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America’s Business Community and Christianity: A Response to Tim Cook

America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business. 1

I must ask, Mr. Cook, does Apple discriminate in any way? Or have you narrowed your definition of discrimination to fit the needs of your view? Last I checked, Apple Stores have an age limit of 18 to hiring employees.2 Apple doesn’t allow certain common practices in their Asian factories3, such as hiring young people and working long hours. Apple, at the launch of many products, restricts the number of purchases per person and sometimes has avoided sales to obvious foreigners because of the resale markets.

There are many forms of discrimination. Mr. Cook is right on this. But not all forms are bad. In fact, many forms are really good and help grow business. While not hiring 16 year olds prevents many from getting a job at an excellent employer, it also allows Apple to start their wage rates at a much higher number, far above minimum wage. While not allowing foreigners to buy their products in bulk might rub some wrong, it allows for those that want to buy their product from the business the chance to do so.

Businesses discriminate in many ways and must to survive.

That said, there are some forms of discrimination that are clearly wrong. Not hiring someone because of the color of their skin: wrong. Not serving someone because they are gay: wrong. But that isn’t what these religious freedom laws are seeking to allow. The law passed in Indiana is to allow religious conviction to play a role in providing services. Could it be used in a malicious way? Maybe, as many laws could. But the problem is the many bakeries and photographers that have been sued out of business because of refusing to provide certain services, namely gay weddings.

This is what seems to be difficult for many to understand. As a web developer, I cannot in good faith take a lot of different jobs. I left my last job because of the sexual harassment of a female coworker and the lack of response of my managers to it. I almost left the job before that because my boss was considering taking on a website for a strip club. Would I take on a project from a gay client? That isn’t the question to ask for me. It depends on the type of project more than the orientation of the client.

Anyone in the creative business has faced these issues. If you haven’t yet, you will. We must choose what clients we wish to take on.

But the media is saying that this could be used by a Christian restaurant owner to deny service to a gay person. Could it? I doubt it. The law states that action “may not substantially burden a person’s right to the exercise of religion.”4 A restaurant providing food for a gay person does not “burden” a Christian. In fact, it’s what Jesus would have done.5 Does making a cake “burden” a Christian baker? Yes, because they are participating in something they consider wrong. 6

There are many things that Apple considers wrong that they discriminate against. Look at how selective they are on their factories and the restrictions they put on their business decisions. The things that Apple opposes in these factories are standard practice in these cultures. Most other tech companies don’t require the same rules be met.

For the Christian, it is the same. Many of the lawsuits coming against bakers are coming from customers that have been coming to the bakery for years, if not decades. These bakers haven’t discriminated against their clients unilaterally. They have time and again served these homosexuals without issue. But the bakers say they don’t make cakes for this one event and then they get sued. They are not discriminating against the homosexual, but the event. Just like many bakeries do not do weddings, these bakeries do not do this type of event.

Ultimately, it is a business choice. As Mr. Cook says, “America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business.” If it is bad for business, those businesses wouldn’t get clientele. They would be shunned by the community. But instead of that being good enough, some homosexuals have taken it upon themselves to sue them for tens of thousands of dollars. Because they won’t make a cake. Where I grew up, that was called a tantrum. And just like the lady that sued McDonald’s for serving hot coffee, the courts are giving them what they want. So now the pendulum is swinging the other direction and protection is being added to prevent this from happening to more businesses. If you don’t like how I run my business, take your business elsewhere.