Pop stars refused to perform at the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. Fashion designers have declined to design dresses for Melania Trump. And they have every right to do so. It’s called freedom. Freedom of conscience.
Now imagine if those singers and designers had been forced against their will to take part in the inauguration or be sued, fined hundreds of thousands of dollars, and bankrupted. The Left would be outraged at being forced to support such an event that goes against their ideological convictions.
Yet that is exactly what has happened to Barronelle Stutzman, a Christian florist in Washington State who declined creating arrangements for a gay wedding.
Just today the Washington State Supreme Court ruled unanimously against Barronelle Stutzman. That ruling in essence claims the government can force Barronnelle – or any citizen of the state – to take part in ceremonies and events with which they disagree.
Perhaps you’ve followed the case of Mrs. Stutzman, the 72 year old grandmother and owner of the small business, Arlene’s Flowers. While the court claimed she committed the “crime” of “sexual orientation discrimination”,she didn’t discriminate against homosexuals. She has happily served people regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation in her community of Richland, Washington. In fact, the homosexual customer at the center of this case, Rob Ingersoll, has been one of her favorite customers for over a decade. Yet when Rob asked her to use her artistic abilities to create custom floral arrangements for his gay wedding, she told him she couldn’t take part in a wedding ceremony that violated her Christian faith.
As Barronnelle wrote in this op-ed: “…Since I never hid my faith, I always figured Rob understood that my beliefs shape not only how I look at the world, but how I envision and create my art – the art he appreciated for so long. So it wasn’t that I wouldn’t create something to celebrate his same-sex wedding – I couldn’t. This wasn’t about selling him flowers, or celebrating a birthday. This involved what, to me, is an event of unique spiritual significance – a sacred covenant. Art, like faith, comes from the heart, from who I am. I couldn’t deny my faith – even for so dear a friend – without damaging the very creativity he was asking for….”
To make it clear: Barronnelle didn’t refuse to do business with homosexuals – she declined to take part in an event. Just as the above mentioned singers and designers refused to take part in an event.
Now Barronnelle is facing fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This case against Barronelle is just one example of a growing trend of rogue courts ignoring the Constitution and trampling on the religious freedom of those who don’t affirm same-sex marriage.
As Tony Perkins of Family Research Council makes clear: "These rights do not stop at the door of your local church, and instead extend to every area of a religious person's life. The government has no authority to force Americans like Barronelle Stutzman to engage in speech and events with which they morally disagree.”
Barronelle, who is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), will appeal this egregious decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner asserts: “This case is about crushing dissent. In a free America, people with differing beliefs must have room to coexist. It’s wrong for the state to force any citizen to support a particular view about marriage or anything else against their will. Freedom of speech and religion aren’t subject to the whim of a majority; they are constitutional guarantees.
“Our nation has a long history of protecting the right to dissent, but simply because Barronelle disagrees with the state about marriage, the government and ACLU have put at risk everything she owns. This includes not only her business, but also her family’s savings, retirement funds, and home. It’s no wonder that so many people are rightly calling on President Trump to sign an executive order to protect our religious freedom. Because that freedom is clearly at risk for Barronelle and so many other Americans, and because no executive order can fix all of the threats to that freedom, we will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear this case and reverse this grave injustice.”
Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor stated: “President Trump said during his campaign, ‘The first priority of my administration will be to preserve and protect our religious liberty’ for the benefit of every-day Americans...’ The executive order being discussed simply reaffirms the American commitment to the First Amendment and requires the government to respect its legal and constitutional obligation to ensure that Americans are free to peacefully live and work consistent with their beliefs without being punished by the government.”
Ask President Trump to keep his promise.
Two action steps to take:
1. Pray for Barronelle and her family as they go through this devastating time.
2. Urge President Trump to sign an executive order that would help protect religious liberty.
Click here to send an email to President Trump.
Or call the White House switchboard at 202-456-1414 and respectfully ask President Trump to sign an Executive Order to protect religious freedom – the freedom that is being denied to Barronelle Stutzman.
To support our efforts please click here or mail your gift to American Decency Association (ADA), PO Box 202, Fremont, MI 49412.
American Decency Association is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.