Missouri Family E-News

April 7, 2015

    
Washington Florist Fined For Her Christian Convictions

A florist in the state of Washington has been fined $1000 by a state judge for declining to prepare floral arrangements for a same-sex union ceremony.

Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, has been further ordered by Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander Ekstrom to participate in same-sex union ceremonies in the future.

Stutzman was approached in March of 2013 by a longtime male customer who informed her he was "marrying" his male partner.  He asked Stutzman to provide the floral arrangements at the church for their "wedding" ceremony.

Despite the fact that they had become good friends, Stutzman advised him she could not be involved in such a ceremony because of her "relationship with Jesus Christ." 

The man Stutzman considered a friend then filed a complaint with his "partner" against her with state civil rights officials.  They alleged she had violated a state law prohibiting discrimination based on "sexual orientation."

In a rare move, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson decided to prosecute the case himself to make an example out of the 70 year-old grandmother.

Ferguson offered a settlement to Stutzman if she would agree to admit her "wrongdoing" and agree to violate her conscience in the future.  Stutzman declined the settlement, with the following response.

"I never imagined that using my God-given talents, and doing what I love for over three decades, would become illegal.  You chose to attack my faith and pursue this not simply as a matter of law, but to threaten my very means of working, eating, and having a home."

"I don't relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take away from my family, but my freedom to honor my God in doing what I do best is most important," Stutzman continued.

She then added:  "Our constitution guarantees freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment.  I cannot sell that precious freedom.  You are asking me to walk away in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver.  This I will not do."

The $1000 fine is the least of Stutzman's challenges.  She is still liable for the legal fees the ACLU stacked up to represent her accusers, and unspecified monetary damages.

These costs will likely be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, which may result in Stutzman losing her business and her retirement savings.

Stutzman has been represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom.  ADF attorney Kristen Waggoner says the ultimate judgement could leave Stutzman destitute.

"The message sent by the Attorney General and the ACLU is quite clear:  Surrender your religious liberty and free speech rights, or face personal and professional ruin."

"A government that tells you what you can't say is bad enough, but a government that tells you what you must say is terrifying," Waggoner added.

Stutzman says the stand she has taken for her faith has taken a significant toll.  "As you can imagine, it has been mentally and emotionally exhausting to be at the center of this controversy for nearly two years."

"Since 2012, same-sex couples have been free to act on their beliefs about marriage, but because I follow the Bible's teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, I am no longer free to act on my beliefs."

A GoFundMe account has been created to generate financial support for Stutzman.  So far a total of more than $103,000 has been raised.

You can access the GoFundMe webpage and watch a video of Barronelle's story by using this link:

Support Barronelle Stutzman 


  

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Indiana Pizza Parlor
The Latest Target of  Anti-Christian Bigotry 


A small town pizza shop in Indiana has become the latest target of religious bigotry in the wake of a major showdown over religious liberty legislation in that state. 
The victims of the latest anti-Christian hate campaign are the owners of Memories Pizza, a  pizza parlor in Walkerton, Indiana.

In an obvious set-up, a reporter from a South Bend television station walked into the pizzeria and asked employee Christie O'Connor whether the restaurant would serve homosexual customers.  O'Connor responded:  "If a gay couple came into the restaurant to eat, we would serve them.  But if they wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no."

Within hours of the station airing the story, Memories Pizza was besieged by a hailstorm of hatred from homosexual rights activists.  Christie and her father, Kevin O'Connor, the owner of the shop, were on the receiving end of a continuous stream of malicious verbal assaults and death threats over the phone, by email, and on social media.

The pizza parlor's Facebook page was hacked and littered with homosexual pornography.   The restaurant's listings on Yelp and on Google Maps were flooded with vile posts, including more homosexual porn and propaganda.  Images were posted of Hitler serving pizza, Jesus making an obscene gesture, and of pizzas shaped in the form of obscene images.

Jess Dooley, a high school golf coach in Elkhart, Indiana, issued a challenge on her Twitter account:  "Who's going to Walkerton, IN, to burn down Memories Pizza with me?"  Dooley has been suspended, and law enforcement authorities have turned the case over to the county prosecutor for possible charges of harassment and intimidation.

