Businesses retain the right to responsibly refuse service

In the midst of an everlasting battle for equality, the nation’s attention is tuned into the recent controversy in Indiana involving a pizzeria and gay rights. This has sparked other states, including Texas, to look at reforming their religious freedom bills.

Texas’ Religious Freedom Restoration Act from 1999 legally allows business owners to refuse service to patrons of differing beliefs when the requests would substantially defy the business owners’ own practices.

A proposed update to this bill would involve changing the language so that religion can be the basis on which business owners can turn away anyone who practices a different religion with no repercussions, legally, to the business. Regardless of the burden placed on the business, any establishment would have the right to refuse service.

Businesses should have the right to refuse service to anyone they choose to; however, they need to use this freedom wisely. If a patron is inadequately dressed, too rowdy or too disruptive to the environment, a business owner absolutely should have the right to refuse him or her service.

Should a Christian bakery owner be asked to cater a wedding in which two men or two women would be getting married, they also should absolutely have the right to refuse them service if this is asking them to compromise too much of their religious beliefs. However, they need to be prepared to suffer the consequences economically and publicly.

The double-edged burden these so-called Christian businesses are claiming to be put under is a little ridiculous. It’s not as if in performing a catering service, they are officiating a wedding ceremony in any way.

As a Christian, I don’t really see the harm in serving others, as we are called to do anyway. Refusing service in circumstances like this is silly, and these business owners’ actions will have repercussions. A dose of “only God can judge you” is in order, as well as a reminder of “love thy neighbor.”

Aside from the religious logistics of this issue, the business side must also be taken into account. It’s important that people keep in mind how valuable personal freedom is, but also how much responsibility accompanies this. These businesses should pick their battles. If they feel attacked or bullied by customers requesting service, maybe it would be easier to get behind this act of refusal. If it’s just a matter of complying with cooperative citizens interested in placing an order, then why argue?

At the end of the day, these businesses are turning down revenue and tarnishing their reputations for a service that has nothing to do with religion.

Practicing what they preach and taking responsibility for each inquiry is a simple fix for this amplified and sensitive issue.