A florist in Washington state has decided that her personal beliefs are higher than the law. Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, was sued when she refused to do the flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding. Now, the court has offered her a settlement, which included an agreement not to discriminate in the future. She rejected that, saying that accepting the settlement was like being Judas (the man who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver).
In a video published by the Alliance Defending Freedom, Stutzman said that the decision not to do Robert Ingersoll’s wedding was difficult. He was a longtime customer of hers, and she considered him a friend. She respectfully told him that she couldn’t do it because of her faith, and the story spread on social media. According to the video, Washington’s attorney general saw the story on social media, and filed suit.
What Stutzman, and other florists and bakers in her position have done, though, is put across the following message: “We do weddings. We do all kinds of weddings. We just don’t do weddings for your kind.” This is a major difference that the people supporting these businesses just don’t seem to see. It’s not like the hypothetical kosher butcher who won’t sell ham in his shop. That’s something he doesn’t provide to anybody. He’s not saying, “Oh yes, I do ham. I just don’t do ham for your kind.” Under the law, that isn’t discrimination.
Little by little, they are stripping us of any thought we might have, or any difference of opinion. This is our religious freedom at stake.
If you are forced to separate your faith from your life, your religious freedom ceases to exist.
Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about. It’s about freedom, not money.
One has to wonder what Stutzman’s opinion would be if this were a Jewish florist, or a Muslim florist, or a florist of any other faith, refusing to do flower arrangements for a certain wedding they disagreed with. What if the couple to whom this hypothetical florist refused service was Christian? What would she say then? What would she say if this hypothetical florist refused service to her because of their faith?
We also have Kristen Waggoner, Stutzman’s attorney from the Alliance Defending Freedom, saying things like:
This is about marriage. It’s not about bigotry.
That’s like all the racist white people out there who love saying, “I’m not a racist! Some of my best friends are black!” Yes, Ingersoll was a close, personal friend of Stutzman, and was a very good customer of hers. That doesn’t mean she isn’t bigoted. Believing that marriage should only happen between one man and one woman is inherently bigoted.
Then you have the people who are crying “CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION!” over this, and naming all the things that the ruling against Stutzman could do. On CNN, Denny Burk, a professor of biblical studies at the religious Boyce College, said:
We are witnessing a shift in our society — a shift which inevitably leads to Christians being treated as pariahs at every level of our national life.
Yes, we are witnessing a shift, but it’s a shift towards putting Christianity under the same restrictions by which everyone of every other faith must abide here. Why should Christianity be exempt from these restrictions, when we’re not a Christian nation?
In the end, these cases highlight a sad double standard we have here. It’s not about “persecuting Christians,” which is happening elsewhere in the world, but not here. It’s about Christians realizing that they’re losing their place of privilege in a society that increasingly believes no religion should receive special treatment. In a country founded on religious freedom, we either subject everyone to the same restrictions on their freedom of faith, or we allow everyone of every faith in existence to shove those faiths down everyone else’s throats. We can’t have both.
It’s simple: If you own a secular business (which a florist is), then you are subject to anti-discrimination laws. Your faith does not put you above the law. If Barronelle Stutzman refused to do flower arrangements for weddings, period, she’d have a real case here. The attorney general wouldn’t have noticed anything out of the ordinary. If the couple decided to sue anyway, it’s entirely likely that any lawyer to whom they went would have said, “She doesn’t do weddings. She said so. Her business policy says so. What makes yours so special that you have to force her to provide a service to you that she doesn’t provide to anybody?”
Instead, she said, “I do weddings. I just don’t do weddings for people like you.” That’s illegal, regardless of faith. This is not persecuting Christians. This is telling Christians they must abide by the same laws and restrictions as everyone else. End of story.
Watch Stutzman’s comments below:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDETkcCw63c?rel=0&w=560&h=315]
Featured image via video screen capture