenegger
Mayor of Gdansk dies after being stabbed on stage at charity event
Gareth Johnson: Tory Tasked With Getting Other MPs To Vote For May’s Deal Quits – To Vote Against It
Andy Murray out of Australian Open after losing what could be his last match
Katy Perry Is Glad She "Made the Right Choice" With Orlando Bloom
Neil Warnock on Brexit: ‘I can’t wait to leave. To hell with the rest of the world’
'The most insulting thing I've ever been asked': Fox News' Jeanine Pirro asks Trump if he's ever worked for Russia
Americans blame Trump and GOP much more than Democrats for shutdown, Post-ABC poll finds
Megyn Kelly, NBC News reach separation agreement
SpaceX will lay off 10 percent of its staff to fund projects
The partial government shutdown is now the longest ever as Trump border wall fight rages on
Paris bakery 'gas explosion' kills two firefighters
Tulsi Gabbard: Democrat says she will run for president in 2020
Tim Tebow Is Engaged to Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters
Sen. Kamala Harris teases a presidential run to Stephen Colbert, predicts how the shutdown ends
Dianne Oxberry, BBC weather presenter, dies aged 51
Andy Murray: Sporting great and champion feminist retires
Jayme Closs, 13, found alive three months after parents' murder
Meghan Markle's Royal Patronages Have Finally Been Announced and There Are FOUR
Lady Gaga apologizes for 'poor judgment' over R. Kelly song, vows to pull 'Do What U Want'
Jeff Bezos' Relationship with TV Host Lauren Sanchez Led to Divorce
Jaguar Land Rover is slashing 4,500 jobs
Corbyn says Labour may delay Brexit if it wins snap election
This Awesome Shot of Earth Was Taken From 70M Miles Away
[VIDEO] Donald Trump Primetime Address: Jimmy Kimmel Speech Reaction
BAFTA Awards Nominations 2019: Complete List
MPs force Theresa May to table plan B if she loses Brexit deal vote
John Bercow's decision endangers the office of Speaker, and our democracy | Anne Perkins
Rod Rosenstein, who appointed the special counsel investigating Trump, expected to leave Justice Dept
Amazon Becomes World's Most Valuable Company
New trailer offers more footage from ‘Captain Marvel’ (VIDEO)
Susan Boyle makes emotional appearance on America’s Got Talent
Celebs celebrate Cyntoia Brown clemency decision
Prime-time Trump faces credibility crisis
Stoke City sack manager Gary Rowett after eight months in charge
Scottish government acted unlawfully over Alex Salmond claims, court rules
Padraig Harrington feels trepidation at being Europe’s 2020 Ryder Cup captain
David Bowie Is ... app review – the freakiest show on your smartphone
Golden Globes 2019 Winners List
Cornered: Trump escalates shutdown crisis
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says There's 'No Question' About Trump's Racism
What was the deal with Christian Bale's accent at the Golden Globes?
Carol Burnett reflects on her iconic career as she receives new Golden Globe award
Tory MP Anna Soubry Called 'Nazi' By Chanting Protesters Live On BBC News
Crystal Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey denies Nazi salute
Pete Davidson and Machine Gun Kelly Take Their Friendship to a Basketball Game
Video of Drake With Girl, 17, Resurfaces, to Internet's Horror
'The Greatest Dancer' Is The Fresh Talent Show 'X Factor' Wishes It Could Be
US withdrawal from Syria depends on conditions, John Bolton says
Murder charge filed in death of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes in Houston
Theresa May Refuses To Rule Out Holding Multiple Votes On Her Brexit Deal
Trump gives Kanye West a shout-out after rapper tweets his praise
Emma Watson talks of 'optimism' on Time's Up anniversary
California shooting: three people killed at Torrance bowling alley
Chelsea vs Nottingham Forest line-ups: Fabregas captain on final match, Hudson-Odoi starts
Kate Middleton Reportedly Felt Meghan Markle "Used Her to Climb the Royal Ladder" and Told Her So at Christmas
Ellen still wants Kevin Hart to host the Oscars
US economy added 312,000 jobs in December, blowing past expectations
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dancing in college – video
Lifetime Defiant After R. Kelly Threatens to Sue Over Documentary
1st PHOTO of moon’s ‘mysterious’ far side taken by Chinese probe
Golden Globes 2019: Who will win – and who should?
