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By Deacon Keith A Fournier

8/19/2014 (8 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Christians are being excluded from participating in commerce if they want to follow their informed conscience and live in accordance with their faith.

In the first two centuries of Christianity, as the early Christians sought to serve in the broader Roman society by engaging in all suitable occupations, some occupations had to be avoided. To practice them would require them to violate their faith. As some other professions began to compel the Christians to apostatize, they had to withdraw their participation as well. But this is NOT ancient Rome, it is the United States of America. We have a robust interpretation of the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights to the Constitution which recognizes religious liberty as a fundamental human right and the free exercise of religion - or do we?

W.W. Bridal Boutique in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania is being forced out of business because its owners are faithful Christians who believe that marriage is solely between one man and one woman.

W.W. Bridal Boutique in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania is being forced out of business because its owners are faithful Christians who believe that marriage is solely between one man and one woman.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/19/2014 (8 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: W.W. Bridal Boutique, Bloomsburg Pennsylvania, anti-Christian, persecution, marriage, homosexual marriage, gay marriage, marriage equaliity, faithful Christians, biblical Christians, Rome, ancient Rome, commerce, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - W.W. Bridal Boutique in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania is being forced out of business because its owners are faithful Christians who believe that marriage is solely between one man and one woman. They have been intimidated to the point that their web site is now blank.

There are some indications that they might be trying to continue their work by appointment only, However, they have been forced out of the marketplace, precisely because they are Christians.

That is not the "spin" you read concerning this entire incident in the main stream media.

That is because the matter has been recast through the lens of the increasingly intolerant wing of the homosexual equivalency movement which is engaged in using every means available to ensure that homosexual and lesbian relationships are given a moral and legal equivalency as a marriage between one man and one woman.

For classical, faithful, creedal, biblical, theologically orthodox Christians - be they Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox - that will never be the case.

While we recognize the human dignity of every single human person - including those who self-profess that they have what is now called a "sexual orientation" toward people of the same sex - we will not - we cannot - change the truth about marriage as solely between one man and one woman.

That objective and ontological truth is not only a part of our deeply held religious beliefs as Christians, but we maintain that it is written in the Natural Moral Law which can be known by all men and women and which should be implemented in civil society.

If one examines most main stream media reports, you would think that this ongoing story is about self-identifying homosexuals and lesbians being subjected to discrimination. It is not.

It is really about faithful Christians being subjected to coercive tactics by a small subset of self-identifying activist homosexuals and lesbians who seek to change what cannot be changed, the very structure of reality.

The proponents of a homosexual equivalency movement are using the instruments of a civil government which has lost its foundation in the Natural Moral Law to restructure the culture.

Many in the increasingly propaganda press use Orwellian newspeak to fuel caricatures against those who defend marriage as solely between one man and one woman. They do not report the news - they promote a Cultural Revolution which opposes marriage while purporting to expand its definition.

Like propagandists of the past, they attempt to frame public perception by calling those who defend marriage as between one man and one woman as being against what they call 'marriage equality'. 

Homosexual and lesbian partnerships are incapable of being marriages. Such partnerships can never achieve the ends of marriage. It is those who advocate giving a moral and legal equivalency to homosexual and lesbian relationships who actually oppose marriage.

The intention of a small activist group fomenting what is really an anti-marriage movement is to reorder civil society. They invented such phrases as gay marriage and marriage equality in an Orwellian act of verbal engineering. They have persuaded many in the media to use the words and phrases out of their new lexicon without even giving it a second thought.

What is unfolding in the Courts is one more part of a growing use of the Police Power of the State to compel those who defend marriage as between one man and one woman to accept the new order the sexual revolutionaries are promoting - or face the boot of the increasingly activist State.

Anti-marriage activists (those who seek to make what can never be a marriage - a homosexual or lesbian partnership - to be a marriage, by pronouncement of a Court or a legislature) accuse those who defend marriage as solely between one man and one woman of being against what they call gay marriage or marriage equality.

We will not redefine the word marriage to include homosexual or lesbian partnerships just as we will never call the taking of innocent human life, even life in the womb or in the hospice, a right

To limit marriage to heterosexual couples is not discriminatory. Homosexual couples cannot bring into existence what marriage intends by its very definition. To confer by governmental fiat the benefits that have been conferred in the past only to stable married couples and families to homosexual and lesbian paramours is bad public policy.

To state this is not to be 'anti-gay'; it is simply to defend marriage and the common good of society. This is a noble cause. Those who promote it are not bigots; they are sincere men and women deeply concerned about the future of our culture.

