Christians believe in living in harmony with those with whom they disagree. While the Christian community is grieved over the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell to legalize same-sex marriage in all fifty states, there is no movement by Christians to punish gays and lesbians who practice behavior they believe violates their religious teachings.
One might hope for such a response from the gay community! Unfortunately, there is growing evidence they will demand not just acceptance but subordination of all those whose religious beliefs do not agree with theirs.
In my last post, Shocking Challenges to Religious Freedom – Part I, I discussed the bewildering saga of Aaron and Melissa Klein, whose only “sin” was a refusal to participate in a same-sex marriage by baking the wedding cake. They had previously served the same lesbian couple in their bakery but drew a line when asked to be a part of a same-sex marriage that violates their religious beliefs.
Lest you think their experience is unique, I have more horror stories to share. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is a Christian legal firm that represents the Kleins as well as a host of others experiencing similar attacks on their religious freedom. Mark Hemingway of The Weekly Standard shares these additional stories of clients represented by ADF.
- On July 7th, Jack Phillips, another baker, this time in Colorado, appealed the state civil rights commission’s ruling against him for refusing to serve a same-sex couple. The pair wanted a rainbow-themed cake. Phillips argued he could not be forced to make a cake that communicated a message he did not agree with. A Colorado civil rights commissioner compared Phillips’s argument to those employed by Nazis and slave owners.
- In Washington state, the attorney general is suing florist Barronelle Stutzman, 70, for refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding. The gay would-be customer was a longtime friend with whom she had done business for nine years. Stutzman and the customer were so close they hugged each other after she informed him she couldn’t make a cake for his wedding. The customer did not initially press charges, and the state attorney general initiated the case on his own after hearing about it on social media. One of Stutzman’s former employees, who is gay and a same-sex marriage supporter, has filed an affidavit on her behalf. But now the ACLU and national gay rights organizations have taken up the case against her. The state attorney general and the aggrieved customer are not just suing her business, but going after personal assets.
- Hands On Originals, a printer in Kentucky, ran afoul of a local human rights commission for refusing to print T-shirts for a gay organization. He was told that he had to use his printing press to print messages he disagreed with. After years of administrative proceedings, a state court ruled in the printer’s favor in April: “It is clear beyond dispute that Hands On Originals and its owners declined to print the T-shirts in question because of the message advocating sexual activity outside of a marriage between one man and one woman.” But the gay organization will not accept the decision and has appealed to a higher court.
- In Atlanta, the city’s African-American fire chief Kelvin Cochran was summarily fired after he published a book about helping Christian men avoid sexual temptation. The 162-page book scarcely mentioned homosexual activity but did include it in a list of sexual sins. Cochran’s job record is spotless; he was previously the top fire-fighting appointee in the Obama administration and was named Fire Chief of the Year in 2012. But tolerance has its limits. Atlanta city council member Alex Wan explained, “I respect each individual’s right to have their own thoughts, beliefs, and opinions, but when you’re a city employee and those thoughts, beliefs, and opinions are different from the city’s, you have to check them at the door.” The Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit earlier this year to get Cochran reinstated.
This situation is rapidly getting out of hand. Hemingway summarizes:
“If cases like these come to define the post-Obergefell gay rights movement, it’s hard to imagine there won’t be a backlash. In the meantime, rooting out and punishing small-business owners and public employees with retrograde ideas about sex and morality seems to be an increasingly common and acceptable tactic.”
The war on religious freedom will continue unless those who value their freedom, Americans of all religions, demand the government protect that freedom with the same enthusiasm as our Founding Fathers. We must never forget those who fought the Revolutionary War just so that we might all worship and live our lives by our own religious beliefs – not those of the government.