On Saturday, we celebrate the day that our Founding Fathers told the British Crown that they were declaring independence.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” they declared, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
How would the framers who wrote these words feel about the fact that today, in the state of Virginia, a Christian business owner does not have the liberty to adhere to his religious conscience in the manner in which he expresses himself?
This is an insult to everything our nation stands for.
Chris Herring is a Virginia wedding photographer who is suing the state over a law which threatens to earn him heavy fines were he to refuse service to same-sex couples.
Herring is being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom in his lawsuit against the Virginia Values Act, which went into effect Wednesday and prohibits discrimination in both private and public employment, The Daily Caller reports.
The law restricts artists like Herring from denying services to same-sex couples or face fines of up to $50,000, with a $100,000 fine per additional violation.
“The case is about whether an artist should be free to choose the messages they promote, and that’s what this particular law is putting at issue,” Kate Anderson, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, told The DC.
Perhaps even more disturbing, Herring, who is also a blogger, would be restricted by the bill from publicly explaining on his business website his personal religious reasons for preferring to use his photography to document only traditional marriages between men and women.
The state views the communication of such beliefs held by a private business as “discriminatory” on the basis of sexual orientation.
Let that sink in. This man is legally barred from exercising every aspect of his First Amendment rights, from acting on his own religious beliefs to explaining why he desires to do so.
How can we honestly profess to live in a free country with such laws in existence?
“It isn’t the state’s job to tell me what I must capture on film or publish on my website,” Herring said, according to ADF.
“My religious beliefs influence every aspect of my life, including the stories I tell through my photography. If you’re looking for someone to photograph a red-light district or promote drug tourism, I’m not your guy. Now Virginia is trying to intimidate creative professionals like me to change some of my other religious beliefs. I happily work with and serve all customers, but I can’t and won’t let the state force me to express messages that contradict my beliefs.”
“Nobody should face government punishment for simply living out their convictions. We all have things we can and cannot do and so it’s much bigger than the marriage issue even though that’s where it’s being litigated most now. The freedoms we give up in this area are freedoms we’re giving up elsewhere.”
Hear, hear! Please pray for this man and the attorneys representing him. His case touches upon one of the most significant issues threatening to destabilize our republic and the liberties it was founded to protect.
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