The Corner

The Shoddiest Media Coverage of Religious Liberty You’ll See Today

The mainstream media coverage of Memories Pizza — and Indiana’s state Religious Freedom Restoration Act generally — has been abysmal. But this segment from CNN manages to gather all the worst aspects of that coverage into just three fearmongering, condescending, religiously illiterate minutes.

A few thoughts:

First, there is something to be said for “getting the other side of the story,” but what CNN clearly has in mind is not presenting an objective (let alone sympathetic) account of those who value religious liberty protections, but an exposé of hypothetical Christian bigotry. So — much like the media types who finally stumbled upon the O’Connors, turning them into national hate-totems — CNN goes questing for these nutty religious fanatics somewhere else, to press them on how they would handle a situation that is statistically unlikely ever to come to pass.

And in the interest of such responsible reporting, where does CNN go? Jeff Davis County, Georgia. Cute.

Second, having found a few small-town Baptist florists brave/foolish enough to appear on camera, host Gary Tuchman, CNN’s national correspondent, conducts the most condescending interviews in recent television history. “You’re talking about the Bible, how important it is,” he says to Florist No. 1. “I mean, the Bible talks an awful lot about love and loving your fellow man . . .” When his interlocutor says that there is no contradiction between loving one’s fellow man and obeying the dictates of conscience, Tuchman, resident theological scholar, rebukes her: “You’re not loving them if you don’t want to serve them, right?”

Another theological scuffle breaks out with Florist No. 2: “You know, in the Ten Commandments it says you can’t commit adultery, that you need to honor your father and mother. If someone didn’t honor their parents or commit adultery, would you serve them?” But the parallel Tuchman is attempting to set up fails. Being asked to cater a same-sex wedding is not the same as being asked to serve “an adulterer.” The actual parallel would be: “If someone asked you to provide flowers for a birthday party for his mistress, would you serve them?” And it would be entirely theologically consistent for the florist to refuse. It’s unclear what the Fifth Commandment parallel would be — “If someone wanted you to bake a cake to celebrate your mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis…”, perhaps? — but is the point clear? Attempts by Tuchman (and many others) to make Christians look like hypocrites fail, with just a moment’s reflection.

Finally, there is the patently inaccurate reporting at the clip’s end: “At these flower shops, they are happy to do business with you, but not so much if you tell them you’re gay.” That’s simply false, and it spreads the great falsehood of this entire media firestorm: that “being gay” is what proprietors are objecting to. Buried at the end of the story about Memories Pizza, entirely ignored in the media coverage, is this: “The O’Connor family told ABC 57 news that if a gay couple or a couple belonging to another religion came in to the restaurant to eat, they would never deny them service.” Of course not. But conflating this scenario with participating in a same-sex wedding is a crucial act of intellectual dishonesty that the Left must perpetuate to object to what are, considered calmly, basic, common-sense protections of conscience.


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