The Christian owners of a Texas bakery say they have received threats against their business and family after they declined to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding in mid-February.
Edie and David Delorme, the owners of Kern's Bake Shop in Longview, Texas, came under fire last week when it was reported they refused to bake a cake for the wedding of Ben Valencia and Luis Marmolejo because doing so would have conflicted with their deeply-held religious belief that same-sex marriage violates God's definition of marriage.
According to Fox News' Todd Starnes, the couple politely turned down their request to bake the cake and offered to give the gay couple a list of bakeries that would bake their cake for them.
"I was upfront with them," Edie explained. "I said, 'I'm sorry but we don't provide wedding cakes for homosexual marriages."
"We don't do cakes that might conflict with our spiritual convictions," she continued. "It was not something personal against the two young men. We just need to be able to run our business in a way that honors God."
About a week after the Delormes turned away the couple, the Longview News-Journal reported on the incident with an article that quoted Valencia as saying that being rejected by the bakery made the couple feel "dehumanized."
Edie Delmore explained to the the News-Journal that she and her husband have turned down other business opportunities that conflicted with their faith for other reasons besides same-sex marriages.
Shortly after the News-Journal report was published other news sites wrote about the incident and eventually, the Delormes began receiving threatening messages and online comments.
Although no charges or lawsuit has been filed against the baking couple, they opted to attain the legal representation of the First Liberty Institute, formerly known as the Liberty Institute.
"They have, unfortunately, been receiving some threats," First Liberty senior counsel Michael Berry, told the News-Journal on Friday. "At first, they appeared to be just kind of typical, nasty, distasteful messages that people were posting. But recently, there have been some physical threats, threats against their family and threats against their business."
Starnes reports that a number of people who were angry with the bakery for refusing to bake the couple's wedding cake posted derogatory reviews on Yelp and other social media platforms calling the Delormes "racist" and "homophobic."
"See you in Hell, lady," read one angry message. "Racist criminals."
Berry opined that the social backlash facing the bakers for acting in accordance with their religious convictions is indicative of the state of "individual freedoms" in the United States.
"At this day in age, when we're trying to promote tolerance and acceptance of all viewpoints, what does that say about our view on individual freedom in this country when a family and their family-owned business is now receiving threats?" Berry asked. "I just think that says a lot about our perspective on individual freedom."
David Delorme told Starnes that he is troubled by the threats against him and the family.
"There's something wrong with that," Delorme said. "Homosexuals have a right to live their lives. ... But we want to live and practice our faith and run our bakery in a way that honors God."
Leading evangelist Franklin Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, praised the Delormes for staying true to their religious convictions and not caving to societal pressures.
"Here we go again — gays attacking Christians for what they believe. They want to force everyone to accept and condone their lifestyle which God's Word defines as sin — but they are blatantly intolerant of others," Graham wrote on Facebook on Friday. "Freedom of conscience is being thrown out the window."
"I applaud the Delormes for standing by their Christian convictions," Graham added.
The Delormes are not the first bakers to come under fire for refusing to bake a same-sex wedding cake and probably won't be the last.
Melissa and Aaron Klein were fined $135,000 by the state of Oregon for their refusal to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding in 2013 and now their bakery is no longer in operation.
The Kliens are also being represented by the First Liberty Institute and will finally have their case heard by the Oregon Court of Appeals later this year.
"This is definitely a winnable case," First Liberty lawyer Ken Klukowski told OregonLive last week. "The Kleins have fundamental rights. The government has violated those rights. We look forward to our opportunity to make the case in a court of law as to why the constitution is on the side of the Kleins' free speech and religious liberty rights here."