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Arizona Judge Won’t Back Christian Designers’ Artistic Expression

Wedding invitation designers Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski of Brush & Nib Studio in Phoenix, Ariz., did not want to be forced by their city’s sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) ordinance to create wedding designs for same-sex couples because doing so went against their religious beliefs, so they challenged it in court.

But Judge Karen Mullins ruled that the ordinance doesn’t violate their free speech and religious liberty rights. Instead, she noted that, “The printing of same-sex persons names on wedding invitations does not hinder in any way plaintiffs’ independent exercise of [their] religious belief by attending the church of their choice, engaging in religious activities or functions, and expressing their beliefs on their business website and literature or in their personal lives.”

Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the designers, will likely appeal this case.

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Religious Freedom and Millennials

How do today’s young people view religious liberty? Given that millennials have grown up within a culture dominated by political correctness and a misunderstanding of true tolerance, then it’s not surprising that so many view religious liberty as a personal, individual right but not one that extends to the larger marketplace.

Unfortunately, by defining religious liberty through the eyes of individualism, many millennials miss the point. Writes FRC’s Mary Beasley, “Societies are formed by individuals, many of whom infuse religious practices into their daily lives. They naturally affect, influence, and inspire those around them. Therefore, religion cannot be displaced from the actions of the individual just as the individual cannot be displaced from society. Therefore, religion cannot be contained from society.”

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FACT Supports Efforts to Protect Religious Liberty of Nonprofits

We were proud to join a number of national allies in a letter urging congressional leaders to repeal the Johnson Amendment, a statute that limits the extent to which a 501(c)(3) organization can speak on political matters.

Specifically, the law has effectively squelched these organizations’ freedom of religion and speech by putting them at risk of losing their nonprofit status if they speak on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate for public office.

The proposed Free Speech Fairness Act would protect the speech and religious freedom rights of 501(c)(3) organizations and their leaders.

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Illinois Child and Family Services Bows to LGBT Agenda

The Illinois Department of Child and Family Services has instituted new procedures that will severely limit the free speech and religious liberty rights of any volunteers, staff members, caseworkers, and foster families who still believe in a binary definition of gender—that there are only two sexes, male and female.

Under the new procedures, children are not only encouraged to explore their sexual orientation and gender identity, but no one can question a child’s exploration and, certainly, no one can recommend to a confused child a biblical and scientific perspective on the sexes.

Children will not be placed with potential caregivers who fail to affirm the LGBT pro-transgender agenda no matter how competent and loving they may be. In addition, employees run the risk of termination if their beliefs differ from the LGBT standard.

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Marine’s Religious Liberty Stripped for Bible Verse Display

The Supreme Court refused to hear the case of Marine Monifa Sterling, who was court-martialed for disobeying her superior when asked to take down the Isaiah 54:17 Bible verse from her workstation, although evidence showed that others were allowed to display personal items. The verse in question? “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”

By rejecting the case, the decision by the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces stands, and Sterling’s religious liberty has been severely hampered. “The military court’s outrageous decision means federal judges and military officials can strip our service members of their constitutional rights just because they don’t think someone’s religious beliefs are important enough to be protected. Our service members deserve better,” says Kelly Shackelford, CEO and chief counsel for First Liberty.

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