Kim Kardashian & Kanye West Hire New Surrogate to Deliver Baby No. 4
Bob Einstein, comedy writer and Curb Your Enthusiasm actor, dies aged 76
Coachella 2019 lineup: Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino and Tame Impala to headline
Michael Schumacher turns 50, FA Cup third-round shocks and sneaky drinks
Bristol-Myers Squibb to buy Celgene in $74 billion deal
US enters new phase as women change the face of Congress
Kylie Jenner channels Meghan Markle on New Year's Eve
Kim Kardashian West roasted over 'Bird Box'
Miley Cyrus Spends New Year's With Liam Hemsworth's Family After Surprise Wedding
Pete Davidson Reveals ‘Sad’ First Reaction To Ariana Grande’s ‘Thank U, Next’
Tesla shares fall on price cut, soft Model 3 deliveries
Madonna Delivers Rousing Speech As She Spends New Year's Eve At The Historic Stonewall Inn
Kobe Bryant announces he and wife Vanessa expecting fourth baby girl
Harry Reid: Trump Is 'The Worst President We've Ever Had'
Mitt Romney: Trump's biggest failure is a lack of character in leading 'divided' nation
Greggs launches vegan sausage roll
Christian Pulisic joins Chelsea from Borussia Dortmund for £58m
Kate Middleton Reportedly Waited Until Meghan Markle Left Before Joining Royal Family Hunt
Volunteers Prepare Flower-Decked Floats for Rose Parade
Dry January might be bad for your health
Why Trump Reigns as King Cyrus
Jamie Vardy punishes dismal Everton as Leicester start new year in winning style
Tokyo car attack: Driver hits New Year's revelers in city's Harajuku district
Hubble telescope 'mother' Nancy Grace Roman dies
Comedian Louis C.K. mocks Parkland shooting survivors in leaked audio
U.S. Citizen Arrested In Moscow On Suspicion Of Spying
NFL coaching picture: Dirk Koetter, Todd Bowles fired; Dolphins’ Adam Gase awaits his fate
Elizabeth Warren announces 2020 run for president against Trump
Peter Thompson, former Liverpool and England winger, dies aged 76
Is Selena Gomez Sending Cryptic Messages With Her Graphic T-Shirts?
Bre Payton, 26-year-old conservative writer, dies following sudden illness
Gavin and Stacey actor Mathew Horne 'hit by train after night out'
John Kelly blames Jeff Sessions for 'zero tolerance,' family separations along border
Rashford learns from master at Solskjaer's finishing school
'Bird Box,' starring Sandra Bullock sets new Netflix viewing record in its first week
A Vegas star is born: Lady Gaga stuns, soars in Sin City debut
Sears Holdings announced another round of store closures
Mega Millions jackpot grows -- with next drawing on New Year's Day
Ryan Jack gives Rangers deserved Old Firm victory over Celtic
Alastair Cook knighted, Gareth Southgate, Harry Kane awarded in New Year’s honours
Kim and Kanye buying $14M luxury condo in Miami
Kevin Spacey ‘Let Me Be Frank’ YouTube Video Tops 8 Million Views In 3 Days
Tesla names Larry Ellison and Kathleen Wilson-Thompson to board after SEC settlement
Angelina Jolie open to move into politics
HMV Administration: Thousands Of Jobs At Risk As Retailer Collapses For Second Time In Six Years
KTLA anchor Chris Burrous dies at 43
Instagram update 2018: What is the new Instagram update, is it coming back?
Nationwide internet outage hits CenturyLink customers
Israeli novelist Amos Oz dies aged 79
'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch': Here's What Critics And Fans Are Saying About The New Game-Changing Episode
NASA wants you to celebrate New Years with its New Horizons space probe
Kim Kardashian slammed over North West's lipstick
Putin Says 'Invulnerable' New Hypersonic Nuclear Missile Is Ready For Deployment
Miley Cyrus confirms secret wedding to Liam Hemsworth
Secret new ‘Black Mirror’ movie now has a trailer, release date
Ariana Grande FaceTimes With Her Estranged Father on Christmas
Box Office: 'Aquaman' Hits $106M; 'Holmes & Watson' Gets D+ CinemaScore
How your holiday travel plans will be impacted by the partial federal government shutdown
Liverpool goes six points clear in EPL as Man City loses at Leicester
Russia: Hole drilled from inside Int'l Space Station capsule
Meghan Markle, Prince Harry join Kate Middleton, Prince William for Christmas Day service amid feud rumors
Kendall Jenner Has A Hilarious Response To Being Left Out Of Kardashian Christmas Card
Trump asks 7-year-old, 'Are you still a believer in Santa?'
Us trailer: How to watch the trailer for Jordan Peele's new horror movie
SpaceX closes out year with successful GPS satellite launch
Pete Davidson gets VIP treatment at Machine Gun Kelly concert a week after disturbing post
Miley Cyrus Sent Ariana Grande the Sweetest Text After Her Split from Pete Davidson
Kourtney Kardashian And Sofia Richie Look Like They're Best Friends On Christmas Vacation Together (PHOTOS)
Stocks plummet after Steven Mnuchin's odd statement fails to calm markets
Box Office: 'Aquaman' Opens to $67M; 'Mary Poppins' Edges Past 'Bumblebee'
Rihanna Gives Fans An Album Update
President Trump not going to change mind on Syria, even after resignations: Mulvaney
Carl Frampton not ready to make a hasty decision on his boxing future
Close