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Missouri Family E-News

November 4, 2014

    
NY Family Appeals Attack on Religious Freedom      

A New York family is appealing a harsh fine imposed by a state agency for refusing to allow a barn on their family farm to be used for a same-sex union ceremony.

Cynthia and Robert Gifford are appealing a $13,000 fine assessed by the New York Division of Human Rights for standing by their religious convictions.

The Giffords own Liberty Ridge Farm in a rural town named Schaghticoke outside Albany.  They have renovated a barn on the property and live on the upper two floors of the structure.  They make the bottom floor available for community events such as fall festivals, family celebrations, and wedding receptions.

The Giffords were approached in 2012 by a lesbian couple from New Jersey who wanted to hold a same-sex union ceremony at the barn.  The Giffords declined the request, citing their religious beliefs.

New York human rights officials found the Giffords in violation of the state's public accommodations law.  That law prohibits discrimination based on "sexual orientation"or "gender identity." 

The Human Rights Division determined that the Giffords' private residence was a "public accommodation" because it was made available to the general public.

"We're not hateful people.  We open our doors for a certain part of the year for everyone to come and enjoy God's country that we are so blessed to live on," says Cynthia Gifford.  "But we also believe strongly that marriage is between a man and a woman, and we do not want to hold a same-sex ceremony here on our family farm just because the state tells us we have to do it."

Rather than face further punitive action from the state, the Giffords have decided to no longer allow any wedding ceremonies to be held on their property.  Had they continued to do so, the Giffords would have been required to conduct training sessions for their employees on the social virtues of homosexual relationships.

Gifford says that the onerous fine "took a punch financially on us," but that it is more important to her and her husband to stay true to their faith.

Christian Outfitter Ordered to Print "Gay" T-Shirts

A Kentucky business owner has been found guilty of discrimination for declining to print t-shirts for a homosexual "pride" festival.

The case involves a t-shirt manufacturer in Lexington, Kentucky named Hands on Originals.  The company advertises itself as a "Christian outfitter."  Hands on Originals primarily prints t-shirts with Christian messages for Christian churches and ministries.

Blaine Adamson, the owner of Hands on Originals, was approached by local "gay rights" leaders in 2012 to print t-shirts with a "gay pride" message for the upcoming Lexington "Gay Pride" Festival. 

Adamson declined the job, citing his religious beliefs.  Despite the fact that he contacted another local vendor to do the job on the group's behalf, "gay rights" activists filed a complaint against Adamson with local human rights officials.

Now the Lexington-Fayette County Human Rights Commission has found Adamson guilty of "sexual orientation" discrimination for violating the community's "Fairness Ordinance." He has been ordered to undergo "diversity training" provided by the Commission. 

Raymond Sexton, the Commission's executive director, was quoted as saying that Christians who operate in the marketplace need "to leave their religion at home."

Jim Campbell, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, says that the ruling is an egregious abuse of religious freedom.  "No one should be forced by the government to promote ideas with which they disagree."

"Blaine declined the request not because of any characteristic of the people who asked for them, but because of the message that the shirts would communicate."

You can watch a brief video concerning Blaine Adamson's Christian witness at this link:
Hands On Originals 
 
  

Listen to the Broadcast Version of the Jeff City Update online at 
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Springfield Citizens  
Push to Repeal 
"Gay Rights" Law

Residents of the city of Springfield, Missouri, are mounting a petition drive to repeal a new municipal ordinance that poses a major threat to the religious freedom of Christian families, ministries, and private businesses.  The Springfield City Council adopted the ordinance in mid-October as a revision to the city's Human Rights Code.

The changes adopted by the City Council would prohibit discrimination based on so-called "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" in employment, housing, and public accommodations.  The Council approved the revised ordinance by a vote of 6-3 despite strong objections raised by community religious leaders.  The Council ignored the hundreds of contacts they received from concerned citizens in order to satisfy the demands of local homosexual rights activists.

Under the new law, Christian ministries, Christian charities, and other Christian non-profit organizations could not refuse to hire professed homosexuals or "transgendered" individuals because of their opposition to Biblical standards and Christian doctrine.  Independent Christian schools could also be compelled to hire avowed homosexuals or cross-dressers as teachers in the classroom.

