March 18, 2014

Michael Peppard [“Many layers in the gay-wedding cake,” op-ed, March 16] made a righteous effort to find a “delicate balance” between freedom of religious conscience and the evil of discrimination in the argument over gay marriage, bakers and photographers. But history still argues against him.

In 1774, Massachusetts had an official state establishment of religion that gave priority to the majority Congregationalists and discriminated against Catholics, Baptists, Quakers and others. As a representative to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, John Adams was confronted by Quakers who wanted him to make Massachusetts as tolerant of all as Pennsylvania. Adams defended his state’s policies by saying that the citizens of Massachusetts were acting in accordance with their conscience and had the freedom to practice their religion as they saw fit, to which the Quaker leader Israel Pemberton burst out, “Oh, sir, pray don’t urge liberty of conscience in favor of such laws.”

Even moderate defenders of the law allowing people to use religion as a reason to discriminate deserve the same response.

David Williams, Lincoln, Va.