The U.S. Supreme Court just ruled in favor of religious freedom … but at the same time, it also refused to protect religious freedom going forward.
Let me explain what happened…
Here are 7 things everyone who believes in freedom of religious expression should be aware of:
1. The state of Oregon demanded that a Christian couple violate their Christian beliefs.
Aaron and Melissa Klein operated a bakery called Sweet Cakes by Melissa. They specialized in custom wedding cakes.
A repeat customer who had previously ordered a custom wedding cake for her mom asked Melissa to design a custom wedding cake for her own same-sex wedding celebration. Aaron and Melissa – who view their business as a Christian testimony to their community – declined the request.
The customer sued Aaron and Melissa for discrimination…
The state of Oregon told the Kleins they had broken the law and would have to make a custom wedding cake for the lesbian couple’s wedding.
This action by the state of Oregon would force Aaron and Melissa to violate their Christian beliefs about marriage … their consciences … and their First Amendment freedom of religion rights.
2. Aaron and Melissa Klein stood firm in the face of social media hatred, coercion, and even bankruptcy.
The Kleins have always served everyone – atheists, Christians, singles, married couples, lesbians, gays – anyone.
But they could not with clear consciences use their creative gifts to support and celebrate a marriage union that contradicted Biblical principles of marriage.
For 6 years they stood up to government hostility and abuse of power … and personal attacks on social media
They took a stand for religious freedom for all of us.
They were fined $135,000 by the state of Oregon.
As a result of the fine … the picketing outside their shop … the loss of business from negative publicity … and the harassment of their suppliers and other vendors they did business with … they were forced to close their shop…
Aaron and Melissa Klein have 5 children, so the financial hardships they have suffered to stand up for religious liberty have been great.
3. The U.S. Supreme Court gave Aaron and Melissa Klein a partial victory … but not a complete victory.
The victory: The Court vacated the lower court ruling against them … and rescinded the $135,000 fine.
The non-victory: The Court declined to hear their case. Instead, they referred it back to the lower court for a rehearing in light of the recent Masterpiece Cakeshop decision…
The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission unlawfully disparaged and discriminated against Phillips’ sincerely held religious beliefs. But the Court did not rule on the question of whether Phillips violated Colorado’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to create the specific custom wedding cake requested by a same-sex couple.
Incidentally, Jack Phillips is now facing another lawsuit – a civil suit against him by a transgender person – for declining to create a custom cake celebrating the person’s sexual transition.
4. By throwing the Sweetcakes by Melissa case back to the lower court, the Supreme Court leaves open the resolution between freedom of religious expression and anti-discrimination laws.
Hundreds of Christian business owners face similar totalitarian attempts to silence them and force them to accept and celebrate anti-Biblical acts.
Barronelle Stutzman – a Christian florist in Seattle – is being threatened with heavy fines and the loss of her business if she doesn’t agree to create flower arrangements for the same-sex wedding of one of her longstanding homosexual customers.
Cake designers and florists are artists. They use their creative artistry skills to convey messages through their creations. To demand that Christian artists convey messages honoring and celebrating gay marriage is like demanding that a Christian poet write a poem celebrating homosexuality … or like demanding that a Christian songwriter write a song honoring same-sex marriage.
5. The U.S. Constitution should protect all of us from being forced to violate our sincerely-held religious beliefs.
The free exercise clause of the First Amendment prohibits government from prohibiting the free exercise of one’s religious beliefs. Yet state and local governments increasingly pass laws that restrict Christians from living out their faith in their businesses…
They do this by elevating the beliefs of homosexuals and transgenders above the beliefs of Christians and other religious groups, and requiring all to bow down and serve them.
6. The Supreme Court is divided.
It took 3 months for the Court to decide not to rule in the Sweetcakes by Melissa case. This is why another strict constructionist justice is needed on the Court – one who will follow the Constitution as it was originally written and as it was originally intended to be interpreted.
Keep in mind that Justice Stephen Breyer is 80 … and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 86. They are both activist judges – not strict constructionists.
Whoever is elected president in 2020 will most likely have an opportunity to nominate replacements for one or both of those justices.
7. The best solution is to just apply common courtesy and decency.
People have many choices of florists and cake designers. For those who choose to change their sex or marry someone of the same biological sex, they don’t have to seek the services of a Christian business whom they know will have moral and religious objections to fulfilling their requests.
They can pick a different cake designer or a different florist – one who has no moral objection to same-sex marriage.
Instead, they are specifically targeting Christian businesses to try to force them to accept and celebrate their lifestyle. This is disrespectful to people of deep faith…
It also violates common courtesy and decency.
This kind of reverse discrimination needs to stop.
Watch the emotional testimony of Aaron and Melissa Klein at a Values Voter Summit (10 minutes).
What do you think? Email me at [email protected]
Here are the rest of this week’s articles: