Should a baker be required to make a cake for a gay wedding if it goes against their religious beliefs? And if your answer is no, then check out this case of a bakery that doesn’t want to make a cake that says “Merry Christmas” because it goes against their religious beliefs.
Arnold Serestyen, a Hungarian national, went to Chocolicious Indonesia where he wanted to get a cake for his family with “Merry Christmas” on it.
But the shop said no.
“We from Chocolicious Indonesia are not yet able to write ‘Merry Christmas’ or other similar expressions,” the shop said, offering its “deepest regrets.”
“This does not mean we do not respect your religion. But with all due respect this is what we have to practice based on our religious principles,” it went on, saying the customers are “welcome to add [their] own writing.”
Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country. And some more conservative Muslims feel that wishing “Merry Christmas” constitutes an endorsement of Christianity.
Most Muslims do not feel that way, according to the Jakarta Post, and the most religious leaders say it’s okay to say it. Thousands made comments on the shop’s Facebook and Instagram pages with opinions sharply differing. Some commentators called the bakery “racist,” “fanatics” and “unfit to live in Indonesia,” according to the Jakarta Post.
However, the country’s Consumers Foundation (YLKI) said the bakery had violated consumer rights, such as “the right to be treated and served properly, honestly and non-discriminatively,” according to the YLKI’s head, Sudaryatmo (who goes by one name, as is often the case locally).
Last year the Indonesian Ulema Council, the country’s top Muslim clerical body, issued a religious ruling prohibiting Muslims from using Christmas attributes. Nevertheless, it assured adherents of the faith that wishing Christians a “Merry Christmas” didn’t contradict Islam.
But Arnold Serestyen, the man who asked for the cake, said he had no issue with it, that he didn’t feel it was “insulting” or “racist” at all. He was not put off because “their cakes are wonderful.”
The store publicly apologized:
“Again, we sincerely apologize from the bottom of our hearts and with a feeling of respect and honor as Indonesians. We will still provide greeting cards and chocolate boards as additional services for your order. You are welcome to add your own writing. Again, we wish for your understanding.”
And they then figured out an obvious solution to the problem which would have saved themselves a lot of trouble: they will now have the customers make their own inscriptions on their cakes, if they so choose.
The question is a more problematic one in Indonesia which has a growing hardline Muslim conservative community and a government trying to maintain what has been a society that has generally been tolerant of other religions.
From Jakarta Post:
The Christmas cake controversy came amid concerns over rising identity politics in Indonesia, with the nation’s burgeoning middle class now seen to be growing more religiously conservative. While many have become used to the antics of hard-line Islamic groups in their war against Christmas, it is unusual for a seemingly law-abiding Muslim shop owner to politely refuse a small request of writing “Selamat Natal” on the cakes they are selling.
[Note: This post was written by Nick Arama]