By now, it’s a familiar story: a Christian business is sued for operating according to their faith.
And many of these believers lose everything to fund the legal battles that follow.
But one judge recently delivered a welcoming verdict on this issue – and you need to see why.
The most recent case in these strings of lawsuits involved a Christian photographer named Chelsey Nelson.
Nelson, who owns a wedding photography studio in Louisville, was concerned when the city issued a new ordinance that would require her to photograph same-sex weddings.
The Louisville ordinance stated that it is unlawful “for a person to deny an individual the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of a place of public accommodation…on the ground of…sexual orientation.”
In other words, no Christian business could refuse service to same-sex couples or other LGBTQ-identifying individuals.
Nelson knew her First Amendment rights, however, and she refused to give in so easily.
When she realized that the law would force her to violate her deeply held beliefs and support same-sex marriage, she quickly filed a lawsuit.
Her suit, supported by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), claimed that the Louisville ordinance violated the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.
Nelson’s Christian beliefs “shape her business, her art, and her creativity,” ADF stated, and shouldn’t be forced to participate “in religious exercises” that were inconsistent with her faith.
“[Chelsey] works with and serves clients regardless of who they are, including those in the LGBT community…[but she] cannot promote every message or celebrate every event asked of her.”
“Louisville should not take [freedom of speech] away from Chelsey just because she wants to speak in favor of one particular view on marriage.”
It was a strong suit—and the judge in charge of delivering the verdict agreed!
U.S. District Judge Justin R. Walker ruled in favor of Nelson, issuing a preliminary injunction that will prohibit the city of Louisville from enforcing the ridiculous law against her photography studio.
“America is wide enough for those who applaud same-sex marriage and those who refuse to,” Walker wrote in his decision.
“The Constitution does not require a choice between gay rights and freedom of speech. It demands both.”
Walker is spot on, but it’s sad that his clear vision is so rare in today’s culture.
“Forcing citizens to express ideas ‘contrary to their deepest convictions’ is ‘always demeaning,’” Walker continued.
“It doesn’t matter if most people agree with the expression the government compels. Free thought ‘includes both the right to speak freely’ and to say nothing at all.”
Walker rebuked Louisville for “attempting to compel religious speech at the core of the First Amendment.”
“The same Constitution [that guarantees] the right of same-sex couples to marry also protects religious and philosophical objections to same-sex marriage.”
“That our society has largely accepted same-sex marriage ‘is all the more reason the protect the First Amendment rights of those who wish to voice a different view.’”
Walker’s opinion couldn’t be more accurate!
The judge urged all Americans to “confront a larger question” in these kinds of cases, pointing out that the First Amendment was created to protect disagreement and discussion on a national scale.
“Is America wide enough both for you and ‘a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours,’” Walker asked his audience.
“Just as gay and lesbian Americans [should not be treated unfairly,] neither can Americans ‘with a deep faith…’ [be discriminated against].”
“Although a sometimes hazardous freedom, free speech is a basis of our national strength,” Walker concluded.
Judge Walker’s sound and well-thought-out decision was applauded by Nelson’s ADF counsel and other conservative advocacy groups.
“Just like every American, photographers…like Chelsey should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith without fear of unjust punishment by the government,” asserted Jonathan Scruggs, ADF Senior Counsel.
“The court was right to halt enforcement of Louisville’s law against Chelsey.”
Praise God for granting Judge Walker the wisdom and common sense to see through the issue!
And keep praying for those who face this kind of persecution every day. May God grant them victory!