Late night ABC host Jimmy Kimmel recently featured a comedic skit ridiculing religious business owners who refuse requests from customers who are gay, among other things. Christian conservative group Family Research Council called out the comedian, arguing that it was an inaccurate portrayal of the highly debated religious freedom issue.
"People are not being quizzed on whether they are gay" despite what the skit suggests, said Travis Weber, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at FRC, in a video interview posted on Facebook Tuesday.
"The customers are going to the owner and are saying 'We want you to create this for our same-sex ceremony celebration.'"
In the skit presented last week, Kimmel, who has said that he is a churchgoing Christian and has gotten involved in a number of political debates in the past year, acts the role of a waiter serving various customers at a fictional restaurant.
Before taking their order, Kimmel asks if any of the four patrons seated at the table are gay. When one woman affirms she is gay, Kimmel says she will not be able to order a signature salad because of the salad chef's religious belief that homosexuality is a sin. He then informs her that she can, however, order a salad that the chef made the day before — before the chef knew she was gay.
Later on, he informs the other three customers, one of whom is Jewish, that he cannot serve them certain dishes due to the beliefs of the other chefs (including a Wiccan and a Hindu).
The skit comes amid multiple religious freedom lawsuits and court cases involving Christians and customers who are gay. Earlier this month, a California judge ruled that Christian baker Cathy Miller, who owns Tastries Bakery in Bakersfield, cannot be forced to make a same-sex wedding cake.
Miller explained last year that she could not make a wedding cake for Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio, saying, "My conscience doesn't allow me to participate in certain activities that are contrary to my biblical beliefs. I pray that we can all come to an understanding so that we can continue to get along."
Superior Court Judge David Lampe ruled that the right to refuse baking such cakes is protected by the First Amendment.
While it is unlawful to discriminate based on race, religion, gender or gender identification, the judge said, "the difference here is that the cake in question is not yet baked. The State is not petitioning the court to order defendants to sell cake. The State asks this court to compel Miller to use her talents to design and create a cake she has not yet conceived with the knowledge that her work will be displayed in celebration of a marital union her religion forbids. For this court to force such compliance would do violence to the essentials of Free Speech guaranteed under the First Amendment."
Christian bakers have said they do not refuse to sell cakes or other baked goods to gay customers, but they draw the line at creating custom-made cakes specifically for a same-sex wedding.
In his assessment of Kimmel's skit, Weber said while he appreciated the comedian's attempt to address the issue, the portrayal of the facts was "not accurate."
Weber pointed out that Kimmel's skit attempts to show the customer's side of the events, but neglects to offer the baker's side. He suggested that a way to make the skit more accurate would have been if the government was also portrayed in its attempts to force Christian owners to "comply with [its] morality."
As FRC pointed out, another major religious freedom vs. discrimination laws case that is currently going through the Supreme Court concerns Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips and his Masterpiece Cakeshop.
Jonathan Scruggs, an Alliance Defending Freedom attorney who helped with the case, told The Christian Post in December that the oral arguments "went well" and that the judges, including Justice Anthony Kennedy, "seemed very open to many of our arguments."
"Kennedy seemed to really hit the nail on the head talking about the importance of tolerance being essential in a free society and tolerance is most meaningful when it's mutual," Scruggs told CP.
"It did not seem to him that the state was being tolerant of Mr. Phillips' religious beliefs. That is a pretty compelling statement."
Watch the Jimmy Kimmel skit below: