Posted by: pastortomvabeach | March 8, 2017

Thought for the Week March 12, 2017

On February 16th the Washington State Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Richland florist Barronelle Stutzman discriminated against a same-sex couple by not providing flowers for their wedding in the Arlene’s Flowers lawsuit. Dr. Michael Brown, founder and president of FIRE School of Ministry in Concord, North Carolina, Director of the Coalition of Conscience, and host of a nationally, syndicated talk radio show and of the apologetics TV show, Answering Your Toughest Questions, wrote in his blog that day: ”There is only one thing more appalling than the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling against religious liberty today. It is the silence of Christian leaders across America, leaders who choose convenience over confrontation, leaders who would rather be popular than prophetic, leaders who prefer the favor of people over the favor of the God. Shame on these silent leaders. Today is a day to stand.

“These justices ruled unanimously against florist Barronelle Stutzman, claiming she discriminated against a longtime gay customer (Robert Ingersoll) when she told him she couldn’t make the floral arrangement for his upcoming gay ‘wedding,’ despite the fact that she had served him for years and despite her recommending three other florists who could do the arrangements for his wedding. The court ruled that this 72-year-old grandmother who had employed gay workers and served gay customers for years, was required by law to participate in a gay wedding, even though this constituted a direct violation of her religious beliefs – beliefs which have been consistent and almost universally held among Christians for the last 2,000 years.

“Not only so, but the court upheld the attack on her personal assets as well – her house, her savings, her retirement funds – by requiring her ‘to pay the attorneys’ fees that the ACLU racked up in suing her,’ fees which could reach as high as one million dollars. The Washington Attorney General…who brought the suit against Barronnelle, ‘announced he would accept $2,000 in penalties, $1 in fees and costs, plus an agreement not to discriminate in the future and to end further litigation,’ but Barronnelle rejected the proposed settlement.

“She explained, ‘Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about. It’s about freedom, not money. I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important. Washington’s constitution guarantees us “freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment.” I cannot sell that precious freedom. You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver. That is something I will not do.’

“She continued, ‘I pray that you reconsider your position. I kindly served Rob for nearly a decade and would gladly continue to do so. I truly want the best for my friend. I’ve also employed and served many members of the LGBT community, and I will continue to do so regardless of what happens with this case. You chose to attack my faith and pursue this not simply as a matter of law, but to threaten my very means of working, eating, and having a home. If you are serious about clarifying the law, then I urge you to drop your claims against my home, business, and other assets and pursue the legal claims through the appeal process.’

“Friends, what are we witnessing today is a breathtaking abuse of power, an extreme overreach by the government, a shocking example of LGBT activism out of control, yet over the next 7 days, church services will come and go without a word being spoken, and over the next 48 hours, the Christian blogosphere will remain relatively quiet. How can this be?

“In the aftermath of the Holocaust, courageous Christian leader Basilea Schlink rebuked the silence of Christians immediately after Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass (November 9, 1938), when the Nazis set synagogues on fire and vandalized Jewish places of business, also killing and beating some Jewish victims as well. And while I am not comparing gay activists and their allies to Nazis and I am not comparing the Washington court’s ruling to Kristallnacht, I am comparing the silence of Christians then and now. Please stop and read these words carefully.

“Schlink wrote, ‘We are personally to blame. We all have to admit that if we, the entire Christian community, had stood up as one man and if, after the burning of the synagogues, we had gone out on the streets and voiced our disapproval, rung the church bells, and somehow boycotted the actions of the S.S., the Devil’s vassals would probably not have been at such liberty to pursue their evil schemes…Indeed, if we had loved God, we would not have endured seeing those houses of God set ablaze; and holy, divine wrath would have filled our souls…Oh, that we as Germans and as Christians would stand aghast and cry out ever anew, “What have we done!”’

“What adds to the tragic irony of the moment is that in recent weeks, designers have said they will no longer work with Melania Trump and stores have dropped Ivanka Trump product lines, not because of deeply held religious beliefs, which are explicitly protected by the First Amendment, but because of political differences. And these companies and individuals are being praised by liberal Americans for standing on their convictions. But when a Christian florist politely declines a gay couple’s request to design the floral arrangements for their ‘wedding’ ceremony, she is taken to court and threatened with the loss of her business and all her personal assets.

“Where is the righteous Christian indignation? I can respect Christian leaders who try to stay out of the culture wars because they don’t want to drive their LGBT neighbors and friends away from the gospel – as long as they speak up at times like this, when our fundamental liberties are being trashed and when a gracious Christian grandmother is being savaged by the state. But should they remain silent at a time like this, the next time they raise their voices on behalf of the LGBT community (and against the conservative evangelicals they so frequently attack) they will be shouting one message to the world: ‘I am a hypocritical coward!’

“Let me urge you, then, to do three things: 1) share this article with others to help spread the word; 2) make a statement about this gross injustice however you can (on social media; to your family; from your pulpit – I’m urging every pastor reading this column to say something to your flock the next opportunity you have); 3) go to http://www.adflegal.org/barronelle-stutzmans-story to stand with Barronnelle and her team; 4) pray for God to awaken the Church of America. Will you take a stand today?”

I read this article when it came out and determined that this pastor would take a stand. I present it to my readers today and ask you to stand up for religious freedom. That is my thought.


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