Archive for the ‘freedom of association’ Category

Should Compromising Religious Beliefs Be the Price of Citizenship?

December 1, 2016

Yesterday, I posted the content of an email entitled  “Conscience Rights for All” that I had received from Alliance Defending Freedom. Today, I was not able to find a link to the article. However, there is a link at the ADF site which shares an excellent essay on this topic from The Public Discourse website. The post goes into more detail regarding this very important issue and the current battle going on within the courts of our nation.

The Public Discourse: SOGI Laws: A Subversive Response to a Nonexistent Problem.

Excerpt:

The “price of citizenship” in a free society can never include our freedom of conscience. If we surrender that, then we have surrendered free society itself.

Throughout history, every person under every regime has had—in the most elemental sense—the freedom to form a unique set of beliefs and values. But, uniquely, citizens of the United States have long been guaranteed the fulfillment of that freedom. That is, we possess the freedom to live peacefully according to our beliefs and to follow the dictates of our conscience.

This freedom—codified by the First Amendment—is a pre-political right that rests in our dignity as human beings. But the cultural movement for “tolerance” and “inclusion” has reduced freedom of conscience to a lesser-than right, a token that exists subject to the decisions of judges and lawmakers.

In recent years, laws that provide special privileges to individuals based on their self-proclaimed gender identity or sexual preferences have emerged across the country. Commonly known as SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) laws, these legislative undertakings are typically fueled by activist groups and represent a subversive response to a nonexistent problem. Available data confirm there exists no significant social pattern or practice of unjust discrimination against these groups. This is not only because the vast majority of Americans already respect each other and are fair-minded, but also because anyone engaged in baseless discrimination faces the prospect of social and financial consequences brought on by public pressure and boycotts.

SOGI laws, however, use the full force of the law to punish individuals who seek to live peacefully and to work in a way that is consistent with their consciences. Elaine Huguenin, Barronelle Stutzman, Jack Phillips, and Blaine Adamson are just a few of the small business owners who gladly serve all people without exception, but who also face legal punishment because they declined to participate in certain events or to create custom art that would have violated their consciences. In Elaine’s case, she politely declined a request to use her expressive photography skills to tell the story of a same-sex commitment ceremony. Her attempt to remain peacefully true to her faith’s teachings about marriage led to a seven-year court battle that culminated in a ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court against her and her husband, Jon. One justice stated that the Huguenins “now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives,” and added that this compulsion “is the price of citizenship.”

Barronelle Stutzman is a 72-year-old grandmother who faces the loss of her business, savings, and home for referring elsewhere a request by a long-time friend and customer that she participate in the celebration of his same-sex wedding by designing custom floral arrangements for it.

In Iowa and Massachusetts, not only religious citizens but even houses of worship are under attack. Churches currently face government-imposed mandates requiring them to open their restrooms to individuals based on their subjectively determined sex rather than biological reality.

Conditional Surrender Fails to Advance Religious Liberty.

[In] the current cultural standoff, proponents of religious freedom and freedom of conscience simultaneously confront opportunities for victory and defeat. We can either choose to enter the arena and strive valiantly for victory, or we can join “those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat,” choosing to negotiate the terms of our own surrender. Now is not the time to partner with proponents of SOGIs in hopes of catching a few crumbs of liberty that fall from the table. Freedom of conscience is not a token to be surrendered as the price of citizenship in a free society; it is the mark of citizenship and the fruit of a free society.

James Gottry is a lawyer and writer with Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group founded to preserve and defend religious liberty.

Read it all at:

The Public Discourse: SOGI Laws: A Subversive Response to a Nonexistent Problem.

Related article:

The Federalist: BuzzFeed Wants To Destroy Chip And Joanna Gaines For Being Christian And Wildly Popular.

Hat tips to all links.

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Conscience Rights for All

November 29, 2016

Question:  Should Baronelle Stutzman’s freedom of conscience rights be equal to Sophie Theallet’s?

In this “anything goes” environment of sin, evil, and death, there is a huge battle going on regarding freedom of conscience rights.  It usually comes down to opinions of those who like to defend and  acknowledge secular freedom rights, while objecting to and destroying religious freedom rights!

Over the past 8 years, leftist judges on the bench very obviously choose to select secular arguments over religious ones.   In both cases, however, we need to recognize that freedom of conscience should be recognized and included in such decisions!

Alliance Defending Freedom is a Christian conservative organization that sends lawyers out to defend those whose religious beliefs have clashed with secular humanism beliefs and practices; oftentimes sending Christian business owners out of business due to lawsuits filed against them.

