Despite the revised version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) recently put into place, the battle over cake continues.
“I believe that tolerance should be a two-way street,” says former televangelist Joshua Feurstein of his foiled attempt to get a homophobic message on a sheet cake in the name of religious freedom. He called Longwood, Florida bakery Cut the Cake and asked owner Sharon Haller to make a cake with “We do not support gay marriage” on it. The LGBTQ friendly business owned declined and Feurstein took to YouTube with all the brimstone and fire of a tent revivalist.
“He wanted us to put a hateful message on a cake, and I said, ‘We’re not gonna do that.’ We started getting some hundreds of phone calls and making very nasty and negative gestures towards our business, towards us,” Haller told Orlando news station WKMG Local 6. The bakery has lost business due to Feurstein’s self-admitted “experiment” as to whether tolerance under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act really is a two-way street.
In a follow-up YouTube video, Feurstein insists that his religious freedom is being trampled because he can’t get a hate cake. He seems to miss the point that Haller’s moral choice to be supportive of the LGBTQ community is just as protected under current religious freedom laws as the Indiana pizzeria’s owners right to be unsupportive. Copy and paste the link below into your browser if you want to see the video:
He believes he is showing the world an insidious, anti-Christian double standard. He fails to see in his zeal to get his message across that the law is doing exactly what he wants it to do. The problem is that he can’t tolerate the fact that by allowing businesses to refuse customers based on religious values, he must also be open to being refused himself based on a different side of the same values.
In the video, Feurstein goes on to compare the evils of gay pizza to racial discrimination by saying that no one would expect an African-American owned bakery to bake a cake for the KKK. In this bold (and foolish) comparison, he fails to say anything at all about religious freedomas it’s protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. He bases that argument entirely on the hypothetical bakery owners’ morals and ethics. It seems to me that his own example supports Haller’s refusal to bake a hate cake because doing so offends her morals and ethics.
While I strongly support the 1st Amendment right to Free Speech and Free Exercise of Religion, this cake business has gone too far. In Feurstien’s case, he’s breaking two laws by advocating another. In the following video, he identifies Haller and her establishment by name and tells viewers to call her to see what discrimination looks like.
First, he recorded a phone call without the other party’s knowledge, an act that is prohibited by law in Florida. Next, he invites his many subscribers to call Cut the Cake to experience firsthand the discrimination he’s fighting against. As a result, the bakery has lost business. It could be argued that his video, which resulted in death threats, false negative reviews and fake orders is tortious interference with economic expectation. The bakery closed for a few days due to these acts by Feurstein’s viewers. The FBI is involved too, as the illegal recording of the call is a third degree felony in Florida punishable by up to five years in prison.
Personally, I think Feurstein’s cake is missing a few key ingredients, such as logic, factual basis, true understanding of the law he is so passionately championing and a little thing called human compassion. I’m no Bible scholar, but I know for sure that Jesus was quoted as saying, “Love thy neighbor,” not “Trash thy neighbor’s business with false allegations.” Then again, maybe Feurstein and I are reading different books.
I wonder if they serve cake in prison…