The struggle we face concerns a clash of worldviews, personal and corporate, and competing definitions of human freedom, human dignity, and human flourishing. We are involved in a contest over the very foundation of what constitutes a truly humane and just social order.

We insist that marriage between one man and one woman, intended for life, and the family founded upon it, has been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of the universe. That is because they have. Truth does not change, people and cultures do; sometimes for good and sometimes for evil.

We know that Marriage is the first society into which children are meant to be born, learn to be fully human, grow in virtue, flourish and take their role in families and communities. We must not be afraid to make the claim that children have a right to a mother and a father. They really do have such a right - and we must stand together to defend it.

Of course we care about the single parent family and the many broken homes which characterize this age. However, their existence does not change the norm necessary for a stable and healthy society.

Intact marriages and families are the glue of a healthy and happy social order. We now need to become a visible, palpable reflection of this truth about marriage and family more than ever. For one man and one woman to live a a faithful marriage is now counter-cultural. It is becoming a revolutionary act.

Our convictions and claims concerning marriage are not outdated notions of a past era but provide the path to the future. Nor is our position defending marriage as solely between one man and one woman simply a religious position.

We insist upon the existence of the Natural Moral Law which can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason. This Natural Moral Law is the ground upon which every great civilization has been built.

It is the source for every great and authentic human and civil rights movement. The Natural Law gives us the moral norms we need to build societies and govern ourselves. It must inform our positive law or we will become lawless and devolve into anarchy.

The recent example of the intolerance of this increasingly activist movement, the forced closure of W.W. Bridal Shop, shows the growing hostility we are now facing in American culture. 

Victoria Miller, the owner of W.W. Bridal Boutique, said that "providing those girls dresses for a sanctified marriage would break God's law." Her attorney told the press that as the owner of the business she had a "liberty interest'' at stake and that forcing her to violate her "firmly and honestly held religious beliefs" was unconstitutional.

Some reports indicate that the Bloomsburg Town Council is now considering legislation which would force W.W. Bridal to violate their deeply held religious beliefs or be closed down.

This is an ominous trend. It is also not new.

In the first two centuries of Christianity, as the early Christians sought to serve in the broader Roman society by engaging in all suitable occupations, some occupations had to be avoided. To practice them would require them to violate their faith. As some other professions began to compel the Christians to apostatize, they had to withdraw their participation as well.

But this is NOT ancient Rome, it is the United States of America. We have a robust interpretation of the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights to the Constitution which recognizes religious liberty as a fundamental human right and the free exercise of religion - or do we?

In December of 2013, Judge Robert N. Spencer disregarded the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution - at least in so far as classical Christians are concerned. He ruled that the First Amendment protection of the Free Exercise of Religion no longer applied when the issue of homosexual and lesbian activism is involved.

Charlie Craig and David Mullins, two homosexual men, had their sexual relationship endorsed and their life partnership declared to be a marriage in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. They wanted to have a wedding reception in Lakewood, Colorado in July of 2012.

They demanded that a Christian named Jack Phillips, owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, make their wedding cake.  Jack Phillips told the two homosexual men, "I'll make you birthday cakes, shower cakes, and sell you cookies and brownies. I just don't make cakes for same-sex weddings."

His concern was that the cake was expressing a message of support; indicating that homosexual partnerships are the moral and legal equivalent of marriage. He, like all classical, faithful Christians, views Marriage as existing only between one man and one woman.  

The homosexual couple could have had the cake made elsewhere. However, though they understood that it was because of the religious convictions of the proprietor, or perhaps precisely because of that, they turned to the ACLU and filed a lawsuit. If Jack Phillips failed to make the wedding cake they would face such a severe fine that they would have to shut down their business.  

Jack Phillips was represented by an Alliance Defending Freedom lawyer named Nicolle Martin. She told a local Denver radio host:  "If the service or the product is expressive, if it sends a message, and the government says you have to make it, create it and carry it for someone else -that is forced speech."

However, in his ruling, Judge Spencer wrote "it may seem reasonable that a private business should be able to refuse service to anyone it chooses. This view, however, fails to take into account the cost to society and the hurt caused to persons who are denied service simply because of who they are."

The fundamental Human Right to Religious Freedom must give way to the New Cultural Revolution led by a small fringe of the Homosexual Equivalency Movement. Fundamental Human Rights, enshrined within the U.S. Constitution, succumb to a Judge's decision that a legal equivalency be enforced between homosexual and lesbian relationships and marriage between one man and one woman.

In effect, homosexual activists are being given a newly manufactured right to compel a Christian businessman or woman to violate their deeply held religious beliefs or be forced out of business by a punitive, confiscatory fine, levied by a Judge who has joined their Cultural Revolution.
 
