Ah, the rumble of those who feel that the 21st Century is stripping them of their religious freedom has hit the fair lands of my home state now. It should be pointed out that Michigan doesn’t currently have a version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), though not from lack of trying. At present though, we are similar to Indiana in that we do not have a statewide ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, this non-necessity didn’t seem to deter a Michigan business owner from grabbing for his 15 minutes of infamy.
Enter Brian Klawiter, who despite the lack of an RFRA or anti-discrimination law felt it necessary to draw a line in the sand. Apparently, Mr. Klawiter feels that, somehow, his religious freedom is being infringed. He recently took to Facebook in an epically illogical rant on the topic. An excerpt for your entertainment:
“Our rights as conservative Americans are being squashed more and more everyday. Apparently if you are white (or close to it), you have a job, go to church, and own a gun… That translates into racists, privileged, bigot, conspiracy theorist. Too many of us say nothing. Liberals, THEY are the ones that need to learn to ‘co-exist’, THEY are the ones who need to WORK to be ‘equal.’ I am a Christian. My company will be run in a way that reflects that. Dishonesty, thievery, immoral behavior, etc. will not be welcomed at MY place of business. (I would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons. Homosexuality is wrong, period. If you want to argue this fact with me then I will put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works.) I am not racists, you are for assuming I am, however, I am really quick to judge… if it acts like a duck, and quacks like a duck…” [Emphasis mine]
It appears that the community is responding to Mr. Klawiter’s assertions of the high ground with alacrity and verve.
Some folks are taking things to the extreme, as Mr. Klawiter posts to Facebook regarding death threats: “Listen up folks, If you have an opposing view to mine that IS OK, what is NOT OK is threats to kill me, my family, and friends; threats to burn down my shop and my home. I will stand firm on my views and will not back down.”
Hmmm… He doesn’t like death threats but is perfectly fine with putting together a vehicle “with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works” if you disagree with him. Obviously, he’s never heard of “What’s good for the goose…”
It doesn’t seem like he’s heard “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” either. One of his largest suppliers, Cummins, a manufacturer of the engines and parts on which Mr. Klawiter’s business runs, demanded that he remove their brand and logo from his website and all marketing. Diversity is valued at Cummins, it would seem.
Quick to help, supporters made a GoFundMe page. It was deleted rather quickly after the one and only donation for $5 from a woman who wrote, “I’m legally married to another woman, and a proud parent to 3 beautiful little girls that i have taken in as my own…I want to be the first one to donate to this because you are going to need it in time to provide for yours. Will you except my money? Or is it too gay for you?”
Mr. Klawiter even got offers of legal assistance from bankruptcy attorney Jeffrey Mapes.
“I noticed your post on Facebook where you decided to alienate most of the general public by stating that you will refuse service to openly homosexual people. This is certainly an unorthodox business strategy, and perhaps it will work for you, but I get the feeling you will need a bankruptcy attorney pretty soon and I wanted to offer my services. Like you, I am white, male, Christian, a business owner, and a gun owner. Unlike you, I provide services to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation because it doesn’t matter to me — I hope this won’t be a deal breaker for you.”
Honestly and legally, Mr. Klawiter has the right to his views (minus the one on business licensure, but I’ll leave it to Lansing to handle that one). However, Mr. Klawiter and all the other “oppressed” Christians also have one further right:
The right to sit down, shut up and take the consequences of their actions, just like the rest of us.
Better still, I suggest they get on their knees and pray. Since Jesus is telling you to be Indiana’s Pizza Prude and Michigan’s Diesel Dipstick, maybe he’ll float you loans to pay your mortgages.
Writer’s note: The misspellings, etc. found throughout quoted statements are those of the speakers.