The Cost of Religious Feedom: $135K

Sweet_Cakes_religious_freedomIf you thought it was expensive to buy a wedding cake, try not baking one! Aaron and Melissa Klein found out just how expensive today, when — after two long years — an Oregon judge finally told the young parents of five exactly how much living by their beliefs would cost them: $135,000. Their dream of owning a dessert shop near Portland, Oregon turned into a nightmare when two lesbians refused to take “no” for an answer on their request for a same-sex “wedding” cake.

Sued, harassed, vandalized, and threatened to the point that the couple had to close their doors, the Kleins still didn’t budge. Found guilty by an administrative court earlier this year, the Kleins spent four sleepless weeks wondering what the government — the same one that guarantees them the freedom of religion — would charge them. Now that they’ve been ordered to pay up to $135,000 in fines, Aaron and Melissa have made it clear that they are willing to pay a far steeper price to stand up for Christ.

“To be told they’re going to force me to convey a message other than what I want to convey — it flies in the face of the Constitution,” Aaron explained. “It’s a violation of my conscience. It’s a violation of my religious freedom. It’s horrible to see your own government doing this to you.”

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Anna Harmon, one of the Kleins’ attorneys, said the sentencing was tough to swallow. “Americans should not have to choose between adhering to their faith or closing their business, but that is what this decision means… The [judge] ruled wrongly that the Kleins’ right not to design and create a work of art celebrating an event which violates the tenets of their religion is not protected by the Oregon or Federal Constitutions. This is a dangerous result for religious liberty and rights of conscience in Oregon…”

Unfortunately, the Kleins are just one of the families hanging in the balance of the Supreme Court’s scales. When the justices go to work next Tuesday, they’ll be deciding a lot more issues than the definition of marriage. For the sake of the First Amendment, let’s hope that our right not to be forced to violate our faith is one of them.

In the meantime, if you’d like to help the Kleins raise the money they need to exercise their religious liberty, please visit this webpage for more information. Then, click over to TonyPerkins.com later tonight to hear our interview with this courageous couple!

Editor’s NOTE: As of Saturday morning, the link to the GoFundMe site for the Klein’s had been shut down.  According to Oregon Live, more than $66,000 had been raised for the Klein’s in less than 24 hours….before GoFundMe shut it down for “violation of terms and conditions.”  Uh huh.

Editor’s Update: Samaritan’s Purse is accepting donations to help the Kleins with their “Persecuted Christians – USA” fund. Click here to donate.


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Tony Perkins is President of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation's first Covenant Marriage law. He received his undergraduate degree from Liberty University and a Master's Degree from Louisiana State University in Public Administration. Perkins is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, and a former police officer and television news reporter.
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  • http://www.facebook.com/chuck.anziulewicz Chuck Anziulewicz

    Well here’s an interesting story: Citing his religious beliefs, the owner of an AlphaGraphics print shop franchise in suburban Atlanta has refused to print wedding invitations for a Lesbian couple.

    One of the women, Paige Beckwith, says throughout her wedding planning process she has been open with vendors that there would be two brides on the wedding day. She says none of the vendors seemed to care, but him. Beckwith says she contacted the company after being referred by a friend. They were trying to go with a train theme. Their engagement photos, taken by Snap Shots By Allie, were on railroad tracks. Their reception would be at an old train depot in Lawrenceville. They wanted the invitations to look like a train ticket, so she needed a company that could design and print them. The owner refused.

    And of course the owner was legally free to refuse, since the State of Georgia doesn’t protect people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. But here’s the cool part: The AlphaGraphics main office denounced its franchisee and promised to print the invitations at no charge. They also issued a statement:

    “We do not condone discrimination of any kind, and wish to make clear that customers of any race, religion, nationality, ethnicity or sexual orientation are welcome at our franchisees’ locations nationwide. We also wish to apologize to the customers who were impacted by the actions of this franchisee, and hope that our response conveys the level of commitment we feel toward upholding our company’s standards of inclusion, and that all members of the Suwanee community continue to feel welcome at AlphaGraphics.”

    • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

      And other than illustrating that some business owners have no qualms about participating in fraud while some do, your point is?

    • DCM7

      “race, religion, nationality, ethnicity or sexual orientation”
      Unless one understands and acknowledges that “one of these things is not like the others,” one is not going to have a fair or accurate viewpoint regarding “discrimination.”
      People can deny this unwelcome reality all they want, but same-sex attraction does not, and never will, belong in the same category as race, religion, nationality and ethnicity. It belongs in the same category as anything that would be considered an abnormal sexual attraction, such as pedophilia.
      After all, which of the following has more in common with the desire, in men, to have sex with other males over 18?
      (1) The desire, in men, to have sex with other males under 18.
      (2) Skin color.
      We’re all supposed to pretend the obvious answer is (2).
      I don’t think so.

      • franklinb23

        Is religious affiliation genetic? There’s certainly no Muslim, Mormon or Catholic gene. In fact, given the things some Muslims in this country want to do in the name of “religious freedom”, you might want to reconsider whether this right is an absolute one.

        • DCM7

          Genetics are certainly not the only factor involved. Even assuming homosexuality is not genetic, there are far more things wrong with it than that.
          As for “religious freedom,” it’s true that the concept can get abused because of the “all religious ideas are equally valid” lie. That’s one reason a free society best works when it is specifically the truth of Christianity that is acknowledged.

    • Thisoldspouse

      Well, good to know. AlphaGraphics is one company I can permanently mark off my list.

