SSteve Tennes is an orchard owner in Michigan. He frequently sells his produce at a local farmers’ market about 20 miles away, yet this summer, the city of East Lansing prohibited him from doing so. His crime? Refusing to host a same-sex wedding on his property.
The Tennes family holds a traditional Christian belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. When approached by a same-sex couple in 2014, Tennes refused to host the wedding, instead referring them to a different orchard that would provide the service. While it is entirely legal in the state of Michigan for business owners to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, East Lansing has an ordinance that prohibits this practice. So Tennes sued the city on the grounds that it was violating his religious freedom. The case is ongoing.
Similar issues of religious liberty are popping up all over the country, particularly around the issue of same-sex weddings. Yet it isn’t just Christians who face challenges to the exercise of their religious beliefs. Muslims, too, are fighting for their right to uphold their religious tenets in the public square.
In 2014, for example, a young Muslim woman was denied a job at Abercrombie and Fitch because her decision to wear a hijab violated the company’s dress code (she was not informed of this policy at the time of her application). The Supreme Court ruled in her favor 8-1, arguing that allowing the hijab was a reasonable accommodation that the business has a responsibility to provide. In 2013, two Muslim truck drivers were fired for refusing to transport alcohol, citing strong religious objections — ultimately, a jury ruled in their favor.
It’s time to forge a new alliance. Muslims are the most ethnically diverse non-Christian religious group in America today and are projected to grow in population in the future; they have increasing political clout as a group. Christians would do well to recognize that they and Muslims share a strong interest in preserving their liberty to robustly uphold their religious convictions.