Someone contacted me about a year ago about how the Broadway Coffee House here in Salem refuses to allow gay people to be employees, because the business is controlled by the Salem Alliance Church.
As you can read below, the pastor of the church believes this gives them a religious license to discriminate, sort of like how Agent 007 had a license to kill, even though under normal circumstances this is illegal.
According to the Oregon State Bar, it is legal for religiously affiliated businesses to engage in discrimination against LGBT people. But this doesn't make it right.
Here's what the person who contacted me, who wanted to remain anonymous, said. I recall that this message came through Facebook after I'd written a blog post about how Hobby Lobby mixes religion with its business practices.
I saw your post about hobby lobby, so I think I feel comfortable sharing more ...the "business" I am referring to is Broadway Coffee house. Turns out it is not an actual business and all proceeds go to pay church staff and support the church ministries of Salem Alliance Church .
Seems like something the public should be aware of, especially since I was told gay people would not be able to work there
It feels very underhanded to keep that info from consumers. Myself and about 40 others who live around the coffee shop have been boycotting Broadway for over a year now . We just want them to put up a sign that says the coffee shop supports the ministry of the church and is not an equal opportunity employer. If they do that, we will end the boycott.
Today, the Statesman Journal ran a letter to the editor that made a similar point about how the Broadway Commons, which contains the Broadway Coffee House, discriminates against LGBT people because it is owned by the Salem Alliance Church.
Though Scott Rick focuses on not allowing same-gender couples to marry, I noted that he uses the phrase "discriminating against LGBT members of our community in various ways," implying there are other ways discrimination is happening -- such as not allowing LGBT people to work at the Broadway Coffee House.
Here's the letter.
Boycotting Salem meeting place sends message discrimination won't be tolerated
By serving as a gathering place for the community, Broadway Commons is a major asset to Salem.
Unfortunately, the owners of Broadway Commons, Salem Alliance Church, are actively discriminating against LGBT members of our community in various ways, including refusing to allow same-gender couples to marry.
Religious freedom is sacred, but when any organization discriminates, we have an obligation to take action to bring an end to such discrimination.
In years past, the Bible was used to justify slavery and opposition to civil rights for African Americans. By discriminating against the LGBT community, Salem Alliance Church is continuing that unfortunate tradition.
Refusing to allow same-gender couples to marry is no different than refusing to allow interracial couples to marry.
By boycotting Broadway Commons, we can send a clear message that discrimination is not tolerated in our community.
Many private and governmental organizations use Broadway Commons for meetings. If you are invited to a meeting at Broadway Commons, please consider letting the meeting organizer know that you cannot attend due to the discriminatory practices of the Salem Alliance Church.
Rick's call for a boycott of Broadway Commons, which includes the Broadway Coffee House, should be seriously considered by those in Salem who reject discrimination for any reason, including religious.
I've never understood why our country tolerates discrimination in the name of religion when the same behavior is illegal for non-religious people to engage in.
What's next, allowing religious people to drive drunk if this is part of their belief system? Allowing anyone with a hateful belief system to discriminate? Why should a collective discriminatory belief system be treated differently than an individual discriminatory belief system?
The City of Salem has held a number of meetings at the Broadway Commons.
But recently public meeting for the Downtown Streetscape and Our Salem projects have been held elsewhere. It'd be good to know if this was because of the Broadway Commons' discrimination policy against LGBTQ members of the Salem community.
If so, great. Kudos to the City of Salem.
If not, then the City of Salem and other government agencies should make it a policy to never hold meetings at the Broadway Commons until the Salem Alliance Church starts acting in the name of love, not discrimination, like religious organizations are supposed to do.
Thanks so much for shedding light on this. I have had many coffee meetings there and also frequented their community rooms. Now that I know that they discriminate, I won't be patronizing them. Thanks for standing up for our LGBTQ friends.
Posted by: Loquistadores | December 12, 2018 at 04:24 PM
Thank you for shedding light on this. I did not know this business was run by Salem Alliance Church nor did I know they discriminate against our LGBT community. I won’t be going to Broadway Coffee House any longer due to this.