In the face of the chaos surrounding his small town business, Kevin O'Connor decided to shut down the pizza parlor.  He said it was impossible to distinguish between legitimate pizza orders and bogus calls, and his small staff could not afford to keep generating nonstop pizzas for nonexistent customers.

In response to the vicious campaign waged against the family business, St. Louis area radio commentator and Blaze TV contributor Dana Loesch launched a national publicity campaign of support for Memories Pizza.  A GoFundMe account was created to generate financial support for the O'Connor family.  The initial goal was to raise $25,000.

In an absolutely astounding demonstration of solidarity with the O'Connors, the GoFundMe account raised an unthinkable total of $842,387 in 48 hours.  Nearly 30,000 people donated serious sums of money to support the family business.  The stunning and spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment behind Memories Pizza reminded many of the Christian community's response to attacks on Chick-Fil-A restaurants.  The O'Connors have now decided they will reopen and continue to serve the Walkerton community.

We do not believe that Memories Pizza was randomly chosen by the television reporter for their supposed man-on-the-street interview.  Memories Pizza is an unashamed Christian establishment.  The store is decorated with religious sayings.  One sign says:  "Every day before we open the store, we gather and pray together.  If there is something you would like us to pray for, just write it down and drop it in the box and we will pray for you."

However, in this case, the effort by the ultraliberal media to sting and smear this distinctly Christian small business boomeranged in big-time fashion, and the victims of their sneering media bias are now nearly millionaires.
I'm a born-again Christian," Kevin O'Connor said.  "My faith is the basis of my business.  I'm just a little guy in a little tiny town.  I have never turned anybody away from my store.  It's just been ugly."

O'Connor says he hopes his experience is an encouragement to other Christian business owners to stand firm in the faith.  "Trust the Lord.  Pray.  Even though we don't see where He is taking us, He's still got control.  And He will make it work for His good and our good."

Dana Loesch wrote this early note of encouragement to Christie:  "We know how zealous some people are in terms of ruining the lives of others because they cannot tolerate their Christian faith...Nobody should have to suffer alone for standing up for Christian principles.  God bless you for being fearless...As Christ said, 'If they persecute you, remember they came for me first.'"

The cultural flashfire over Memories Pizza occurred in the context of a political showdown in Indiana over a religious liberty law adopted by the Indiana Legislature and signed by Governor Mike Pence.  Known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the new statute was similar to laws already on the books in 2o other states, including Missouri.

The provisions of the law prohibit the government from creating "a substantial burden" on a person's exercise of religion unless it furthers a "compelling governmental interest" and is "the least restrictive means" of doing so.  The language of RFRA reflects longstanding legal principles regarding the free exercise of religion on the state and federal level.

In response to the passage of the law, a national "gay rights" firestorm erupted, spurred by threats of corporate boycotts of the state and thoroughly dishonest "reporting" and propagandizing by the ultraliberal media.   In the face of the bruising assault by anti-Christian forces, Governor Pence and legislative leaders decided to reverse course and instead pass a replacement "gay rights" law which will result in persecution and prosecution of Christian business owners like the O'Connors.

Princeton University Professsor Robert George had strong words for the sellout of the Christian community by Indiana Republican leaders.  "As for the hypocrisy, duplicity, and bad faith of the law's critics, it's par for the course for them.  However, the Governor's pathetic performance in defending a perfectly reasonable religious liberty law reveals that he lacks competence, courage, principle, or perhaps all three."

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, pointed out the irony of the Republican leaders' betrayal of the Christian community during Holy Week.  "Indiana's elected leaders traded religious freedom for the silver of Big Business.  Indiana's leaders have now ushered in a dark moment that empowers the government to impose punishing fines on people simply for following their beliefs about marriage.  If the government punishes people for living their faith, there are no limits to what government can control."

The citizens of Springfield, Missouri, are voting today on whether to repeal a local ordinance that would victimize Christian business owners like the O'Connors.  Please be praying for a Godly outcome to this election that preserves religious freedom for the people of Springfield.  Please be praying for victory for the Yes on Question 1 campaign.

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