Ray Rooney, Jr.: Next Up - Sue Unwilling Pastors
Friday, May 31, 2013 9:06 AM

Baronelle Stutzman is a name that American Christian pastors had better familiarize themselves with.  What has happened with Baronelle and her florist shop in the state of Washington may very well be stampeding into every church in the very near future.  I hope you have heard about her.

Baronelle politely declined (based on her religious beliefs) to provide floral services for a homosexual couple in her city.  According to the National Catholic Registerthe couple was fine with the decision until some of their friends began to post about it on Facebook and drew media attention.  That is when the state of Washington Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, sued Baronelle claiming that she was discriminating against the couple on the basis of their sexual orientation.  What’s more, he went on to say that what a business did for opposite sex couples it must do for same sex couples.  Can you see where this is going?

Baronelle’s attorney Justin Bristol asks a very clear and precise question: “Can the state require a painter to paint a portrait of a gay couple? Could the state require a musician to write a song?”  I will go one further. Can any government entity require a pastor to marry a homosexual couple if it is against that pastor’s religious beliefs?  I believe this is a valid question in the light of so many states legalizing gay marriage.   

Pastor’s currently have the right to decline to marry anyone they choose not to.  Some will not marry couples who are not members of their local church.  Some have policies against marrying anyone without premarital counseling.  Some pastors refuse to marry divorcees.  Some don’t even give a reason; they just say “no.”  Those who choose not to conduct a service of matrimony may catch some heat from their congregations or denominational leaders but they certainly don’t have to worry about being harassed or sued by their own government.  But maybe they should start worrying about that. 

How much longer until hostile Attorney Generals from states that have legalized gay marriage start suing pastors who refuse to do so on the same grounds that Baronelle refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding?  Religious beliefs.  Remember, the Washington Attorney General stated that what you do for opposite sex couples you must do (by force if necessary) for same sex couples.  Why is it not permissible to refrain from providing a service to homosexuals that they can get from someone else but it’s just fine to curtail Christians religious right to express themselves by saying “no” to a homosexual couple?   

I am not a lawyer and there may be a very simple principal of law to take care of this concern.  However, I am a Christian and I can see the handwriting on the wall.  Institutionalized hostility to conservatives in general and Christians in particular is clearly on the rise in America.  Removing Christian symbols from national parks, suing cheerleaders for putting Bible verses on signs, and government sanctioned targeting of conservative groups by the IRS are not inane apocalyptic warnings from frenzied prophets but hard core realities in the United States of America.   

If the government can force a florist to provide flowers for a gay wedding I don’t see how it is but a stone’s throw away from forcing a pastor to perform the wedding ceremony of that same homosexual couple…or else.  Regardless of religious beliefs. 

Ray Rooney, Jr.