Read on to learn why those in Salem who support gay rights and same-sex marriage should join in the boycott of the Broadway Commons and the Broadway Coffee House.
I submitted what follows as a guest opinion in the Statesman Journal about three weeks ago. Recently I inquired about the piece and learned that the newspaper wasn't going to publish it.
So here it is. The only change I've made to what was sent to the Statesman Journal was adding links to other blog posts I've written about the boycott.
Facts About the Broadway Commons Boycott
by Brian Hines
In a December 11 letter to the editor, Scott Rick called for a boycott of the Broadway Commons because Salem Alliance Church, which owns the property, refuses to allow same-sex marriages. Rick said that the church discriminates against LGBT people “in various ways,” including the refusal to marry same-sex couples.
A boycott is a serious action. It should be based on facts.
A year ago I heard about a boycott by 50 neighbors of the Broadway Commons for a similar reason. Here’s what I’ve been able to learn since about this issue. I’m confident that what follows is accurate, since it is based on demonstrable facts.
First, in addition to the Salem Alliance Church not being willing to marry same-sex couples, lead pastor Steve Fowler has preached that same-sex sex is a sin.
I listened to a podcast of a 2016 sermon by Fowler where he says, “And you will never find in the scriptures any positive pictures of a same sex union. It just isn’t there…Any kind of sexual activity outside of a marriage with a male and a female, this is something we should not be engaged in.”
Second, in response to the boycott controversy, the Salem Alliance Church has issued a statement that affirmed an orthodox view of marriage, said that only followers of Jesus are hired to work at the Broadway Coffee House, and noted that sexual orientation questions are not asked during the hiring process.
However, the statement was silent as to whether openly LGBT people would be able to work at the coffeehouse.
Third, a KATU News reporter and I have repeatedly asked representatives of the Salem Alliance Church and Broadway Coffee House whether a LGBT person would be welcome to be a barista.
The only response has been that the above-mentioned statement is their last word on this matter. So it appears almost certain that the Broadway Coffee House does indeed discriminate against those in a same-sex relationship, in accord with the teachings of the Salem Alliance Church.
To my understanding this is legal in Oregon, since religions are not bound by anti-discrimination laws that apply to others. However, this doesn’t make it right.
The Broadway Coffee House shows no outward sign of being church owned and operated. I’ve heard from numerous people that if they had known the coffee house is run by a church that considers same-sex sex to be a sin and won’t hire LGBT people, they wouldn’t patronize it.
Here’s a cogent analogy.
Imagine Planned Parenthood ran a coffee house, 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 coffee house 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.