Florist Stands Firm in Her Convictions
Hard as it may be to believe, the case of Barronelle Stutzman is one of the most important (and dismaying) things happening in America today. While the case isn’t the leading news story on any of the major networks, it should be. Because when the state can jump in and crush your business for refusing to bend your religious beliefs, something is rotten in the United States.
For the uninitiated, Stutzman is a florist in Washington. After declining to provide flowers for a gay wedding in 2013, she found herself the target of the attorney general’s wrath. The state sued Stutzman, claiming that she had violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws when she turned her back on the gig. Because of the lawsuit – and a second one being brought against her by the customer in question – she could lose her business, her property, and her savings. All for standing up for her religious freedoms.
An Unshakable Faith
This week, attorney general Bob Ferguson offered the 70-year-old entrepreneur a way out. For a relatively minor $2,000 penalty, a $1 payment for costs, and a pledge never to discriminate again, Stutzman could settle the case and be on her way. For weaker defendants, it would have been a no-brainer. But as this case has demonstrated, Barronelle Stutzman is anything but weak.
She rejected the deal, saying in a letter to Ferguson: “You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver. That is something I will not do.”
In her reference to Judas the betrayer, Stutzman has made it all too clear what this is all about. This isn’t a publicity stunt. This isn’t some hateful bigot with a backwards idea of what America means. This is a loving, friendly business owner who is suddenly in the middle of a fight for religious freedom. Whether you agree with her or not, you have to admire her determination. There aren’t many people left who would put everything they have in this world on the line for Jesus.
The judge in the case, defending his position, said that “religious beliefs are protected by the First Amendment, but actions based on those beliefs aren’t necessarily protected.” A true enough statement – if your holy book tells you to kill infidels, that’s not going to stand up in court – but it ignores the fact that this case is not about discrimination. Not in the legally-protected sense, anyway. Stutzman has not banned her gay customers. In fact, she has gone on record as saying she hopes the customer in question will patronize her store in the future.
At the end of the day, we have a Constitution that protects religious freedom. We do not have one that protects gay weddings. Should the two come into conflict, the victor should be apparent. Unfortunately, in an age where Christianity is demonized and the gay agenda is celebrated, people like Baronelle Stutzman will be persecuted.