Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski run a wedding invitation business in Phoenix, AZ. They violated the city’s non-discrimination ordnance when they refused to make wedding announcements for a same-sex couple. They were charged, convicted, and sentenced to six months.
The case was appealed and the Arizona Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, decided to overturn the conviction. The court ruled that the hand-drawn wedding invitations were artistic expression and the content protected under free speech, as such, the artist couldn’t be forced to “say” something that would violate their religious beliefs.
Franklin Graham, in a Facebook post, applauded the decisions. He posted,
A win for religious freedom, a win for artistic freedom, and a win for America! The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Christian artists Joanna Duka (a calligrapher) and Breanna Koski (a painter), overriding a lower court decision that had said they would have to follow a city ordinance mandating they design custom invitations for same-sex weddings if they were going to create them for marriages between a man and a woman.
Breanna and Joanna had dreamed about having a wedding invitation shop since they were young girls, but they were not going to compromise their Christian beliefs. Breanna said, “We do serve everybody and love everybody, but it’s just certain messages that we cannot promote in our business because of our faith.” What should scare all of us is that the government is in many cases trying to force people to go against their beliefs. Thankfully the Arizona Supreme Court did the right thing. This win is important to every American and shows us, once again, the importance of who serves in our judicial system. We need many more conservative, strict constitutionalist judges, not judicial activists who want to further their own causes.
Graham is celebrating a win for Fundagelical Christianity. He voices the dream of the Religious Right to control the U.S. courts so that legal decisions will favor his brand of Christianity. Graham should not be celebrating. Not only is this a win for discrimination, definitely not a Jesus value, but it isn’t a win for America but a step backward in civil rights.
Winning this battle sets a dangerous precedent in the Culture War Fundagelicals have declared. The wheel will turn, as it always does, and “religious freedom” can turn against its creators. I’m sorry Mr. Graham; I can’t allow your organization to rent my venue, because your message disagrees with my sincerely held beliefs. I’m sorry, I can’t make wedding invites for you because my religion doesn’t believe in one man one woman marriages, we’re polygamous. Sorry, I can’t let you put your Chick-Fil-A in my shopping center, your marriage stance violates my religious beliefs.
Fundagelicals forget that America is the land of protestant religions and new denominations are created almost daily. If we can refuse service on religious grounds, almost any religious group can find some reason to demand their “religious freedom” to discriminate.
Fundagelicals also forget that Americans are happy little pranksters who invent religions just to stick it to uptight Fundagelicals. You can join the Church of thsub-genius, Discordianism, and the Pastafarians. How long until a couple of fun-loving pranksters start the Church of anti-Fundagelicals just so they discriminate against people like Graham? This court decision and current Fundagelical court-packing scheme may seem like a victory, but will it be a pyrrhic victory?
Religious freedom in the country is a great thing, but let’s keeps it where it belongs. Let’s keep it in the churches, temples, and mosques. When “religious freedom” invades business, hospitals, and other public services, every transaction will need to go through religious confirmation.
In the 70s, I grew up watching Fantasy Island. Every week Mr. Roarke would grant a fantasy to a guest. Every week, the guest would get more than they asked for. There were always consequences to the things they wished for. Fundagelicals are asking for a court system that allows religion to be inserted into the public sphere, but be careful, you might just get what you ask for, and you might find yourselves the minority being discriminated against in the name of God. Franklin Graham’s celebration is based on the belief that his group will always be in power. he forgets the wheel keeps turning.
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