If You Plan to Live by Your Faith – Read This
It became national news when famous designers refused to dress Melania Trump for the inauguration. Designers that were all too eager to dress Michelle Obama made it clear that they had no intention of rendering their services to Mrs. Trump. The mainstream media were all too happy to make sure everyone knew just how proud they were of the designers for their discrimination.
One designer, Sophie Theallet, made the following statement:
“As a family owned company, our bottom line is not just about money. We value our artistic freedom. As one who celebrates and strives for diversity, individual freedom, and respect for all lifestyles, I will not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next First Lady.”
Theallet is making the argument that artists, among others, should be free to decline service when it would violate their sincerely held views. She is making the argument that freedom of association is critical to personal liberty. Hmm…where have we heard that argument before?
In a twist of irony so ironic that it’s hard to miss for anyone with even a small measure of common sense, the same people that applaud Theallat for adhering to her beliefs and refusing service to Melania Trump, are the same people that believe a florist should have to violate her beliefs or be put out of business.
In a stunning case of injustice, the Washington state Supreme Court ruled against Barronelle Stutzman, a florist that has been a pillar in her community for decades. Her crime: living out her Christian faith in public.
As the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, Stutzman served everyone in her community. She served people without prejudice and built relationships with the people she served, including homosexuals. When one of her long-time customers asked her to create floral art for his same-sex wedding, Stutzman politely declined, saying it would violate her religious convictions. Stutzman did exactly the same thing as designer Theallat, she refused to associate with something she found to be wrong.
Did the media applaud Stutzman? Did they praise her willingness to adhere to her convictions even at the risk of losing business? Of course not. Once the story was picked up in the media Stutzman was depicted as a bigot for refusing to render her services for a same-sex wedding. The media, however, did make a big deal out of the lawsuit against Stutzman. They were all too happy to carry every detail of the proceedings and help in any way they could to indict her for trying to live out her religious convictions as a business owner; something she has been doing for 40 years.
One statement in a recent article about this case is telling:
“When longtime customer Robert Ingersoll stopped by the shop to make arrangements for his upcoming same-sex wedding, Barronelle had politely declined. Although she’d happily sold arrangements to the man for a decade, she explained that she objected to participating in a ceremony that violates her faith…Robert said he respected her opinion, the two hugged, and parted ways. To Stutzman’s surprise, they were reunited by an interesting source: the Washington State Attorney General, who filed a rare, private citizen lawsuit against [Stutzman].”
Two things stand out here. First, the customer, Robert Ingersoll, gave Stutzman a hug and said he respected her opinion. Either he was lying and acting deceptively or something (or someone) changed his mind. Ingersoll has been a customer of Stutzman for many years. The two were friends. It’s hard to believe that he would suddenly decide to sue her for simply declining to provide her services for his wedding. But secondly, we see that the Washington State Attorney General decided to file a “rare, private citizen lawsuit” against Stutzman. How did this matter get to the Washington State Attorney General if Ingersoll “respected” Stutzman’s opinion?
It seems to me that the State Attorney General is doing all he can to make an example of Stutzman. This isn’t really about her or her decision and, perhaps Ingersoll has been co-opted in this whole mess just to send a message to Christians. That message is simply that Christians have no rights. Washington State will gladly expend its resources making sure Christians know they have to toe the pc line or face lawsuits and the destruction of their livelihood.
An article at The Family Research Council points out a grave error the court made in this case:
“The court recognized she had no problem with ‘selling bulk flowers and raw materials,’ for use in a same-sex wedding, and acknowledged ‘she would be happy to do’ that in this case. The court seemed to miss how this shows her actions do not turn on whether the customer identifies as LGBT or not, but rather upon the specific activity she is asked to participate in, noting at one point it believes ‘[t]his case is no more about access to flowers than civil rights cases in the 1960s were about access to sandwiches.’ But the court already acknowledged Barronelle was not turning away customers because they identified as gay, as a sandwich counter would turn away any African-American who walked in. Barronelle only wanted to not be involved in their weddings. Is the court not willing to accept this?”
No, court is not willing to accept this. Neither is the political elites that are bent on making everyone support and celebrate the sexual revolution. This is not about flowers or discrimination at all. This is about pushing a radicalized sexual agenda on people that have a moral and religious objection to supporting or celebrating what they believe is wrong.
So we see here two examples of the exact same behavior. One example in which a designer refuses to render services based on her beliefs and is applauded. The other example in which a florist refuses to render her services based on her beliefs and is prosecuted and found guilty of discrimination. The only difference between the two is that one is a Christian and one is not. Let that sink in.
I don’t know if President Trump will take any action to protect religious freedom in America. I don’t know is Congress will do much of anything. And I don’t know what the Supreme Court will do if cases like this one come before the court. But I do know that Christians must be prepared if they intend to be faithful in this upside down world in which we live. From this moment on we are all the florist.