A bakery owner in Mississippi recently wrote a post on Facebook, it has gone viral, it reads like this:
“I know this may lose some people on the page, but doing what is right matters more to me than the number of “likes” on the page. I am happy to discuss this with anyone, but I try to keep the page positive and positively sweet. So if it turns negative I will delete those negative or mean comments. I am a Christian.
I have a deeply held religious belief that I am here to serve. I am not here to decide whom to serve. We are open for everyone and always will be. We find HB1523 appalling and objectionable. We are wholeheartedly against it and will fight it any way we can. We are called to serve, we are called to love.
I am called by my savior to serve ESPECIALLY people that don’t love me or that I don’t like. To paraphrase: “If we only love those who love us what credit is that to us?” I love this state, MY state, and I love her people. All of them. It’s what I am called to do.
Thank you for the support.”
Sweet, isn’t it?
First I need to clarify that I have nothing personal against this bakery owner, Mitchell Moore. I have no problem with him running his business how he sees fit. And, I have no problem with him expressing his opinion on Facebook, this is America, he has that absolute right.
The problem I have is that some of Mr. Moore’s thinking seems to be a little off. A look at what he said in an NPR interview explains why I feel this way [emphasis added].
“No, no that is not a problem. I am here to bake cakes and to sell those cakes. I’m not here to decide arbitrarily who deserves my cake and who doesn’t. That’s not what I do. That’s not my job.
So leaving aside the stupidity of passing it because it decriminalizes discrimination – which, that really is kind of the biggest issue – but I can actually say I think the law of unintended consequences is going to come back to bite the people who signed this bill. If it is my sincerely held religious belief that I shouldn’t serve them, then I can do that. And I can hide behind that language. But that language is so vague it opens a Pandora’s Box. And you can’t shut it again.
When Indiana’s RFRA was front and center in the news, I read about the informed attributes and RFRAs, I think that is what is, mostly, what is at play here.
“There is in works of fiction a concept called the informed attribute. An informed attribute is an abuse of storytelling that occurs when the author gets lazy and, instead of demonstrating that a character has a certain characteristic, simply informs the audience that they do. So, for example, think of the way Daniel Defoe characterized Friday in “Robinson Crusoe”: savage, cannibal—except that Friday never does anything savage or cannibal throughout the novel. Indeed, “my man Friday” is now a euphemism for an incorruptible subordinate.
Or, to use a more recent example, consider that in the Twilight novels, we are told that Bella is a loner who is older than her years—except she is always surrounded by friends whom she can’t seem to get enough of, and she has a teenager-like obsession with a certain boyish vampire who she wants to bone.
These are informed attributes…”
That article went on to say that there is a depressing tendency for the informed attribute to migrate from fiction to journalism which is true. I would add that the same depressing tendency has also taken root in popular thought, influenced popular opinion, and tainted how too many people in our society perceive reality.
If Mr. Mitchell would have posted what he and his bakery were all about on Facebook and left it at that, I would have no problem and wouldn’t be writing this. Problem is, he went on NPR and tried to justify why he believes the way he does largely using informed attributes of the Mississippi law. In other words, his argumment is basically this.
The Mississippi law is stupid. It makes it completely legal for business owners to arbitrarily discriminate, to serve whoever they want for whatever bigoted reason they want, and to do so while hiding behind religious freedom. Not only that, the law opens a Pandora’s Box (parade of horrors) that will virtually ensure good, decent, and well-meaning people are denied basic services in countless business, restaurants, hotels, hospitals…
Yes, I took some liberty with his words (technically this is paraphrasing) but, based on the NPR interview, I think my paraphrasing better explains where Mr. Moore’s head is.
Fine. As I said before, Mr. Moore has an absolute right to think what he wants and do exactly what he is doing. As a fellow Christian however, I believe that I have a right to inform him that he is using elements of fiction, a politically correct interpretation of Scripture, and a misunderstanding of the law and its intent to make his, apparently very popular, “what all proper Christians should do” case. It almost seems as if he is pandering and/or trying to operate his business with one foot in what is culturally fashionable and one foot in the Bible, so to speak.
Mr. Moore is right about one thing; Christians are supposed to love and serve all people no matter who they are, what they do, or what they believe. We are, after all, all sinners who fall short of the glory of God. What Christians need to be careful not to do however, is conform to the pattern of the world and become too accepting of the world’s standards and what the world tells us we should do.
Good for Mr. Moore! He went viral, he has a ton of business, and he is a rock star to countless people who think (using informed attributes) that Christians are nothing but hateful bigots.
Is that what he really wanted? Does that truly glorify Christ?