On December 5, 2022, Ismail Royer, Director of RFI’s Islam and Religious Freedom Action Team, spoke at a rally held by Alliance Defending Freedom in support of the plaintiff, Lorie Smith, in the Supreme Court case 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis. The event took place in front of the Court during oral arguments for the case. Royer’s action team joined an amicus brief in this case, and he co-authored an op-ed in the Washington Examiner with Howard Slugh, general counsel of the Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty. What follows is a transcript of Royer’s comments:
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
As our distinguished emcee here said, I am a Muslim, and I take my religion very seriously.
And for that reason, I would not like to be forced to express a message that violated my beliefs.
And likewise, if I owned a wood-working shop and created custom carved designs, I would not like to be forced by the government to accept a Hindu customer’s request to create a representation of one of his gods, because I believe that God is one, and that he should not be represented by a statue—even though I have the utmost respect for him as a human being and for his right to have his beliefs.
Likewise, I would not like to be forced, if I owned a custom woodcarving shop, to create a cross for a Christian customer, because I believe that Jesus is a Prophet and I do not believe that he died on the cross. But I respect the beliefs of my Christian neighbors who do believe that, and I respect their right to have their beliefs, just as they respect my right to have mine.
But it’s also part of my beliefs that I must treat others in the way that I would like to be treated. So, in the same way that I would not like to be forced to express messages that would violate my beliefs, I would never want to force others to express my beliefs if doing so would violate their conscience.
And so therefore, I would not enlist the government to force a Jewish t-shirt designer to make a t-shirt promoting Islam. And I would not try to force an atheist to design a website promoting belief in God, and I would never try to force a Christian baker to create a cake that expressed belief in Islam that would violate his conscience.
And so if I were a customer and encountered a Jewish or Christian or atheist artist who would feel uncomfortable creating a piece of art that expressed my beliefs, I would not be hurt or offended. I would understand, and I would empathize, and I would tell the artist that I have no wish to put him or her into difficulty. Because that is our obligation as neighbors to one another. That is what it means to be a good neighbor and a good citizen.
And this is where the state of Colorado has gone wrong. It has lost sight of what it means to be a good neighbor, of what it means to be a good citizen.
And likewise, being a good citizen and good neighbor means serving everyone regardless of their personal characteristics. And it is unquestionably a good thing when the law prohibits discrimination in public accommodation on the basis of race, or religion, or national origin, for example.
So that if you own a business, you are not being a good neighbor and a good citizen if you refuse to serve someone simply because you perceive them to be sexually attracted to people of the same sex. We might disapprove of someone’s lifestyle, we might consider them to be sinning, but we are all sinning, we are all sinners, and we all deserve respect as human beings, and everyone deserves to be greeted with a smile and with kindness.
And that’s what this case is about. It’s about finding the balance, the middle path, in how we treat one another in a diverse society. If we have the wisdom and the courage to walk this path, then our society and everyone in it will flourish. But if we’re not capable of finding this balance, then this divide between us will continue to widen and our society will cease to function, and we can see that around us: this is what we’re witnessing here, when we stop being able to treat one another as human beings, created in God’s image, and worthy of respect.
So Lorie’s fight in this Court behind me today protects not just her, but it protects you, and it protects me, and it even protects our friends over here making all this noise. And it protects America, and that’s a good thing. Thank you.
Watch the video: