Amidst the unrelenting bad news regarding freedom of conscience (see, for example, this report of an Oregon hearing officer imposing a ruinous $135,000 judgment on a Christian baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding), it's refreshing to read a bit of constitutional sanity. My good friends at the Alliance Defending Freedom (full disclosure: I worked for ADF for a number of years and continue to speak at ADF events) just won a key decision in a Lexington, Kentucky trial court on behalf of "Hands On Originals," a custom printing company. Hands On Originals (HOO) refused to print t-shirts for a 2012 gay pride parade, and the organizers filed a complaint before the local human rights commission. HOO was one of three t-shirt companies the gay pride parade organizers contacted, and when HOO refused the order, the group was easily able to find an alternative vendor. The commission, however, ruled against the company, and the company appealed to the circuit court.
HOO is owned and operated by Christians who attempt to operate "consistently with the teachings of the Bible." In fact, the owners put in place a clear policy against printing messages that conflicted with their beliefs. The policy stated:
Hands On Originals both employs and conducts business with people of all genders, races, religions, sexual preferences, and national origins. However, due to the promotional nature of our products, it is the prerogative of Hands On Originals to refuse any order that would endorse positions that would conflict with the convictions of the ownership. more >>
Franklin Graham is backing the Christian couple in Oregon who were fined $135,000 on Friday for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony.
A judge for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled that former "Sweet Cakes by Melissa" owners Melissa and Aaron Klein of Gresham, Oregon, are to pay $135,000 in damages to a lesbian couple after refusing to bake them a wedding cake back in 2013.
Defending the bakery owners who were punished for their "sincerely held religious beliefs, convictions, and conscience," Samaritan's Purse is raising funds to help the Kleins and other Christian business owners who are forced to pay steep fines and even face losing their livelihoods for upholding their biblical beliefs. more >>
The redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples has mostly been a revolution by a few judges. Will five Supreme Court judges continue that trend and reject a deliberative democratic process to define marriage?
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday, April 28 on an appeal from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the constitutionality of four state-level gay marriage bans.
Since June 2013, the number of states that legally recognize same-sex marriage dramatically increased from nine and the District of Columbia to 37 states, with Alabama being the most recent addition. more >>
This past Friday night, I tweeted out, "My heart goes out to Bruce Jenner, & when he says, 'I am a woman,' I hear him saying, 'I am deeply confused & hurting.' Let's pray for him!" The responses to this tweet were as ugly and profane as anything I have ever seen. Why the extreme and even irrational hostility?
Some of the tweets included these gems:
"f--- you you disgusting saliva gerbil" (to be honest, I've never been called that before) more >>
As I listened to Bruce Jenner recollect a lifelong struggle with his gender identity in his exclusive interview with Diane Sawyer, I experienced an array of emotions. I wasn't disgusted or enraged. Nor did I feel like I needed to jump on Facebook and join the conservative chorus of "Our culture is reprobate! The wrath of God is surely upon us! God doesn't make mistakes!" statuses. Sure, as a follower of Christ and a passionate proponent of Biblical truth I was and am definitely bothered by the fact that multitudes of easily persuaded people were listening to this message and many would be emotionally manipulated into affirming the confusion and brokenness of transgenderism. And yes, I was absolutely unnerved by the probability that the tremendous exposure of Jenner's message would fuel the already hot and heavy movement in our culture against God and his gospel.
But more than anything, I just felt sad. I felt sad for Bruce and for the many people like him. Having struggled with homosexual feelings for my entire life, I can empathize on some level with the unbearable weight Bruce carried on his shoulders as he secretly wrestled with feelings he both didn't understand and was deathly afraid to ever express to those he loved. Feeling utterly different than those around you and constantly fearing their rejection of you upon the possible discovery of your deepest, darkest secret is a miserable life to live. I hate that he endured this inward conflict alone for so long.
What struck me most painfully, though, was Bruce's perception and theology of the God who made him. Below is a quote from the first few minutes of the emotional interview. more >>
An interfaith statement defending marriage, conscience rights and religious liberty models authentic inter religious collaboration. Signed by Southern Baptist, Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, Anglican, Orthodox and Evangelical leaders, it declares:
It is in the best interests of the state to encourage and uphold the family founded on marriage and to afford the union of husband and wife unique legal protection and reinforcement.
The redefinition of legal marriage to include any other type of relationship has serious consequences, especially for religious freedom. It changes every law involving marital status, requiring that other such relationships be treated as if they were the same as the marital relationship of a man and a woman. No person or community, including religious organizations and individuals of faith, should be forced to accept this redefinition. For many people, accepting a redefinition of marriage would be to act against their conscience and to deny their religious beliefs and moral convictions. Government should protect the rights of those with differing views of marriage to express their beliefs and convictions without fear of intimidation, marginalization or unwarranted charges that their values imply hostility, animosity, or hatred of others. more >>