Last month Marilyn Synek walked into a Nebraska coffee shop for her weekly ritual of coffee and crepes. What she received was a torrent of angry words, which I cannot repeat on radio (or in print). A woman who worked at the coffee shop recognized that Marilyn worked for the Nebraska Family Alliance shouted at Marilyn and demanded that she leave.
Marilyn said she was stunned by this reaction, as were the other patrons in the crowded shop. She said she always treated the employees of this shop with respect and courtesy and never broadcast her pro-life, pro-family beliefs.
After sharing her experience with her Facebook friends, her story generated lots of comments and made the local news. Marilyn then learned that the woman who shouted at her and refused service was fired for her outburst. In a previous age, that would have been the end of the story. Not in our world today.
While Marilyn received an apology from the coffee shop owners, she also received lots of hateful messages, including graphic death threats from complete strangers. Then came the unfair slander of Nebraska Family Alliance. She noted that if even a fraction of these negative stories about the group were true, she wouldn’t work there.
Of course, some tried to argue a moral equivalence to Jack Phillips at Masterpiece Cakeshop. She reminded us that Jack will sell you any baked goods but did draw the line at making custom cakes celebrating Halloween, bachelor parties, and same-sex ceremonies. She even added that if a printer did not want to design a poster for a Nebraska Family Alliance event, she would understand and go to another business. She adds: “Tolerance goes both ways, and civil disagreement and discourse on important issues facing our country is a necessary component of a pluralistic society like ours.”
The negative reaction to her story illustrates that we unfortunately have a long way to go before true tolerance becomes a reality.