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From The Resurgent:

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.  Matthew 6:24

1,984 years ago this week, the world put God on trial. When offered a choice, the world surrendered up God to be tortured, crucified, and killed and asked that Pontius Pilate free the criminal Barabbas instead. The very same people who welcomed Christ into Jerusalem as a King at the beginning of the week, screamed for his crucifixion by the end of the week.

There is no compromise between Christ and the world. Young evangelicals, complacent in the United States and largely left alone, would do wise to remember this. Christians who side with Mammon should remember that Mamon sided with Barabbas.

Read surveys on millennials in churches and most of the surveys suggest these millennials are giving up on or making peace with abortion and gay marriage. The young are tempted to compromise with the world — to split the baby in an effort to love Jesus and be at least liked by the world. The cause of life and marriage has been replaced with opposition to human trafficking. The latter is a noble cause and one I have long championed. But for many, they pick up that cause because there is no one who really opposes it. It gives some Christians the luxury of being against something, without anyone being against them.

Christians in America have gotten soft. We’ve turned the nation into an idol to be worshiped. We’ve become so convinced by the “shining city on a hill” rhetoric we think “It can’t happen here,” regarding persecution of Christians. Joe Carter has a great read on this from a few years ago.

Joe is right. We’ve turned the American ideal of liberty into an idol we worship. The religious liberty in the first amendment is meant to protect the religious as they seek to draw people to them. But the world demands instead that the first amendment be used to draw the religious to the world and silence those who refuse to go along for the ride. In making an idol of our democratic freedom, the irony is that many evangelicals in America are abdicating the use of it.

What Christians in the United States of America, who’ve had it pretty easy for a long time in the USA, have forgotten or never learned is that the world is deeply hostile to the things, and people, of God. Remember, one thousand nine hundred eighty-four years ago today, the world chose to spare a criminal and crucify God himself.

Many young evangelicals who are making the decision that certain sins conflict with their personal beliefs, but they’re otherwise okay with the sin and will leave it alone. They are making a compromise to avoid conflict and be liked by the world. “I’m not one of those Christians,” they think and often say.

They want to be liked. They want the world to like them and to think them a part of the world. They view Christians who are seen as too hostile to others as inferior in spreading the Gospel or too judgmental. They fall victim to the sin of pride that their gospel is greater.

They’ll nod approvingly to the lyrics of Casting Crowns “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” saying, “Nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded. What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did.”

Unfortunately for them, they’ll be hated anyway, even if they don’t realize it.

The Casting Crowns song, which is all over Christian stations, contains this lyric: “The world is on their way to You, but they’re tripping over me.”

Christ was very clear on this.

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

The world is not on its way to Christ. The world hates Christ. The world will not allow a compromise between Christians and the world.

Evangelicals have a tough time on the issue of gay rights and younger Christians on abortion and other issues. If we hold to our convictions, we’re accused of hating. If we point out that sex outside of marriage is a sin, including among people of the same sex, we’re accused of saying they’re going to hell. If we point out the Biblical standard, even admitting we all fall short of the glory of God, we are accused of judging and, therefore, of being a hypocrite.

Christians are called to love their neighbors. Loving their neighbors does not mean turning a blind eye to their sin, or giving tacit approval to sin. Christians should want no one to go to hell. But we’ve arrived at a point where should we even mention this, we’re accused of saying folks are going to hell.

We must live our lives with love toward everyone and be friends to all who are open to being friends. But we should not delude ourselves. At some point the world will make us choose. And if we choose Christ the world will accuse us of hating, condemning, and judging. The world is deeply hostile to the Christian idea of loving the sinner, but not the sin. The world believes we cannot love the sinner if we do not fully affirm them, which means loving, or at least tolerating or accepting, their sin.

If we truly love our neighbor we must pray for their repentance, not accept their sin. If they tell us God made them that way, we must know that we were all born sinners. God didn’t do it. Our fallen nature did. The struggle with sin in the process of sanctification leads us closer to God. Those who revel in sin do not draw close. We don’t need to preach at them or condemn them. We need to love them and live relationally with them using our our stumbling toward Jesus as a way, hopefully, to also draw our friends to Jesus.

The chorus of the Casting Crowns song includes the line, “Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours.” Christ’s heart breaks for all the fallen. Many Christians though are not believed when they confess their hearts break toward those who do not even recognize their sin.

Christians are accused of judging and casting stones, as the lyrics of that song claim, when all they are doing is not shying away from the fact that God sets standards. He may say to cast no stones, but he concludes with “go and sin no more.” Young evangelicals have bought into the notion that by proclaiming the standards of the Bible they are judging. They seek accommodation and given tacit approval to sin lest they be accused of judging or casting stones.

There is no accommodation on this issue with the world. Young evangelicals and others are deluded if they think they can seek a compromise with the world.  The world will not let you compromise.  The world will make you care.

Mammon chose Barabbas and too many young evangelicals are choosing Mammon. One day, if they remain faithful to Christ, they, you, and me will be made to care.

 

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From CBN News:

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A new California bill could prevent faith-based organizations from enforcing their own ethical standards and codes.

Many religious organizations ask new employees to sign a code of conduct that aligns with what the Bible says about abortion, contraception, and sex outside of marriage. However, a new bill called AB 569 calls these provisions discriminatory and says they should be banned.

The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales Fletcher, says religious organizations are “invading the privacy and personal lives of women” when they prohibit their “reproductive choices,” including abortion or extramarital sex.

“A woman should never face repercussions in the workplace for her reproductive choices,” said Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher. “It’s unacceptable.”

California Family Council President Jonathan Keller argues that preventing religious organizations from enforcing their own policies is religious discrimination.

“Every organization that promotes a pro-life message must be able to require its employees to practice what they preach,” said Keller. “The right to freely exercise one’s religion is enshrined in our Constitution and has always protected every American’s ability to freely associate around shared beliefs and practices. It is unconscionable for any politician to attempt to abridge this sacrosanct religious liberty by inserting themselves into the employee-employer relationship.”

Keller went further by pointing out that organizations must implement these policies if they are to be faithful to their religious beliefs and core mission.

Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, is working tirelessly to mobilize the nation against the bill. He encourages Americans  to call their lawmakers and make their voices heard.

“They have to call in droves,” Thomasson told CBN News. “But really, the repeal needs to be in our own hearts and minds. We have to stop voting for people that are against religious freedom.”

Americans who wish to get involved can do so by going to savecalifornia.com where they can find steps on how to fight the bill.

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This is the Orwellian world that we now live in, Prosecutors charge the people who uncovered the horrors of Planned Parenthood, which are just as evil as the heinous acts of the NAZI’s during World War II!

It tells you how perverse our society has become! God’s judgment is falling on the United States for allowing the murder and slaughter of over 57 million babies and the vast overwhelming majority of them murdered for the convenience of the woman carrying the child!

Moloch (Masoretic מֹלֶךְ mōlek, Greek Μολόχ) is the Biblical name relating to a Canaanite god associated with child sacrifice.

Rabbinical tradition depicted Moloch as a bronze statue heated with fire into which the victims were thrown. This has been associated with reports by Greco-Roman authors on the child sacrifices in Carthage to Baal Hammon, especially since archaeological excavations since the 1920s have produced evidence for child sacrifice in Carthage as well as inscriptions including the term MLK, either a theonym or a technical term associated with sacrifice.

“Who was Moloch/Molech?”

 Leviticus: 18:21: You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.”

From MSN:

California prosecutors on Tuesday charged two anti-abortion activists who made undercover videos of themselves trying to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood with 15 felonies, saying they invaded the privacy of medical providers by filming without consent.

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the charges against David Daleiden of Davis, California, and Sandra Merritt of San Jose. The two operate the Irvine-based Center for Medical Progress.

The allegations say the pair filmed 14 people without permission between October 2013 and July 2015 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and El Dorado counties. One felony count was filed for each person. The 15th was for criminal conspiracy to invade privacy.

Becerra says they used a fictitious bioresearch company to meet with women’s health care providers and covertly record them.

Daleiden, in an email to The Associated Press, said the “bogus” charges are coming from “Planned Parenthood’s political cronies.”

“The public knows the real criminals are Planned Parenthood and their business partners,” Daleiden said.

In April of last year, Daleiden said in a Facebook post that California Department of Justice agents raided his home, seizing all of his video footage along with personal information.

Since then, the case had gone largely quiet, with virtually no revelations about the investigation and no indication that the charges were coming before they were filed Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court.

The prosecution got a new leader this year in Becerra, a longtime Congressional Democrat, who took over for Kamala Harris when she became a U.S. Senator.

Daleiden and Merritt had previously been indicted in Texas on similar charges in January of 2016, but all of the charges were eventually dropped by July as prosecutors said a grand jury had overstepped its authority. The grand jury had originally been convened to investigate Planned Parenthood, but after finding no wrongdoing turned around and indicted Daleiden and Merritt instead.

Messages left seeking comment from Planned Parenthood representatives late Tuesday were not immediately returned.

 

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From Charisma:

Peek behind the curtain of some “progressive” or “hip” evangelical churches, past the savvy technology and secular music, and you will find more than just a contemporary worship service. You’ll find faith leaders encouraging young evangelicals to trade in their Christian convictions for a gospel filled with compromise. They’re slowly attempting to give evangelicalism an “update”—and the change is not for the good.

It’s painful for me to admit, but we can no longer rest carefree in our evangelical identity—because it is changing. No doubt you have seen the headlines declaring that evangelicalism is doomed because evangelical kids are leaving the faith. It is no secret that there is an expanding gulf between traditional Christian teachings and contemporary moral values. But the sad truth is that the ideological gulf between America’s evangelical grown-ups and their kids, aka the millennials, seems to be widening too.

Somehow the blame for this chasm is being heaped on traditional churches. They are accused of having too many rules as well as being homophobic and bigoted. Yes, we’ve heard those false claims from popular culture in its desperate attempt to keep Christianity imprisoned within the sanctuary walls. But now popular culture is being aided by Christ-professing bedfellows whose message to “coexist,” “tolerate” and “keep out of it” is more marketable to the rising generation of evangelicals.

The seasoned Christian soldiers are noticing these distortions of the gospel. But for young evangelicals, the spiritual haze is harder to wade through. Desperate for acceptance in a fallen world, many young evangelicals (and some older ones) choose not to take Christ out of the chapel, and so they are unwittingly killing the church’s public witness. In this uphill cultural battle, mired by scare tactics and fear, three types of evangelical Christians are emerging:

  • Couch-potato Christians: These Christians adapt to the culture by staying silent on the tough culture-and-faith discussions. Typically, this group will downplay God’s absolute truths by promoting the illusion that neutrality was Jesus’ preferred method of evangelism.
  • Cafeteria-style Christians: This group picks and chooses which Scripture passages to live by, opting for the ones that best seem to jive with culture. Typically, they focus solely on the “nice” parts of the gospel while simultaneously and intentionally minimizing sin, hell, repentance and transformation.
  • Convictional Christians: In the face of the culture’s harsh admonitions, these evangelicals refuse to be silent. Mimicking Jesus, they compassionately talk about love and grace while also sharing with their neighbors the need to recognize and turn from sin.

I know about these three types of Christians because at one time or another, I have fallen into each of these three categories. My parents will tell you that even though I was raised in church, I morphed into a full-fledged feminist, told my parents they were ignorant for not endorsing homosexuality and bought into the distorted social justice rhetoric that confuses caring for the poor with advancing socialist or big government systems and demonizing the United States for its free-market system.

I’m not ashamed to share my story because my experiences and those of my fellow bold evangelicals are a testimony of God’s awesome, transforming power. Being countercultural for Christ isn’t easy. What does the Great Commission say? Jesus commanded us to go, “teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20a).

Where Did We Go Wrong?

I see so many parents scratching their heads trying to figure out where they went wrong with young evangelicals. Following the instructions of Proverbs 22:6—”Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”—many evangelical parents took their children to church and prayed with them every night before bed. Yet the values those children now hold dear do not reflect the traditional teachings of Jesus.

To be perfectly clear, I want to let you know up front that this isn’t a parenting how-to guide that, if followed, will lead your loved ones to salvation. Instead, what I can offer you is a glimpse into the world of a 20-something who sees thousands of young evangelicals being spiritually and emotionally targeted on Christian university campuses, in college ministries and at churches nationwide by a growing liberal movement cloaked in Christianity.

Research tells us evangelicals are drifting further away from the orthodox truths their parents and grandparents held dear.

Our churches have rarely—if ever—faced the exodus we are seeing today. This will have a direct effect on the spiritual and moral values that will shape the nation in the coming years. That is why it is urgent that concerned Christians start acting now before the situation gets worse.

The Collision of Faith and Culture

Faith and culture will continue to collide in America. The culture wars, the growth of family, the success of missions, the prosperity of our great nation—the future rests on millennial evangelicals’ worldview. And that is cause for concern, because something has gone wrong with young evangelicals’ theology.

The millennial generation’s susceptibility to “feel-good” doctrine is playing a big part in America’s moral decline. Millennials’ religious practices depend largely on how the actions make us and others feel, whether the activities are biblical or not. For example, we only attend churches that leave us feeling good about our lifestyle choices, even if those choices conflict with God’s clear commandments. We dismiss old hymns that focus on God’s transforming salvation, love and mercy and opt for “Jesus is your boyfriend” songs. Or we contribute to nonprofits that exploit and misuse terms such as justice, oppressed and inequality because tweaking the language makes us feel more neutral, less confrontational.

Popular liberal evangelical writers and preachers tell young evangelicals that if they accept abortion and same-sex marriage, then the media, academia and Hollywood will finally accept Christians. Out of fear of being falsely dubbed “intolerant” or “uncompassionate,” many young Christians are buying into theological falsehoods. Instead of standing up as a voice for the innocent unborn or marriage as God intended, millennials are forgoing the authority of Scripture and embracing a couch potato, cafeteria-style Christianity, all in the name of tolerance.

This contemporary mindset is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian whose Christian convictions put him at odds with the Nazis and cost him his life, called “cheap grace.” In his book The Cost of Discipleship Bonhoeffer wrote: “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

Right now, cheap grace theology is proliferating around evangelical Bible colleges, seminaries and Christian ministries.

Christian Doctrine Hijacked

It is not that millennial evangelicals were not taken to church by their parents. It is that their training has been hijacked by ineffective and sometimes intentionally distorted doctrine.

As constant and pervasive as the attacks on Christianity are at public universities, it is important to remember that millennials’ worldviews do not start taking shape after they move out of their parents’ houses. Their understanding of Jesus’ teachings and cultural convictions begins to form while they are still at home and under the influence of their local church.

What I hope and pray evangelical parents and leaders come to realize is that the church has been too trusting. In our jam-packed lifestyles, parents have treated Sunday school as they do softball or ballet class—drop off the kids for an hour, then pick them up and hope they learned something.

Early on in my Sunday school teaching days, my co-teacher and I followed the curriculum pretty narrowly, the exception being that my co-teacher had an outstanding knowledge of biblical history that he imparted to the kids.

We taught all about Jesus’ birth, resurrection and saving grace. Thinking the fluffy kids ministry curriculum covered all of the necessary bases, I felt confident these kids had a firm grasp on their Christian worldview. Boy, was I wrong!

One day my co-teacher and I decided to play “True or False.” We casually went down a list of worldview questions with our class, sure that our little evangelicals would nail every question correctly.

No. 1: Jesus is God. “True.” Great job.

No. 2: Jesus sinned. “False.” Bingo!

No. 3: Jesus is one of many ways to heaven. “True.” What?!

Shocked is the only way to describe how I felt. Hadn’t they been listening to us? When I asked who taught them that, one girl said, “Coexist.” Yes, these young evangelicals had been listening to their Sunday school teachers and their parents, but they had also been listening to their public school teachers, TV celebrities and rock stars.

Youth ministers, volunteer leaders and pastors also have to start preparing these kids to deal with the very real hostility that faces young evangelicals.

If we never talk about abortion in church, how can we expect the rising evangelical girl to calmly explain the option of adoption to her frightened best friend who just admitted she is pregnant?

What will surprise you is how much young evangelicals actually crave honest discussions about abortion, sexuality, sexual exploitation, feminism and radical Islam. My friend and Evangelical Action adviser Richmond Trotter has two non-negotiable topics when addressing youth: creation and life. Having volunteered in church youth ministry since 1996, Richmond is not afraid to have serious discussions about what Scripture says about abortion, evolution and homosexuality. Make no mistake: The trend away from biblical truth is not concentrated in the hipster city limits. It is unfolding in the crevices of America’s plains, hills, mountains and swamplands. All across this nation, “old-fashioned” conservative evangelicalism is being traded in for a bright and shiny, mediocre Christianity.

If America’s evangelicals disengage from the public square and fail to engage the rising generation of Christian leaders, then we risk losing our public voice, then our religious liberty, then liberty altogether.

What Happened to the Religious Right?

The last several decades witnessed tremendous evangelical influence in the United States. Leaders such as Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Tim and Beverly LaHaye, Paige and Dorothy Patterson, James Dobson and James and Betty Robison made a bold impact on America’s families, churches and government. Now that those few leaders are aging or retiring, or have died, there are very few traditional evangelical leaders left holding the torch, and even fewer candidates to whom they can pass it.

But religious convictions in America are not on the verge of disappearance just yet. There is still hope. In the book God Is Alive and Well: The Future of Religion in America, Gallup Inc. Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport opines: “Christianity will prevail in the U.S. America will remain very much a Christian nation in the decades ahead, albeit less so than in the past because of an increase in Americans who don’t have a religious identity.”

Heed the Warning Signs

Evangelicals and culture warriors in the U.S. do not have to look far to discover what happens when Christian denominations give up on their traditional convictions and teachings. All we have to do is look at the dwindling memberships of mainline Protestant denominations.

In order to safeguard the trajectory of young evangelicals, we must uphold the authoritative Word of God. It is imperative that those in a position to influence millennials have transparent and honest discussions about the culture wars in which evangelical youth are already engaging. Otherwise they will be silent and accepting in the face of persecution and false doctrine.

The importance of arming the next generation of evangelicals cannot be overstated. If we continue to follow the example of mainline Protestants, evangelicalism will have a gloomy future. We must offer sorely needed leadership, but before we can do that, we need to know exactly whom and what we are up against.

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I saw this coming for years, but no one would believe it!

from Christian News Network:

Megachurch leader and author T.D. Jakes says that homosexuals should attend congregations that affirm their lifestyle and that politics do not need to reflect biblical ethics, adding that his position on homosexuality is both “evolved and evolving.”

During an interview with the Huffington Post on Monday, Jakes was asked by a viewer if he believes that homosexuals and the black church can co-exist.

“Absolutely… I think it is going to be diverse from church to church. Every church has a different opinion on the issue and every gay person is different,” he replied. “And I think that to speak that the church—the black church, the white church or any kind of church you wanna call it—are all the same, is totally not true.”

 Jakes said that he thinks homosexuals should find congregations that affirm their lifestyle.
“LGBT’s of different types and sorts have to find a place of worship that reflects what your views are and what you believe like anyone else,” he outlined.

“The church should have the right to have its own convictions and values; if you don’t like those convictions and values [and] you totally disagree with it, don’t try to change my house, move into your own … and find somebody who gets what you get about faith,” Jakes added.

He said that the issue of homosexuality is “complex.”

“Paul spends a lot of time wrestling back and forth, trying to understand should a woman wear a head covering, should you cut your hair,” Jakes stated. “I mean, they grappled back then and we’re grappling now because we’re humans and we are flawed and we’re not God.”

“Once you understand you’re not God, you leave yourself an ‘out’ clause to grow,” he said.

When asked if his position on homosexuality has “evolved,” Jakes agreed that it has.

“Evolved and evolving,” he replied. “I think that where I am is to better understand we, the church, bought into the myth that this is a Christian nation.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states must legalize same-sex “marriage,” igniting a battle between the Church and State over the issue. In his comments on Monday, Jakes advocated for the separation of Church and State, which would allow for “all types of people” to have whatever rights they desire despite biblical prohibitions. He said that politics don’t need to be based on Christianity.

“[O]nce you get past [thinking America is a Christian nation] … Once you begin to understand that democracy—that a republic actually—is designed to be an overarching system to protect our unique nuances, then we no longer look for public policy to reflect biblical ethics,” Jakes explained.

“If we can divide—or what you would call separation of Church and State—then we can dwell together more effectively because atheists, agnostics, Jews, all types of people, Muslims, pay into the government. The government then cannot reflect one particular view over another just because we’re the dominant group of religious people in [this] country because those numbers are changing every day,” he asserted. “We need a neutralized government that protects our right to disagree with one another and agree with one another.”

Jakes had visited the Huffington Post to discuss his new book on “destiny.” The interview focused on motivational subject matter in following one’s dreams and passions as opposed to the eternal destiny of the soul.

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The final nail in the eventual destruction of the United States occurs when Christians  en mass step away from the Truth of God’s Word. The Truth of God’s word gives Christians wisdom and understanding of the mortal dangers of Islam.

There is a huge difference between having Christian love for those in false belief systems and on the other hand enabling beliefs that you know are contrary to what you believe! Not to mention enabling a belief system that teaches that those who do not believe as it does should be ruled over by force or exterminated!

from The College Fix:

A Christian university in Texas has created a prayer room for its Muslim students.

The Methodist-affiliated McMurry University dedicated the space in one of the school’s residential dorms for its Muslim students’ daily prayers.

Before its creation, Muslim students met for prayer in a nearby hotel, a student who helped establish the new prayer room told The College Fix in an interview.

That student, Joe Yousef, is president of McMurry’s Saudi Student Club. Of the roughly 1,000 students attending McMurry, about 60 are Muslim and many come from Saudi Arabia, Yousef said.

Yousef said now that Muslim students have a prayer room on campus, it will be much easier for them to meet both their religious and scholastic obligations.

“On Friday, we get together and sometimes we have to go home to pray and we need to be in university so we don’t have time to go home,” Yousef said.

Yousef admitted that some people at McMurry didn’t like the idea of having the prayer room.

Some students are also supportive.

“Being Christians, we should be open to free religion and letting everyone do what they want to do and I think the Muslim prayer room gives them that chance,” student Hector Flores told BigCountry.com.

McMurry’s chaplain, Jeff Lust, and Dr. Mark Waters, professor of religion and director of international education, reportedly helped the students in their effort. Lust did not respond to a request for comment from The College Fix.

McMurry’s associate director of communications, Gary Ellison, did not respond to requests for comment either.

Lust told KTXS that the room is “a step in the right direction.”

“We anticipate over time we’ll have students from a variety of countries and possibly different religions,” Lust said. “We need to learn to live and work together in this world that is increasingly diverse and then we can truly become better together.”

The room will also serve as a meeting place for a new interfaith club, which is slated to meet for the first time Feb. 21, according to Yousef.

He said he will help lead the interfaith club in the hopes that it will help students of different faiths understand each other better.

“We are going to talk about faith and belief,” he said. “Some people have their own bias. We want people to get together, so we can help each other out.”

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from the Seattle Times:

A Richland florist who refused to provide flowers to a gay couple for their wedding violated anti-discrimination law, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The court ruled unanimously that Barronelle Stutzman discriminated against longtime customers Rob Ingersoll and Curt Freed when she refused to do the flowers for their 2013 wedding because of her religious opposition to same-sex marriage. Instead, Stutzman suggested several other florists in the area who would help them.

“We’re thrilled that the Washington Supreme Court has ruled in our favor. The court affirmed that we are on the right side of the law and the right side of history,” Ingersoll and Freed said in a statement.

 Stutzman and her attorneys said they would appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. They also held out hope that President Donald Trump would issue an executive order protecting religious freedom, which was a campaign pledge.
Stutzman called the ruling “terrifying when you think the government is coming in and telling you what to think and what to do.”

In its decision, the state’s highest court rejected Stutzman’s claims that since other florists in the area were willing to provide flowers, no harm resulted from her refusal.

Writing for the court majority, Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud said, “We emphatically reject this argument. We agree with Ingersoll and Freed that ‘this case is no more about access to flowers than civil rights cases were about access to sandwiches.’ … As every other court to address the question has concluded, public accommodations laws do not simply guarantee access to goods or services. Instead, they serve a broader societal purpose: eradicating barriers to the equal treatment of all citizens in the commercial marketplace.”

 The court also rejected Stutzman’s claims that her floral arrangements were a form of artistic expression and so protected by the First Amendment. Citing the case of a New Mexico photographer who similarly refused to take pictures at a gay marriage, the court said, “while photography may be expressive, the operation of a photography business is not.”

In December 2012, soon after the state legalized gay marriage, Ingersoll and Freed began planning a large wedding. Stutzman, who had provided flowers to the couple numerous times over the years, refused, citing her religious belief that marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman.

The couple went ahead with their wedding, but they had it at home with 11 guests and flowers from another florist, instead of the larger event they had envisioned.

 The couple, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (ACLU) sued Stutzman under the state’s anti-discrimination and consumer-protection laws in what became a high-profile case that highlighted the clash between the right to be treated equally under the law and the free exercise of religion and speech.

A Benton County Superior Court judge last February ruled that Stutzman’s religious beliefs did not allow her to discriminate against the couple and that she must provide flowers for same-sex weddings, or stop doing weddings at all. The trial court also imposed a fine of $1,000 and legal fees of just $1.

Thursday’s state Supreme Court ruling upheld the lower court.

Ferguson on Thursday hailed the decision, saying, “It is a complete, unequivocal victory for equality in the state of Washington and sends a clear message around the country as well.”

 Speaking with Ferguson at a news conference in Seattle, Michael Scott, the ACLU attorney for the same-sex couple, said the decision recognizes “human beings and their lives” while upholding the “core value of American law” regarding human dignity.

Scott said he would be surprised if the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case, citing a century of unbroken legal precedent. “It’s not groundbreaking law,” he said.

read the full article here.

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