A florist caught between faith and financial ruin – CSMonitor.com

TRUTHBOMBS: Christians, in case you missed it, this is what is called PERSECUTION. I know, that doesn’t really happen in our country, right? [palm to face]. After all we are a “christian” nation [sarcasm]. Wake up and stand firm.

ARTICLE:When a florist was forced to choose between a beloved customer, who is gay, and following her Christian convictions, she made a decision that changed lives and, perhaps, how the law will see such cases in the future.
Barronelle Stutzman loved doing custom floral work for Robert Ingersoll. He became one of her best customers, often encouraging her creativity.

“Do your thing,” he would tell her when placing an order. And he loved what she did.

Over the years, Mr. Ingersoll spent nearly $4,500 on flowers and arrangements by the florist in Richland, Wash.

But one day, he made a request that was different from his earlier orders. He asked Ms. Stutzman if she would design the flowers for his upcoming wedding ceremony. The request thrust her into a moral dilemma.

Through a thriving nine-year business relationship, the fact that Mr. Ingersoll is gay had never been relevant.

But it was now.

As a devout Southern Baptist, Stutzman’s involvement in a same-sex wedding would violate her religious beliefs about the sanctity of marriage as a divinely blessed union exclusively between one man and one woman.

She did not object to selling flowers or floral arrangements from her shop to Ingersoll, as she’d done many times before. What she objected to was the possibility of a job requiring her personal involvement in the celebration of a same-sex marriage. That would be a denunciation of her faith.

So when Ingersoll arrived in her shop, excited to share his happy news, Stutzman was torn.

“Rob was asking me to choose between my affection for him and my commitment to Christ,” she would later write in a Seattle Times essay. “As deeply fond as I am of Rob, my relationship with Jesus is everything to me.”

That five-minute conversation with Ingersoll, she added, was “one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.”

Now, three years after the brief meeting in her flower shop, the 71-year-old florist is facing the prospect of financial ruin.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington have filed discrimination lawsuits.

In addition to targeting her business, Arlene’s Flowers, Inc., they sued Stutzman personally, ensuring that any assets she might own beyond the flower shop could be taken from her to pay their own legal fees if she lost.

“The point was to ruin her,” Stutzman’s lawyer, Kristen Waggoner of the conservative law group Alliance Defending Freedom, told the Monitor.

“It was to send a message to the [people of] the state and the nation that if you dare to say ‘I refuse to violate my religious faith,’ they will literally put everything you own at risk,” she says.

Stutzman is not alone in being forced by the government to choose between remaining faithful to traditional religious views on marriage or facing punishment for violating state antidiscrimination laws. Her flower shop is among a small number of wedding-related businesses nationwide run by religious conservatives whose faith prohibits any connection to the celebration of a same-sex wedding.

They include a wedding photographer in New Mexico, wedding cake designers in Colorado and Oregon, and a New York farm that rents its scenic property as a wedding venue.

In each case, the business owner cited their religious beliefs about marriage as justification for declining to serve same-sex weddings or commitment ceremonies.

In each case, they were found guilty of violating state antidiscrimination laws for refusing to offer same-sex couples the same services they offer to heterosexual couples.

In each case, the courts rejected legal arguments that the business owner’s religious beliefs should be exempt from state laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.
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Source: A florist caught between faith and financial ruin – CSMonitor.com

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