Saturday, March 01, 2014

Outlaw Prometheus Books!

Let’s say that my religious beliefs don’t allow anyone in my taxi cab who will be going to a gambling casino in Iowa or is carrying a bottle of French champagne. My religious belief is that gambling and alcohol are immoral, and I should not be forced by the government to contribute to immoral behavior. 
So, can I refuse service to gamblers and wine drinkers because I am exercising my religious freedom? 
For example, in Minnesota there already have been numerous complaints about Muslim taxi cab drivers who refuse service to passengers carrying wine bottles or other types of containers with alcohol. 
According to a Fatwa (Islamic legal opinion) issued on June 6, 2006, by a local chapter of the Muslim American Society in Minneapolis, Muslim cabbies can refuse service to those carrying alcohol “because it involves cooperating in sin according to Islam.” 
Many conservative Christian groups denounced such actions as an effort to impose Islamic Shariah law on America, and look upon the actions of those cab drivers as a threat to American religious freedom.
Several issues:
i) I don't believe in accommodating Muslims because Muslims demand that everyone accommodate them while they refuse to accommodate everyone else. Sharia isn't about religious liberty. Just the opposite. So the comparison is disanalogous. 
ii) I 'm no expert on the taxicab business, but whether or not a cabby has the right to refuse a customer depends on whether he's self-employed. If so, then I'd say he does have the right to refuse a customer for whatever reason–short of a medical emergency. 
But in my observation, cabbies are usually employed by large taxicab companies. As such, it would be a question of the employer's policy. Employees don't make policy-decisions. 
In principle, you could have a small taxicab company with a discriminatory policy. If so, that's an opening for competitors.  
I also don't know if airports have contracts with taxicab companies. If so, then airports have a say.
iii) The persuasive power of these arguments depends on the illustration. Does Avalos think cabbies should never have the right to refuse a customer? What if the customer fits the description of a suspect who murdered another cabby?
iv) But let's take a different example. Avalos is a militant atheist. Indeed, that's the hidden agenda for his article. 
Like other atheist writers, Avalos publishes some of his monographs through Prometheus Books. It's the in-house publisher for atheists. It was founded by Paul Kurtz to promote atheist literature. That's its mission. It exists by and for atheists. For the benefit of the atheist community. 
Does Avalos think Prometheus Books should be required to publish Christian writers like Robert Gagnon, Albert Mohler, and William Lane Craig? Does he think it should be illegal for private publisher to discriminate against Christian authors by automatically rejecting their MS submissions? 


  1. Next week's news: Christian Publishing House Sued By Gay Activists For Not Publishing Gay Stuff, Gay Activists Win.

  2. This is a brilliant point. As a conservative atheist I agree. This gives government the ability to coerce people into violating their consciences, and there is nothing really that the "victim" (in the case of the photographer or baker) is being deprived of, except that their vanity is injured.

    The important point is that this is not analogous to racial discrimination which is against the person. This is purely a matter of not wanting to be coerced into participating in a particular event. If the homosexual had asked the photographer to, say, photograph some flowers or a kids party, the photographer would have agreed.