      • franklinb23

        TOS: If you’re offended by the position of AlphaGraphics, you will probably have to entirely avoid Microsoft, Apple, AT&T, GE, Chase, Levi, Coke, Pepsi, CVS, eBay and Amazon (among others) since all of these companies contributed to an amicus brief petitioning the Supreme Court to strike down bans on gay marriage.

        • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

          Sadly most big businesses are either drinking the Leftist koolaid or are too afraid of losing a buck to stand for what’s right. I left Wells Fargo for a smaller regional bank over this and other issues, but sometimes it’s just about impossible to avoid patronizing purveyors of cultural rot. For companies like Microsoft and Google, I take comfort in the fact that I am using their products to combat the cultural poison they promote. I’d call that “break even” at worst, and I can live with that for now.

        • Thisoldspouse

          Well, let’s work on one at a time, shall we?

          In the last few years I HAVE severed any business dealings I have with a great number of homo-advocate big businesses. I even send all of my Ace Hardware receipts to Home Depot to show them all the business they’re missing from me because of their stance.

    • Thisoldspouse

      Ooooohhhh, AlphaGraphics didn’t mention “gender identity.”

      Filthy bigots.

  • franklinb23

    A pox on both their houses.

    $135,000 for not getting a cake is as absurd as getting millions because you were careless and spilled coffee on yourself.

    And to insist that even providing an off-the-shelf cake is “persecution” is as ridiculous as suggesting that it’s unjust to have to show one’s entire face for a photo ID just because your faith demands you only show your eyeballs.

    Everyone’s a victim these days.

    • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

      Well said!

      • DCM7

        Wait… did I misunderstand the third paragraph (“off-the-shelf cake”)? If I understand it correctly, it doesn’t sound like something you’d agree with.

        • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

          As I go back and read it again, I’m not sure I understood what he was trying to say. At the time, I believe I understood him to be saying that calling refusal to provide a cake for a fake wedding was “persecution” of homosexuals was ridiculous-which it is. But as I read it again, I may have understood what he was saying backwards.

          It should also be noted that I don’t think we’re talking about an ordinary “off the shelf” cake here that could be simply eaten for desert on Tuesday. We’re talking about one that is specifically made for a wedding, which has an appearance appropriate to the celebration of a wedding.

          From everything I’ve read, this bakery and most others would have no problem selling a garden variety cake to two homosexuals, and frankly if I ran a bakery, neither would I. What I WOULD have a problem with (and apparently Sweet Cakes does., too, is lending their handiwork to the perpetration of fraud, i.e. a union that does not meet the requirements of a marriage.

          • franklinb23

            I think you did slightly misunderstand since I was a bit taken aback you actually seemed to agree.

            I DID say that the award of 135K was excessive and ridiculous and that it should be thrown out.

            However, I disagreed with the notion that providing a wedding cake is a form of “persecution” (especially if the cake had no customizations such as two brides or two grooms or any wording on it). In other words, if the bakery said “Here are ten cakes everyone can choose from”, then having to provide these cakes to everyone doesn’t seem an unjust or burdensome infringement. (Personally, though, life would be easier for everyone if they just took a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach.)

            While I think we agree that some business owners should be able to accept or decline services as they see fit, we disagree over the extent and breadth this freedom should be granted, that’s all.

            • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

              Yes apparently I did misunderstand, possibly because (a) we aren’t talking about off-the-shelf cakes and (b) homosexual activist are portraying themselves as being “persecuted” because a Christian business owner won’t help them perpetrate a fraud…that they could go down the road and get an amoral or immoral business owner to gladly do.

              • franklinb23

                “get an amoral or immoral business owner to gladly do”

                So I’m clear: you believe there’s a moral imperative in store owners (large or small) refusing to provide their services upon pain of sin?

                Some folks believe that Mormon beliefs are heterodox and that these folks are not “saved”. Forget whether one is legally obligated or not for a moment. Is the owner of a Christian print shop morally obliged to decline their services to a Mormon looking to distribute a pamphlet (or an issue of “The Watchtower”)?

              • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

                Most things in life, especially behaviors, usually have a moral nature.

                Obviously, since virtually every religious teaching in the world considers homosexual behavior to be immoral and recognizes that marriage can only be formed by a man and a woman, homosexual behavior and the fraud of counterfeit marriage are immoral.

                If a business owner cares about upholding moral standards, they would logically be considered “moral,” and if they don’t care or seek the promotion if immoral behaviors, they would logically be considered “immoral.”

                Regarding Mormonism, their religion contains a number of elements common with Christianity, but it also contains a number of teachings that are not only not in harmony with the Bible, but are actually contradictory. Whether a person could be a Mormon and be saved is a rather complex question (I tend to believe it is theoretically possible, though only in a state of significant ignorance about Mormonism’s contradictory doctrines), but I don’t think that question is terribly pertinent to the question you raised. “Is the owner of a Christian print shop morally obliged to decline their services to a Mormon looking to distribute a pamphlet (or an issue of ‘The Watchtower’)?” I’m afraid there isn’t enough clarification in the question for me to give a good answer. If the Mormon wanted to give the business owner a pamphlet while he was in the business shopping, I don’t see why there would be a compelling reason to decline to sell him a Coke or a Moon Pie. But if the Mormon was demanding the businessman purchase pamphlets wholesale so he could sell them to him retail, that would obviously be a different story. Just taking wild stabs at an answer in the absence of greater clarification. :-)

    • Thisoldspouse

      Some people ARE victims. Some are pretend.

      Denying freedom by force of the state is victimization.

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