Christian baker closes Indiana shop fearing future legal battles

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez |

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Christian Examiner) -- Owners of a profitable Christian bakery, who drew online criticism last March for declining to bake a cake for a gay couple on the basis of religious grounds, closed their business in December and have decided not to reopen.

The 111 Cakery saw steady business and community support after the proprietors took a stand on their faith.

Critics took to Facebook and Twitter to voice their disapproval of owners Randy and Trish McGath, but new customers drove long distances to make purchase as a show of support.

However, legalization of same-sex marriage in the state apparently caused the couple to conclude there would likely be repeat controversies and, though they were spared the devastation of a legal battle this time, decided it best to move on.

Compared to the Oregon bakery whose owners were personally threatened and could face bankruptcy after being found guilty in a discrimination lawsuit for a similar denial of service, the McGath's fallout appeared brief and civil.

Even a would-be demonstration outside their doors fizzled when only a lone protestor showed to boycott the bakery, the IndyStar reported.

Randy McGath suggested the respectful difference of opinions was the result of his sentiments toward the residents of the predominantly gay community where they chose to set up shop in 2012.

"There was zero hate here," McGath, told IndyStar. "We were just trying to be right with our God."

McGath noted he was intentional about engaging members of the gay community where the 111 Cakery had leased space. The issue was not with serving gays, but in participating in the wedding ceremony, he said.

We "just didn't want to be party to a commitment ceremony" because such an event reflected "a commitment to sin," McGath said, not backing down on his commitment to stand firm in his faith, but do it in a way that reflected civility.

"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," he said.

Despite maintaining civiity, the McGath's had no guarantee the government would not come down hard on their business if they chose to continue on with bakery.

Across the nation, wedding vendors like bakers and florists have come come under fire for their wish to decline providing a service that would tie them to a ceremony that conflicts with their religious beliefs.

McGath said his wife, who did most of the baking, has been taking time off since the shop closed on Dec. 31 and will spend more time with their grandchildren.

RELATED ARTICLE:

Florist tells state attorney 'freedom to honor God' more important than losing home