What is missing in the Religious Freedom Debate?
Listening closely to those who support these new religious freedom restoration bills, you have to understand their concern about the rights of the Washington State florist losing her fight in the courts when she refused to supply flowers to a gay wedding but to hear them speak, you would think that because of that decision, this florist was about to not only lose her business but her home as well. Seeing it in that manner, any reasonable person may pause but according to Reuters news agency in their article titled “Washington state florist fined for refusing to service gay wedding” one would find themselves misled and lied to by the way this story was constructed.
The article reports that “a judge in Washington State on Friday fined a florist $1,000 after she refused to sell flower arrangements for a gay couple's wedding, officials said. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who along with the couple - Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed - sued florist Barronelle Stutzman in 2013, applauded the ruling in a statement. "My primary goal has always been to end illegal discrimination," Ferguson said. "I'm pleased that today's ruling clearly prohibits discrimination against same-sex couples." Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander Ekstrom's order on Friday also bars Stutzman and her Richland shop, Arlene's Flowers, from offering goods or services to straight couples that aren't also made available to same-sex couples, the statement said. Stutzman was also required to pay $1 in court fees. Ingersoll and Freed were longtime customers of Stutzman's, and asked her to provide decorations for their wedding two years ago, following the state's legalization of same-sex marriage. Stutzman maintained that her Christian beliefs prevented her from selling flowers for the wedding, citing "(her) relationship with Jesus Christ," according to court documents”.
The public stands misled by the statement that this action causes her to lose her business because the fine was only $1,000 plus $1.00 court fine. That amount of money should never be the reason any business closes unless that business is barely making it already. They may have a point as the judge went one step further by ordering that the florist could not offer any services that are not offered to same sex couples. This, I think, is a little bit extreme on the judge’s part and should be repealed. Not because Ms. Stutzman has a point about her religious freedom but simply because the judge may have overstepped his bounds by ordering that she not engage in any services. I believe that the judge’s ruling should be reversed only on that merit and that Ms. Stutzman prepares herself for many trips back and forth to court is she continues to defy treating everyone as she likes to be treated.
The lie comes in when we learn that both these people who were involved in this story had been lifelong customers of hers which tells me that had this truly been a violation of her religious freedom, it should have been that at the beginning. Apparently, Ms. Strutzman had no objections to selling her flowers to the gay couple during that time and only saw it as a violation for their wedding. If her religious freedom was violated, it was her who violated it when she did not refuse to provide them her service so very long ago.
Accepting the lessons of the Bible and of Jesus Christ himself, Christians were always seen as those who forsake personal gain to do the right thing by their fellow citizen. Christians were always seen as those who fear not doing the right thing and preach and practice this each and every day. Christians was always seen as viewing others as people and not judging them by their actions and accepting that their truth may never be something that they agree with but still could respect. Sometimes being the bigger person is not keeping your mouth shut but saying what is in your heart. By saying what is in your heart you clear out the darkness so that light can enter and you grow stronger as a Christian because you have allowed others to see that special side of you often hidden in today’s world. Sometimes being the bigger person means that you say what you feel, feel what you say and end it all there. No animosity, regret or residual effects remaining because by stating how you truly feel in your heart of hearts, you have just accomplished the task set by the lesson of Jesus.
The problem is evil has got us so convinced that we must win at all cost, which we can’t leave it at that. So what is truly missing is simply a question. Knowing what you know now, whom do you really serve?