When Lana Rusev fled Ukraine, she was trying to avoid the religious persecution she’s now experiencing in Florida! The wedding planner, the latest in a long string of Christian targets, is watching with horror as the hostility she had once seen in Eastern Europe followed her to America, courtesy of Jacksonville’s radical LGBT community. Obviously when she saw the Statue of Liberty, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your yearning to violate your conscience’ wasn’t what the Ukranian had in mind.
For more than two decades, Lana has been adjusting to her life in the U.S. -- but she never dreamed that adjustment would include an assault to the very freedoms she came here seeking. When she started her business, Simply Elegant Wedding Planning, Lana was anxious to help area brides and grooms celebrate their big day by coordinating the smallest of details. So when a lesbian couple approached the Christian consultant, the thought of being intimately involved in every stage of planning for a ceremony that conflicted with her faith was a non-starter.
In a polite letter to Melissa McCord and her partner, Rusev explained that not only was there a conflict with the dates -- but with her conscience. “After checking our booked events I have discovered that we are booked on the 30th and 31st and unfortunately are not able to take additional events for the weekend. Also, due to my strong personal belief, I do not feel comfortable planning a wedding for lesbian couples. I hope you understand and do not take this personally. I am really sorry for the inconvenience this may cause.”
That enraged the couple, who took familiar revenge: launching a full-scale social media assault against the company. Within hours, Lana was inundated with threats and negative business reviews. But it’ll take a lot more than harassment to scare off Rusev. “I understand that they may be hurt, but there are other wedding planners who are okay with doing this,” she told the local newspaper. “Take your business elsewhere.”
Although she isn’t sorry, she is disappointed in her new country. Being bullied for her faith isn’t exactly what she envisioned when she immigrated to the “free world.” “This takes me back to about 26 years ago when my family and I fled from a country that persecuted people for their belief.” Like so many Americans, Lana says, “I believe people should be able to choose how they live their life. But for me, because of my personal belief, I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman.”
Unfortunately, the Left no longer believes in “live and let live” -- they prefer “live and force compliance.” But of course, the extremists who are trying to redefine marriage try to rebuff the opposition by arguing, “How does my same-sex marriage affect your marriage?” Well, it may not affect their marital vows, but it sure impacts their family when they’re fined, forced out of business, or lose their home simply for following their moral conscience. “If I hurt anyone, I apologize,” Lana explained, “but that is my personal belief. We all are entitled to our beliefs.”
When President Obama delivers his annual State of the Union Address tonight, I’m expecting a speech that will tax both my patience and my wallet. Americans can anticipate more of the themes that divide us, as he pushes his class warfare message -- driven by wealth redistribution -- along with more of his radical domestic agenda. Look for him to avoid the war on religion and conscience he’s launched through the taxpayer funding of abortion and the redefinition of marriage.
Knowing the President would probably dodge the core issues of faith, family, and freedom, FRC addressed them last night in a special State of the Family Address from our headquarters here in Washington, D.C. From religious freedom to racial reconciliation, we laid down key markers for success on issues that are all-too often sidelined by a party intent on avoiding controversy.
Unfortunately for that party, the controversy is unavoidable now, as the consensus about religious liberty that we have long enjoyed is being chipped away with each rap of the gavel of an activist judge or human rights tribunal. “A government able to bankrupt people for standing by their beliefs, on marriage, life, or any other matter of conscience, is a government of unbridled power and a threat to everyone’s freedom,” I explained to the thousands of online viewers and standing-room only crowd in our media center.
From the dignity of the womb to the sanctity of the marriage altar, from the dark world of human trafficking to the racial riots in the South, we cannot choose to be silent or retreat into isolation in our churches or homes in the face of the threatening winds of intolerance and irreligion. “We must choose to stand like the Hahns, the Bracys, the Kleins, the Millers and thousands of other like them that are standing for the timeless truths that define our nation and secure our future.”
As Congressman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who joined us last night, knows, the state of our union is only as strong as the state of the family. We must pray and act for a spiritual, moral, and cultural renewal in our nation. That may not be the message the President brings to the American people tonight, but it’s the message our country needs to hear.
If you missed the speech, I encourage you to watch it below and share it with your family and friends. For more coverage of our State of the Family Address, check out the media buzz in the Washington Times, CNSNews.com, LifeSiteNews, Christian Post, and CBN.
The March for Life may be the biggest event of the week, but it isn’t the only one! Pro-lifers from around the country have their pick of several great gatherings, including FRC’s ProLifeCon. On the morning of the March, pro-life internet activists will gather at our headquarters (801 G Street, NW) for the premier conference for the digital pro-life community. With new conservative majorities in both the House and Senate, legislative momentum at the state level, and Americans increasingly identifying with the pro-life movement, we believe 2015 is a Year for Hope. At our 10th annual event we’ll be joined by friends old and new as we look back on the successes of the pro-life movement in the last decade, and look ahead to the opportunities before us. Click here for a list of speakers or to register.
Also, FRC’s Josh Duggar will be among a wide circle of pro-life leaders taking part in a special, non-denominational prayer and praise gathering this Wednesday evening, January 21, before the March for Life. Get details here!
** With the Keystone Pipeline taking center stage in the Senate this week, FRC’s Ken Blackwell has a new term for the Left: “The Energy Deniers.”
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.