(Freedom.news) In recent days reports noted that the Washington Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving a 70-year-old Christian florist who has been convicted by lower courts for following her religious convictions. It’s a case that should not be heard because it should never have become a “case” to begin with.
As reported by The Daily Signal, Barronelle Stutzman is the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, a small flower shop in Richland, Wash. She has been in the industry for over 40 years.
In March 2013, she was asked to make floral arrangements for a gay couple’s wedding. According to her, she had served the customer, Robert Ingersoll, on many previous occasions and actually considered him a close friend.
When he approached her about doing the floral arrangements for his marriage to another man, Stutzman balked, citing her Christian beliefs that gay marriage is wrong.
“I put my hand on his and said, ‘I’m sorry, Rob, I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ,’” Stutzman told The Daily Signal in an earlier interview. “We talked a little bit, we talked about his mom [walking him down the aisle] … we hugged and he left.”
As noted further by the news site:
Following that conversation, Washington’s attorney general told Stutzman that her decision was in direct conflict with a state law that ensures citizens freedom from discrimination and pursued a lawsuit against her.
The anti-discrimination measure prohibits places of public accommodation—which officials say include Arlene’s Flowers—from refusing service to customers on grounds of race, creed, sexual orientation, and physical disability.
In the end, Stutzman was convicted of violating state laws by a pair of lower courts; she is now appealing to the state’s highest court. She is already facing fines and legal fees in the seven figures and says if she loses, she will lose everything she has spent a lifetime working towards.
All because she made the “mistake” of thinking that her right to religious freedom and expression was guaranteed by the Constitution.
In this day and age of Leftist secularism, it seems that the one right Americans have the most difficulty in exercising is their right to religious freedom (at least if you’re a Christian). In reality, however, this anti-religion effort began years ago when federal courts began using twisted legal logic and political activism to force schools, town squares and other public buildings from displaying the Ten Commandments, as local school boards, parents and citizens wanted. The same tactics were applied to suppress Christian school prayer and Christian prayers at public/school events.
Now, the so-called “gay lobby” has managed to infiltrate traditional American culture using the courts as their hammer. Stutzman is just the latest victim to fall before a predatory court system inhabited by Leftist political ideologues who have been enabled by similar ideologues in statehouses and state legislatures.
States, under the Tenth Amendment, have the authority to pass laws and implement rules and regulations that are not specifically banned by the Constitution or reserved to the federal government. The First Amendment’s freedom of religion and freedom of expression clauses, coupled with the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause, should trump any state effort to impose punishment on anyone who is merely practicing religious beliefs and not physically harming anyone else in the process.
But some argue that the Fourteenth Amendment’s “equal protections” clause trumps religious expression when it is seen to “discriminate” against someone, giving states legal cover to implement laws establishing same and then prosecuting those who are deemed to be in violation of said laws. Like Stutzman.
So who’s right? Does the Constitution’s very first amendment have more weight than subsequent amendments? After all, it is part of the Bill of Rights, those first 10 amendments considered to be the bedrock of American republicanism.
And there is this: What legal protections do people who put their livelihoods on the line to fund, start and maintain a business have? Do business owners even have a legal right to refuse service to anyone for any reason other than lifestyle choice, race, creed?
Isn’t prosecuting someone like Stutzman a form of religious persecution, which itself is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and state laws banning discrimination?
At present the courts, state and federal, are siding with those who equate religious expression with discrimination, not expression. And many legal experts think that’s a constitutional mistake.
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