In a major victory for religious freedom, a U.S. federal court has ruled that a Christian printer has the right to refuse orders that promote messages conflicting with his religious beliefs.
The Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled that Blaine Adamson, owner of Hands on Originals, a print shop based in Lexington, Kentucky, is right in his contention that he cannot be forced to print messages on T-shirts that go against his religious beliefs, Faithwire reported.
The Kentucky appeals court's decision reverses a ruling made by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, which found Adamson guilty of discrimination for declining to print shirts for a gay rights group with a message promoting a gay pride event in Lexington in 2012, according to CBN News.
"Americans should always have the freedom to believe, the freedom to express those beliefs, and the freedom to not express ideas that would violate their conscience," said Jim Campbell, Senior Counsel of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represented Adamson in the case.
Campbell said the federal court's decision is "a victory for all Americans because it reassures us all that, no matter what you believe, the law can't force you to express a message in conflict with your deepest convictions."
Adamson was also supported by the Becket law firm devoted to the defense of religious liberty.
"The court agreed with Becket, top legal scholars, and LGBT business owners, who all stood up for the rights of artists to choose what messages they would promote, without fear of government punishment," the firm said in a statement.
This is the second court ruling to have favored Adamson after a Fayette County Circuit Court earlier found that the human rights commission erred in forcing the printer to make shirts with messages that conflicted with his faith.
The commission appealed that ruling, which led to the Kentucky federal court's decision that settled the matter.
Adamson was sued in 2012 by the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) when he declined their order to make shirts for a local gay pride event.
The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission sided with the gay group, ruling that Adamson "had discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in violation of Section 2-33," a local ordinance.
But Adamson, who employs and does business with gays, countered that he was not discriminating against people and was only declining to print messages with which he disagrees.
"I want God to find joy in what we do and how we work, how we treat our employees, and the messages we print," he said, according to ADF. "So if someone walks in and says, 'Hey, I want you to help promote something,' I can't promote something that I know goes against what pleases Him.'"
Adamson told the Lexington Herald-Leader that he has no problem making shirts for homosexuals, so long as they do not carry messaging that promotes homosexuality.
"I don't leave my faith at the door when I walk into my business," he said.