Jon Stewart Tries and Fails to Harass Rand Paul on Religious Liberty

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Rand Paul, fresh from his filibuster of the Patriot Act, went onto “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” where Stewart inevitably wanted to talk about gay marriage and Christian bigotry.

“Don’t they sell cakes to sinners all the time?” Stewart asked, “Adulterers. . .”

Um, talk about missing the point. Maybe it is hard for allegedly brilliant minds like Jon Stewart to notice that nobody is saying they don’t want to sell cakes to gay people.  And if some philanderer wanted to host a solemn satanic ceremony joining his mistress in adultery, I am guessing Melissa of Sweet Cakes would say politely, “No, thank you” to baking that cake, too. Moreover the law would let her.

Why are gay wedding cakes worth crushing poor Melissa’s livelihood over? Why not ask gay couples buy a cake next door instead?  And, O brilliant Jon Stewart, why haul in the “corporations are not people” thing when what we are dealing with is corner bakeries and small business owners, not big corporations?  In Barronelle Stutzmann’s case, the so-called law pierced the veil of the florist business to say all her personal assets could be garnished, including her pension fund, to pay for the terrible, horrific act of declining to arrange flowers for your gay wedding. Here’s a thought for next time this happens—and it will—for Paul and every other GOP candidate.

Rand Paul pioneered this fabulous riposte to the media’s obsession with exploring what it thinks are hard questions on abortion but for Republicans only.  Next time, Paul might consider a similarly strong riposte to the media: “Next time you have Hillary Clinton on, ask her: Does she support taking away the tax-exempt status of organizations that oppose gay marriage? Would she strip religious adoptions agencies of federal money they need to help kids if they don’t do gay adoptions? How many more people does she think should lose their jobs if they oppose gay marriage like Kelvin Cochran or Brendan Eich?

Ted Cruz recently gave a glimmer of such an aggressive approach when the media harangued him on gay rights: “Is there something about the Left—and I am going to put the media in this category—that is obsessed with sex?” he asked.

Cruz’s response was vigorous but not necessarily in the strongest direction: Cruz went on the offense against the media but not against the Democrats.

We need a leader to emerge who understands that shutting down nuns, and Lutheran Evangelical Adoption services, and taking away people’s jobs because they oppose gay marriage is not “anti-discrimination,” it’s intolerant. And unnecessary. And frankly just kind of mean.

The best defense is a good offense. Preach liberty Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, in season and out of season.  And consider touting the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act.

Video and transcript below of Rand Paul’s appearance below:

Stewart: This religious liberty case is an interesting one because I remember back right after 9/11 they had that—what was called the ‘Ground Zero Mosque.’ And everybody was against that, all the—you know, you can’t build that. Well that was, maybe, a question of religious liberty, but now when it comes to a gay couple getting married, and somebody wants to buy a cake from a baker, well, that’s religious liberty. Exact same people standing up for one or the other.

Paul: Well, I think the inconsistencies and lack of genuineness are what bother the public, and that’s why Congress has about a ten percent approval rating. But I think you’re exactly right that people want people to look at things the same way no matter which issue it is, and not let their personal bias enter into it.

Stewart: Or make an argument—you know, this religious liberty argument feels like they’ve worked backwards from ‘we are against the courts granting a constitutional right to marriage equality, and we need to figure out how to get out of that. Maybe the states’ rights argument. Ok, that didn’t work. Now, let’s try religious liberty.’

Paul: But there’s also something that we need to separate out, so for example, when they told me they were going to build a mosque at 9/11, I was horrified and thought that was a terrible thing, but I’m not for a law to prevent them. If you want to march down the street and you’re a part of the KKK, I’m horrified by that, and object to it, but there are certain—the first amendment is about the right to be despicable—it’s easy to accept pleasant things, but it’s hard to accept—

Stewart: But you can’t equate a mosque with the KKK, or gay marriage with the KKK, I hear that argument a lot.

Paul: No, no, no, what I’m saying is that you can personally object to things that the law will allow, and it doesn’t mean that we all have to say that we all accept everyone else’s beliefs on everything else. So, for example, I’m absolutely for the law of allowing—a law not preventing a mosque to be built. However, at the same time, I think it’s a really, really, really bad idea to build a mosque at the 9/11 site.

Stewart: But there was a—you do know that there was a mosque there.

Paul: I know, I know.

Stewart: I’m really fascinated by this idea of religious persecution in this country because, the depth of feelings seems real.

Paul: Freedom doesn’t mean that we all have to agree with everybody else’s—who they are or what they are or what their religion is. We don’t have to like everybody, ok?

Stewart: No one’s asking you to be happy baking it.

Paul: But the thing is, is that, so, but where I would separate it is people who have personal opinions, they’re afraid. Some people are afraid in our country, that their personal religious opinions will no longer be allowed, even in their church. And there are people talking about this because, what they’re saying is ‘ok you give a deduction to your church, so whose money is that? Is that now the government’s money, and they can regulate the church because it’s a deduction?’ People are arguing this. I think there’s a difference between acceptance and neutrality of the law, and trying to force your opinion on people even in their church, or even in their expression.

Stewart: Nobody’s forcing it on the church. You know, you stand somewhat, not alone in your party, but—even there when religion enters into the question, it clouds the idea that—because you portray it as ‘well, we don’t want to force people to have to agree with your beliefs.’ But we’re not, we’re asking them to do the thing that they do for their business—like, what is a Christian business? Just out of—and I don’t mean that disrespectfully.

Paul: I guess the thing is, is that let’s say you do have someone, and this case has already been ruled on making t-shirts, you have a Christian business, and I think this was in Lexington, Kentucky, in my state. They chose not to make shirts that were pro-choice, they chose not to make shirts that were democrat because, that’s not Christian of course—

Stewart: Sure, that’s Satan. Social security is the devil.

Paul: Now we’re getting somewhere. But no, they chose not to make these shirts supporting gay marriage. The thing is is that that does sound to me a little bit like a freedom issue. You can go down the street and get somebody else to make it, and I’m not one who is intolerant, I’m someone who believes in letting people live life the way they want to live it, but also that I would include Christians in that too who have a belief set that is different than many—

Stewart: I understand that, but we have this idea that corporations are people and should it be as easy as, ‘I don’t agree with this and it’s because I’m Christian,’ because then well, I mean, it seems like gay marriage looms a lot larger in the minds of certain conservatives than it does in the Bible. And the only thing I would say is, don’t they sell cakes to sinners all the time, adulterers, people that use—when you come in and you go ‘I’d like a cake’ and they go ‘do you use the name of the Lord in vain?’ How do you figure that out?

Paul: Here’s the thing, Jon, I really appreciate the way you have tied this all together because you brought us full circle, because now we’re talking about whether corporations are people and that’s exactly the question the Patriot Act—because what I’ve been filibustering against is whether or not a warrant that has a corporation’s name on it, Verizon, can collect all the records of all the people—whether or not a corporation is a person.

Stewart: That’s my point.

Paul: So we’re right back to the Patriot Act, and I think we agree now.

Stewart: This is going to keep me awake tonight isn’t it? I’m going to be sitting around saying ‘wait a minute.’ Well good luck to you with all of this, I wish you well.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action.