Posted by: Jennifer Koenig | December 12, 2018 at 07:49 PM
I remember the religious Politics that stirred up the happy jesus cult I was apart of at the time hahaha. There is a group right smack in the middle of downtown who flow in this same way. Its sucks how churches in Salem can get away with a lot of things just because of their non profit status. I recently also heard first Baptist is or has demolished a whole city block of real estate to..... put in a parking lot for their members. This is a church that's been quoted to say the druggie park directly across the street from them is of no concern cause they're not here for humanitarian reasons. Someone needs to get a reign on the loop holes religious non profits use to push their agenda. Oh yeah. There was the one time the principal of leslie middle school said hes so glad to get rid of the separation of church and state cause morning star church allows the schools to use their auditorium for concerts. Salem is a city under a religious thumb.
Posted by: Berikbassline | December 12, 2018 at 08:39 PM
Fantastic to see our local community organizing around this to protect us from ALL forms of unjust discrimiation. We will never get to hear the stories of hardship, anguish and pain visitied upon those gay people turned away from a job they clearly were able to do, scalded by the bigotry and intorerance of the so-called "Christians" running the place. What a pathetically flawed reading of the Words of Jesus Christ, who, if He ever mentioned anything worth remembering at all, was that we love one another. That doesn't include stepping on someone's face and telling they're "not worthy" to serve up coffee to customers. Yeah, that's right, that's how LITTLE sense this all makes!! Merry Jesus' Birthday, you clueless, intolerant imbeciles.
Posted by: Mike Broderick | December 12, 2018 at 10:00 PM
RE: the gay issue, it is interesting that Jesus in all the accounts of his healings never once asked the person seeking healing, "Before I heal you, I need to know your position on gays and lesbians..." Why? BECAUSE IT DOESN'T GIVE-A-DAMN MATTER!
Posted by: Rev. Curt McCormack | December 12, 2018 at 10:58 PM
No one remembers the account of Sodom & Gamorah huh, it was destroyed by God because he created Men to sleep with women and bring the gift of life into this world, not for a man to to stick his dick into a guys asshole and call it good, or maybe I missed something in biology class and there really is a uterus in a guys butt canal although I highly doubt it. To each his own if that’s your cup of tea who am I to say it’s wrong. my beliefs it is. More power to to Salem Alliance Church. There chairs are always filled and the cash keeps going in the till there not hurting for city of Salem’s cash anyway. Keep doing what there doing in there eyes it’s right, Only God can judge them when the time comes.
Posted by: Chip | December 13, 2018 at 04:00 AM
If they want to hold onto their religion as justification for their behavior and attitudes, they should adhere to ALL their scriptures, not cherry pick them to suit personal bias. Otherwise, their bigotry has nothing to do with the Bible, and everything to do with their own egos.
Ezekiel 16:49-50 49 "'Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen."
Posted by: Michelle Achee | December 13, 2018 at 07:50 AM
This would be really big news... if they served half decent coffee and an ambiance that isn't hospital-cafeteria-chic.
Posted by: NotEvenWrong | December 13, 2018 at 09:08 AM
The God that I worship and believe in, loves all his children. All of them, even Jeffrey Dahmer. It's not a lifestyle choice being gay is something that you're born with or not born with. In my humble opinion, God makes no mistakes.
Posted by: RoxxanneDubois | December 13, 2018 at 10:01 AM
One more thought. The Bible was written by Mankind's hand not God's
Posted by: RoxxanneDubois | December 13, 2018 at 10:03 AM
Legally a church cannot charge a set amount for any service. All "purchases" are considered donations.
Therefore, you can walk into Broadway Commons, order a coffee, and not pay for it. This would be legal. And maybe an even better boycott.
Posted by: anonymous | December 13, 2018 at 07:56 PM
I saw this blog post circulated, and was concerned, so I re-posted it to begin a conversation about it.
While Broadway Coffeehouse is run by Salem Alliance, the coffeehouse itself does not discriminate in the ways implied by this blog post. I've spoken to a current employee, two past employees, and a past manager. All have supported the same story - that orientation is not addressed in interviews, and that they do currently - and have in the past - employ people who identify as LBGTQIA+ and are out. Three of those people also stated that if it was a known policy to refuse to hire certain people due to orientation, they themselves would not have worked there.
