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Supreme Court Denies Cert. to Hawaiian Bed & Breakfast over Religious Liberty Claim

The B&B refused to rent a room to a lesbian couple.

Following Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, we thought that the Supreme Court would be more likely to address religious liberty cases.  The narrow ruling aside, Kavanaugh’s inclusion on the high court surely led us to think that the free exercise clause would see the light of day again.

The Supreme Court had the opportunity to take up a case dealing with a Bed & Breakfast’s decision to refuse service to a lesbian couple in Hawaii.

In Cervelli v. Aloha Bed & Breakfast, the Supreme Court would have had to answer some questions regarding free exercise and public accommodation law.  The Alliance Defending Freedom has published all of the case materials. But the case will not go forward as the Supreme Court has denied certiorari.

Reading through the first brief, it is apparent that the issue is less about free exercise and more about whether or not renting out a few rooms and calling one’s house a “bed & breakfast” imposes certain public accommodation burdens on a home/business owner.

Disputing the minutia of law when there is a controversial topic involved is never what gains attention.  So I won’t bore you with those details. 

Let’s instead look at what will be perceived.  Let’s look at what message is being sent by the Bed & Breakfast, the media, and anyone else who has a part in disseminating this information.

I saw this story first on Twitter. This is the limited information put forward by Twitter

My initial reaction consisted of indignation.  Not at the lesbian couple for suing, but at the Bed & Breakfast!  The B&B is making a free exercise claim, citing deeply held religious beliefs.  From that indignation came one simple question:  Do they refuse service to fornicators and adulterers?

I’ll get into the details of the owner’s deeply held beliefs later, but it is necessary to discuss how the lawsuit is perceived at the most basic level, without additional information.  That type of information rarely makes it to the public; the media certainly wouldn’t cover it.

When Christians get into the mire of responding to the culture with Christian conviction, it is always perceived as hypocritical.  It’s the Kim Davis in Kentucky problem: a divorcee lecturing people on Christian sexual ethics.  Likewise, in the B&B case, if one were to be consistent, one would also have to deny service to fornicators and adulterers.

That is the problem with how Christians have engaged the culture.  We have conceded so much ground and refused to acknowledge the totality to sin. Sin is everywhere. We end up with a situation where some sin is seen as more sinful. While sins may be different in temporal harm and societal stigma, HETEROSEXUAL sin is still sinful.  Yet Christians are less concerned about denouncing fornication and adultery.  It’s like how Trump’s multiple tacky sexual sins are deemed more sinful than another’s “respectable” sin.  Divorce leads to adultery except when there is marital unfaithfulness.  One divorce or three…doesn’t matter.

The culture sees our inability to live up to our own standards.  And even if we do, the media would refuse to accurately represent that.

Case and point: Look at these two statements, one from CNN and the other from Reuters.

CNN: “Young, who runs Aloha Bed & Breakfast in Hawaii, welcomes guests to rent rooms so long as they are not same-sex couples.”

Reuters: “At Young’s bed and breakfast, “the only romantic partners allowed to share a bedroom are a married man and woman,” her lawyers said in court papers.”

Only after reading multiple stories, did I find that moral consistency to allay my indignation at perceived hypocrisy.

CNN would lead us to believe that the B&B is open to all sorts of debauchery just so long as it’s not…that.

Reuters clarifies that the B&B owners actually do care about their deeply held beliefs and actually apply them across the board to whoever wishes to stay. And this should encourage those of us who share their faith.  Sin should be afforded no room, regardless of what the culture says around us.  And right now, even if we avoid the discussion of homosexuality, the culture still wants us to be okay with premarital sex among heterosexual couples.  The culture wants us to refrain from “judging” adulterers and fornicators.  Sorry, can’t do that.  I accept that the world is going to behave that way; I do not accept the world forcing me to tolerate it personally, or in Young’s case, in her home or business.

We know that CNN is probably more representative of what will make it into the news than Reuters. And in this case, perception is everything.  Individuals will not go read the briefs. They will not look at most of the information provided by the attorneys.  They will not listen to oral arguments, read the transcripts, or look at the rulings.  They want to be spoon fed by the media. On top of that, Christianity is foolishness to the world.  The world cannot understand religious conviction.

But for some reason, fornicators and adulterers haven’t been compelled to sue this Bed & Breakfast.

It is probably a good thing that the Supreme Court didn’t take up this case.  We would never get the correct information because it doesn’t fit the narrative.  

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