From Alliance Defending Freedom (ADL) website:

The Founding Fathers recognized that all people have inalienable rights that flow from the Creator. These rights are grounded in the unique, Judeo-Christian concept of man’s inherent dignity as a creature made in God’s image, endowed with reason, free will, and an eternal soul. The Founders understood that one of Government’s primary tasks is to preserve the freedom for each person to follow his own conscience, so they enshrined certain fundamental rights in our nation’s constitution to guarantee this freedom.

As secular forces chip away at our nation’s Judeo-Christian roots, religious freedom is increasingly threatened. Yet the First Amendment continues to reflect the Founders’ belief that “[t]he Religion…of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise [religion] as [conviction and conscience] dictate.”

Alliance Defending Freedom defends religious freedom and opposes all attempts to compel people to compromise their beliefs or retreat from civil and political life as the price for following their faith.

There have been many instances where the leftists have purposely sought out Christian businesses, sent individuals into the business to challenge their deeply held religious beliefs by asking them to accommodate their gay “marriage” ceremony with flowers, a cake, or other service which would clearly violate the business owner’s freedom of conscience rights.

Today, there is a leftist freedom of conscience situation that has been “celebrated” by the media of mass deception, whereas all of the previous lawsuits done by leftists against Christian business owners have Christians labeled – by the media and their supporters – as “bigotry,” “hate,” “anti-gay (or whatever orientation),” “racist” etc.

Why, exactly,  was this done?

It was done to make the demand that Christian beliefs and freedom of conscience does not (or should not) matter in the public business arena.   In their minds,  leftist demands (and beliefs) should outweigh (or, more accurately, even trump) any Christian business owners beliefs and/or freedom of conscience.

Well, today Alliance Defending Freedom shares a situation where a dress maker’s “freedom of conscience” came up when she made a public statement to the news media that she refuses to “dress” the future First Lady, Melania Trump.

The article isn’t up at the ADL website yet, so I will share it in its entirety here until the link shows up (which includes additional links within the text) on the site.

Conscience Rights for All

A concept that is not difficult to grasp, but seems difficult for some courts and legislators to carry out:  Freedom of conscience extends to all people.

If you’re a cake artist, a floral artist, or another creative professional, you’ve seen the news and felt, rightfully so, that your freedom is in danger.

If, however, you are a fashion designer?  You’re probably feeling pretty good right about now:

“Donald Trumps election has brought no shortage of controversy.  One of the latest comes from clothing designer Sophie Theallet, who recently wrote that she ‘will not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next First Lady.’  In explaining her decision, she invoked her deeply-held belief in ‘individual freedom.’

“‘[A]s a family owned company, ‘ Theallet explains, ‘[w]e value our artistic freedom and always humbly seek to contribute to a more humane, conscious and ethical way to create in this world.’  She considers her and her family’s work to be “an expression of [their] artistic and philosophical ideas.’

[…]

“Ms. Theallet describes her design work to be ‘an expression of [her] artistic and philosophical ideas,’ and leftist elite are quick to agree.  But why do they become so skeptical when the person asserting her artistic freedom is a floral artist whose views they don’t like?

“It’s because many in that crowd don’t care about true freedom–a freedom that belongs to everyone.  If they did, they would recognize that Barronelle Stutzman, no less than Ms. Theallet, is an artist whose conscience rights must be protected.  If they did, their views of art or freedom wouldn’t hinge on the nature of a person’s convictions.”

The mainstream media covered the decision of Ms. Theallet, with nary a hint of accusing her of bigotry.  This is, after all, a matter of conscience and freedom, not bigotry.

As Mary Katherine Ham writes, at The Federalist:

“But these are the same arguments the left and media have dismissed from Baronelle Stutzman, a Washington florist who thinks making custom bouquets for a same-sex marriage doesn’t comport with her personal beliefs.  In appealing to the state Supreme Court after a three-year legal battle, Stutzman’s lawyer argued this week ‘that arranging flowers is artistic expression protected under the First Amendment.  Stutzman — a Southern Baptist — would have been more than happy to sell prearranged flowers out of the cooler because that was “not custom expression.”‘

In other words, the exact same logic applies to both the fashion designer and the florist (and the baker and the photographer).  Off-the-rack dresses, pre-arranged flowers, and other similar “pre-expressed” products are not a problem; nobody is going to stop the president-elect’s wife from purchasing a dress from any given fashion designer.

If, however, you believe that Ms. Theallet has the freedom to opt out of providing creative expressions for the president-elect’s wife (she does), then it strains the imagination to find a reason to force Mrs. Stutzman to provide custom, creative expressions for an event to which she has an objection.

Hat tip:  Alliance Defending Freedom


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