I have no problem with a campaigning politician expressing his true political views. I wasn't the one who thought he shouldn't have said it; in fact, I think he SHOULD have said it because it clearly expresses his stance on gay rights, which is that he is against them.
He is not being persecuted. He is being fired for his political stance on gay issues. Nothing less and nothing more. An atheist would have been fired in the same situation for espousing the same view. It's not because he's Christian (if that's what he is). It doesn't matter what his religion is in this case. He is being fired for making anti-gay statements, THAT is the objection, not his belief in God or his choice of religion.
If my religion says it's okay to kill for revenge, and I kill for revenge and get arrested, was I arrested for my religious beliefs? No, I was arrested for murder.
I'm not saying he doesn't have a religion he believes in. I'm saying it's not why he was fired. Do you seriously think they fired him because he's a Christian? Do you think they fire other Christians? Do you think it's because he believes in the Bible that they got rid of him?
I agree with Laurie that he wasn't really fired for religious beliefs. If he had been an atheist speaking out against gay people, he still would have been fired.
Also, I don't think that your religious liberties protect you to the point of being able to alienate a company's customers and still retain your job. Lets say that a Christian felt that it was her religious duty to "share the good news" (many do feel it is their responsibility to try to convert people) with all of the customers that came into a shop, and she was making some of them uncomfortable. I believe that the shop owner would have a right to tell her to stop or even fire her because she is negatively impacting his relationship with his customers. This to me is the same, only more so because this guy wasn't giving a pro-Christian message, he was giving an anti-gay message. It would be more like if instead of saying "Have you heard about the great thing Jesus did for us?" our hypothetical shop worker was saying "Everyone but Christians go to hell." Even if that's what she believes, that's a pretty negative and alienating message for her to be putting out there to our shop owner's clientele. I believe in religious liberty but I don't think it's an automatic get out of jail free card to say whatever you want with zero consequences. In real life, words do have consequences sometimes. I can guarantee you that if I started calling my clients and telling them why I don't think god exists I would be fired before I could say "Christopher Hitchens" whether I have religious liberty or not.
Except that he didn't say it on the job. It was something he said MONTHS before he was even hired and didn't have anything to do with his job. An atheist speaking out against gay people is a whole different thing, because they wouldn't be saying it because of their religious beliefs as he was.
It's the same exact thing as the mayor telling Chick-Fil-A that they can't open a business because the owner doesn't believe in gay marriage.
Their issue is the anti-gay stance, not the Christianity of it.
As for the bakery, there are laws that you can't deny service to people based on sexual orientation. You can't refuse to rent an apartment to someone, you can't refuse to let them in your store or your movie theater, the cake falls under those laws. You can't refuse people's business based on sexual orientation, the same way you can't refuse their business based on their ethnicity. It's discrimination.
If you have prejudices about race or homosexuality or what have you, then come up with a fake legal reason for your refusal, don't tell people outright that you're discriminating, because it's against the law.