Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Todd Starnes's distortions defending anti-gay bakery sinks Christianity to new low

Fox News personality Todd Starnes

There are times, when I want to point out the basic dishonest of the anti-gay religious right in America, I don't have to go on a long expository. I just merely point out the actions of one of their spokespeople. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, "Crazy" Jane Folger, or the American Family Association are always good for it.

And today, it's Fox News personality Todd Starnes.

Seriously, someone needs to ask serious questions about how Starnes continues to have a job, even with Fox News, when he has a reputation of distortions and outright lying to further the "anti-Christian persecution" angle which is extremely popular amongst conservatives. (Editor's note - actually, The Atlantic  has asked those questions.)

Today, he put his poison pen on the case of the Oregon anti-gay bakery, Melissa's Sweet Cakes.

First, a little background via an Oregon publication:

The owners of a Portland-area bakery that denied service to a same-sex couple has paid more than $135,000 to cover a legally-binding order from the Bureau of Labor and Industries. Charlie Burr, the communications director for BOLI, told KOIN 6 News the agency received a payment of $136,927.07 from Aaron Klein on Monday. That payment followed a collection effort earlier this month that netted about $7000 earlier in December, Burr said. Klein and his wife, Melissa, own Sweet Cakes by Melissa. They refused to bake a wedding cake for Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer, which BOLI ruled was  unlawful discrimination. In July, BOLI said a state exemption for religious organizations and schools does not allow private business owners to deny service to potential customers because of sexual orientation.

It's pretty standard, although with some details omitted. However, check out how Starnes, via  the American Family Assocation's One News Now, and probably other places where his column ran, spins the story:
 
Melissa Klein was checking her bank accounts just a few weeks before Christmas when her face turned ashen. The money was gone – every single penny.

Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries had confiscated all the cash in Mrs. Klein’s checking account and savings account as well as a special account set aside for their church tithe.

Yes, friends – the state of Oregon stole money meant for our Lord.

Mrs. Klein and her husband, Aaron, are devout evangelical Christians who own a mom-and-pop bakery – Sweet Cakes By Melissa.

In July, they were ordered to pay more than $135,000 in damages to a lesbian couple after they refused to bake their wedding cake. The Kleins objected because of their religious beliefs.

The judgment was awarded to the lesbians for “emotional suffering.”

Just a few weeks before Christmas, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian wiped out the Klein family’s bank accounts – taking nearly $7,000.


Starnes' sad sack goes on like this throughout the entire article. However, there are two things he glossed over:


1. Notice how Starnes doesn't go into detail as to just what was the "emotional distress"the lesbian couple was subjected to. According to Raw Story and The Oregonian, the "emotional distress" had to do with the Kleins sharing the lesbian couple's personal information online. This led to death threats  against the couple, as well as concern that the controversy would cause them to lose their foster children.

2. Starnes also skipped details on how the Kleins, because of religious right sources such as Franklin Graham, raised a considerable amount of money online via donations (between $70,000 to $500,000.) In his column, Starnes had this to say about the donations:

Faced with a state-mandated 9 percent interest penalty, the Kleins opted to pay the disputed amount in full – turning over a $136,927.07 check to the government. That money, which was not in their bank account, was acquired through donations the family. It was the price the Kleins had to pay for following the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Wow! So sharing personal information, causing a couple to be subjected to harassment, is now considered "following the teachings of Jesus Christ."  Wait until MY pastor hears that.

And to make matters worse, Starnes even repeats the already discredited claim that the Kleins were put under a gag order not to share their story.

It's in vogue these days to tell someone who says something utterly stupid on twitter to "delete their account."

Todd Starnes' tissue of lies in the case of the anti-gay couple Melissa and Aaron Klein and their bakery is so embarrassingly transparent, that I would recommend that he not only delete his twitter account, but he also resign from Fox News, leave his home, change his name, burn all forms of his identification, give all his money away to charity, go into isolation with nothing but the clothes on his back and what can fit into a small knapsack, head faraway to the Himalayas to find either Shangri-Lai or the Abominable Snowman . . . and so on and so forth . . .

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