In fact, it is now quite awkward and stressful for the LBGTQIA+ folk who work at Broadway to deal with the negative publicity this article generated, who now feel that they need to defend their place of employment from people who claim to be their allies.
And I'm not sure of Salem Alliance's stance on marriage, although the denomination they are a part of does not support non-heterosexual marriages. Many of Salem's largest protestant churches hold the same stance, unfortunately. I believe that is wrong, however, that is a different issue than Broadway discriminating.
I agree that they should be more clear that they are run by the church directly and not just renting space in the church's building. However, that is a far cry from Broadway refusing to hire LBGTQIA+ folk, which is thankfully false.
It's important to remain vigilant for local sources of discrimination and injustice, but it's also important to verify accurate information and avoid causing harm.
The entire conversation can be seen on my Facebook, I've made it public.
Posted by: Bradley Hogle | December 13, 2018 at 08:00 PM
Not that I condone this...trust me I don't.
But before I read even past the first 3 paragraphs...
Broadway Coffee isn't "controlled" by the Alliance church. It's actually owned by it. Property and all. Including a few other blocks beside it.
It is also considered an arm of that church.
So yes. As a business, and a church, it can hire whom they please that fits in with their beliefs
There are actually several churches that accept people of all sexual preferences. Are open to having people of the LGBT community in their congregation, and on staff. It's worth checking into.
Being someone who fits in the LGBT community, I understand how this person and others may feel. But knowing that it is a "Christian" church, one will have to expect judgement on sexual lifestyles. Not all Christian churches act as this, but we all know that most do. No it's not right, but this is how it is.
If going into a church environment that you suspect might not welcome certain lifestyles, or applying for a job within... I would suggest not revealing your private life to them. I believe it's no one's business of my private life, church included.
I do not shop at hobby lobby, nor other businesses that publicly discriminate against anyone. But I'm sure I've purchased from businesses that do so privately.
Broadway Coffee accepts many a people from all walks of life into their building and to enjoy their fairs. The staff have been wonderful, was and helpful people to all. They support many organizations around our community, including hosting silent night for the hearing impared community. They allow anyone to go in and warm up or cool off, relax, read a book, etc even if you don't purchase anything. They also support many of the less fortunate people in our community who would find it hard to be welcomed in other places and coffee shops.
As I said... Not saying it's right, but it is their right to hire whom they please. And if that person doesn't fit into their beliefs, their choice. Their property, their business, their religion, their church.
I myself, nor anyone I know in the LGBT community have never been treated with ill will at any time we've been there. And yes, I will continue going there. They treat their patrons with respect and a smile.
Posted by: Tracy | December 13, 2018 at 08:02 PM
Thanks for posting this!
Posted by: Chuck Sheketoff | December 13, 2018 at 08:42 PM
When Plan Parrenthood has to hire Right to life supporters.....
When PITA has to have members from Trout Unlimited on their board.....
When the Christian Church on the corner has to hire a Rabbi.......
Then I will agree that a non profits running a business do not have the right and my support to hire who they wish.
I also have the right to disagree with them. Not seak membership in their organization and not support this business with my dollars.
It would be unjustifiable to say a non profit is wrong in exercising their freedoms to do so.
Posted by: Randy | December 14, 2018 at 07:18 AM
What rational mind thinks the next step from a religious organization view on homosexuality as a sin is drunk driving? Also that collective discriminatory system you talk about vs the individual discriminatory system needs some education. A business that is for profit is required to operate under the rules of business law. A church is viewed as a non profit organization and is not required to hire anyone outside of its requirements. This is done so that the non profit has the protection of its mission or purpose. Plan Parenthood is under the same rules. PETA is under the same rules. Covenant House is under the same rules. The protection is also given in the separation of church and state to even support a churches right for internal governance. Put down your fear, a branch of Christianity that views alternative sexualities as sin will not be directly tied to drunken road rage. Don’t spend money there if you disagree. Don’t he hipocritical in your view of them not having the right to hire who they wish. If that were not true you would lose much more then you gain.
Posted by: Randy | December 14, 2018 at 07:47 AM
The question I have and, unfortunately, there is no longer any chance to do any real investigative journalism since Salem Weekly has given up, is: Was there a violation of law when the City, soon after its takeover by the real estate industry in 2003, helped with the development of the property. That is, did the City make improper monetary or other substantial contributions for the purpose of promoting the interests of the Church?
