As a wedding photographer, Chris Herring wanted to use his artistic gifts for God.
Over the years, he’s worked hard to preserve beautiful memories for couples across Virginia.
So when a new law threatened his job and his beliefs, he fought back. Here’s why his approach is likely to succeed.
Herring’s wedding photography business is just one of many Christian-owned businesses in danger of being punished by a new Virginia law, the Virginia Values Act.
The law, signed into effect in April by Virginia’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam, prohibits businesses across the state from “engaging in discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The Values Act purports to protect individuals against discrimination and bias—which are ostensibly good goals—but it is really a piece of pro-LGBTQ legislative propaganda.
Governor Northam stated that the new law was intended to make Virginia “a place where all people are welcome to live work, visit, and raise a family.”
“We are building an inclusive Commonwealth where there is opportunity for everyone, and everyone is treated fairly,” the Governor said.
“No longer will LGBTQ Virginians have to fear being fired, evicted, or denied service in public places because of who they are.”
This all may sound innocuous, but Northam and other liberal activists and politicians have promoted these kinds of laws in hopes of pushing the LGBTQ agenda to new heights around the country.
And Christians always come out as the losers of such laws when they try to stand up for God’s truth in the areas of sexuality, gender, and identity.
Other Christian and faith-based businesses have suffered the consequences of living out Biblical beliefs when it comes to LGBTQ-identifying individuals.
Bakeries, film companies, and others have had to step up and fight for their religious freedoms—and many of them have won!
So when Chris Herring heard about the new Virginia law, he knew it was up to him to preempt the inevitable outcome and fight for God’s truth.
Herring filed a lawsuit against the Values Act, stating that the law “would force him to violate his sincerely held Christian beliefs by requiring him to provide his services to same-sex weddings.”
Herring’s lawsuit, backed by conservative law firms such as Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), is a “pre-enforcement challenge” against the Act.
While Herring’s business has not yet suffered – as he hasn’t been challenged for refusing to photograph a same-sex wedding – he knows it’s just a matter of time.
Herring and his lawyers wrote, “The Accommodations Clause [of the new law] forces Chris to provide photography services for same-sex engagements or weddings.”
“[The Act] would require Chris to promote messages that violate his religious beliefs or require him to participate in religious ceremonies that violate his religious beliefs.”
“This undercuts Chris’ message (expressed elsewhere in his photographs, blog, and Facebook account) celebrating marriage between one man and one woman.”
“[It] harms Chris’ reputation among his past and prospective clients…and adversely affects Chris’ ability to share biblical truths about marriage with others.”
In other words, the Act could destroy Herring’s business and his public practice of faith.
“[Herring] shouldn’t be censored, fined, or forced out of business simply for disagreeing with the government’s preferred views,” said Jonathan Scruggs, Herring’s senior counsel through ADF.
Scruggs stressed the inevitable choice that Herring and other Christian businesspeople will be forced to make between their beliefs and the “political correctness” enforced by the Values Act.
“Because of Virginia’s new law, Chris faces an impossible choice: violate the law and risk bankruptcy, promote views against his faith, or close down.”
It’s an unfair oppression of those who’ve chosen to follow God’s wisdom in the Bible, and it’s a dangerous form of religious discrimination.
“No matter one’s views on marriage, we all lose when bureaucrats can force citizens to participate in religious ceremonies they oppose, speak messages they disagree with, and stay silent about beliefs they hold dear,” Scruggs concluded.
Herring’s lawsuit is still in its early stages, so time will tell how Virginia chooses to stand on religious freedom and whether the state will continue to promote the LGBTQ agenda.
Please pray that God will give wisdom and victory to Herring and the attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom.