The Christian owners of a bakery in Indiana have had to close up shop after respectfully declining to bake a cake for a man's same-sex commitment ceremony because of their religious beliefs, even though they expressed that they would be happy to serve him in any other way.
Having to deal with a media firestorm and the ensuing controversy as a result of the cordial refusal, the exhausted cake-baking couple decided to call it quits and pursue another means of making a living.
Randy and Trish McGath – the owners of "111 Cakery" in Indianapolis – were asked by Mike Stephens last March to bake a cake for his same-sex ceremony committing himself to his partner, Shane Laney. After the McGaths declined, the upset prospective customer took the story to the media.
"[The bakery owners] said, 'We don't do that,'" Stephens told Fox59. "'If I can help you with anything else, but we don't discriminate.' That was the end of it. It's disappointing."
But according to the McGaths, who attend a local Baptist church, the process of creating a cake is a personal and spiritual investment. They divulged to reporters that the messages presented by their cakes, whether through words or graphic imagery, are expressions of who they are and what they stand for.
"As artists, we have to find inspiration to create something special for our clients," Randy McGath explained, according to Christiannews.net. "When asked to do a cake for an occasion or with a theme that's in opposition with our faith? It's just hard for us. We struggle with that."
This work ethic and standard wasn't something that the McGaths made up on the spur of the moment to excuse themselves from making a cake for the same-sex couple. It has been their bakery's policy that they won't create cakes that fall in line with certain themes or that promote certain behaviors they consider harmful or detrimental to society or God's order of things.
"He stated that his bakery has a policy about certain types of themed cakes that they can cannot fulfill, including cakes that would feature images pertaining to alcohol, drugs or violence," Christiannews.net's Heather Clark reports. "McGath also explained that he was well aware when he opened the bakery that it was in an area known as the 'gayborhood,' and has served many customers who identify as homosexual since 111 Cakery's 2012 opening."
An act of love, not hate
McGath made it very clear that the first priority of his bakery was to be a beacon of light to the community and embrace customers with Christ's love, while not compromising his own and his wife's sincerely held Christian beliefs.
"There is zero hate here," McGath insisted. "This causes us to do a lot of soul searching. Why are we doing what we do? We want to show the love of Christ."
McGath also noted that showing Christian love to his and his wife's customers doesn't include promoting or condoning behavior that is destructive and falls away from the will of God.
"We want to be right with our God, but we also want to show kindness and respect to other people," McGath asserted. "[We] just didn't want to be party to a commitment ceremony [because it is essentially] a commitment to sin."
Staying afloat during the same-sex 'marriage' wave
Not long after one of the members of the "offended" same-sex couple took his story to local TV station, a media frenzy soon pulsed throughout the country. This was especially pronounced in the McGath's home state, as the lawmakers were busy at work trying to legalize same-sex "marriage" in Indiana. Later in the year, on October 6, 2014, same-sex marriage was legalized by a court decision.
One of the results of the extensive media coverage given to 111 Cakery's decision to decline the same-sex couple's cake request was the calling for LGBT advocates to boycott the bakery, as one man did while picketing in front of the McGath's storefront.
Besides arousing opponents, the media coverage also resulted in a rally of support for 111 Cakery. In the aftermath of the television report, people advocating for the McGaths helped their business thrive, with many driving more than 50 miles to order cakes, according to USA Today.
Quitting the controversy
After nearly a year of juggling the business and the controversy, the McGaths decided to close the doors of their bakery for good on December 31, as Trish McGath expressed that the workload was "wearing her out." She shared that the closure would allow her to devote more time to her grandchildren. As for her husband, Randy, he has since found another line of work.
The McGaths proclaimed the news on their former bakery's website, showing that there are no hard feelings and that they continue to be grateful for the opportunity to have served their community in the name of the Lord.
"We have decided not to renew our lease so we are now closed," the 111 Cakery website still declares. "We want to thank everyone for your patronage, support and friendship. It has been a true pleasure to serve you. Eph. 2:8."
Making it very clear that their decision to close up shop was not to be taken as a political statement, the McGaths stressed to the media last week that they continue to deal with the opposition in a loving and cordial manner and that they wish no ill will on those going against their business.
"We were just trying to be right with our God," Randy McGath recently told reporters. "I was able to speak to many homosexuals in the community and to speak our opinion and have a civil conversation. I'm still in touch with some."