The City Council also eliminated a provision in the ordinance which would have protected the right of religious organizations and religious non-profits to give employment preference to members of their own religious denomination.  The City of Springfield is home to the international headquarters of the Assemblies of God fellowship and numerous large evangelical churches.

The new ordinance also makes treacherous changes to the "public accommodations" portion of the Human Rights Code.  It would now be unlawful for any business to withhold services or public accommodations from any individual because of their "sexual orientation" or "gender identity."

Similar provisions in state and local laws across the country have been used to punish Christian business owners for failing to provide services for homosexual ceremonies and celebrations.  Photographers, florists, and bakers have been prosecuted and found guilty of "sexual orientation" discrimination for failing to provide flowers for, bake cakes for, or take photographs of same-sex union ceremonies.  Human rights officers and judges have ruled that Christians must abandon their religious beliefs to participate in public commerce.

The revision to the "public accommodations" section also means that bathrooms in the city of Springfield that are located in public buildings or in businesses that are open to the public may now be used by individuals of the opposite gender.  The City Council refused to adopt language excluding bathrooms from the scope of the bill.
John Lindell, Pastor of James River Assembly, says that the ordinance is "an assault on the First Amendment rights of free exercise of religion and free speech."  "Forcing Christians to hire homosexuals and transgender employees may put them in a situation of tacitly endorsing conduct the Bible clearly denotes as sinful behavior or be charged with criminal wrongdoing."

"This is part of an incremental strategy by the gay/lesbian lobby to indoctrinate society and promote the radical agenda of PROMO and their associates," Pastor Lindell adds.  PROMO is the state's leading homosexual advocacy organization.

The Most Reverend James Johnston, the Catholic bishop of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese, issued a masterful statement on the local "gay rights" controversy.  Bishop Johnston said that the ordinance would not promote equality, but would instead impose a state-enforced "secular religion" on Christian believers as the price for membership in the political community.

"Does the government have a compelling interest in forcing every member of our society to participate in the celebration of same-sex relationships?  Do the people of Springfield really want to make criminals out of persons who are merely trying to live out their faith?" Johnston wrote.

"We have already seen some persons, who have refused to pledge full allegiance to this new creed, lose their jobs, be driven out of business, or fined for living out their convictions," Johnston added.  "Something many of us never thought would happen in America."

"Our Constitutional right to freedom of religion is being reduced to freedom of worship.  We can believe as we wish inside our churches, mosques, and synagogues, but we cannot live it in the rest of our lives," Bishop Johnston concluded.

Dick Hardy, who was a member of the city-appointed task force that studied the "sexual orientation" issue, is one of the leaders of the effort to repeal the revisions to the anti-discrimination ordinance.  He says that 1,144 signatures are needed on petitions to place the issue on a citywide referendum for repeal.

"We as believers agree that every human being deserves fairness, dignity, and respect.  However, the Task Force found no evidence whatsoever that any Springfield resident had been the victim of discrimination or mistreatment because of their sexual preference."

"This ordinance strikes at the heart of religious freedom by negating the personal faith beliefs of Christian employers and Christian business owners.  It also enables any male to to say that 'I'm a female today' and follow a 12-year old girl into the women's bathroom."

Calvin Morrow, the head of Springfield Citizens United, is another of the leaders of the effort to reverse the City Council's action.  "Springfield has been targeted for nine years by LGBT operatives.  They finally got what they wanted, thanks to a city council that defiantly ruled against the will of the citizens of Springfield.  We have decided to fight back."

"The main point of these SOGI (sexual orientation/gender identity) laws is to criminalize and suppress Christians. We are enduring one-sided media coverage, hate mail, veiled threats, and a host of dirty political tricks.  We covet the prayers of the saints at this time."

You can assist with the repeal effort by contacting  Dick Hardy at dhardy@thehardygroup.org, or by contacting Calvin Morrow at 1-888-832-4316, or at info@cupasalt.org.

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