Lawsuits Threaten Religious Liberty, and Liberty Generally

February 18, 2017
Posted in U.S.
February 18, 2017 Ben Preuss

Lawsuits Threaten Religious Liberty, and Liberty Generally

According to a Fox News article, Barronelle Stutzman, a Christian florist has lost a suit for engaging in discriminatory practices and violating consumer protection laws.

The case began in 2013 when a gay couple, Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, asked Stutzman to provide flowers for their wedding. The florist had previously sold the couple flowers, however, she drew the line at providing the service for their wedding based upon a widely held religious belief that marriage is an institution created by God, to be held between a man and a woman. It is important to note that this same belief is not an outlier. The idea that God frowns on homosexual marriage is held by other major world religions, such as Judaism and Islam. Stutzman maintains that her first amendment rights are being violated.

Recently, cases like the Stutzman case, have sprung up across the United States. They always seem to involve a Christian and persons of homosexual orientation. Interestingly enough, I have never heard a case involving a Muslim company refusing to provide a good or service for a gay wedding. Although many in Islamic communities, who recognize Sharia Law, believe in executing those who engage in homosexuality (stoning, gunshot, thrown off high rise buildings), but I digress.

So, where are “rights” involved in these cases? Many will commonly cite a supposed parallel between the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the current need for laws to end discrimination against homosexuals. Unfortunately, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and how it relates to society at large is grossly misinterpreted to the detriment of all Americans’ rights and freedoms.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed to ban racial discrimination in public accommodations. “Public” refers to the sphere of accommodations provided by a government. It was in fact, discriminatory government issued laws that necessitated the Act in the first place. So, the original intent and purpose of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was limited only to how the government treated American citizens. It had nothing to do with how how one citizen and their private business chose to engage in transactions with other citizens.

Barronelle Stutzman has a strong leg to stand on. By forcing her to provide a service which violates her religious convictions, the state violates her first amendment right by prohibiting her free exercise of a widely recognized, mainstream religion. Furthermore, Stutzman offered suggestions of a number of other florists to provide for the Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed wedding. The fact that Stutzman, owner of a private business, chose to deny her service in no way hampered Ingersoll and Freed from seeking another provider from a very plentiful pool of florists.

If cases like this continue surfacing, and private business owners are forced to violate their religious convictions by threat of being sued and possible loss of their business, we have essentially kissed our republic goodbye. Whether you are conservative or liberal, straight or gay, you are an American citizen. It is foolish to support unconstitutional decisions however personally beneficial it might seem at the present moment. If the government can force a person to defy their religious beliefs, there is little that the government cannot do to the people. A government unmoored from the Constitution is a threat to everyone’s liberty.

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Ben Preuss

Benjamin Preuss holds a Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice from Carroll University. He possesses a wealth of knowledge in political and economic systems, the US Constitution and America's criminal justice system.
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