December 06, 2018
Remember when liberals used to say, "Oh, don't worry. Same-sex marriage won't affect you." Three years after Obergefell, "affected" doesn't begin to describe what's happened to good people across America. We've seen county clerks in handcuffs, bakers in court, chaplains demoted, sportscasters sacked, and even pizza joints panned. Now, deep into this LGBT experiment, it's no longer a question of if a conservative will be challenged -- but when.
Long before 2015, FRC warned about where this march to redefine marriage would lead. And for once, we wish we hadn't been right. The wave of attacks against Christians keeps coming, especially in the wedding industry. Despite Jack Phillips's success at the Supreme Court, there are still hundreds of people waiting for the same protections he won.
FRC's Director of Religious Freedom Advocacy, Alexandra McPhee, turns the floodlights on a lot of these cases in a brand new publication, "Religious Liberty and the Wedding Vendor Cases." A lot of Americans may be under the impression that the Masterpiece Cakeshop victory means that photographers, videographers, florists, and others are safe from government crackdown. I wish that were true. In the pamphlet, you'll read the stories of just a fraction of the people still in the crosshairs. These are families and businessmen who stand to lose (or have lost) their businesses, tens of thousands of dollars, and their personal assets.
Last night on "Washington Watch," Alexandra and I talked about how different the country's approach to religious freedom is now compared to the Framers' day. "It's quite a contrast to what the Founders envisioned when they penned the First Amendment. And right now, these folks in business centers are being asked to privatize their faith -- when in fact, the Founding Fathers wanted to guarantee the right to religious liberty for all persons. And the right to free expression. But today, the laws are being suppressed to stifle the Christian conservative voices that are really propelling these cases."
As Alexandra points, almost all of these vendors have something in common: they'll happily serve anyone who comes into their store. "We saw that with Jack Phillips and Melissa and Aaron Klein... but the issue is, they just don't want to be forced to celebrate an event that they can't support in good conscience." One of the most compelling examples of that is Barronelle Stutzman, who was actually friends with the man who's suing her flower shop. In an op-ed, she shows just how wrong the media's characterization of most of these Christian wedding vendors is.
"I knew [Rob] was in a relationship with a man and he knew I was a Christian. But that never clouded the friendship for either of us or threatened our shared creativity -- until he asked me to design something special to celebrate his upcoming wedding. If all he'd asked for were prearranged flowers, I'd gladly have provided them. If the celebration were for his partner's birthday, I'd have been delighted to pour my best into the challenge. But as a Christian, weddings have a particular significance."
"Marriage does celebrate two people's love for one another, but its sacred meaning goes far beyond that. Surely without intending to do so, Rob was asking me to choose between my affection for him and my commitment to Christ. As deeply fond as I am of Rob, my relationship with Jesus is everything to me. Without Christ, I can do nothing."
That's not the testimony of a woman driven by hate or malice. Barronelle, like so many Christians in the public marketplace, is guided by her faith. And under our Constitution, that's not only allowed -- it's encouraged.
If you want to know how you can help these courageous Christians, learn more about their stories here.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.