Billboards showing Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest America holding a Bible were removed from a popular outdoor mall in Southern California after numerous complaints.” The billboard was advertising Laurie’s upcoming SoCal Harvest event that draws crowds in the thousands to Angel Stadium August 17-19. This Christian ministry event has been held for 29 years.
No one was shot. No one was raped. No one was beaten up. No one was stabbed. But other than these non-events, the billboard company received complaints:
“We meet in Anaheim Stadium. We have somewhere around 100,000 people that will come out over the course of the weekend and Pastor Greg Laurie will give a very simple gospel message and we’ll see eight or nine, sometimes 10,000 people make a profession of faith in Christ,” John Collins, Executive Director of Harvest America told CBN News.
“So, leading into that we take out ads with billboards,” continued Collins. “We put bumper stickers on thousands of cars that people lend us their bumpers. And we have ads in bus shelters and wherever we can. And this year we decided to take out some ads in one of the cultural centers of Orange County, Fashion Island, and take out ads to put big banners in the mall where a lot of people congregate.”
After some complaints from the public, Collins says the Irvine Company, which was contracted to advertise the event, reportedly mandated the billboards be modified, and eventually removed from the mall altogether. (CBN News)
After the complaints, the billboard company first asked that the image of Laurie holding a Bible be changed. The event organizers complied. “But then we were told,” Collins said, “that they decided they didn’t want to have any of the banners up in the mall and we were asked to take them down. And they refunded our money.”
A number of people have compared what happened to Laurie to the bakeries that refused to make cakes for same-sex weddings. There are significant differences that many people are not aware of or refuse to acknowledge.
First, the argument has always been that no one, including the billboard company, should be forced to promote something they don’t believe in. The homosexual couple that ordered a wedding cake for their same-sex wedding were not told they could not purchase a cake. The issue has always been about the message on the cake.
Consider Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop:
- Jack does not discriminate: Jack has never discriminated against anyone, and he certainly didn’t refuse to serve the couple that filed a discrimination complaint against him. When they walked into his shop, he offered to sell them cookies, brownies, or anything pre-made from his shelves. But that was not enough. The government wants to force him to use his artistic talents to celebrate events that violate his faith.
- Jack has turned down other cakes in the past: There are several types of cakes that Jack will not make. For example, he won’t make cakes with alcohol in them. He won’t do Halloween cakes or lewd cakes for something like a bachelor party. In the past, he has even turned down a cake celebrating a divorce. A cake artist deciding which messages he will promote has nothing to do with the concerns behind public accommodation laws. (ADF legal)
The company that refused to post the promotional ads have the following in their contract: “Management reserves the right to not display any materials that could be constructed as vulgar or offensive.” What if some people find homosexuality “offensive”?
Second, no one should be forced to promote a viewpoint he or she disagrees with. The billboard company that refused the promotional art for Laurie’s SoCal Harvest event should not be forced to accept the event’s business for whatever reason.
Should a Muslim-owned billboard company be forced to promote pork products? Should a black-owned bakery be forced to make a cake for a KKK-themed wedding? Should a Jewish-owned bakery be forced to make a cake for a Nazi-themed wedding? Should a printing company owned by a homosexual be forced to print signs for an anti-homosexual group to protest at a Gay Pride parade?
Third, what’s happened is that special legal carve-outs have been made for homosexuals. It seems that almost anyone can be refused service without any legal repercussions except for homosexuals.
Fourth, consider the number of recent incidents where conservatives have been denied basic service. The most infamous one is when Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family were driven out of a restaurant because the owners did not like who she worked for. Can you imagine what would have happened if this had been done to a homosexual?
Fifth, Leftists hold to a double standard. They believe it is their right to discriminate against anyone they disagree with, but they will pursue, attack, and seek massive legal remedies against anyone who disagrees with them. They believe they can do this because they believe they are right, and people with contrary opinions don’t have the same rights.
Sixth, will the billboard owner be fined $135,000 for violating the religious, speech, and press rights of Greg Laurie? No.
If you don’t like being discriminated against, then start your own billboard sign company, bakery, print shop, or whatever. Get the government and its courts out of the inconsistent discrimination business.