Posted by: Kurt | December 14, 2018 at 10:58 AM
Rev. Curt McCormack I am interested in how you looked at an issue of the practice of a non profit and saw it an opportunity to delve into a theological debate? I would like to point out that you as a director of Keizer Community Food Bank which exist and who has his salary payed for by the very same protection as any other non profit. A group I am sure that has established its own requirements for employment. Who because of its existence serves a greater good to the community and would be a loss to the community if you did not exist. And with that background and knowledge as well as to the good Salem Alience Church has offered to the greater Salem Keizer community in an article addressing the right of a church to establish its hiring policy you see the opportunity to delve into a theological debate? Though I agree with your theology I find your timing for its presentation poorly chosen. You missed the point and you should have known better.
Posted by: Randy | December 14, 2018 at 05:30 PM
Why does everything have to become political? My sexual preference is just that... mine! Never in my life have I been asked to submit my sexual preference on an application. I seriously doubt that any employer would tolerate any on the job PDA, by any of its employees. So what the fuss! Keep your sexual preference to yourself! As to the Broadway Commons, let them hire whom they hire as long as they don’t discriminate whom they serve!
Posted by: Elizabeth | December 15, 2018 at 06:41 AM
Broadway Coffeehouse was built as an inclusive gathering place for anyone and everyone and operates as a business/ministry of Salem Alliance Church located in the Broadway Commons building.
We believe everyone is created in God’s image with inestimable worth, and therefore, we seek to treat every individual, even those with whom we might disagree, with dignity and respect. It is with this mission that we operate Broadway Coffeehouse. While we intentionally hire followers of Jesus at Broadway Coffeehouse, it has not been our practice to ask sexual orientation questions during the hiring process.
We have not sought to use Broadway Coffeehouse as a religious platform. Instead, we strive to demonstrate a welcoming spirit and provide exceptional service to everyone in our diverse community. We love our community and we work hard to be good neighbors, open to all who visit our church, use our facilities or stop by for coffee as we serve our city following Christ’s example.
If you have further questions, feel free to reach out directly to management at [email protected]
Posted by: Luke | December 15, 2018 at 01:45 PM
I followed up on Luke's offer above to answer questions. Here's my email message to Luke:
Luke, thanks for your comment on my blog post about Salem Alliance Church. I do have a few questions.
(1) Since the Broadway Coffee House is part of Salem Alliance Church, I’ve been told that money raised by the Coffee House, and by Broadway Commons in general, goes in the church’s financial accounts. I assume this is correct, but would appreciate confirmation of this. In other words, if I buy a latte at the Coffee House, which I’ve done numerous times, does the profit from that purchase go to support church operations?
(2) You said you don’t ask about sexual orientation during the hiring process for Coffee House staff. But as unlikely as this may be, let’s imagine this scenario: a “follower of Jesus,” as you put it, applies for a job. In the course of the interview this person says, “Wanted to let you know that I’m gay, and I’m married in a same-sex marriage.” Would they be hired if they were otherwise qualified?
As you read on my first blog post about this issue that you commented on, this is what someone reported to me:
"The pastor told me that the baristas are church staff and have to be employees of the church and follow church rules to work there . He also said that they do not need to follow non discrimination laws because they are an outreach ministry...not a licensed business. I think the general public should know this."
(3) So another question is, is what this person said true? Namely do baristas have to be church staff? Do they have to follow church rules to work there? I ask this because my second post is about the lead pastor at Salem Alliance Church saying that same-sex sex is a sin, and it needs to be given up by church members.
Thus I’m wondering if the Coffee House would hire someone who is openly gay, is in a same-sex marriage, and is having same-sex sex within that marriage. Let’s assume they are a member of the Salem Alliance Church. They just choose to ignore that rule about same-sex sex set down by the pastor, because it doesn’t make sense to them.
I look forward to your responses. I’ll share those responses unedited on my blog.
Posted by: Brian Hines | December 15, 2018 at 02:19 PM
Brian. If a church has a set of standards that you must live by to be a member and YOU don’t agree with them it does not mean you are a viewed as a member of the church. If I was a member of PETA and went to the BBQ with a fur coat on I would not be viewed as a member. Turkey leg in hand at the Vegan Club gathering is not going to make me a member. I do not know what the stand is the church has in hiring it’s people on its payroll but it sure does have the right to require those who are to be in good standing with the church’s standards. Connect the dots this is not that difficult.
Posted by: Randy | December 21, 2018 at 07:32 AM
Randy, here's some dots you need to connect. People have a right to know that the Broadway Coffeehouse discriminates against gays, being run by the Salem Alliance Church. If you opposed abortion, you wouldn't want to buy a latte at a coffeehouse owned by Planned Parenthood, since the profits from the business go to support an organization who has some beliefs you don't accept.
Likewise, most people in Salem supports same-sex marriage and gay rights. But quite a few people have told me they had no idea that the Broadway Coffeehouse discriminated against gays. So my blog posts on this subject have been a community service to inform people of who is behind the coffeehouse, and who gets money earned by the coffeehouse -- the Salem Alliance Church, a decidedly gay-unfriendly organization.
Posted by: Brian Hines | December 21, 2018 at 01:01 PM
Who is harmed by the SAC? Why the big hullabaloo? I guess gays would be harmed if they really wanted to be members of SAC and were rejected as unholy sinners, but why would they want to be part of such a church anyway? There are lots of gay friendly churches aren't there?
Are gays refused service at the coffeehouse? Does the staff scowl menacingly at them or serve them diluted coffee? That could cause gays pain of some kind especially if they are berated too (which wouldn't be very Jesus-like), but gays don't have to go there, and they probably wouldn't want to go there if they are treated with disrespect. So, they can go to other coffee places where nicer, more tolerant people run the place and hang out. That's what I'd do if i were gay.
It seems that the main problem perceived here is that SAC teaches that gays are crummy people in the eyes of God and that just isn't a very nice or tolerant way to be.
So be it. it's a free country.. or is it?
It seems there is a desire by the blog host here to shut the place down because of anti-gayness and no decent human being wants to support that, do they?
What if it turns out SAC is right?
I mean, I don't think so, but who am I to be their judge any more than they to judge me?
As long as everybody leaves everybody alone.
Posted by: LB | December 21, 2018 at 05:55 PM
LB, note my comment response to Randy above, which applies to your own comment. Look: the boycott of the Broadway Coffeehouse isn't my idea. It is the idea of about 50 neighbors of Broadway Commons, plus the person who wrote the letter to the editor.
I agree with it though. The Salem Alliance Church runs the coffeehouse and gets the profits from it. The church is decidedly gay-unfriendly, preaching that same-sex marriage and same-sex sex are sins.
People who support gay rights need to know that when they buy stuff at the Broadway Coffeehouse, this is akin to putting money into a Salem Alliance Church collection plate: they are financially supporting the church and its teachings.
Here's an excerpt from anGuest Opinion I wrote that may, or may not, be published by the Statesman Journal. (If not, I'll share it on my blog and social media after the first of the year.) Don't you find this argument persuasive?
"Here’s a cogent analogy. Imagine Planned Parenthood ran a coffeehouse, but didn’t publicly indicate it was the owner. Those opposed to abortion would be disturbed to learn that the money they spent at the coffeehouse was going to a cause they found abhorrent, even though abortions are a small part of what Planned Parenthood does. Likewise, backers of gay rights and same-sex marriage are justifiably concerned about supporting the Broadway Commons for the same sort of reason: not being consistent with their values."
Posted by: Brian Hines | December 21, 2018 at 07:29 PM
Yes, good argument, but supporting a business run by people who believe gays are sinners isn't in the same league as supporting an organization that does abortions (kills babies).
If SAC actively condemns and preaches against gays publicly in the community and deliberately sows disharmony, that's one thing, but if they simply believe gays are sinners, to me that's not a big deal. I would just ignore them and go somewhere else, unless grande mocha latte's are on sale for $1.10 ;-)
Think how many businesses there are who benefit people we may disagree with or who we think are reprehensible. If you are talking about large businesses, probably all of them benefit at least some people who may be viewed unfavorably for one reason or another.. like they may believe gays are sinners.
Posted by: LB | December 21, 2018 at 11:00 PM