I am disconcerted by the cries of persecution over wedding cakes, photography, ceremonies and receptions in the name of Christianity. I do sympathize with any business owner faced with choosing between their faith and their livelihood. I also question the comparison made with persecution. I made a decision in my career to work in a secular setting instead of a faith-based setting with full understanding of the limitations it would place on me in regards to choosing who I would provide services to. In actuality I could not choose at all outside of clinical or medical criteria. My personal beliefs were not part of the equation. Keep in mind, I could have chosen to work in a Christian setting rather than a secular setting. I did not. Therefore, to expect I could operate in a secular setting as if I were in a religious setting is to put me at the center instead of my client. It would, therefore, be a misuse of the agency for my personal benefit at the expense of the person coming for help. If an individual wants Christian or faith based counseling then they go to such a place that offers it. When someone wants a cake, they go to a baker. When someone wants photographs they go to a photographer. When someone wants a reception they go to a caterer. When someone wants a wedding ceremony (and they are not part of a religious community that conducts ceremonies as part of their religious practice) they go to someone who sells this product as well. If you want to limit a service to a specific religion then you probably should not be selling this service as a secular product. Although I’ve successfully been able to serve in a secular setting without compromising my faith it’s because I don’t link other people’s choices to my faith not because I am legally protected from persecution. I would have to say that I probably don’t personally agree with much of what any of my past clients chose to do outside of session and they probably wouldn’t agree with my choices either. Did I agree with my past dentist’s faith? No, I did not. Actually I was completely opposed to my dentist’s religion. It did not affect my ability to see this dentist and it did not affect this dentist’s ability to address my dental problems. Could this dentist refused to see me because we had conflicting religions? No–he could not and he did not. He fixed my teeth and he was paid for that service. I did not agree to his religious beliefs in the process and he did not renounce his own religion either. He had plenty of faith-based literature in his waiting room I could have picked up and read (which I did) and he also had plenty of other things to read as well (which I also chose to read). He did not have to hide his religion to be a dentist and I did not have to hide my religion to be his patient. That is what it means to be an American right now with freedom of religious expression and freedom of speech. There may come a day, indeed, where I have to choose between my faith and my employment although I doubt it. I’ve never felt I violated my own faith by helping those who are outside my faith. I wear a cross and have successfully counseled many people of many religions (including atheists and adherence to the Church of Satan). I remember one lady bringing up her Wiccan faith in light of my Christian cross and we took about 2 minutes to agree that we could work together just fine. Eventually I educated myself about the Wiccan faith when I began to have more and more clients ascribing to this particular religion. I did the same when I was helping a young man who professed his worship of Satan. I have provided services to same-sex couples and never even considered the possibility I was violating my faith by doing so. Even when I was in private practice I, like my dentist, did not hide my religion and did not refuse to see anyone who was not living their lives in accordance with my religion. Heck, I probably don’t even live my own life in accordance with my religion at all times if the truth were known. I don’t delude myself into thinking I can always be part of the world with no suffering, no persecution, and no ramifications whatsoever because of my faith. For now, I am thankful I am able to make a living and not compromise my faith. I don’t thank the government for this blessing, I thank God. The government does not dictate my beliefs and for now the government protects me in my personal beliefs although that could change without warning. If I felt strongly that making a cake for a specific wedding was against my religion then I would get out of the cake making business to live in accordance with my faith. I would not, however, feel sanctified in using the name of Jesus Christ to justify the way I sell a product or service. Jesus Christ has nothing to do with making money. I don’t confuse what the government decides is right (be it freedom of religion, freedom of speech, legal marriages, tax loop holes, etc…) with what God considers right. I am not guaranteed free expression of religion in scripture. I am not guaranteed freedom of speech by scripture. I am not guaranteed I can make money using my faith as a platform or marketing tool. I am actually promised just the opposite. After reading as much as I could handle of FOX’S BOOK OF MARTYRS by John Fox I was deeply ashamed of my lack of appreciation for what people have truly suffered for faith. There are many present-day examples at the website-persecution.com (The Voice of the Martyrs).