On Thursday, August 22, 2013, five Justices of the New Mexico Supreme Court told Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin they could no longer be wedding photographers - because they are Christians who take their faith as a guide for every area of their life.

They do not view homosexual or lesbian partnerships as a marriage and they believe that this deep conviction, this truth, must inform all of their life activity, including how they engage in commerce. After all, they are classical Christians. 

The controversy began in 2006. The Christian married couple own a photography business called Elane Photography which offered wedding photography services to the public. They were approached by a lesbian couple and asked to photograph a lesbian commitment service.

They politely refused the offer of business, explaining that their Christian faith would not allow them to do so. New Mexico law, at that time, did not recognize in the law either marriage or civil unions between people of the same sex.

The lesbian couple found another photographer for the ceremony. They lost no money or time in the effort. However, they filed a complaint with the State Human Rights Commission charging that the refusal violated the New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA) and that the refusal constituted sexual orientation discrimination.

The case progressed through the administrative procedure and into the Courts, ending up at the New Mexico Supreme Court. A review of the State Supreme Court opinion reveals that after the photography business declined to offer its services, the events which followed were orchestrated by the lesbian couple in order to set the case up.

In 2003 the NMHRA was amended to include those with homosexual, lesbian or any other form of "sexual orientation" beside heterosexual, among its list of protected classes.

The State Supreme Court held that "When Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony; it violated the NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races. Even if the services it offers are creative or expressive, Elane Photography must offer its services to customers without regard for the customers' race, sex, sexual orientation, or other protected classification."

In a concurring opinion, Judge Beeson added even more disturbing language, addressing the Huguenins religious beliefs:

"As devout, practicing Christians, they believe, as a matter of faith, that certain commands of the Bible are not left open to secular interpretation; they are meant to be obeyed. Among those commands, according to the Huguenins, is an injunction against same-sex marriage.

"On the record before us, no one has questioned the Huguenin's devoutness or their sincerity; their religious convictions deserve our respect. In the words of their legal counsel, the Huguenins "believed that creating photographs telling the story of that event [a same-sex wedding] would express a message contrary to their sincerely held beliefs, and that doing so would disobey God."

He then used his judicial office to chastise a Christian couple for acting in fidelity to their deeply held religious convictions. Though it is a long excerpt, please take the time to read this: 

"There is a lesson here. In a constitutional form of government, personal, religious, and moral beliefs, when acted upon to the detriment of someone else's rights, have constitutional limits. One is free to believe, think and speak as one's conscience, or God, dictates.

"But when actions, even religiously inspired, conflict with other constitutionally protected rights. Their refusal to do business with the same-sex couple in this case, no matter how religiously inspired, was an affront to the legal rights of that couple, the right granted them under New Mexico law to engage in the commercial marketplace free from discrimination.
"

He finally opined:  "The New Mexico Legislature has made it clear that to discriminate in business on the basis of sexual orientation is just as intolerable as discrimination directed toward race, color, national origin or religion. The Huguenins today can no more turn away customers on the basis of sexual orientation-photographing a same-sex marriage ceremony-than they could refuse to photograph African-Americans or Muslims.

"All of which, I assume, is little comfort to the Huguenins, who now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives. Though the rule of law requires it, the result is sobering. It will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins and others of similar views."

"On a larger scale, this case provokes reflection on what this nation is all about, its promise of fairness, liberty, equality of opportunity, and justice. At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others."

"A multicultural, pluralistic society, one of our nation's strengths, demands no less. The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life."

"In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people.

"That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship. I therefore concur."

This judicial opinion, though using phrases such as "utmost respect" shows no respect for classical,theologically orthodox,biblical, creedal Christians - be they Protestant, catholic or Orthodox. It is dangerously off base from a constitutional analysis as well. It is fundamentally anti-Christian and dangerous.

The effect of this growing trend in the United States of America is that committed Christians, those who take their faith as a guide for every area of their life, are being precluded from certain professions.

They are being accused by judges and the complicit media of being bigots. They are being accused of failing to recognize the primacy of the State - and its perception of what is good and true - which is hauntingly close to the charges levied against the Christians in Ancient Rome.

Christians are being excluded from participating in commerce if they want to follow their informed conscience and live in accordance with their faith.  

The trend is ominous. We need to oppose it by defending all of the Rights protected by the US Constitution, including the free exercise of religion, the right to free speech, free association and the right to participate in commerce.

However, we also need to be aware that morally coherent Christians, who live a unity of life and believe that their faith informs every aspect of their life, are at the beginning of a period of growing persecution. We must pray, band together and act.

-----

Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate.

---


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